American’s New Hong Kong Flight Now Bookable – But Look At Award Rates!

A few months ago American announced they would start service to both Hong Kong and Shanghai out of Dallas/Ft. Worth next year.The Shanghai flight will be American’s third daily service (the other two being out of Chicago and Los Angeles), while the Hong Kong service is the most exciting, since it’s a new destination for American, and provides for easy connections to their OneWorld alliance partner, Cathay Pacific.

While American and Cathay Pacific have long codeshared on flights to Hong Kong, there’s no doubt there’s a huge benefit to American flyers in being able to fly on American “metal,” since Cathay Pacific flights can’t be upgraded.

The icing on the cake on the new Dallas/Ft. Worth to Hong Kong route is that it will be operated by one of American’s 777-300ERs, featuring their new fully flat first and business class products.

This makes Hong Kong the third foreign city to get 777-300ER service, after London and Sao Paulo.


American’s new 777-300ER first class

American_New_Business_Class
American’s new 777-300ER business class

Anyway, while the route was announced a couple of months back, you haven’t been able to purchase tickets until today. As a reminder, the route is scheduled as follows:

AA137 Dallas 12:15PM arriving Hong Kong 6:05PM (+1 day)
AA138 Hong Kong 1:30PM arriving Dallas 4:00PM

At 16hr50min westbound and 15hr30min eastbound, this will be American’s longest flight.

Now that the flights are loaded into the system, unfortunately it looks like American hasn’t loaded any saver first or business class award space on the flight, nor have they loaded any confirmable first or business class upgrade space.

I guess this isn’t really surprising given that they’re putting the new product on the route and hoping to sell the premium cabin seats, which is the only way this route will be viable given the distance and expense of an ultra long-haul route like this. I suspect we’ll see award and upgrade space at some point, but it may be a while.

However, there’s one aspect to award space on the new flight to Hong Kong that is really interesting, and that’s the “AAnytime” award rates for the flight.

“AAnytime” awards are standard awards that are ordinarily double the cost of a saver award, and as long as there’s still a seat left in that cabin on a flight, and AAnytime award should be available.

Between the US and Asia a one-way typically requires 70,000 miles for economy class, 110,000 miles for business class, and 135,000 miles for first class — in all cases exactly double the saver award rate.

American-Award-Space-2

However, for the new route between Dallas and Hong Kong, the standard award rates are coming up much higher.

The displayed one-way award rates are 85,000 miles for economy class, 175,000 miles for business class, and 195,000 miles for first class.

American-Award-Space-1

Those rates are 15,000 miles (~21% increase), 65,000 miles (~59% increase), and 60,000 miles (~45% increase) more expensive one-way in economy, business, and first class, respectively.

What are the possible explanations for this?

  • American is simply charging more for standard awards on this route.
    • Admittedly this will probably be American’s most premium route, so in theory I suppose they could just be charging more miles for last seat availability on this flight.
    • American is typically pretty consistent though, so this would kind of surprise me, to be honest.
  • It’s a computer glitch.
    • I mean, I suppose that’s possible…
  • This is a sign of a devaluation to come, and American accidentally “leaked” new rates while loading this flight.
    • If this is the case, there are a couple of possible explanations.
    • It could be that American will just be raising standard award costs in the future, as we’ve seen several airlines do lately. It’s a LOT more unprofitable for airlines to give up their last seat (which has a high chance of being paid for) to a mileage passenger than releasing a bunch of cheap saver award space for seats that would otherwise go out empty.
    • Otherwise it could be that the ratio of standard to saver award costs remains the same, and we may see American raise saver award costs to half of the new standard award costs
    • This could mean American’s new saver award rates would be 42,500 miles for economy class, 87,500 miles for business class, and 97,500 miles for first class, one-way.

So those are my guesses – what do you guys think?

Update: It appears as if American is actually just making Hong Kong yet another region. While standard awards to China and Japan price at double the cost of saver awards, standard awards to Korea already price at substantially more, per American’s award chart. So it looks like this is just an extension of that, and they’re increasing the premium for a standard award further.

(Tip of the hat to Albert)

Comments

  1. The game is winding down. The only way to get a premium class seat is going to be by having a lot of miles on all airlines soon enough. The days of cheap and easy F and J/C are coming to an end. It was fun while it lasted.

  2. American has been doing this for quite some time. Look at their own table (not OW chart) for DFW-ICN route, AAnytime award also has a higher premium.

  3. I wouldn’t have even thought of the last option until you mentioned it. Thanks. Now I’m going to go stress-eat.

  4. Not only is this flight ultra long-haul and unlikely to be profitable, that is truly terrible aircraft utilization with 19.5 hours on the ground in HKG. It will require 3 airframes to serve this route, since the return arrives 52 hours after it departs.

    I don’t see this route lasting very long. DFW is in the wrong location as a hub for Asia.

  5. American wants to be seen as more upscale than before and is making upgrades to their product therefore they feel that an increase in price is warranted. Devaluation in dressup is still devaluation. *expletive*

  6. Have you tried calling to see what rate you would get booking on the phone? If American has a published award chart, they should honor the rates on that chart.

  7. I would think HKG is a new “region” for the AA award chart, so it will have an increased redemption rate.
    And I agree with Carl, I don’t think this route will be around for long, at least with the current timing. Having a $200m plane sitting on the ground for over 19 hours at one end just doesn’t make sense, financially or operationally.

  8. DEVALUATION!!!!! Delta welcomes AA to the club it is the king. I would never fly AA premium class to Hong Kong. That is CX turf!!!!!

  9. I don’t think the devaluation would the price of Business so close to first (20k).

    It’s wouldn’t be too far out of line with the other carriers tho

  10. This jacked-up pricing already showed up when ICN came on AA’s network.

    DFW-ICN one-way F standard award is 160K, while the saver F award is 62.5K.

  11. ICN was already higher, but notice korea is Asia zone 1, while HKG is Asia zone 2 according the old chart. So I wouldn’t write it off just yet… View from the wing has mentioned ICN few times Ben :p!

    I think ICN+HKG prob more of a trend than an exception.

  12. my first thought was your #3. this devaluation will make UAL look fair- as this is AA metal!

    i think regulators should have shot down the last few mega mergers, as now it is 3. there is nothing left to merge. ergo, they have no reason to behave- especially in a much stronger business environment. they are in the pilot’s seat, so to speak, and we best stfu and deal. if not… what are we going to do? wait for a recession and they’ll throw us a bone again- and we’ll wag our tails as always.

    those who cast a disapproving eye at those who play the MS game well and push the limits take note- ‘they’ owe us nothing, we owe them nothing. loyalty is a fools game. be loyal only for your benefit and use every loophole and ‘creative’ method you can exploit.

    frankly, i would not be surprised to see MS dry up as level 3 data becomes ubiquitous. the card issuers will kick to the curb unprofitable heavy churners with the cash equivalent clause.

    what can we do?

    start drinking heavily…

  13. Geez guys let’s all rush out and buy some US Scareways miles…………as I back hand slap myself……………

  14. Not to mention many of the discounted fares not released yet. There is no “I” class inventory at all. I am happy that AA is finally flying to Hong Kong, but if they expect to fly high automatically, they must be living in another planet. American Airlines has almost zero recognition in Hong Kong, and similar to Continental Airlines’ first few years in HK, they have to release some major fare sales especially in F and J cabin to attract the crowd to fly it. You can’t rely on just the Americans to support this route. Sure, it will be the only nonstop flight between HKG and DFW, but you don’t really have a huge HK population living in DFW, so you rely on connecting traffic. Plus American Airlines has this ten abreast economy cabin and it will be a tough sell to the local crowd unless the fares are cheap enough. EK has 10 abreast in 777 but at least it has 34 inches of legroom, not 31 inches. American Airlines also need to know that most HK folks know US airlines are not great in general, and even the fancy seats won’t fool the crowd. You need some real discounted first and business class fares to get the local crowd to try you out.

  15. With non-stops on CX out of JFK, who on the east coast would prefer AA metal via DFW? I just don’t understand this route. Unless you live in Texas it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  16. @Josh: Look further south. There’s a huge opportunity for Central and South American traffic that would prefer to avoid LAX and JFK. Look at the timing, it works nicely for onward connections to these destinations. At DFW there are boundless connection options for connecting travels and the terminals are all interconnected for much easier connections.

  17. Actually, charging 3X miles for Anytime is not the worst part of this post. The really horrible part is the total lack of any Saver availability, in any class of service.

    I’ve flown AA FC TATL dozens of times on awards over the past 20 years, and have never paid the Anytime rate. So it wouldn’t matter to me if they raised the one way Anytime price to a million miles. But if Saver availability disappears…. 🙁

    Which is already partly happening TATL for summer 2014. Even booked 330 days out, most routes have only one FC seat available per flight. So instead of 250K miles for a pair of awards on the same flight, a couple pays 375K miles for 1 FC Saver and 1 FC Anytime. And if the Saver awards totally disappear, that goes to 500K miles per couple.

    As for abby’s comment on MS, 500K per couple would mean each person churning a 50K mile Citi AA card every 18 months, and doing the full $50K BB spend on those cards every year. Giving them each one FC TATL ticket every 3 years, with $2K pp in BB fees. Sigh…

    AA doesn’t even have to devalue the award chart, just stop opening up Saver awards. Then for most of us, whether a couple wanting an “aspirational trip”, or a family of 4 going in economy, award flights go from difficult to virtually unattainable.

  18. That is one L O N G flight. Nice of them to operate it with their B773 metal. Too back that the soft side of the product remains so awful. They just don’t get it.

  19. And who knows, maybe they keep selling miles to us fools.
    After all a bunch of US Airways bean counters are joining their DFW team mates.

    Mileage award rate devaluation is a given. Won’t surprise me a bit.
    But just wait and see how they discontinue a bunch of benefits from Elites. “What? Dont like it? Go Fly Delta !”

  20. Ben, sorry to go off topic…I ought to dig a bit more to find your last AA/BA lounge-related discussion. Alas, it’s Christmas Eve (and I’m in a state of gluttony-induced laziness.)

    If I’m AA EXP booked on BA in Y, I know that I’m entitled to use the Terraces Lounge. Question is, does BA actually *block* my use of the dining room and/or spa?
    Per this: “If your oneworld® frequent flyer tier status is Emerald or Sapphire, or you are traveling in a First or Business Class cabin on any oneworld member airline, you can access more than 600 airport lounges throughout the world….Spa and Pre-Flight Dining facilities are excluded.”
    http://www.oneworld.com/ffp/lounge-access

    Could have sworn that I’ve taken advantage of BA’s full lounge offerings at JFK (as AA EXP/Emerald booked in coach on BA). Actually can’t remember if I was booked in BA Y or C on my last pass through Terraces/JFK.

    I assume they reserve the right to deny dining privileges to Emeralds traveling in Y? How about our guest?

    Many thanks, and Merry Christmas!

  21. I know this is a really old post but I just booked a flight on this route and aircraft for next June (2015) with saver type rates via US Airways DM’s. It didn’t give me the DM select 5k savings but did book First class going and Business return for 115,000 DM’s roundtrip plus minor fees and taxes.

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