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Fed Up With AA Air Miles

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Aug 16th, 2012, 04:59 PM
  #1
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Fed Up With AA Air Miles

AA is making it increasingly difficult to use their air miles.

Increasingly they make the better flights unavailable for the minumum number of miles.

Is it only AA or are they all like that now?

If any are easier to use please let me know.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 05:13 PM
  #2
 
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Without more information it's hard to give a useful answer. Which "better" flights are you referring to? When? What class of service?

Or perhaps you just want to vent.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 06:01 PM
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Southwest is far better, IMOP. I have been able to use them just fine on 4 or 5 trips. I have yet to use any of my AA points(I have about 250k with them)

I have both credit cards. When I am able to use my AA miles(seems almost impossible to use them at their minimum number of miles-even when trying to book the very day they become available)I will do away with the AA card.

Southwest is fair with their mileage(they charge you more miles during Christmas only-at least thats the way I see it) and they don't charge you for luggage. Plus, they screw up far less on flights being cancelled, luggage issues, etc.

Of course, my opinion on all of this.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 06:09 PM
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And while on the subject. I live 10 minutes from Fort Smith airport and live 2 hours from Tulsa. The flight from Fort Smith to Dallas(connection for most AA flights for me) is always $150-$200 more than Tulsa, yet the flight is actually less miles. AA bases all their rates on what the competition is doing(they really don't have any comp in Fort Smith).
XNA(Northwest AR) does have United and AA. They both charge more there than Tulsa too. You let someone like Jetblue or Southwest start flying there and prices will drop.

What's funny to me is that Southwest is able to make a profit and the others can't.

I understand markets vary from city to city. But, there is now way it can be that big a difference. Car rental companies and most airlines have somehow missed the basic fundamentals of economics. I expect to pay 10% more of so for gas, a cup of coffee, etc. But I don't expect to pay 50-100% more to fly or rent a car.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 06:12 PM
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What I mean is this. Why can you rent a car in Vegas for $17 per day and the same car in Denver can cost you $60.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 06:29 PM
  #6
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Gardyloo,
A better flight would be a shorter time between flights, a flight with less changes or coming back from Europe on a flight that has one or no changes as opposes to having to sleep over in London.

It's easy to see the better flights. Just click on the higher mile charges (50 or 60k per leg to/from Europe) and you see them.

About Southwest. I don't think they fly anywhere outside of the US.

Even in the US I once tried to fly with them and ended up paying more with a different airline because SW had one or two flights per day and the other had a much better choice.

If I save a couple of bucks and lose a day of a trip or have to add a day because of the ariline schedule I didn't get much out of it.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 06:51 PM
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Your right, SW doesn't fly to nearly as many places as other carriers. But, check schedules and see what they have to offer.

SW has added a lot more destinations and flights than what they did have though. Perhaps they work well for me, because I am centered in the US.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 07:13 PM
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A better flight would be a shorter time between flights, a flight with less changes or coming back from Europe on a flight that has one or no changes as opposes to having to sleep over in London.

Coming back to... Albany? Albuquerque? Anchorage? Sleeping over in London is usually only an issue if the originating flight plus MCT at Heathrow misses late departures to the US. Time zones happen. But without specifics I'm only speculating.

Many times with redemption trips it's the connecting flights intra-US that create the roadblocks; cheap fares tend to fill planes (as they drive the airlines into bankruptcy and force nickel-dime behaviors) and schedules have been dramatically reduced due to the economic situation.

Did you check out availability on partners? I've found that it's surprisingly easy to use AA miles, even in peak summer periods, for transatlantic travel, provided you're familiar with how to look for/ask for partner space. In the next 10 days or so, I can see award space availability ("SAAver," not "AAnytime") to New York from London most days, albeit mainly on British Airways planes. (BA has much more capacity crossing the Atlantic than American.) I haven't even bothered to check on space on Iberia, Finnair, or airBerlin from Madrid, Helsinki, or Dusseldorf/Berlin respectively, but know from experience that there is frequently space using those carriers. But they only fly where they fly; you won't see a Finnair A330 in Tallahassee.

Over the years I've redeemed around a million and a half miles on AA or AA partner flights, and I've never had a trip where I couldn't get redemption seats if I was fairly flexible with my route or travel dates. In my view (but others have differing opinions) AA's FF program is by far the best of the lot, owing to its broad range of partners and flexibility in its route options. I've helped a lot of friends book holidays using Alaska, United and Continental miles, BA miles and Adios points, and a few using Delta SkyPesos, and firmly believe AA's program is head and shoulders above those.

But as we say, YMMV.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 07:17 PM
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YMMV?
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Aug 16th, 2012, 07:23 PM
  #10
 
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Your mileage may vary.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 07:32 PM
  #11
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I have used AA miles many times. As late as this June.

We flew to Marseille and back from Paris. I use Miami as a return so it's not an obscure return. That became a battle of wills and I only won because one of my flights had been cancelled and they didn't tell me for 3 months.

Last year I flew from Miami to Calgary and back from Vancouver.

This year I couldn't get a minimum miles flight to Calgary.

What we did in the past is no indication of the challenges now.

I find that over the past 6-8 months they really tightened the screws.

I might have to look at Delta. They fly to a lot of places that are of interest to me but I hate them. I've never bought a Delta ticket that flew as I purchsed it. Always changes and never for the better.

I just flew United to Calgary and back. Maybe I should look at them. They didn't change anything from when I purchase it. Every flight was on time even though they waited a half hour on the last flight so two connecting flights could meet. Also, they had good schedules.

But I've never flown with them before this. I'll take a look especially since they bought Continental.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 07:39 PM
  #12
 
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...(seems almost impossible to use them at their minimum number of miles-even when trying to book the very day they become available)...

This is a common misconception; frequent flyer seats don't "become available" at any one time, most especially at 330 days out, when the flights become available. "Award" inventory (I hate the term "award" flights - whether you know it or not, you paid money for those miles) becomes available if and when the revenue-management algorithms say it's safe to release X number of seats into redemption categories. This occurs throughout the 330-day availability for the flight, usually just a few seats at a time, while the computers and Hogwarts grads in RM try to predict how many seats they'll sell for real money, and in which fare buckets.

Often the closer you get to flight dates (hence my comment above about the next couple of weeks) the computers decide that it's safe to put seats into redemption categories since the probability of money sales (at higher short-term fare levels) is low enough to do so. Plays havoc with vacation planners who want to book things months in advance, but that's the way it is.

Segment pricing has virtually nothing to do with distance flown, and everything to do with demand and competition (supply.) Not too different from most other commodities, from Fritos to Ferraris.
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Aug 16th, 2012, 10:11 PM
  #13
 
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They not only release seats during the time between 330 days and the trip, there are also cancellations along the way.

Folks that booked early, change their plans.

Meyer - I have my share of Delta miles and I also hate the company. I use my miles only to visit a friend in NC.
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Aug 17th, 2012, 03:37 AM
  #14
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What are Delta and United like for redeeming air miles?
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Aug 17th, 2012, 04:14 AM
  #15
 
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Whatever you want to call them, I don't figure I paid for them. I pay off my credit card each month(have it set to automatically withdraw from my banking account). So, if I were paying with cash, check, or other regular CC, then I wouldn't receive anything. I fly a couple of times a years, so I don't accumulate that many miles that way each year.
BTW, I still consider GM Card to be the best reward card. You get 5% on it.

I fully understand that they release seats at any time.
I normally have my plans made 9-12 months in advance.

Yes, I always could go "anytime miles". But, it is nearly impossible to use the minimum miles trip on every trip I have wanted to use them on over the past 3 or 4 years.

With Southwest, if your airfare is $300 then you would use like 12,000 points. If your ticket is $400, then you would use like 16,000 points.
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Aug 17th, 2012, 06:00 AM
  #16
 
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Much about your post confuses me. The idea of comparing Southwest's awards within the US to AA's awards to and from Europe is really a head scratcher. Another thing is the reference to staying over in London. Huh? To my knowledge, AA has no flights within Europe to London. So it sounds like the issue might be with other One World Airlines.

Normally I use AA miles and book the 11 months ahead with no problems. But I was kind of surprised this year when I was able to book TWO business class award seats for our itinerary in September, even though I waited till February. My only problem has been an 8 hour layover in London before picking up our BA flight onward to Venice, although I've been trying to get an earlier flight for months now. But that's really an issue with BA, and reasonable since it's the first day of the Venice Film Festival!
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Aug 17th, 2012, 06:21 AM
  #17
 
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I have better luck redeeming my AA miles when we fly to Europe or the Caribbean. I got on a few months ago to just check availability to several destinations, using the flexible search. If I found flights, the connections were crazy.

I have had difficulty using AA for reasonable domestic flights or even to Canada. CLE-Halifax or Calgary required 4 connections and took all day.

I have never had a problem redeeming CO/United miles for domestic flights but they also offer more total flights from Cleveland. American has reduced the number of flights from Cleveland so that contributes to my problem with redemption.
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Aug 17th, 2012, 07:43 AM
  #18
 
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Whatever you want to call them, I don't figure I paid for them.

That's their plan.

You paid for them indirectly - in $50 or $95 annual credit card fees if nothing else. Less visible methods (but a tenth of a cent multiplied by billions of transactions mounts up) include the markups businesses add in order to cover credit card processing fees.

Tell me, have you heard of any bank that undertook some "service" that wasn't intended to be profit-making? In point of fact, mileage credit cards are huge cash cows to the airlines and to the banks. The airlines sell billions (trillions?) of miles to the credit card-issuing banks for some (secret) fraction of a cent each, then the banks re-sell the miles to you, in CC annual and late fees, service markups charged to retailers (and passed indirectly on to you) and of course through interest and penalties assessed against the (majority) that don't pay their balances monthly.

When it comes time to redeem miles, many people (again, a secret known only to the airlines) don't have enough miles to redeem for anything but cheap coach seats, and millions of others got the miles but never paid attention to the balance such that their 5000 or 10,000 mile balance is never redeemed at all, and after 18 months it goes away. As with retail gift certificates, there's huge "leakage" - credit that's never redeemed - from FF programs. The airlines get the cash from the banks, the banks get your fees, and the best you can do is redeem the miles for a coach ticket that fills a seat that would otherwise go empty. When you redeem 20,000 miles for a seat that has a marginal cost of maybe $100 to an airline, that's taking a part of the airline's contingent liabilities off the balance sheet with a negligible impact on the P&L sheets. And if you don't redeem your miles, as many people don't, then it's pure profit long term to the airline and the bank.

Multiply this by a few million consumers, and it's not small money. In fact, when Air Canada went bankrupt a few years ago, it sold off its "Aeroplan" frequent flyer program for more money than the rest of Air Canada was worth.

Bottom line, if it wasn't profitable to the banks and airlines, they wouldn't do it.

My only problem has been an 8 hour layover in London before picking up our BA flight onward to Venice...

BA operates most of its VCE flights from Gatwick airport, not Heathrow. It's like American flying you to LaGuardia and connecting out of JFK - about as consumer-friendly as a sharp stick. But it's all part of the business - the more you know, the better job you'll make of manipulating it to your AAdvantage.
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Aug 17th, 2012, 07:51 AM
  #19
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NeoPatrick,
I didn't bring up SouthWest I think spiro did.

I have an AA card and over the past 6-8 months they've really made it more difficult.

When I check I select AA or partner so BA comes into it as well.

The more preferrable flights will fly back directly from say Rome to Miami (for me) with a change in London (LHR). But for those you usually have to be willing to use 60,000 miles for the return leg per person. The minumum miles now usually gets a night in London. Not good.
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Aug 17th, 2012, 08:01 AM
  #20
 
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"BA operates most of its VCE flights from Gatwick airport, not Heathrow."

Actually on Sunday -- which we're traveling, we found the same number of flights to Venice from Heathrow as from Gatwick. And since posting this morning, I have finally had success -- was able to get the earlier flight from LHR to VCE, so no longer have that 8 plus hours layover. Just three hours -- fine with clearing passport control and switching terminals.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Myer, my apologies -- somewhere along the line I forgot who the original poster was!

Meanwhile have you checked One World award travel? I have now generally switched to that and find better availability. In fact our flights this year -- JFK-LHR, LHR-VCE, FCO-MAD, and MAD-JFK is only 80,000 each in Business Class. It would be way more booked as AA tickets, and if fact couldn't include one of those other connecting flights! Next year I'm looking at flights to London, then to Vienna, then to Zurich, and a non stop return from Zurich to JFK. Again, all that is only 80,000 miles in Business Class!

Meanwhile, I'd also suggest you call and talk with a rep about those BA flights. I've found that many will not show up online but can be booked for you. Even this morning the rep on the phone had to put me on hold and confirm with BA that she could book me on the earlier BA business class flight from London to Venice just two weeks from now -- even though it showed no availability. She was successful in doing so.
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