AA is making it easy than ever before to book oneworld partner award space. That’s devastating news to savvy travelers.
Last night, award space on the following partners appeared on AA.com for the first time:
- Cathay Pacific
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Sri Lankan Airlines
This morning, these partners no longer appear online, though I am guessing this is a temporary issue. Yesterday, these partners only showed up on shorter segments of connecting itineraries. All nonstop flights, whether shorthaul or longhaul, were not bookable online. Search for Los Angeles to Hong Kong and you’d find, for example, AA space to Tokyo and a connection on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, but no award space on a non-stop flight, even if Cathay Pacific had made it available to partners.
How do you know Cathay Pacific has made award space available to partners? It shows up on the British Airways’ Executive Club award search website, which is my go-to place to search for oneworld awards. What you see on the British Airways website you should also be able to book using your American Airlines miles.
AA likely pulled back this increased online functionality until it can work out the kinks: it did the same thing when it introduced Iberia award availability online last year. I reached out to AA for official confirmation and just received the following reply:
Late yesterday, we incorrectly displayed award bookings for several of our partners on aa.com and they have since been removed. Making more award partners bookable on aa.com is something that our customers continually ask for, so please rest assured that we are working towards this.
My read: just be a bit more patient. It’s coming soon.
Why This Is Devastating News
What could be devastating about making it easier than ever before to book award space on four superb AA partners? In a word, competition. Most passengers believe that if the space does not appear on the website, it is not available. Most have no idea that AA has (well, had) several amazing partners that could only be booked over the phone. For those savvy travelers in the know, this presented an excellent source of additional award space. With these partners soon to be online, competition will be much fiercer for these seats, potentially diminishing the value of your miles.
JAL, The Last Holdout
At least JAL did not appear online last night. Maybe that redemption, along with Air Tahiti Nui, will remain telephone only. I hope so…
This website enhancement will help far more people than it will hurt. Even so, it represents a step back for those who knew they could call up and secure Cathay Pacific or Qatar Airways award space for the entire family over the phone. That will no longer be nearly as easy.