American AAdvantage still has award charts, although the awards you book may not be based on chart pricing. They’ve increased the price of ‘unpublished any time’ award levels and a one way business class ticket on an American flight to Tokyo may now cost as much as 450,000 miles – but there’s something to look for that could cut the cost of the same redemption by 84%.
First, some background in how American prices awards. There are actually 3 different ways:
- Saver award prices which are specific inventory for American Airlines flights, and how all partner flights are priced.
- Anytime award prices this is the most you should pay for an award, and is based on a chart as well.
- Dynamic prices introduced as web saver, these may be more or less than a saver award price, but less than the applicable anytime price.
Revenue-based award prices are what you’ll find most of the time when redeeming for American Airlines flights. And American’s Anytime Award chart isn’t very transparent either. They reveal levels 1 and 2 on their award chart but there are actually five levels, and level 3-5 are unpublished.
In December 2019 American raised its unpublished Anytime prices. I never noticed. After all I stopped most award searches for American Airlines flights in late February. To be clear this was not a devaluation during the pandemic like we’ve seen from SkyMiles and MileagePlus.
It’s now possible for a one-way transpacific flight on American Airlines in business class to be 450,000 miles!
The previous most expensive business class award I was aware of was 375,000 miles one way to Australia.
The good news is that you can check another departure city, especially if you live somewhere with multiple airports, and you may find a completely different price. That 450,000 mile business class flight to Tokyo? You can pick up the same long haul flight for 70,000 miles if you start from LaGuardia instead of Newark:
Although American Airlines still has award charts, they don’t announce changes to their ‘unpublished’ Anytime award levels. And that means Anytime awards effectively don’t have a published chart. And American Airlines awards are mostly dynamically prices. Where the award chart still matters, and remains truly in effect, is for partner awards – which is really how I redeem my AAdvantage miles anyway.