United and Delta have devalued their charts in the last few months, but American and US Airways, which close their merger tomorrow, have not devalued theirs recently.

I have made my own tables comparing the economy, business, and first class award prices on each of the big four US-based airlines’ worst announced award chart.

For United, that is the chart for awards BOOKED February 1, 2014 and later. For Delta, that is the chart for awards FLOWN June 1, 2014 or later. For American and US Airways, I used the current charts.

Which miles are cheapest to the region where you want to go?

There are a few ways to use these charts.

  1. Figure out which miles to earn for your next big trip based on which airline offers the lowest award prices.
  2. Look for likely devaluations on the New American’s award chart after the merger of the AAdvantage and Dividend Miles programs. We obviously hope for no devaluations, but we have to be realistic in light of both competitors’ devaluations.
  3. See where the miles you already have offer a better deal than their competitors.

Links to award charts:

A few more notes about the charts:

  • The roundtrip price is shown for all awards. The charts note that American and United allow one way awards for half that price but US Airways and Delta don’t.
  • The charts are for awards originating in the US 49 (excluding Hawaii) and Canada. The charts note that American and US Airways charge the same price for awards originating in Hawaii, but that United and Delta don’t.
  • Two numbers separated by a slash in the Delta column represent the First Class and Business Elite prices. Business Elite is the better and more expensive offering.
  • Two numbers separated by a slash in the United column represent the United-chart price and partner-chart price. The partner-chart price is higher.
  • Two numbers separated by a slash in the American Airlines or US Airways columns represent off peak and peak pricing. For off peak dates, see their award charts.
  • The best price to a country or region is noted in blue.
  • Each airline has differently defined regions. I accounted for some of that in Asia, but not all of it. If I have a major mistake or omission, let me know in the comments.
  • All prices shown are in thousands of miles and are for awards booked at the Saver award price.

Economy Award Chart Comparison

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 5.29.41 PM

My takeaways:

  • United’s economy devaluation wasn’t so awful as I’ve noted before. Its prices are competitive including being the cheapest to Oceania and the Middle East.
  • American’s off peak awards are the cheapest way to get a lot of places. American has a great economy chart for the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
  • US Airways has a great chart for Africa and North Asia.
  • Possible New American devaluations: Modest, but across the board, increases to stay in line with United.

Business Class Award Chart Comparison

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 5.29.57 PM

My takeaways:

  • United and Delta didn’t devalue near-international business class awards like Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean at all, so all the airlines offer the same price.
  • Huge differences are present on longhaul international awards with US Airways generally having the best price. This is the basic reason I value US Airways miles more highly than any of the other airlines in this discussion.
  • American’s chart is already quite expensive to Africa and the Middle East.
  • United’s new chart isn’t so bad on United metal to India or Australia. I’m really reaching here!
  • Possible New American devaluations: across the board minor increases to the current American chart. American’s chart is already higher than US’s for most places in the world in business class, so starting from the higher chart and increasing prices a bit looks likely.

First Class Award Chart Comparison

I’ve cut off the near-international regions because you can’t fly international first class to most of them.

Delta planes only have two cabins, and Delta miles cannot be used in three-cabin first class on partners.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 5.30.09 PM

  • US Airways has by far the best First Class chart, with the only exception being Southeast Asia, where American allows you to fly in Cathay Pacific First Class for only 67,500 miles one way–a real steal!
  • All the airlines charge an arm and a leg to the Middle East in First Class.
  • Possible New American devaluations: Unfortunately there isn’t much US-based competition to keep First Class devaluations in check. Delta doesn’t offer international first class redemptions and United’s chart is now ridiculous. (280k miles roundtrip in First Class to India!?) I would hope for no or modest devaluations from current American Airlines prices, but if there is a devaluation blood bath it will be on the New American’s First Class chart.

What are your takeaways from the three charts? What are your predictions?

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