Four Changes to American AAdvantage: More Partner Airlines Online, New Refund Rule, and More

American has announced four changes to its AAdvantage program. All are fairly minor and fall into the ‘good to know’ category that can make award booking easier, cancelling a little more cumbersome, and one redemption more expensive.

  • Must cancel award tickets prior to departure if you want miles back
  • Awards on two new partner airlines bookable online
  • New pricing for Easter Island awards
  • New points-earning for some Iberia codeshare flights

Fiji Airways and Malaysia Airlines Awards Now Bookable at AA.com

Last month American briefly released the ability to book several new partner airlines online. It turns out this was a glitch, released early, and was only showing some flights on new partners.

American Airlines has been a laggard even compared to United and Delta. AAdvantage started talking about adding booking of partner airline awards to their website back in fall 2011.

American’s website is also notorious for failing to show award space that’s available (e.g. Iberia, Qantas), and for showing space available that isn’t really there (e.g. Finnair, Qantas).

However they’ve finally gotten award booking on Fiji Airways and Malaysia Airlines working successfully on the website. This is good for members generally, but for experts who knew how to find the space and then call to book it more partners online means more competition for awards.

American shares, “We are working on adding more partners and we’ll continue to share as they become available.” Since the airline prematurely released booking partner awards on Cathay, Qatar, SriLankan, and LATAM as well presumably they’re working on those and perhaps we’ll see at least a few of these over the next year.

Two Awards Will Be Required to Fly to Easter Island

American Airlines oneworld partner LATAM flies from Santiago to Easter Island. They also fly from Easter Island once-weekly to Papeete (Tahiti). That means it’s possible to travel from the US to Santiago on LATAM or American and onward to Easter Island, or from Los Angeles to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui and on to Easter Island.

Here’s American’s award chart. Easter Island is part of the ‘South Pacific’ zone. So you’d expect one way awards to cost 40,000 miles in coach or 80,000 in business:

However American says that “Today, many awards involving Easter Island break into two awards and are pricing inconsistently.” So now they’re going to require all awards involving Easter Island to break into two awards in order to price consistently effective November 1.

They’re also changing the price of Easter Island – Tahiti one way in coach from 15,000 miles to 17,500; the price of Santiago – Easter Island one way in coach from 45,000 miles to 17,500 (nice); and the price of Santiago – Easter Island one way in business from 82,500 to 50,000 miles (nice). The price of Easter Island – Tahiti in business doesn’t change.

This softens the blow of requiring two awards between the US and Easter Island, as long as you fly via Santiago or via Tahiti in coach. Here’s what two awards would have been without this change in price for the award between Tahiti or Santiago and Easter Island, and what it’ll actually mean.

Would Have Been Will Be Change
Via Papeete Economy           55,000           57,500            2,500
Business        110,000        110,000                  –
Via Santiago Economy           75,000           47,500        (27,500)
Business        140,000           87,500        (52,500)

This is still more expensive than pricing at 40,000 each way in economy and 80,000 each way in business, but not as bad as it could have been. Were you considering booking an AAdvantage award to Easter Island?

Must Cancel Award Tickets Prior to Scheduled Departure If You Want Your Miles Back

This is pretty reasonable and judging from reader correspondence I get most people probably thought that this was already the rule: starting November 1 if you want to cancel an award ticket and get the miles back you will have to cancel your tickets prior to scheduled departure.

AAdvantage will no longer allow people to no show award flights and get their miles back. While this can be an inconvenience at times — you book an award ticket as a backup, you’re inflight without internet — it also strikes me as perfectly reasonable. I’ve always found a way to do this, it’s simple courtesy both to the airline and to fellow passengers.

Minor Change to Earning Miles on Iberia Codeshares

American also shares the following about earning miles with Iberia codeshares:

Today, AAdvantage members traveling on flights marketed by Iberia and operated by American or British Airways in First Class with booking code F earn AAdvantage miles and elite qualifying credits. Those traveling on booking code F in Main Cabin do not. Effective for travel Sept. 18 and beyond, AAdvantage members will earn AAdvantage miles and elite qualifying credits on Iberia marketed flights when traveling in the Main Cabin with booking code F. When traveling in the Main Cabin, members will earn 50% of the miles flown as award miles and Elite Qualifying Miles. Elite Qualifying Dollars will be calculated at 10% of the miles flown.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Awards to IPC? LOL! While one can always get lucky, from my experience over at least the past year or two, LATAM is very stingy about releasing SCL-IPC space for their own FFP members. You might have more luck for just one person but even that is shakey and 2+ is way worse. Not sure if AA has the same award access or if they’re more limited – but even if AA does have the same inventory access, don’t count on anything. As for IPC-PPT – much, much worse.

    However cash fares between SCL and IPC aren’t bad and are often relatively cheap (considering the monopoly) so that’s what I ended up doing last year. It’s only 5 hours in the air so no need to waste the miles or money on J for such a quick hop. Typically the Chilean version of LATAM’s site has the best fares and that’s what I did (though check to be sure of course as things change).

  2. Call me cynical but I feel like AA’s desire to add more partners online is just a way to get customers to stop thinking that AA’s own award availability is abysmal (especially in international premium classes).

  3. “Santiago – Easter Island one way in coach from 45,000 miles to 17,500 (nice)”

    17,500 for this o/w is a bargain

    Then again I’m glad I did this 15 years ago given how many selfie-stick-toting yahoos wanna go there these days

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