AAdvantage Awards – A Possible Workaround the Devaluation Date

a close-up of a chart

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As most people know by now, American Airlines has begun to devalue their AAdvantage loyalty program and, come 22 March 2016, the cost of award travel will be going up. While the cost of some AAdvantage awards will only be increasing by around 10%, the more aspirational awards (e.g. Etihad First Class) are increasing by 40%-60%. This means that the time to use up your miles is now.

One of the few good pieces of news that has surrounded the devaluation is that, between now and 22 March, American Airlines is allowing passengers to book AAdvantage awards at the current (non-devalued) rate for travel that takes place after the 22 March 2016 deadline. This gives those of us with large AAdvantage Miles balances a bit more time to use up some miles before they’re worth a lot less.

The Last Dates You Can Book

The way the AAdvantage program works is that awards, for any partner airline, can only be booked as far out as 331 days from departure. Even if a partner airline (like British Airways) releases award seats even further out, they cannot be booked with AAdvantage miles until you’re within the 331 day window.

This means that, as the last day to book award travel at the non-devalued rates will be 21 March 2016, the last date available to physically travel at the non-devalued rates will be 331 days from then – 5 March 2017.

Personally, I shall be looking to book as many AAdvantage awards for the 3 of us as I can before the hammer falls on 22 March and I already have my eye on some Etihad Business Class awards for next December. At 60,000 miles round-trip they’re fantastic value and will make a winter break to the sun all that much more fun.

Etihad Business Class A380Etihad Business Class A380 

Considering these AAdvantage awards will cost 85,000 round-trip (+42%) after the devaluation and considering how much harder it will be to earn AAdvantage miles going forward (thanks to the new revenue-based system that’s being introduced) I’m not sure we’ll be able to do that many trips like this in the future – it’s best to do them now while we still can.

Can You Extend The Deadline?

While it’s nice that we can still book AAdvantage awards at the non-devalued rate up to the 22 March deadline it would be even nicer if that deadline could somehow be pushed back.

I’m very keep to get us all out to Australia next year (Joanna and mini-Joanna have never been) and I quite like the idea of trying out Qatar Airway’s new route to Sydney or Cathay Pacific’s excellent Business Class product. The problem is that we wouldn’t be able to travel until April 2017…and that’s past the 5 March 2017 deadline I mentioned above.

Qatar Airways To SydneyQatar Airways Business Class Seat

So is there a workaround?

Possibly. In the second week of December The Points Guy posted the following with regards to changing a non-devalued AAdvantage award after the 22 March deadline:

My contacts at American have informed that the current rules will still apply: Passengers can change the date/time and routing without repricing to the new, higher award level.

The “current rules” that TPG is referencing are the American Airlines AAdvantage award rules which state that, as long as the origin and destination stay the same, passengers can change their travel dates or the route that their flights take them without penalty.

If true this is excellent news but, just to be safe, I’ve emailed AAdvantage customer services to check what they have to say (I’ll report back when they’ve got around to replying!).

Currently, a Europe – South Pacific Business Class award costs 120,000 round-trip but this will increase to a dizzying 170,000 AAdvantage miles once the devaluation hits – and I’d dearly love to avoid paying that!

If TPG’s information is correct, as long as I book our Europe – Sydney awards before 22 March 2016 (for any dates I can find) I should then be able to change the dates of those awards, without having to pay the higher award rates, to dates that suit us once those awards are released.

So, for example, I could book an AAdvantage award the three of us on this flight to Sydney (which is scheduled for November and is no good for us whatsoever)…..


…..and then, when awards for April 2017 become available this May, I can change the dates to ones that work better.

Bottom Line

If you follow the logic of American’s own rules this should work…but I’m not going to get too excited until I have an email from AAdvantage customer services confirming that they won’t be repricing the awards.

Being able to save 42% on an award is great in its own right but when you’re saving that on awards for 3 people it makes a serious difference – it’s a saving of 150,000 AAdvantage miles!

I’ll post an update on this blog once I’ve heard back from AAdvantage customer services – it will be interesting to see if they’re prepared to confirm that they won’t re-price the awards in an email 🙂


  1. I think the tickets issued will have a validity of 12 months, from the date of issue. That means that even if you book prior to the devaluation and change later, the ticket itself must still be used entirely no later than 12 months of the date of issue, in this case early March 2017.

    • I think you may well be right. This is one of the things I’m trying to get AAdvantage CS to confirm in writing but, although they have tried to call me (a call which I missed!), I can’t get anything concrete.

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