It’s not so much the devaluations themselves that bother me. The other major airlines United & Delta did their devaluations last year and United actually gave several months advance notice. It’s the fact that this time there was NO ADVANCE NOTICE!
The travel blogosphere is up in arms starting with Dan’s Deals reporting that stopovers (at North American international gateway cities) would be eliminated. Then Lucky posted on One Mile At A Time the further bad news that AAnytime AAwards were increasing with detailed charts. Travel Summary chimed in with the US Airways increase to the popular North America – North Asia award which went from 90k in business class to 110k.
Now those 3 changes had very little effect on most birders and eco-tourists. We tend to plan in advance and use Saver Awards (capacity controlled and best booked way in advance), not the more expensive AAnytime awards. The North America – North Asia route wouldn’t be on a typical eco-travel itinerary. The loss of the North American gateway stopover could affect Americans who want to visit Grandma in LAX enroute to Australia or Brazil.
But all of the above pales in contrast to the loss of the OneWorld Explorer award.
This gem of an award was perfect for anyone wanting to avoid American’s strict routing rules and hop around various destinations as they wished. As long as you used at least 2 OneWorld carriers, you were fine.
This would have allowed me to go from Brisbane to South America via the USA and have a few stop-overs and I was eyeing one for 2016. Ironically, I have the miles but not the cash to pay for the lodges and birding guides which is why I have to allow a couple years to save for it.
The obvious lesson here is don’t hoard your miles – spend them! Devaluations can come at any time, though ideally we would at least get some advance notice. I wish I could be redeeming my miles more often but as a birder, I can’t use miles to pay for the vast majority of my ground expenses so I am pretty well stuck. Cash is a lot harder for me to get than miles!