American Airlines Devalues Award Chart, Improves South American Baggage Allowance

American Airlines Increases South American Baggage AllowanceToday, without advance warning, American Airlines devalued their award ticket chart and reduced many other benefits for travelers. These negative changes included:

  • Elimination of distance based Oneworld Explorer awards
  • Elimination of stopovers at the gateway city on AAdvantage awards
  • Creation of multiple tiers of AAdvantage standard award levels (at higher mileage levels)
  • Reduction of baggage allowances for some elites and on full fare and AAnytime awards

While these are all negative, most of these will not affect the vast majority of award travelers as the standard level awards are still the same. (These are the only awards that we book.)

However, the loss of stopovers at the gateway city is a real negative. You used to be able to stay at any AA gateway city (New York, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles) for up to one year before continuing on to your final destination. We used this on our recent trip to Vancouver to spend a night in Dallas both on the way there and on the way back since traveling direct with small kids was just too much travel time. We’re also using this on our┬áJune flight to the US. We’ll fly EZE to JFK, stay 3 nights in NYC and then continue on to Boston all for the same award price. This is no longer allowed. You may now only stay up to 24 hours in the gateway city before continuing on the next flight. That sucks.

On the positive side (the only one), the baggage allowance on American Airlines to South America has been increased from one free checked bag to two free check bags. So, yes, all the Argentines traveling to Miami can now bring back two bags of Victoria’s Secret lingerie and not have to pay for the extra bag. This applies to tickets purchased after April 8, 2014, so unfortunately we missed out on this one for our next trip.

Making changes without notice is a real negative for American and goes to show that you should always use your miles and points whenever you can.