Early this morning, American Airlines released a series of unfortunate devaluations to their AAdvantage program. I expected some sort of devaluation or program change when the news of the US Airways American Airlines merger was announced, but did not expect such news so soon. The particular outrage coming from many critics on Twitter and FlyerTalk is the fact that American Airlines gave little to no warning about an impending change to their award program. AA sprung the news overnight to news and media outlets, with people only hearing about the news this morning as the series of changes began to trickle out.

American Airlines Modifies Their AAdvantage Award Chart

AA’s cheapest award level, called “MileSAAver Award” will remain unchanged, which is good news for those of us that enjoy American Airline’s lowest award saver level and their off-peak saver award program. AA is splitting their AAnytime award tickets into 3 levels, with the third level currently unknown but AA representatives claim it’s for peak summer travel. Their high level award will be split into 2 levels similarly mirroring Delta’s new tiered system released in their recent devaluation. The key here, and the difference between AA’s devaluation and Delta’s, is the fact that American Airlines regularly has MileSAAver Award tickets available for redemption, while Delta very rarely shows any availability in that tier. However, US Airways regularly does the same thing as Delta and makes their middle tier award level tickets available with less availability in the lowest saver award tiers. I’m really hoping that US Airways doesn’t impose their will in this regard and minimize the availability of AA’s MileSAAver Award tickets. AA’s latest award chart can be found here.

American Airlines Eliminates Free Stopovers

American has eliminated stopovers at the gateway city on AAdvantage awards that used to allow an extra free leg that could be booked at a future date when flying international. ThePointsGuy spells out his recent trip from Brazil to Miami and then adding a separate flight from Miami to Hawaii at a later date that can be changed closer to the time as long as you don’t change the departure or arrival cities. This essentially booked in an extra free trip at a later date with only a return leg needed or if you booked a separate international flight, you could add on that return leg at a future date for the same amount of points! This was a great loophole that lasted for quite sometime, but I’m afraid that’s the end of an era with American. On top of eliminating the free stopover, American is also removing their famous around-the-world ticket that allowed over a dozen stopovers and was based on the distance flown.

American Changes Checked Bag Policies

“AAdvantage Gold members and Dividend Miles Platinum and Gold members will receive one fewer free checked bag than they do today. Customers traveling on an AAnytime award or a full-fare economy ticket (on legacy American) will no longer receive free checked bags. Lastly, Citi cardholders will continue to receive one free checked bag, and starting April 30, that same benefit will also apply to customers who have the US Airways MasterCard® with an annual fee of at least $79.” – Quoted from American’s press release announcing their latest policies on checked baggage and reducing the ability to bring free bags on their flights for valued elite members.

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The news for now isn’t great but could be a lot worse and I have a feeling it will be when the 2 airlines officially merge in 2015. So earn and burn those miles in the meantime and don’t save them up for too long as we could see another unannounced devaluation in the near future.