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Next week, on March 22, American AAdvantage will change the prices of many awards.
The good news is any award flight you book by then, even flown after March 22, can be booked at the old prices. That means you can lock in the old prices for flights through all of 2016, and even early 2017.
And as long as you’re traveling more than 3 weeks from now you can change the dates of your award free of charge any time if space opens up. American also lets you hold awards free of charge up to 5 days.
The bad news is award space for the awards that will increase in price the most, business and first class to much of Asia and Australia, are pretty scarce, so you’ll have a hard time locking something in at the old prices.
But others that are going up in price, like Business and First Class to Europe, or transcontinental First Class from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, still have decent award space, and there’s still time to lock the old prices in.
Here’s a rundown of the changes…
The good news is most AAdvantage members saving for an Economy Class award aren’t going to see much change. Award prices in Economy Class are about the same, or changing very little, so there’s not much to think about.
Here are key Economy Class changes from the U.S.:
Business Class awards don’t have a lot of good news, but they aren’t being gutted either. Here are key Business Class changes from the U.S.:
They’re not great, but they’re not stunningly high price increases, and are generally cheaper than the prices you’ll pay with United or Delta miles.
Where the real hurt comes is in the price of ultra long haul Business and First Class awards, which are almost entirely going up. And AAdvantage is getting away with it by pricing most of them near the prices United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles charge today.
If you’ve been saving up for a super premium award, you know AAdvantage had some very special prices for some very special flights.
Southeast Asia in Business / First Class
This was one of the greatest bargains on the AAdvantage award chart, letting you fly Cathay Pacific First Class to Hong Kong and beyond. The only good alternative here is Alaska MileagePlan’s Cathay Pacific award, which is 50,000 miles in Business and 70,000 miles in First.
Singapore KrisFlyer will let you get to Singapore for about 91,000 miles one way if you stick to Singapore Airlines flights, and KrisFlyer miles are easy to accumulate because they are a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.
Australia in Business / First Class
United MileagePlus lets you fly for 70,000 miles in its own Business Class, but you’ll have to play the waitlist lottery most of the time if you’re hoping for a Business Class seat.
Alaska MileagePlan lets you fly for 60,000 miles in Business and 80,000 miles in First on Cathay Pacific and 55,000 miles one way in Business and 70,000 miles in First on Qantas.
U.S. transcontinental First Class
American is the only airline with a 3 cabin First Class on flights from the West to East Coast (New York JFK – Los Angeles / San Francisco), and it’s jacking up the price of awards in its secluded 10 person First Class cabin by almost 50%. You can still sit in Business Class for 25,000 miles, but there’s no alternative to First Class.
The same price increase applies to Cathay Pacific’s New York JFK to Vancouver flight. If you have Alaska MileagePlan miles you can fly it for 35,000 miles one way.
North Asia in Business / First Class
The new prices here aren’t terrible, and will remain among the best deals to get to North Asia. But the old prices were a steal, so lock them in while you can.
Alaska MileagePlan has Business Class for 50,000 miles on Cathay Pacific and you can fly in First Class for 70,000 miles.
If you use Singapore KrisFlyer miles and fly Singapore Airlines from the Los Angeles or San Francisco to Tokyo or Seoul, you can score First Class in Singapore’s Suites for about 75,000 miles when booking via SingaporeAir.com.
Middle East to Australia / South Pacific in Etihad Apartments
Mile for mile this was one of the cheapest ways to enjoy a super premium flight and there’s not much alternative with the Etihad A380 only flying to Sydney, London, and soon New York at the moment.
Middle East to Europe in Etihad Apartments / Qatar First Class
The new price isn’t impossibly high, but it’s hardly the bargain it was for 6-7 hours in some of the world’s best first class cabins, and there’s no real alternative.
North Asia in First Class and Business Class
Asia to the Middle East in First Class and Business class
There are some alternatives that might outlast the changes:
AAdvantage allows 5 day holds on awards, so if you see something there’s no risk to put it on hold, either via AA.com or by calling AAdvantage on 800-882-8880.
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