Still alive 16 months later. How long will it last?
On March 22, 2016, the American Airlines devaluation struck.
— MileValue (@MileValue) March 22, 2016
However, you can still book American Airlines flight at the old prices if you use Alaska or Etihad miles. I don’t know how long this will last, maybe a few days or months, until they notice and ape American’s higher prices.
Let’s back up a little bit.
It just so happens that Alaska Airlines and Etihad Airways, partners of American Airlines, charge the same number of miles for American Airlines flights as American Airlines did until March 22, 2016. Both airlines even allow the booking of off peak awards on the same off peak dates as American allowed until March 22, 2016.
I say “it just so happens” because there is nothing expected or ordinary about this. British Airways, another American Airlines partner, never charged the same number of miles for American Airlines flights as American Airlines did, nor did it have discounts for American Airlines off peak awards. As a general rule: different miles, different rules, different chart. But for whatever reason, Alaska and Etihad decided to copy American’s chart when using Alaska or Etihad miles to redeem American flights.
And those copied charts are still in effect today–16 months after American Airlines gutted the chart that Etihad and Alaska were copying.
Using Alaska Miles
For instance, if you go to alaskaair.com and search for an award to Buenos Aires in May…
…you see a lot of flights for 20,000 miles.
Those are the price you would have paid until March 21, 2016 for American Airlines off peak awards.That is particularly amazing because American Airlines did away with off peak awards to Southern South America in March 2016. The same award costs 30,000 American Airlines miles today.
Alaska has different charts for every airline to every region. You can find the charts for using Alaska miles to Europe here. American Airlines awards still show March 2016’s generous off peak dates and price instead of today’s less generous dates and 22,500 mile price.
Using Etihad Miles
Similarly, Etihad’s chart for flying American Airlines flights is the same as it was on March 21, 2016 when it matched American Airlines’ old chart.
What This Doesn’t Mean
These are Alaska and Etihad charts for flying American Airlines airplanes.
You can NOT use these charts to fly other American Airlines partners. For instance, don’t expect to call Etihad and say, “Hi, I found great award space to Sydney in First Class on aa.com that flies Qantas, and I want to pay 72,500 Etihad miles to book it.” Qantas is a partner of American Airlines, not Etihad. (And if it were a partner of Etihad, it would have its own award chart. The chart in this post is for flying airplanes that say American Airlines on the side.)
Getting Alaska Airlines and Etihad Miles
Thank You Points and Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Etihad miles.
The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. Right now the SPG cards have their biggest bonuses ever. The Alaska Airlines credit cards from Bank of America are churnable.
How Long Will This Last?
Etihad and Alaska clearly made conscious decisions to copy American Airlines’ chart (for whatever reason, this is actually unusual.) Since the AA chart changed 16 months, I assumed Etihad’s and Alaska’s charts would quickly change to match it. They haven’t. We will see how long it takes.
If you want to book American Airlines flights, for the moment, you should use Alaska and Etihad miles.