Strategy For Booking Pre-Devaluation American Awards

As most of you probably know by now, American AAdvantage will have a huge award chart devaluation for bookings as of March 22, 2016. These were announced as part of their 2016 AAdvantage changes.

2016-AAdvantage-Program

The cost of many of my favorite awards is increasing significantly, in some cases by 60%+.

Award prices are based on when you ticket your reservation, and not based on when you actually fly. That’s why a lot of people are locking in award tickets now, in hopes of changing them later to a more convenient date while preserving the old price.

In early January I wrote about strategies for locking in AAdvantage awards at the old levels, and then posted a follow-up with further clarification from American.

Given that the devaluation is happening in less than two weeks, I figured I’d outline how to go about booking awards pre-devaluation, with the intent of changing them after the devaluation. And then if you guys have any questions, let me know in the comments section.

How far out can you book AAdvantage awards?

There are two important dates to keep in mind when it comes to ticketing AAdvantage awards with American:

  • American AAdvantage makes award seats available 331 days out regardless of whether you’re looking to fly American or a partner airline (meaning if you ticket an award on March 10, 2016, you’ll be able to book travel through February 4, 2017)
  • All tickets are valid for a year from the date of issue (meaning if you ticket an award on March 10, 2016, all travel has to be completed by March 10, 2017)

In other words, if you’re trying to book a placeholder award, book it as far out as possible so that you have lots of flexibility, but keep in mind you can extend it even further out than that eventually, as you can use that ticket all the way until a year from the date of issue.

Etihad-A380
Etihad A380 first class

What changes can you make without repricing awards?

American lets you make free changes to award tickets as long as the following don’t change:

  • Your origin and destination
  • Your class of service
  • The type of award — whether it’s a saver or standard award, and also whether the general set of airlines stays the same

However, if you make any change which requires the award to be reissued, you’ll be charged the new mileage cost, as this will require the old award to be redeposited and the miles to be deducted from your account again. You want to avoid that happening, obviously.

The last point is the most confusing to people, regarding not changing the type of award. Let me explain that in more detail, because that’s going to cause the most confusion.

American has oneworld partners (British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, etc.), and they also have non-oneworld partners (Air Tahiti Nui, Etihad, Gulf Air, etc.).

Gulf-Air-Business-Class-A330-05
Gulf Air A330 business class

For the purposes of award types, oneworld partners and non-oneworld partners are considered to be different.

AAdvantage-Awards

So to avoid an award repricing, you’ll want to keep the same general set of airlines.

To give a few examples:

  • If your routing is New York to Los Angeles to Hong Kong on American and Cathay Pacific, you can change to New York to Hong Kong nonstop, since that will remain a oneworld award
  • If your routing is Los Angeles to Tokyo to Bangkok on Japan Airlines, you can change to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Bangkok on Cathay Pacific, since that will remain a oneworld award
  • If your routing is Dallas to Hong Kong on American, you can’t change to Dallas to Los Angeles to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, since you’d be changing from an American award to a oneworld award
  • If your routing is New York to London to Abu Dhabi on British Airways, you can change to New York to Doha to Abu Dhabi on Qatar Airways, since that will remain a oneworld award
  • If your routing is New York to Doha to Delhi on Qatar Airways, you can’t change to New York to Abu Dhabi to Delhi on Etihad, since you’d be changing from a oneworld award to a partner award
  • If your routing is Los Angeles to Paris on Air Tahiti Nui, you can’t change to Los Angeles to London to Paris on British Airways, since you’d be changing from a partner award to a oneworld award

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-30
Qatar Airways A350 business class

Hopefully the above makes sense. Some will likely present some inbetween scenarios. For example, what happens if you’re flying from New York to Doha on Qatar Airways, and then from Doha to Abu Dhabi to Cairo on Etihad, and want to change the award entirely to Etihad or entirely to Qatar? I’m not sure, to be honest, and I wouldn’t risk it. If you’re going to mix oneworld partners and non-oneworld partners, I’d count on keeping the routing the same, or at least keeping the same mix of airlines on the award.

Adding American to either type of award shouldn’t be an issue, though. In other words:

  • You can switch from an award on American and oneworld partners to an award exclusively on oneworld partners
  • You can switch from an award exclusively on oneworld partners to an award on American and oneworld partners
  • You can switch from an award on American and non-oneworld partners to an award exclusively on non-oneworld partners
  • You can switch from an award exclusively on non-oneworld partners to an award on American and non-oneworld partners

What awards should you lock in now?

What should factor into your decision making process when deciding which awards to book?

  • Book awards between regions which are going up in price most — for example, first class between the US and Southeast Asia is increasing from 67,500 miles to 110,000 miles one-way
  • Book awards on airlines which are good about opening up last minute award space — if your intent is to make changes, you want to make sure you’re maximizing your odds of actually finding that space at some point in the future
  • Book awards on high frequency routes, which maximize your odds of space opening up last minute — for example, if you’re booking Cathay Pacific first class, consider booking their Los Angeles or New York to Hong Kong flights, which has four frequencies per day, rather than their Boston to Hong Kong flight, which is only operated 4x per week
  • Keep the routing simple — the simpler the routing, the better the odds of you finding that space later; if you book something like New York to San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda to Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur to Bali, it’s going to be really tough to replicate that routing in the future, so consider sticking to something simpler, like New York to Tokyo to Singapore, or New York to Hong Kong to Singapore

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class-777-31
Cathay Pacific 777 first class

Bottom line

You have less than two weeks to book AAdvantage awards before the devaluation kicks in. Hopefully you’re already thinking about what you want to book, but if you’re not, you’ll want to start doing so as soon as possible. For more inspiration for fantastic values, see my post about the 10 best uses of American AAdvantage miles.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t wait until the last minute to book, as phone lines will get progressively busier as the devaluation approaches. Don’t expect to get through the night before. The sooner you can lock in awards, the better.

Stay tuned for a follow up post, where I’ll be sharing which awards I’ve booked pre-devaluation.

What’s your strategy for locking in pre-devaluation awards?

Comments

  1. Based on what you have above, I should have no problem changing my award from CX JFK-HKG-DPS to JL JFK-NRT CX/JL TYO-HKG CX HKG-DPS, depending on availability. Awesome! I want to fly JL J more than CX J

  2. I have an award ticket HKT-HKG-JFK on Dragon and Cathay in economy book with aadvantage miles, but the british airways site shows business avaliability, however when booking the aa operator said no biz avaliability was shown. Is it posible to change the route to HKT-HKG-LAX-NYC trying the new route from american HKG-LAX so i can get a BIZ class ticket???

  3. What about switching from a OneWorld award to an all American award? For example JFK-LHR on BA to JFK-LHR on AA. Seems like a different type of award to me.

  4. How good is BA about releasing additional space closer to departure? I have a First Class award on hold but the routing is significantly less than ideal hahaha–should I book it for my preferred date and hope something better opens up? Or book a worse date but a better routing?

  5. Hi Ben, I need to fly to SFO-LAX-AKL on March 22, 2017. So, if I am willing to fly a day earlier ( March 21), I will book the ticket on March 21, 2016 for February 15, 2017, and then change it for March 21, 2017. Am I getting this correct?

  6. I don’t have vacation. I am trying to use my miles to send my parents somewhere and they have lot of restrictions, not the least of which is not too far away from some place where they know someone. Wtf?

  7. posted the comment too quickly…are American agents able to see Etihad awards or you still need to call the Australian call center?

  8. “booking Cathay Pacific first class, consider booking their Los Angeles or New York to Hong Kong flights, which has four frequencies per day, rather than their Boston to Hong Kong flight, which has only one daily frequency”

    BOS-HKG (or HKG-BOS) has only four flights per week on CX, not every day (I wish).

  9. Glad I got booked what I did when I could. Still sitting on a 600K (and growing) stack of miles that I can’t book anything else on due to my schedule. Sucks that AA changed the off-peak dates in addition to raising the redemptions.

  10. I don’t understand the keep the routing simple advice. You could book a complex routing now and straighten it out as long as the origin and destination remain the same. For example, couldn’t you book this:
    SFO-LAX (AA)-TYO(JL)-HKG(CX)-DPS(CX) and change it to SFO-HKG(CX)-DPS(CX) later right?

  11. @ Ben — Here’s my strategy: do nothing. The award booking services and those with lots of time on their hands will snap up all of the award space between now and March 22. Those with relatively low balances will try to burn “all” of their miles. Then, magically, on March 23 (or more like April 25, which is 331 days from March 22, 2017), there will be plenty of award space open. The last-minute devaluation avoiders will have spent a lot of energy (and/or money) to book a non-ideal award and have no miles left, while I will have my 3.5 million devalued miles to book whatever I like. Hell, I’m screwed either way, so why waste my energy?

  12. I have transferred points from my credit card to AA and due to my bank terms, they may not show up on AA account by 22 March.
    Do i have any chance of ticketing the award at the old price if the miles appear after the 22nd?

  13. Not specifically a routing question, but a question about the Citi AAdvantage card.

    In my Citi credit card account, it is showing I have x number of miles (including my 60k miles sign-up bonus). My AA account has not been credited with those miles. How long does it typically take for the miles to show up in my AA account? I’m considering booking an award ticket before the devaluation, but it’s out of my hands at this point. Thoughts?

  14. Ben,
    What happens if I book a First award with one segment in J (on a 3 cabin aircraft), and one segment in F on the other flight? If I try to upgrade the J segment, post 3/22, will that trigger a reprice?

  15. I’m currently booked LAX-SFO (AA First) – HKG (CX First) – DPS (CX Economy). Is it possible to change CX economy to business if CX opens its seat? Since I’ve paid miles based on first class, I should have no problem. Right?

  16. Similar to the previous questions, would it make sense to just tack on legs to the beginning or end of an itinerary since I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) can drop extra segments at the beginning or end so long as its in the same country.

    For example, instead of booking: SFO-NRT, it would make sense for me to book: JFK-SFO-NRT-KIX, if I’m not sure yet whether or not I’ll be leaving from New York or SF or whether or not I want to go to Tokyo or Osaka, since I can just drop the JFK-SFO leg or the NRT-KIX leg anytime I want. Is that right?

  17. What if you booked JFK-LAX in AA F and then LAX-HKG in Cathay biz as an F award. Could you later change that to JFK-HKG in F?

  18. @Gene

    Exactly what I’m thinking. I’ve already got my one aspirational trip booked. Will wait until I can book something after that 1 year post devalue deadline and I’m sure there will be ample space.

  19. @Gene

    I agree with this strategy, with the exception of the various F awards that are going up 50% or more and you intended to book 2 pax or multiple awards. CX F US to SE Asia or EY F AUH-SYD/MEL? Book something now, I like those 60K-67.5K one-way rates.

    Otherwise, yea. Still easy enough to get more miles, I’m not worried.

  20. Can one cancel the reservation but keep the ticket on AA? For example, book CX F award and then just cancel the reservation but not redeposit the miles and re-use the ticket at a later, post deval date? United allows that.

  21. @ Andrew – You cannot drop JFK-SFO in your routing unless you change your itinerary to go straight from JFK to NRT. There are no circumstances, whether revenue or award ticket, where you can just skip the first leg.

  22. @ Tom – American is Oneworld. You will trigger change fees and miles increases if you go from Oneworld to non-Oneworld partners, or to a mix of Oneworld and non-Oneworld partners.

  23. @Chancer – I’m not sure about that b/c I’ve heard different accounts about that. Which is why I was hoping Ben might shed some light.

    (E.g. Here’s the AA Award Change thread on FT – [Dropping segments: Awards made on AA or / and other oneworld carriers will allow changes mentioned above without requiring redeposit fees. Instances of dropping an origin segment can be allowed, or a final segment – as long as doing so does not change the destination zone (or sub-zone, in the case of intra-North America awards).]

  24. One gotcha to watch out for is including domestic Alaska segments to get to the international gateways. They are not Oneworld partners and changing to/from AA vs AS segments requires a redeposit.

  25. @ rory — Hmmm, that’s a good question. I believe that should be possible, but am not 100% sure. Maybe someone else can chime in to confirm.

  26. @ JF — If you already paid the first class price, that should be fine, as far as I know. Sort of a tricky situation, though, so I’d avoid it if you can.

  27. @ Andrew — If you did that you’d be stuck paying the $150 change fee to change your origin or destination.

  28. @ Susan — Hmmm, generally they should post shortly after the statement closes, I believe. Hope they post in time!

  29. @ Gene — There’s no doubt that Cathay Pacific first class awards will get much easier to come by a year from now. We’ve certainly seen that with Lufthansa first class since United devalued.

    However, if you ticket something now for travel next year, I suspect it will be easier and easier to come by availability over the coming year, as many people will complete their travel. And ultimately there aren’t that many savvy people locking in awards at the old prices. We represent a very small percentage of the AAdvantage population.

    Furthermore, it’s not like there’s any benefit to waiting. Cathay doesn’t release more than one first class seat per flight between the US and Asia, for example, so it’s not like you’ll have much better luck in the future if you’re looking to go with FCQ. And with the increase from 67,500 miles to 110,000 miles, it is a huge difference, regardless of what your mileage balances are.

    Just my two cents…

  30. @ Tom — In theory, but my point was that you want to keep the routing simple in terms of the origins and destinations, so you have a city pair which has a good chance of having space open up. The more moving parts there are, the more things that need to come together for you to be able to make the change.

  31. @ R — They’re able to see some space, though you’ll want to call the Australia call center if you want access to all the space.

  32. @ Hc — I believe so, though still pushing it, as we don’t know exactly how this will work. Would expect it works, but can’t guarantee it.

  33. I booked a couple months ago when deval 1st announced. This summer. DCA-JFK-HKG-FRA n Cathy 1st. Hoping for LH 1st 747-8i home to IAD. This Fall DCA-ORD-NRT HND-LHR in Japan 1st. Home to IAD in BA 1st. ✈️

  34. @ Jack — They’re good though not amazing. All depends on the route, but in general BA is best about releasing space far in advance, and not close to departure.

  35. @ David W — In theory yes, though in practice probably depends on the agent you get, since that’s a pretty significant change. To keep things simple I recommend keeping the number of segments the same, if possible.

  36. I wish I had more time and reason to go to Asia. Had an award to Singapore booked in April on JL F and CX F on the return that had to be canceled due to family events. And, that trip won’t be revisited in the next year or more.

    My pre-March 22 strategy right now is to monitor things on a one-way flight from the Middle East to the USA. It is going to have to be March 17 or 18, 2017 when I take the flight. Which means I have to wait until the last minute to prospectively book something. But I am also content in business class, which is barely going up in price at all. So, we’ll see if something on Etihad F pops. So, count me as more of a neutral observer.

  37. “Keep the routing simple — the simpler the routing, the better the odds of you finding that space later; if you book something like New York to San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda to Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur to Bali, it’s going to be really tough to replicate that routing in the future”

    But “replicate that routing” is not a requirement of a free change. You just need to keep NYC as origin and Bali as destination. Which isn’t too hard.

  38. Any recommendation on what I can do? My 5-year old is only 30 points away from an award. Kids do not qualify to collect from surveys, credit cards etc. What can I do? Thanks!

  39. Hi Lucky,
    Thanks for this info. I’m assuming the following is possible but want to confirm. If I’m booked as a first class award for the following: MSP-LAX (AA) LAX-PVG (AA) PVG-HKG (Dragon-air). Can I switch to MSP-LAX (or ORD) (AA) /LAX (or ORD) – HKG (CX – F) if/when it becomes available. I believe that should be possible since it is a mixed AA/oneworld award, but wasn’t sure as AA is the majority and longest segment if it would be considered an AA award changing to a oneworld award. Thanks!

  40. I have SLC-LAX-AKL booked round trip on domestic AA and international segments on TN in biz. If AA opens up space on their metal LAX-AKL, will it cause a reissue and higher mileage to change?

  41. @Lucky

    I have two tickets in F on JAL booked 12/29 from SFO. I’d rather leave earlier, like Xmas day, but the only thing I can find is J on a 787, which looks underwhelming. If I understand the rules correctly, if 2 seats become available in F on the same origin/dest, I can make the change post-deval, no issue (connecting flights from East coast notwithstanding). I have plenty of miles to float getting those two in J on the 787 as a back-up plan. I really want to fly JAL F, but also want to have more time on my trip.

    Returning (2017), I have CX J booked HKG>BOS, since that’s all I could find 2 seats. If I’m able to find 2 F seats on CX (which I reallllly want), even on one on two different days, does it make sense to book and hope two open up around the day I want to travel?

    I’ve spent about 500k miles booking places I THINK I might visit over the next year leading up to the deval (NZ, EU, Asia, CX YVR>NYC, etc…), just want to be perfectly clear on the rules before the time comes and goes. And I cry.

    The other options (either way) are to go West > East on BA, all in F…. lots more flying, and never flown BA.

    Thanks!

  42. If I book an award now on CX using AA miles for Mar 2017, theres no way to chg it later to summer of 2017?

  43. @ cNoteZ — No, you can only extend it as far out as a year from now. And as of now you can only book through early February of next year anyway.

  44. Lucky, say my international cx flight has saver space at 331 days out, but there’s a trend of AA not releasing saver space for my domestic positioning flight (on AA metal) until 229 days out. Could I have AA do a 5 day hold on, say, the CX jfk-hkg, and if saver space opens for my positioning flight in time, just add those legs to the held reservation and then purchase?

  45. @ Ben — You know that I wouldn’t be permitted to go without FCQ. Now, the other way around…. 🙂

    So, CX doesn’t even release two F seats at the last minute anymore?

  46. @ Gene — At the least minute they do, just not in advance. But even now two at the last minute isn’t too tough, which is why I suggest locking in at the old prices.

  47. @ Andrew – What you’re suggesting is people avoiding the redeposit fee solely on the good graces of AA agents. Even if you get an agent to waive the fee you can’t base expectations on FT posts since the deval hadn’t happened yet. You should assume that changing origin/destination anytime March 22 or later means you will pay redeposit fees and the new mileage rates.

  48. @Chancer – Yeah I’m not trying to game the system or something in a YMMV scenario based on the good graces of the AA agemtns. It was more of a question about whether or not they’ll allow for a segment drop (including the initial segment) after March 22nd, which it at least appears they currently allow for (https://www.flickr.com/photos/54131097@N07/14520915433/)

  49. Is HYD-KUL-SIN-HKG is a valid route for 30k India to asia2 business?
    HYD-HKG is also available but I want to add two less than 24 hour connections.

    Second, I have a separate award reservation F on hold HKG-JFK-DCA-DFW.
    Can I combine these 2 into one itinerary to get baggage interlined and also to get higher allowance?
    Thanks
    Thanks

  50. Do AA or Qantas typically release last minute award availability for their US-AUS routes? I have a placeholder award booked, and hoping my actual travel dates open up…

  51. @ elle – You can share miles though the minimum is 1000. There is also a $15 fee to consider. I’ve transferred miles in the past and, yes, it’s a rip off, but if you are shy of an award by only a few miles, it may be cheaper than buying miles outright which would mean a $30 fee and taxes.

  52. @ Andrew – Lucky answered your question. Your propsed changes to origin and/or destination will incur a $150 redeposit fee which also means a new award will be issued at the current mileage redemption rates. Of course, FT is an invaluable resource but there is nothing posted there yet that applies to your particular situation, which is booking pre-deval and changing origin/destination post-deval without triggering fees and higher redemption rates.

  53. THX FOR THE REMINDER. I just called in and was able to confirm:
    – JFK to NRT first class Japan Airlines for March one way
    – JFK to Bangkok first class Cathay for April round trip
    – JFK to Bangkok first class Cathay for August round trip
    NOTE that searching on the British Airways site has been reliable for Japan Airlines availability but for Cathay Pacific first class it has not been reliable. The AA agents rarely see what I am seeing. (However they pulled up availability that was not showing up on BA site).

  54. Lucky or anyone…. If I place a ticket on hold on the 21st/22nd can I then go and ticket it on say the 26th for pre-devaluation prices or will I pay post-devaluation prices?

    Thanks

  55. What if I currently have a Y seat SYD-SIN on QF and J seat SIN-AUH on EY; if J seat SYD-SIN on BA becomes available, will I be able to switch without repricing?

  56. I know CX only releases 1 seat in F per flight (typically? always?) What about in J?

    Does anyone know the numbers for EY? For F? For J?

    It would be great if we could post these numbers for several OW carriers, as I’m sure many of us are trying to snag multiple seats on the same flight(s).

  57. There are some reductions. I am waiting until the change to book a trip to Aruba since it will be 5k less.

  58. So changing a booking that has two AA flights to an AA and Oneworld flight would not be possible?

  59. @chancer

    …except Lucky is incorrect. And so are you. AA official policy, even if unwritten, is to allow dropping of first or last segment without fee, provided it does not change award type, amount of miles, etc.

    So, @Andrew, you would be able to drop your first JFK leg without fee or reprice.

    Glad we cleared that up.

  60. @Ben , right, not much room for an error. So, still, if I book the ticket online on March 21, will the date of issue be March 21?
    And thank you for all your time!!!

  61. @ AJK – As I said, you’d be counting on whether or not an agent will abide by something unwritten. I had a United agent offer to redeposit without fee due to a less than thirty minute schedule change. Would I count on the same response again? No, which is why I said that just because users on FT reported success in changing origin/destination without redeposit fee, the same should not be expected especially after devaluation. The simplest way to avoid any chance of a reprice is obviously to narrow down your itinerary to what is most acceptable and not wonder if you will have complete freedom to make changes later on. That’s just not something anyone should count on.

  62. Nope. It’s written, just nowhere you can see. There’s a difference between the scenario you had, where the agent clearly went beyond what was required, and the scenario here an agent would not have to.

    Your advice of making your itinerary as simple as possible is similarly misplaced. It doesn’t matter if your itinerary is JFK-HKG in CX F, or JFK-SFO-LAX-NRT-HKG in AA F and CX F, as long as your O/D remain the same, go bananas on routing, provided award stays the same.

  63. Grr, excuse the typos — reposted for clarity:

    Nope. It’s written, just nowhere you can see. There’s a difference between the scenario you had, where the agent clearly went beyond what was required, and the scenario here, *where* an agent would not have to.

    Your advice of making your itinerary as simple as possible is similarly misplaced. It doesn’t matter if your itinerary is JFK-HKG in CX F, or JFK-SFO-LAX-NRT-HKG in AA F and *JL* F, as long as your O/D remain the same, go bananas on routing, provided award stays the same.

  64. @ AJK – Your insistence on proving me wrong has made you misread my posts. All along I’ve said that origin and destination should stay the same so as to not trigger redeposit fees and higher redemption rates. What I’m suggesting is that people settle on a specific origin and destination and not try, as @Andrew proposes for example, to keep both JFK and SFO in play as origin and both NRT and KIX as possible destinations. You can’t count on unwritten rules being applied the same way post devaluation when it will be in AA’s interest to redeposit and charge the higher redemption rates.

    Anyway, you’ve made up your mind that unwriiten rules are good as gold, so my reply is really for people who are still up in the air about what to book. The worse that will happen if you err on the side of caution, and don’t count on being able to freely change origin/destination, is you might have to pay for a short haul flight or train ride if your plans change. This is a relatvely painless option I’ve done myself which offers me a lot more freedom and peace of mind than relying on phone agents. But if HUCA is your preferred method, have at it.

  65. I’ve ask about the free drop segment Gary talked about but he continues to ignore the question… so for the drop segment situation, does the origin/destination need to remain the same based on pre or post deval chart?

    e.g. CMB-HKG-LAX and dropping CMB-HKG would change the region in the post deval chart since Sri Lanka is moved from Asia 2 to Middle East

    I’m guessing it’s a grey area, but hoping you might have insight on this.

    Also, we all know AA can take days, weeks or months to “ticket” an award, do we just need to have the process started before 3/22?

  66. I have the same question as Deborah:
    “Deborah says:
    March 10, 2016 at 3:53 pm
    I have SLC-LAX-AKL booked round trip on domestic AA and international segments on TN in biz. If AA opens up space on their metal LAX-AKL, will it cause a reissue and higher mileage to change?”

    Could someone please chime in ?

  67. Why can’t change DFW-HKG on AA to DFW-LAX-HKG AA+CX? aren’t AA and CX all one world partners?

  68. So what you’re saying is, I should book a fantastic trip now even if I don’t have one planned to get the best use of miles and I can change the dates in the future?

  69. @Lucky

    If I booked a one way award on BA from LAX-LHR-HKG for November 10th. Now today, I want to change it to CX LAX-HKG leaving 2 days from now instead? Would that be allowed free of charge ?

    Off topic, why is my avatar Benjamin Franklin on your website ? How do I change it ?

  70. AA rep was advising me that the trip should originate 365 days out from the date of ticketing. The return date does not matter it seems. What do you think Lucky?

  71. @Justin – I am not Lucky, but I can tell you that AA will charge for the change. Reason: LAX-LHR-HKG are two awards (LAX-LHR and LHR-HKG) whereas LAX-HKG is one award.

  72. Lucky or Tiffany,

    I’m thinking of locking in BA flights to go from Canada to Europe, though I prefer AA to avoid BA’s exorbitant carrier surcharges.
    Could you confirm that later on, I can switch from an award exclusively on oneworld partners (BA) to an award exclusively on American?
    Would I then be getting a refund of BA’s carrier surcharges?

    Thanks.

  73. Such a long list of questions…hope mine is able to be addressed…
    I am booking two awards prior to devaluation …one to be flown this year
    ORD >LHR >VCA and one in January 2017, ORD > NRT > BBK
    Here is the quandary….both are to be ‘booked’ this year, one to be flown this year, and one the next.
    However ….the CITI Aviator Silver card only allows for ONE REBATE of 10,000 mile PER YEAR
    by booking BOTH now, I ‘read’ that I would be SOL for the second rebate….
    Your opinion ?

  74. So does it mean that AA F LAX-NRT for example can be rebooked to JL F on the same route? If yes, this makes me wonder why the AA F availability is high on certain dates while JL is zero.

  75. I’m trying to book an ACTUAL trip to HKG for Jan/Feb 2017. CX flights from ANYWHERE are being snapped up by “placeholders”. I’ve been a long time fan of this blog, but I find it “very bad karma” to recommend to your readers that they take away award seats that others want, just to ‘lock in’ a lower rate. It’s really not the RIGHT thing to do.

    Why not recommend that they then cancel the award without redepositing the miles?

  76. Does AA still allow stopovers at the North American gateway city? So if I have an award from London to San Jose in BA F, could I then tack on a flight to New York in AA F or through Vancouver in CX F on some later date?

  77. I have very few miles and not sure of an exact date for CLT to SXM but I can book F class with what I have for dates I think I might be able to plan a trip. Can dates move forward and backward?

  78. I am seeing availability on BA for 2 biz seats on Cathay but when I call AA they are not. I’m don’t often book AA so I’m not certain if this is common or…

    Also, looking for alternative flights, if I book Qatar LAX-DOH-DPS might I later be able to change the award to Cathay Pacific, given both would be Oneworld awards?

    Thanks for any help!

  79. I have a trip I know I’m going to take next Jan, I just actually booked business class tix on Cathay for it just recently. Given the advice here, are you saying it’s better to find a first class award on a different date, with hopes it will open up later for the dates I actually want?

    I’m trying to travel to PVG, and had heard recently something about Cathay no longer opening up first class awards right near the date of travel, still worth doing this if that’s the case?

  80. Just booked an award flight, first time I’ve had to call. Including wait time the entire phone call was only 11 minutes. I’m sure the wait time will get longer as we approach the 22nd, but way better than I thought it would be.

  81. @ Garth — Yes, BA often shows these phantom spaces.

    I did this last time and got 2 kinds of agents, one insisted that I needed to pay $150 change fee (“For awards involving travel on other airlines, origin or destination changes or changes to the airline(s) in the itinerary will incur a change fee of $150, even when retaining the same award type.”), so I just hung up and called again, until I managed to find someone who mentioned nothing about this new rule. It was only the third call, if I remembered correctly.

    Hope it helps!

  82. Thanks @ Ryan! As we get closer to March 22 I’m leaning more towards booking the Qatar LAX-DOH-DPS. Worst case is a 777 to Doha and a 787 to Bali. That is, if that award space isn’t phantom, too!

  83. AA miles on a DFW-CUN route.
    I try to follow the “new” awards needed, but I am confused as it look like it will take -LESS_ miles for the round trip.
    could it be?
    Thank you!

  84. To confirm, If I want to go from ORD to HKG to REP and I dont see the availability I want right now. I will just book any itinerary on CX like ORD to LGA to HKG to REP for 1/2017 and change it closer to travel and then can move it out to something like 6/2017?

    When I change it I will not have to reprice or redeposit as long as its still ORD to REP on a one world carrier?

    Thanks.

  85. My ideal flight opened up today and I locked it down with a 10 minute call to AA! LAX-HKG-DPS on Cathay in business for my girlfriend and I. Keep trying… availability is always changing, especially with many people holding awards approaching the deadline. Thanks all for the help and advice!!

  86. can you do dfw-lax-hkg-bkk in CX 1st and then in the future, change to jfk-hkg-bkk? viewfromthewing seems to think this will be okay?

  87. I have been calling AA to rebook my pre-devaluation award seats (I booked 6 one way tickets) and there seems to be a lot of confusion with agents regarding changes and the miles needed for a change. Best thing to do when you find award space and they give you a hard time about a change A) ask them to check with a supervisor or B) place your desired seat on hold and call back to ticket with another agent. Furthermore I will add that the British Airways site really only gives you a fraction of availability. For CX First in particular calling AA every day for 7-10 days before your desired departure is where the magic truly happens. All of my desired routings have been booked by calling in and they did not ever show up on BA. I have been studying CX First availability consistently for 60 days!

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