Right on the heels of the prospective Marriott-Starwood merger that will probably see the end of Aussies’ only transfer route to American Airlines, AA (one of my Top 8 recommended programs) has now advised their new award chart which affects awards booked on/after 22 March 2016 – and it ain’t pretty!
In a nutshell: Not only will American Airlines miles be harder to get, the ones you already have are being devalued!
I am going to focus on the award redeeming area since this blog doesn’t cater to business travelers and anyone who is concerned with earning status or crediting miles from paid tickets. You can read all the details of the new program here. My target audience is the average Joe/Jane who wants a free trip to someplace that has amazing birding and wants to get miles from their everyday spending on credit cards and sign-up bonuses.
This is the old chart which is in effect until 21 March 2016. I have highlighted the most popular long-haul redemptions for Aussie eco-tourists: Central/South America & Africa. I am leaving Asia out of the equation since there are easier options with low-cost carriers such as Air Asia.
Here’s the new chart effective for flights booked on or after 22 March 2016.
As you can see there is a modest increase on the Central/South America reg 1 in economy, somewhat worse increases on South America reg 2 and Africa in economy and huge 35-40% increases in business class to everywhere! First class is even worse, though I have never really considered first as an option as long as I can get some sleep in a lie-flat business class seat. Business class to Central/South America on the Qantas & Lan trans-Pacific flights are a moot point as they are rarer than hens’ teeth!
ONE SILVER LINING
Awards within the South Pacific region – mostly on Qantas and Fiji Airways are going down from 20,000 to 15,000 in economy so that can be good if you are looking at Fiji, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu & New Caledonia. Australia – New Zealand is going up from 10,000 to 15,000.
ONLY AN OPTION UNTIL LATE 2016
If all your American Airline miles come from your Amex Membership Rewards points via SPG, I expect that option will end in late 2016 after Marriott acquires SPG. It is widely expected that the Marriott Rewards program will swallow the SPG program.
If you are an Aussie who wants to go to Africa or Central/South America before early Feb 2017 you should transfer your Amex to SPG and on to AA before the new charts take effect. Before you move your Amex points, check that the availability is there as you won’t be able to move them back to Amex.