I booked an American flight from SFO to Chicago today for a cool 22,500 miles (well, 25,000 miles before the 10% rebate I get via Citi’s co-brand card). I had been led to believe such a thing wasn’t possible, that American had the worst saver availability on its own flights of any US carrier. At least in this situation, I’m not so sure that’s the case. It’s late and I want to go to sleep, so I’m not going to write too much about this – I’ll let the screen shots do most of the talking.
Here’s AA from SFO to Chicago in October:
And here’s United: not a single day of availability, unless you count October 21st, on which United is generously offering you the chance to ride on an ERJ-175 from SFO to Boise to Chicago for the low, low price of 25,000 miles.
This is only one route, so I don’t know if it signifies a trend, or if American is uncharacteristically generous here. I will say that I have had a terrible time finding United saver first class awards domestically (both for myself and for other people I’ve helped with award bookings), and when I do find availability, it’s never on a direct flight. In general, I don’t love redeeming miles for domestic awards in the first place, although I have a bunch of AAdvantage miles earned through credit card sign-ups and no plan to use them. As a result, it seemed like a decent way to avoid four hours in economy, and the value per point wasn’t terrible either (around 1.78 cents per point after the 10% rebate if you peg the value of the ticket at $400, which is the lowest fare I could find on any carrier). I’m not excited about the flight by any stretch (given my last experience on American), although for all the bluster I kicked up the other day regarding aspirational redemptions, I’m still grab a utilitarian redemption when it makes sense (ie: I have the points and no plans to use them, I don’t want to fly economy to Chicago, and I don’t have $400 lying around).
This is pretty much my experience as well. Sometimes they are there, sometimes they are not. Sure, it’s frustrating that for *international* reasonable Saver redemptions for J have all but disappeared. But, domestically, there are plenty of good deals, including 7500 miles RT for shorthaul routes. The sweet spot, as you have noted, tends to be Saver F seats. I usually ask myself about a published price whether I might conceivably pay it in cash. Marked against that, it is not unusual to get >1.5 cents for an AA point, which is sometimes useful for me, especially where I am flying around folks who don’t need or want EQMs, EQDs, RMs, and other airline weirdnesses. I’m talking MiL, younger family members … flying two of the latter out to HNL this summer, including returns HNL-DFW probably in lie-flat F/J for the overnight, for about 62000 miles (including DFW F connections) on return. I’m still (for now) an AA Exec Plat, so I’m comparing this with trying to find a fully refundable F ticket (since younger folks can easily cancel out at last minute) at $1000 or less (good luck with that).
Like with a lot of stuff you are posting lately, it’s really hard to make blanket statements about what stuff is or isn’t worth. The linear thinking is a trap. Most of this nonsense only takes on real value when you are bundling it.
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