American Finally Makes Award Space Available for 2017

American’s revenue management has been notoriously stingy about releasing seats for premium cabin international travel over the past three years. However American has been going to lengths to improve their premium cabin award availability.

We’ve seen that with transatlantic space, with Asia flights, and even with Auckland, New Zealand. This week we finally saw it with South America.

But strangely award availability on American’s flights was nonexistent past the end of the calendar year.

Not all airlines open award space when schedules load — the date for which varies, but is often midnight 331 days in advance of travel. People used to get up at midnight, call the airline, and when the space they want isn’t open think, “Drats! Someone must have beaten me to it!” That’s not how it works at all. Some airlines do of course load some award space when they first add flights into their future schedule. Not all airlines do. And not all airlines load seats and call it quits.

In general airlines want to make seats available as saver awards that they do not expect to sell for cash. A year in advance they may have some idea how many seats that’s likely to be on a given flight, but their knowledge gets much better as travel approaches. What’s more, not all airlines are in a huge hurry to actively manage their inventory nearly a year in advance.

As time progresses, airlines may add or remove award space. Just because awards disappear doesn’t mean someone else has taken the awards. And just because there’s no award space on a given flight doesn’t mean there won’t be space later.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but American just wasn’t loading award space for 2017 even though the airline had loaded flight schedules three weeks into the New Year.

Still, members were concerned especially with the impending March 22 award chart devaluation.

Fortunately that’s changed. There’s now award availability into January, in other words through the end of the schedule. It’s not fantastic award space, especially in premium cabins, but there’s no longer a December 31 cut-off for saver availability.

Here’s Chicago – Paris non-stop availability on American in January:

Here’s Dallas – London non-stop availability on American in January:

Here’s Chicago – Beijing non-stop availability on American in January:

(HT: @Mattrunner)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. They are consistently 30 days behind. I’ve been tracking Asia-US flights for over a month. I gave up and just booked on JAL.

  2. I noticed from your screen shots, the text in the buttons says No business saver available and for the First class button it says no First saver available.

    What routes did you see any business or first available. Also it appears in the screen shots a little misleading (AA are you listening) that it displays a blue 45K for s specific date, but that is not for a business class award ticket.

    Do you know why it shows a 45K blue for an economy ticket on the award calendar screenshots that you have. I thought there was premium award space.

  3. You should look at this holding back of space as a perk for EXPs who can make award changes for free. They can book an overwater partner flight a year out and then add the domestic positioning flight later when the space opens up. A non-EXP would have to pay a change fee to add the positioning flight.

  4. Does anyone know if there are off-peaks to Europe this year past March 22??? AA doesn’t want to say. Currently they’re until May 15 but the new chart has them only until March 15. I’m assuming only rewards booked before 3/22 can be until May 15 for off-peak this year abut AA doesn’t say.

  5. Just wanted to say that I love your blog Gary. But I am sick of AA’s deceptive practices.
    1. NO premium saver awards (in 2016 or 2017) from my local airport to anywhere I want to go (pek, lhr, ath, pvg) unless I want to fly on British Airways and pay a surcharge that costs almost as much as a regular ticket.
    2. The award flight schedules are so screwy (example: pvg-dfw-lax-clt-home airport) that it’s better just to go ahead and purchase a ticket.
    Thankfully they are now matching the award chart miles with the miles you are expected to redeem. But the devaluation is horrific.
    Never thought these guys would make Delta look good! Thanks for hearing my rant.

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