The coronavirus crisis has thrown the entire travel industry into turmoil and it can be confusing how brands respond. American Airlines, however, is dropping prices while United is increasing them.
American Airlines Web Specials
American Airlines offers web specials in its response to dynamic pricing from other carriers. This allows the carrier to offer discounts for flights or classes of service that aren’t selling as expected, without throwing the award chart out to do it.
American Airlines charges 140,000 miles for a “saver” roundtrip in business class from the US to Asia, 375,000 for standard awards. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that charging 375,000 miles for any long haul flights in the near future was borderline criminal.
However, they have some dates that offer 90,000 points roundtrip in business class and even 110,000 in first class on American Airlines.
We will probably just use Hong Kong as a jumping-off point for other destinations in the region such as Bangkok, Sanya, and perhaps a return to Laos. But if you’d prefer a direct approach to other destinations in Asia, they may be available. Some business class flights to Europe are even cheaper.
United Airlines Increases Prices
United Airlines increased the number of miles required for Star Alliance partner awards. Kirby’s trademark lack of availability for saver-level premium awards has taken hold at United at the least possible opportune time.
Award prices on United metal price at 80,000 in coach but increase to 88,000 for partner awards for the same route.
For the time being it’s just 2,000 miles more to fly American Airlines business class to Hong Kong than it is to utilize United miles in coach. There’s no way we could pass up this two for one business class deal when compared to United Mileage Plus.
American’s Old vs. New Search Tool
A word of caution when searching for fares like this. You will need to search American Airlines new award booking tool to find web specials and premium economy flights. For the avoidance of doubt, you want to search this site specifically for deals. The old site (sometimes populated automatically from aa.com) will not provide the same options.
In a shocking turn of events, American Airlines is the airline offering terrific value for flyers while United Airlines is gouging customers. There is very little likelihood that the carrier has sold very many seats at all, the flights are only a few months away. The pricing increase is indefensible. Anyone with a sufficient balance on American should scoop up deals if they can. Executive Platinums are exempt from any cancellation and redepositing costs.
What do you think? Does this move make sense for United? What about for American?