American Airlines just discounted domestic Flagship First Class awards
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Although it's not giving up on having an award chart -- it even added new options to its award chart this week -- American Airlines is continuing to shift toward dynamic award pricing. As we've seen, that can be both a good thing and a bad thing.
So far, AA's dynamic award pricing has been limited to economy through AA's Economy Web Specials -- which we've seen range from 10,000 round-trip flights to Australia up to 149,000 one-way flights to Australia.
In business and first class, AA has stuck to defined redemption levels -- from the "MileSAAver" saver level up to the off-the-charts AAnytime Level 4. Having these five award pricing levels gives the airline a tremendous range of prices that it can charge on any given route. However, there's a huge award price jump between MileSAAver and AAnytime Level 1.
To bridge this gap, AA has run a couple of award sales to its AAnytime Level 1 pricing to entice more award bookings without having to release saver availability.
Now, American Airlines just launched one of these sales for domestic Flagship First Class awards between New York Kennedy (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). AAnytime Level 1 first class awards on these routes are discounted from 85,000 miles each way to 65,000 miles each way.
Routes: Nonstop between JFK and LAX/SFO
Cost: 65,000 AAdvantage miles each way in Flagship First Class
Taxes/Fees: $5.60 each way
Booking by: November 21, 2019
Travel Dates: December 2, 2019 to January 31, 2020
Pay Taxes/Fees With: Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on airfare) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel) -- for the balance of bonus point earnings and travel protections
There's no discount code needed. Just search for awards on the discounted routes and the discounted pricing will appear:
Unfortunately, this 65,000-mile price is only going to be available where there would otherwise be AAnytime Level 1 award pricing. There's still going to be more expensive awards on most dates:
If you're unfamiliar with these routes, American Airlines has specially-configured "A321T" aircraft operating on this route. In addition to 20 lie-flat business class seats, there are 10 lie-flat first class seats arranged with just one seat on either side of the cabin. Combined with excellent food and service, this is one "first class" experience that lives up to the name.
If you can find saver availability on these routes, you can book first class awards for as little as 25,000 miles each way through partner programs. The problem with these routes is that there's virtually no saver award availability more than two weeks out.
Out of curiosity, I just checked the nonstop route from New York Kennedy (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX). While there's some saver availability over the next few days, I didn't find a single flight with saver award availability from November 13, 2019 until September 28, 2020. And that's not uncommon.
So, while I've noted that past AAnytime award sales have been a wolf in sheep's clothing, this sale is actually helpful. With no saver award availability, you're not able to book these awards through partners, so you're stuck using AAdvantage miles.
With that being the case, the cheapest price you could effectively find was AAnytime Level 1's 85,000 miles each way. With this sale, that drops to 65,000 miles each way. That's still going to be too pricey for most travelers to considering booking, but it's a sale that I can appreciate.
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