american airlines

American Airlines Devalues Awards Without Warning

In an age where American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have learned first hand how poor of a plan it is to devalue your loyalty program without any warning, American Airlines shows how little it has learned from the past.

Overnight American Airlines made their award pricing dynamic. This means that depending on route, or even what flight you take, it may cost more in points to fly to a destination than is posted on the award chart publicly posted. This seems to be another bit of Delta envy, where American once again follows exactly what Delta does.

Take a look at some examples below from Americans website.

Sept 7 Awards Are Sky High

Sept 7 Awards Are Sky High

Variable Awards On Oct 7th

Variable Awards On Oct 7th

As you can see, not only does this not match between dates, but each date is even showing different award values depending on what flight you take. This doesn't match any of American Airlines published award charts, and worse yet, American Airlines appears to have confirmed this change now.

If you take a look at the flights that are in the next few weeks, these awards are more than double the listed prices on the AAdvantage award chart from American Airlines website.

This seems like a very bad idea from a company that can't seem to win favor with loyal customers over the past year or so. Every time I see something on Delta that makes me second guess my choice to move there, American seems to one up them and reaffirm my decision. 

With profits in the airlines industry starting to fall, it would seem that any reason to encourage loyal customers would be a good idea. Instead American Airlines seems hell bent on destroying loyalty, and undermining their own customers. 

So here's my message to you American, you are no longer a company I want to associate my loyalty with anymore, Delta is the right move for me, farewell!


American Airlines Goes Revenue Based

Today is the day that has been coming our way since American Airlines announced changes to the AAdvantage program last year. American Airlines falls in line with every one of the big air carriers in the US and goes completely revenue based. 

From this point forward, American Airlines will earn miles based solely on how much you spend. As people who earn miles for the purpose of using them on long haul premium class flights, flights for the purpose of earning miles is no longer a good way to go about things. This doesn't mean that we give up, more credit cards are arriving on the scene every day and taking advantage of those as well as other methods of earning points is the best way we can go about miles and point earning now.

As the airline industry shifts to make it harder to earn, we shift and find another way to earn. The playing field is always in flux, but if we keep up with the playing field, we can still earn those miles, and still fly first class on some of the most amazing airlines in the world.

Just be aware that mileage runs may be a thing of the past for American Airlines now, but that doesn't mean that status runs are out. Cheap flights still work to our advantage for mileage accruals toward flight status. Status is still based on flight miles and not money spent... at least for the time being. There are some spend requirements, but often there are ways around those.

So keep this in mind for all your American flights. This is the day I've been shifting my loyalty for, now I no longer see American Airlines as the top airline for loyalty programs, they've fallen to the bottom of the list for the 3 major carriers. Keep that in mind and adjust accordingly from here forward.

Airlines Help TSA Do Its Job

As lines have gotten longer and longer at many of the nations airports, we quickly learned that the TSA has been the problem in most if not all of these cases. The TSA has been severely understaffed and making little to no effort to speed up lines as wait times grow longer and longer this summer.

This has left airlines in an odd position. Every airline is heavily reliant on the TSA doing its job quickly, for when the TSA causes delays, it costs airlines a whole lot of money. Backups at security that have in some cases been as long as 3 hours, cause many passengers to miss their flights. When that happens, passengers need to be re-booked on different flights, sometimes planes are delayed waiting on passengers and all of this adds up to lost profits from extra fuel consumption to accommodating passengers on other planes.

Airlines have begun to step up to the plate where TSA has failed. Many airlines, including American Airlines started by supplying workers at non-critical places TSA agents work. Since these tend to be positions around security points that merely require people to direct foot traffic or other similar tasks, these can be done by people other than TSA agents. This frees up agents for the more critical tasks like baggage screening and security related positions. 

Lines have been so bad lately though, that both Delta and American have begun to look at ways to cut out the TSA altogether and start using more automated methods of screening. Delta for instance designed a new security baggage handling system that increases areas for people to place their baggage on belts. The system increases the flow through and give more space for passengers to take liquids and laptops out for screening. The automated system takes it from there. Pilot programs have seen significant speed increases through security checkpoints.

American Airlines has also begun to make stride in using automated scanning technology to better detect security threats and also to speed up the baggage screening process. These new technologies have moved to CT scanners over traditional x-ray machines. Promising developments in automating this area predicts up to a 30% increase in speed for processing passengers at security points. American Airlines hopes to start rolling these out in the near future at their hubs.

While it is sad that airlines have had to start to do the job TSA is no longer capable of completing, it is nice to see some innovations coming to this area of passenger air travel. This is an area that has been fairly stagnant for a while, so any progress is great. While TSA shouldn't have let this become a problem, the outcome of advancements in moving things faster is welcome... though the fastest way would be to eliminate the screening part altogether, I hold no illusions that this will happen anytime soon. 

Keep in eye out for these new technologies in your future travels around the US. 

Gearing Up for American's New 787-9

That's right, American Airlines is about to take delivery of their first 787-9 aircraft, the larger capacity, stretched fuselage version of the popular 787 aircraft line. 787 aircraft boast great fuel efficiency, passenger comfort and more... though I might be a bit biased on that front since I did help design the 787; both the -8 and -9 variants.

American Airlines has just announced which routes are going to be covered by the new 787-9 aircraft. The new aircraft type will depute on the Dallas (DFW) to Madrid (MAD) route and the Dallas to Sao Paulo (SAO) route as well. Starting yesterday, you are now able to book the 787-9 flights on the American Airlines website.

Beyond this being an excellent opportunity to fly aboard the brand new variant and a shiny new airplane, this will be the initial launch of a few new interior features that we will be seeing more of from American Airlines. First off will be the brand new business class seats from American Airline's new seat manufacturer. After having trouble with the seats on both their new 787-8 business class and 777-200 business class refreshes, a new manufacturer was chosen. Problems with the previous seats presented as a wobbly motion during normal flight, as if someone was kicking your seat throughout the entire flight. Luckily my experiences were always in bulkhead business class seating so i never experienced this, but many reviewers have seen this, and I have heard a first hand account from another passenger of this very issue. Aside from seat comfort issues, the previous manufacturer had trouble delivering on time and meeting the demand from American Airlines for new seats.

One other interior change is coming online with the new 787-9 aircraft and that will be premium economy. Many international carriers have had great success with premium economy. While not as good as the lie flat business class seats, these new seats will be more like domestic first class seats with an enhanced meal experience. The little secret here is that premium economy seating will not be sold until next year, so these new premium economy seats will show up as Main Cabin Extra seating until that time. For those of us with elite status on American, these seats will be free to choose, as such you would be able to get a premium economy experience without having to pay for it through at least the end of 2016.

The new international routes for the 787-9 will start flights on November 4th of this year. So keep that in mind and keep an eye out for these flights if you are considering Sao Paulo or Madrid for your upcoming flights.

The Time To Status Match To Delta Is Now

If you, like myself, have been considering switching to Delta now that American Airlines has diluted their loyalty program, the time may be right. The best way to switch to Delta if you already have status with American or other Airline, is to do a status match. Delta is a little bit different, they do a status match and sort of a challenge at the same time. If you match, the requirements to meet that status level mean that you need to put some miles under you belt to maintain that status.

As you can see in the image below, the requirements for flying aren't minor, especially if you've been putting a significant number of miles toward another program like I have. Personally I'm a Platinum Status member with American Airlines and would match to Delta's Gold status. I'd like to make Delta Diamond Status, but that will be a long way to go this year, so I'll settle for Gold and if the opportunity is there, push to Platinum status with Delta.

So why is now the time to make the status match? Well the way this match and many others work is that if you match in the first half of the year, they are only good through the end of this year's program cycle. If you match in the second half of the year (July -December), then you maintain that status through next year's program cycle, so you'd be covered until the very beginning of 2018. So waiting until July gets you 1.5 years at that status level, if you do it prior to July you get less than a year.

Of course there are other factors that must be taken into account. In my case, I'm still dealing with a major move in to my new home in South Carolina. Right now I don't have any flights planned, and the way this match works is that you have 90 days to meet the flight miles requirement. So while this moment is the best to take advantage of it, always wait until you are ready to take some flights and meet the minimum miles requirement to match.

So, if you are planning to status match and have some flights coming up, this may be the best time to do so.