Late last year, it was announced that American Airlines AAdvantage would implement dynamic pricing at some point in 2023. The change has officially taken place, and the program now officially uses dynamic pricing for flights with American Airlines.
While this may sound like bad news, the reality is that it doesn’t really change the status quo very much, since the program had already implemented dynamic pricing some time ago. Furthermore, the best partner airline sweet spots in the program remain unaffected, and there’s still plenty of value to be found.
American Airlines AAdvantage “Shifts” to Dynamic Pricing
American Airlines AAdvantage is a US-based loyalty program that offers redemptions with American Airlines and other Oneworld-member airlines.
Until now, for flights with American Airlines, the program used a chart that displayed different prices for various types of awards. For example, MileSAAver awards were the cheapest, but there weren’t many seats available at this price.
Rather, you were more likely to find pricing in the AAnytime Level 1 or AAnytime Level 2 categories, which was quite a bit more than the MileSAAver awards.
Furthermore, you may have also come across Web Special awards, which cost even less than MileSAAver awards.
AAdvantage has done away with the distinction between Web Specials, MileSAAver, and AAnytime awards, and now uses a “simplified” award chart for Flight Awards. The new chart simply displays “Starting at” prices for each class of service to different areas of the world.
In other words, the new chart displays the lower end of the dynamic pricing spectrum for flights with American Airlines, but doesn’t give any guidance for upper limits.
It’s worth noting that the prices at the lower end of the new chart have increased in some parts of the world. However, you’re still able to find awards with AA at lower than the published levels, so it doesn’t appear to have been raised across the board.
In reality, the program has already been using dynamic pricing for American Airlines flights for a while now, and this doesn’t really change anything.
Prior to this official change, it was very common to find award pricing that was either above or below the published levels, so the move to the new chart just makes the program less transparent, if anything.
For example, you can fly from Dallas to Rome for 89,000 AAdvantage miles, which is above the limit in the chart, but not by that much.
You may also find pricing for that same route at 145,000 miles…
Or even up to 400,000 miles…
Furthermore, you can still find awards that price below the minimum levels that are in the new chart. For example, flying from the United States to South America on long-haul routes should start at 90,000 miles as per the new chart; however, you can still find flights for much less.
Naturally, if you want to fly with American Airlines, you should either keep an eye out for prices at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum if using AAdvantage miles, or look to other Oneworld programs, such as British Airways Avios or Alaska Mileage Plan. Searching for flights on the AAdvantage website is easy, since there’s a calendar that displays one month at a time.
It’s worth noting that for redemptions exclusively with American Airlines, you are no longer able to make changes to bookings. You’re able to cancel and rebook at no cost, but you aren’t otherwise able to make a change to your booking.
Lastly, if this “Starting at” term sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same language Alaska Airlines now uses ever since it shifted to “simplified” award charts back in late 2022.
However, unlike Mileage Plan, the changes just implemented with AAdvantage only affect flights with American Airlines, and partner airlines remain unaffected, at least for now.
No Changes to Partner Airline Redemptions
The good news is that redemptions with partner airlines booked through AAdvantage have remained unscathed. The program still uses the same award chart for redemptions with partner airlines as it did prior to the change to the American Airlines chart.
In fact, there are some very attractive reasons to book partner airlines with AAdvantage.
For example, you can still fly from Montreal to Doha in Qatar Airways Qsuites for just 70,000 miles.
You could also consider flying onward to the Maldives with Qatar Airways, which would also price out at just 70,000 miles.
Another great use of AAdvantage miles is for Japan Airlines First Class. A one-way flight from Japan to North America still prices out at just 80,000 miles.
It goes to show that many of the sweet spots that used to exist in the program are still intact, and you can still make excellent redemptions through the program.
American Airlines AAdvantage has implemented a new award chart for flights with American Airlines. The program has done away with differentiating between Web Special, MileSAAver, and AAnytime awards, and now just uses one chart with “Starting at” prices for Flight Awards.
This doesn’t really change much, since prior to this official shift, the program was already using dynamic pricing. You can still find prices below, at, and above the published levels, and if anything, it’s just become less transparent.
Luckily, the award chart for redemptions with partner airlines remains unchanged, and you can still get great value by redeeming your miles this way.