American Airlines Increasing AAnytime Awards to Australia and New Zealand
Back in August, we were alerted that American Airlines was adding higher-level AAnytime award levels to certain routes. By that point, a slew of domestic routes had already been increased — particularly around Thanksgiving. However, the one bit of advance notice we received was that first and business-class awards from the US to Auckland (AKL) and Sydney (SYD) were getting a higher "AAnytime Level 4" rate starting in September.
At the time, the AA spokesperson noted that economy rates wouldn't be changed — at least for the time being. Now, it seems, the time for that change has come. Starting in early-mid February there will be a new, higher redemption level. On a small number of dates, economy rates will be as high as 150,000 AAdvantage miles each way.
|Flights to/from AKL or SYD||Economy|
|AAnytime Level 1||70,000|
|AAnytime Level 2||90,000|
|AAnytime Level 3 **||120,000|
|AAnytime Level 4 **||150,000|
**Note: American Airlines only publishes "MileSAAver" (cheapest awards), "AAnytime Level 1" and "AAnytime Level 2" (most expensive published awards) on its award chart. In addition, the award chart notes, "There are select dates that require a higher number of miles (in addition to Level 1 and 2 awards)." Colloquially, we refer to this next-higher level as "AAnytime Level 3." With the addition of another, higher level, we are referring to this as "AAnytime Level 4." Just note that you won't see this terminology listed by American Airlines.
As with the additional premium cabin levels added in September, this addition just doesn't seem justified. Revenue fares from Los Angeles (LAX) to SYD and AKL are as low as $945 round-trip, and don't usually go any higher than $1,790 round-trip. At a rate of 300,000 award miles round-trip, you're getting less than 0.6 cents per mile of value — well under TPG's 1.5-cent valuation for AAdvantage miles. And, it's not like American Airlines is filling up flights anyway.
Ultimately, this isn't too notable of a devaluation. If you're set on visiting the South Pacific using AAdvantage miles and your dates aren't flexible, you might see a price increase once the changes go into effect. So, you might want to book now if you've got the miles.
Generally though, travelers shouldn't be too affected by this change. With a bit of flexibility — even with American Airlines' SAAver availability — you should be able to book flights with AAnytime Level 1 or 2 rates.
Have you had any luck redeeming AAdvantage miles to Australia or New Zealand recently?