It’s very simple: award charts promote accountability, transparency, and predictability. The latest hints that American Airlines will soon remove its award chart must be met with deep skepticism and indeed a reasonable assumption that sinister motives are at play.
American Airlines Removing Award Charts – Are Sinister Motives At Play?
Rick Elieson, who runs the AAdvantage program at American Airlines, told The Points Guy that the days of award charts at AA are numbered. Since taking over that role, Elieson has expressed curiosity and a degree of confusion over why award charts matter so much to AAdvantage members.
There’s very real concern on my part, two years later, that Elieson fundamentally fails to understand the program that he runs. For example, he said:
The current award charts list your mileage redemption options for flights only — there’s no mention of using your miles for other ancillary purchases like extra-legroom seats, upgrades, and more.
Elieson doesn’t even know his program. He doesn’t understand that AA does have a very-detailed upgrade chart and that for years, upgrades could be purchased with miles plus co-pay.
More fundamentally, there is nothing stopping American Airlines from adding award charts for purchasing baggage, extra legroom seats, priority boarding, or snacks onboard. Having award charts and letting passengers pay for ancillary purchases with miles is not mutually exclusive.
What we’ve seen at Delta Air Lines and United Airlines gives us a very good indication of what we’ll see at American Airlines if the airline follows through on its plan to eliminate award charts. That includes:
- Massive inflation of premium cabin redemption pricing
- Steady inflation of partner award pricing
- Loss of value on upgrade awards
The only benefits are the those occasional deals on lower-priced economy class awards that Delta and United have used to justify the devaluation throughout the rest of the program. It’s like taking 10 but giving one back and calling it a benefit.
In terms of American Airlines flights, American Airlines has already killed the award chart for practical purposes. So-called “saver awards” at published prices are difficult to find. Instead, we see “anytime awards” that can be exorbitantly expensive and “web special awards” that are often much cheaper than published prices, but only available to AAdvantage members, not oneworld partners.
But that current dysfunctional system does not indicate a problem with award charts, since AA’s partner award chart works predictably well.
Instead of looking to Delta and United for guidance, American should look to its new oneworld partner Alaska and look at its own balance sheets: there is a reason that AA does better on co-brnaded credit cards than Delta or United and it isn’t so unreasonable to conclude it is because AA offers the more transparent and valuable program.
Is “sinister” too harsh when describing the removal of award charts? No, it is actually not when you have Orwellian doublespeak coming from the mouth of program leaders. Sinister is on-point when you have a leader promising value by taking away transparency. It simply doesn’t make sense. It is illogical. Therefore, it is no unreasonable to conclude the motives are sinister…lie to members and reduce the value of their hard-earned points.
Make no mistake: there will be severe award chart inflation on premium cabin awards and on upgrades if American Airlines proceeds with its plan to eliminate award charts. If you are an AAdvantage member, please let American Airlines know that you oppose any removal of award charts…before it is too late.
Will you cut your American Airlines credit cards and stop being loyal to AA if it eliminates award chart and raises pricing on awards?
image: American Airlines