Category Archives: American Airlines

American Airlines Reduces Business Class Seats on New 777-200s

According to this thread on Airliners.net, American Airlines has changed their minds a bit about the seating configuration in their new 777-200s.

Originally, the aircraft were to feature 45 business class seats, 39 Main Cabin Extra seats, and the remaining seats in coach.

Instead, they will reduce the number of business class seats down to 37 (36 for sale, with 1 crew rest seat), 36 Main Cabin Extra seats, and the remaining seats in coach.

The headline here is that there will be 9 fewer business class seats available, which means there won’t be quite the award availability you may have hoped on the new planes.

(For some background on the new cabins, check out Lucky’s overview here).

And American Will Bid Farewell to the Barclays US Airways Credit Card Next Year

American Airlines announced today that Citi will be the exclusive provider of new credit cards for the Aadvantage program beginning some time in 2015. This news had been rumored for a little while, but American put out a release today confirming it.

Barclays will convert their current US Airways cardholders to be American Airlines cardholders in the next year, and they’ll continue to be Barclays customers until 2017. But starting the middle of next year, they will not be able to issue new American Airlines credit cards.

That means you’ve got about 12-15 months to get your last US Airways churns in. Man, I’m going to miss those easy miles.

American Airlines Credit Cards Can No Longer Be Churned (Mostly)

I interrupt my 182-part series on drinks you can buy at Starbucks with your SPG Amex (#78: Venti Latte, half-decaf, extra hot, shot of sugar free vanilla — only 1,312 of those and it’s a free night at the Four Points Los Angeles Airport!)…

Until last weekend you could churn American Airlines Citi credit cards, getting 2 personal cards in 8 days, along with business cards sprinkled in. Unfortunately according to this FT thread, those days are over.

You can now get 1 personal card, likely every 18 months. You can get a business card 65 days after your personal card (or vice versa). People are saying they can still churn the business card (95 days apart), but YMMV on that.

This is the situation we had been in for a year or so until the 8-day thing happened earlier this year. Sure, it’s a bummer….but you can get that 50k AA personal card and the 50k business card and rack up some points – and do that again in 18 months for the personal card. If you are planning to churn the business card more often, people are suggesting you close the prior business card. I don’t like doing that unless it’s been open 11 months. I’m going to stay conservative here and do 1 business card a year.

The best personal offer is the Platinum MC and the Platinum Visa – both are 50,000 miles after $3k spend in 3 months, first year fee waived, $95 after.

The Business MC is same terms – 50k points after $3k spend in 3 months, $95 fee waived first year.

You Can Now Convert Marriott Points to American Airlines Miles (Though the Exchange Rate Is Terrible)

Marriott is now part of the American Airlines Aadvantage program (so you can once again earn AA miles when you stay at Marriott hotels). But the interesting (?) news to come from this is that you can now convert points from Marriott Rewards to AAdvantage miles.

The exchange rate is awful, but it may be useful if you need to top off your AA account and you have a few stray Marriott points sitting around:

10,000 points = 2,000 miles
20,000 points = 5,000 miles
30,000 points = 10,000 miles
70,000 points = 25,000 miles
140,000 points = 50,000 miles

I told you, it’s not good. But it may come in handy at some point…

Details here.

Where I Add My Inevitable Two Cents to the Discussion about US Airways and American

Oh, the Chicken Littles have been out in full force for the US Airways – American Airlines merger. The sky is falling for US Airways frequent flyer members, they say. The sky is falling for consumers who like cheap airfare. The sky is falling for American Airlines customers because US Airways runs such a low frills operation. And on and on – perhaps I’m reading more of this from bloggers than from anyone, but if I were to believe everything I’ve read about this impending link-up, absolutely everyone involved will be screwed over.

Fortunately, that’s simply not true.

Although we think of airlines as a consumer business (and airlines have – quite unfortunately – sold themselves to consumers as a service business), they are, depending on how you look at it, either a manufacturing business or, more simply, a utility.

I remember interviewing at Northwest Airlines a zillion years ago, and someone I met with said that Northwest’s then-CEO (I can’t remember who it was) described the airline as a manufacturing company – they manufacture connections at hubs. If you look at the decisions they made in the late 90s and early 00s, that philosophy explains how the airline was run — they put off replacing their then-25-year-old DC9s because, well, why replace them when they were low-cost and allowed them to make connections in Minneapolis between Minot-originating passengers and flights going to Milwaukee.

They’re also quite a bit like a utility – specifically, the telecom industry. Without blah blah blahing about it here, think back to the history of the long distance companies – starting as small regional players which then came together as AT&T, which the government broke up into smaller companies before re-merging and settling on 3 or 4 groups with a national footprint. Or cell carriers, which developed similarly with smaller regional companies combining into a handful of large national players with a few primarily-low-cost-focused regional players. Sound familiar?

My point is that the US Airways-American merger was inevitable. Following deregulation the US probably needed 3-4 national carriers with a handful of niche players focused on the low end. It took a while for that to happen – I guess because funding was so easy to come by for new airlines for so many years (good luck raising money to start an airline today). But it was ultimately putting off the inevitable consolidation that one would expect in either the utility or manufacturing industries (especially commodity manufacturing, which is pretty much what we’re dealing with in an airline).

Dozens of airlines started up in the US after deregulation and we’re left with JetBlue, Spirit and Allegiant (Frontier will be gone soon enough, no?). That’s pretty much it. Spirit and Allegiant lowered their costs enough to thrive as a low-priced commodity provider. JetBlue is an interesting case where (at least initially) they de-commoditized the product and kept costs low, allowing them to provide a low cost, high value product in a commodity marketplace. Nicely done.

In so many industries we see crowded markets evolve into 3-4 major players, and that’s where we’ll end up with United, Delta, American and Southwest driving the industry. (This probably begs the question of what happens to Alaska Airlines – conceivably someone would scoop it up to build out their West Coast presence, but more likely they’ll enjoy their deep Northwest footprint while continuing to innovate operationally and will be left alone for the foreseeable future).

When an airline merger is announced I always see articles suggesting that airline mergers fail because the combined entity will have too much route overlap; or too many hubs; or too many aircraft types. That’s all nonsense. If there’s too much overlap, the combined carrier can redeploy those aircraft elsewhere. Airlines used to focus on 3 or 4 hubs (if that), but the world has changed and carriers are thriving with many hubs — Delta has a significant presence in Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, New York City, whatever’s left of Memphis, and a handful of focus cities. Why is it a concern that US Airways and American will have sizable presences in New York, Philadephia, Washington, Charlotte, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix and LA (I feel like I missed one)? If Phoenix doesn’t make much sense they’ll downsize it until it does. Is that a reason not to merge? No.

So-called “consumer advocates” complain that consolidation leads to higher fares. That’s probably true for flights between the hubs of two merging carriers (for example, in United’s case, between Chicago and Houston; or between Newark and Chicago). But according to the Wall Street Journal, airfares have dropped an inflation-adjusted 15% since 2000. You simply cannot argue that consumers are worse off because of consolidation. A healthy set of lowfare airlines keeps prices in check (complain about Spirit all you want, but people in Dallas and Houston should be thrilled they’re adding flights there). And you know what’s worse for consumers than slightly higher fares? No flights at all, which is what you would end up with if all of the airlines that have merged out of necessity over the years disappeared. Check out a route map from 1973 some time –you think we haven’t benefitted from nonstop flights? Consolidation has brought dozens (if not hundreds) of new nonstop flights while at the same time providing customers with cheap fares. This merger is just the final piece of that.

Finally, on the frequent flyer front. I can understand why there may be some concern, especially from US Airways Dividend Miles members. The tie up with Star Alliance (which will end at some point after the merger) provided some amazing fuel surcharge-free international redemptions. And you can kiss that 90,000 mile business class Asia award goodbye. But US Airways also had some annoying quirks (no one-way redemptions). Like with everything, there will be good and bad. And honestly, it doesn’t really matter what you think because this merger is going to happen, and Dividend Miles will disappear and in 18-24 months you can enjoy whatever the AAdvantage program has to offer. Northwest Worldperks had some pretty good awards too, and that’s gone and no one talks about it anymore. In 36 months no one will miss Dividend Miles, trust me (well, except for those of us who churned that credit card over and over).

That’s a lot of words to say this: consolidation is inevitable; US Airways has some of the best managers in the industry and will make AA a successful airline in a way that their own management could not; you won’t lose any service; your fares won’t go up; and you’ll still collect a ton of frequent flyer miles. You think there’s really anything bad about a world where you can print frequent flyer miles through credit card signups and then use them on alliance carriers to go wherever the hell you want for free? We’ve got it pretty good.

Through March 13: Just 30,000 Miles Round Trip for Award Ticket to Hawaii on American

American Airlines is offering a 5,000 mile reduction in the price of an award ticket to Hawaii through March 13th. For flights between the US & Canada and Hawaii, they’ll charge just 30,000 miles during that period (it’s usually 35,000).

You have to book this via phone (I don’t know why), because their online tool isn’t reflecting the lower price. To redeem, call 1-800-882-8880.

American Airlines Finally Pulls the Plug on Its San Juan Hub

Per Airline Route (who better not retract this news after they posted it) :) American Airlines is finally pulling out of its long beleaguered Caribbean-focused hub in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Beginning April 1, AA will cancel the following routes:

San Juan – Antigua 1 daily
San Juan – Beef Island 4 daily
San Juan – Dominica 1 daily
San Juan – Fort-de-France 1 daily
San Juan – Punta Cana 2 daily
San Juan – Santiago (Dominican Republic) 1 daily
San Juan – Santo Domingo 2 daily
San Juan – St. Croix 2 daily
San Juan – St. Kitts 1 daily
San Juan – St. Thomas 2 daily

This leaves Caracas as the sole international route out of San Juan.

This has been a pretty long, slow death that everyone has seen coming (to the point where JetBlue has basically walked in the front door and built out a small focus city in San Juan with no response from AA, which tells you something, as does the fact that Spirit hasn’t marched down to SJU). Still, just as when Delta finally – and mercifully – pulls the plug on Memphis, it’s still a bit of a shock to the system to see AA giving up the hub it built about 25 years ago. That said, as someone who owns a few shares of US Airways, I’m glad to see they’re cleaning up the operation before the merger.

American Again Allowing Travelers to Purchase Their Elite Status (If They Did Not Reach Their Previous Level)

American Airlines is once again allowing people who did not reach their previous Elite level (Platinum or Gold) to buy up to that level for the next year. Here’s how it works (further detail here):

Terms:

If you are currently an AAdvantage Platinum or AAdvantage Gold member, and you have flown at least two elite qualifying segments during 2012, and did not participate in this offer last year, then you are eligible to renew your status.

You can take (a)advantage of the offer until May 15, 2013, to keep Elite status through February 28, 2014.

If you are currently Platinum but did not reach that threshold this year, you will fall into one of these two groups:

If you’ve flown 40,000 miles or 48 segments then you can buy up to Platinum for $619. If you’ve flown less than that, you can buy up to Platinum for $769.

If you are currently Gold but did not reach that threshold this year, here are your options:

If you’ve flown 20,000 miles or 24 segments you can purchase Gold status for $409. If you’ve flown less than that, it will cost you $559.

Sure, you could’ve squeezed in a mileage run at the end of 2012 to keep that status. But if you didn’t, you can decide whether this is worth it for you (the Platinum deal seems to me like it’s worth it, the Gold less so).

American Airlines Announces Double Elite Qualifying Miles Through End of Year; and Double Flight Miles for Elites

I have about 2 minutes before I have to run, but American has announced an always-hoped-for end of year Double Elite Qualifying Miles promotion (details and signup here). Here’s the short version:

Now through December 31st you’ll earn double elite qualifying miles on all American Airlines flights, including flights you’ve already booked. The promo page is a little vague, but you do NOT need to be an Elite member to qualify. You do, however, need to be an Elite member to also get double flight miles (ie, if you are an Elite member you will get both double elite qualifying miles AND double flight miles).

I’ve gotta run, but this is pretty big (I just earned 1K on United so that’ll do it for me this year, but for you AA flyers this is pretty ridiculous).

(EDIT: Non-Elites can earn double miles for flights Nov 16-26).

Up to 100,000 Bonus Miles for Premium Class (and Expensive Coach) Fares to Europe on AA

American Airlines is offering a bonus miles promo for flights to Europe on AA, British Airways and Iberia for flights from the US and Canada to Europe through January 31st. Fly in First, Business or full-fare coach* and you’ll get 15,000 bonus miles for the first flight; 30,000 for the second flight; and 50,000 for the 3rd flight.

Visit this link and enter code AAEUR to register.

*Includes First Class and Business Class fares booked in F, A, J, R, D or I; Economy Class fares booked in Y, B or H on American Airlines operated flights; First Class or Club World fares booked in F, A, J, R, C, D or I; World Traveller Plus or full-fare World Traveller booked in W, E, T, Y, B or H on British Airways operated flights; Business Class fares booked in J, C, D, R or I; Economy Class fares booked in Y on Iberia operated flights.

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