I value American AAdvantage miles quick highly — but for redemption on their partners, like first class awards on Etihad, and not for redemption on American’s own flights. In fact, all things equal, I would rather not redeem miles to travel on American (unless it’s redeeming 4500 British Airways points for an American flight under 650 miles).
Nonetheless, the lack of award availability on American’s international flights has become even worse, sometimes and some routes impossible.
Marc L. asked me this morning,
I was wondering if you knew or could check on why there are no saver awards to Buenos Aires from the U.S in September, October, and perhaps indefinitely
Let’s have a look at this, because it’s even worse than that.
I searched AA.com for Dallas to Buenos Aires, just one passenger, allowing connections. From July 19 through end of schedule there is not a single saver award in any class of service on American flights.
Here’s what each page looks like, showing the lowest one-way mileage price per day.
Many of these days are 75,000 miles one-way in economy.
Throughout each month there are only ‘AAnytime’ awards whether you want economy, business, or first class.
Now, American offers discounted ‘off peak’ awards during low season. Here’s a part of the award chart for economy. Look to the last row for US-Southern South America.
Off-peak travel is when people simply aren’t flying these routes. Since planes are empty American charges fewer miles.
And yet during this August 16 – November 30 period there’s not a single saver seat available on American. Even though it’s low season.
In fact during ‘off-peak dates’ you have about as many days pricing as ‘AAnytime Level 2’ awards as you do at ‘AAnytime Level 1’. By definition off-peak ought to be the lowest level if you’re being charged AAnytime prices. Of course during off peak periods there should be saver awards!
During this period American has:
- A Boeing 787 flying Dallas – Buenos Aires six days a week. That’s reduced capacity, and American generally limits award seats on new or refurbished aircraft for awhile. But no saver seats at all for nearly 10 months and I’m not searching for non-stop flights only.
- Two daily Boeing 777s flying Miami – Buenos Aires. 777s are being refurbished with new business class and no first class, and American has been tight with premium inventory under those circumstances. But we see no economy awards even.
- One daily Boeing 777 flying New York JFK – Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires is a bit of a unique route with political uncertainty. Strikes crippled travel a couple of weeks ago. Airlines saw their assets frozen in Venezuela last year, and that’s created a skittishness over Argentina as well. Indeed, even American’s oneworld partner LAN isn’t offering award seats into Buenos Aires to any meaningful degree either. Airlines have pulled back quite a bit from the Argentina market. I can see at some level holding back award seats when you’re thinking you could pull back even further. But there are none. And not even just on a single flight.
Although there’s been uncertainty, it remains an important destination for American, and they have their own newly-refurbished club lounge there.
American’s award space does sometimes go in spurts. I don’t expect the anomaly of no award seats in the market to persist. And since there are saver seats available for travel within the next four weeks, I’d guess that this window would get pushed out into the future as the calendar advances. But it’s a dramatization of the overall state of availability on American’s international flights.
Also worth remembering that American’s website only supports a handful of airline partners. So just because you’re seeing only AAnytime extra mileage pricing on the website doesn’t mean that’s all that’s available. It’s important to consult my Guide to Booking Award Tickets Using American Miles.
But the lack of award seats on American is troubling and even outrageous. I don’t want to use my miles this way anyway, but the majority of members do.