American Airlines, News

Is AA Starting New “Last Minute” AAnytime Awards?

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Generally, American Airlines offers many “bands” of award pricing. They are, at least for now, listed on the award chart.

AA’s Award Chart Pricing Bands

That award chart shows 3 levels for Business Class awards to Hong Kong. 70,000 is “sAAver” and then 140,000 and 175,000 are the AAnytime award bands for Business Class.

Just Friday, @xJonNYC has the tip about AA getting ready to remove close-in award booking fees and now @xJonNYC points out a new finding.

It reminds me of this post from 2016, one of my very first on this blog, where I broke the sad news that AA was implementing multiple AAnytime award levels. There had previously been two award levels – sAAver and AAnytime.

It is interesting on a number of levels

One is, of course, that it seems like a further decoupling of award bands and moving towards dynAAmic pricing. But what is super interesting (to me!) is that this is, while more dynAAmic, not quite revenue based – because what they are clearly doing is trying to offload remnant inventory for those who can book a couple of days or less out rather than have the seats go empty – something that Delta does the opposite of, by the way. (They charge the most in miles close to travel.)

Meanwhile, cash prices for a premium cabin the day before travel are certainly not deeply discounted.

But let’s look deeper

sAAver level here is 70,000. The lowest published AAnytime band is 140,000. And here they are selling them for 87,500.

What does this “lower AAnytime pricing but not sAAver” accomplish?

  1. No partners will get this inventory. You’ll have to spend AA miles only – reducing their mileage liability on their books, not simply receiving a payment from another airline.
  2. You won’t be able to set ExpertFlyer alerts. It’s not sAAver inventory and it can’t track within a full fare award band what the mileage price is.

In the end, this is much better than paying 140,000 ++ miles the day before travel (or the equivalent on whatever route you are looking at, although I believe this is only being reported on Asia routes right now). But it’s definitely not as good as American releasing regular sAAver awards that would trigger ExpertFlyer alerts and allow for partner bookings.

If they wanted to, and as I see Delta and Air France do often, they could even price these AAnytime awards at 71,000 and accomplish the same. And that would certainly mesh with the dynAAMic pricing they have been slowly rolling out in the form of Web Specials. Those are dynamically priced and non-changeable but currently in economy only. I expect they will roll out to Business Class awards soon.

What do you think?

Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

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