American Airlines scraps traditional frequent flyer award chart in dynamic pricing shift


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American airlines planes are seen at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California, United States on September 15, 2022.
Tayfun Toskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

American Airlines is getting rid of its traditional frequent flyer award chart as the carrier moves toward dynamic pricing for mileage redemptions, the latest shift in its lucrative AAdvantage loyalty program.

Starting late Wednesday, the carrier will publish starting levels for how many frequent flyer miles are likely required to redeem for a ticket in certain regions — for example, 7,500 for a one-way ticket within the contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada. Previously, the chart showed redemption levels that were static.

American in December said it would get rid of different redemption categories, MileSAAver and AAnytime awards, which have set minimum rates. The new redemption level will be called “Flight Awards” and the chart will serve as a reference guide.

“Just like cash tickets, these are going to float based on demand,” Chris Isaac, American’s director of loyalty, said in an interview.

American introduced dynamic pricing for award tickets in 2019, meaning the number of miles required to redeem for a ticket fluctuate based on supply and demand.

“This product has become the product that our members have gravitated to,” Isaac said. That category required the same number or fewer miles than the awards that were set in the chart “up to 85% of the time over the last few years,” American said.

Previously the chart looked like this:

American Airlines’ old frequent flyer award ticket chart
American Airlines

Now it will look like this:

American Airlines’ new frequent flyer award ticket chart
American Airlines

Award tickets on American and other airlines can also vary based on the time of year.

For example, it cost 126,000 frequent flyer miles for a roundtrip ticket in standard economy on American between New York and Rome between June 1 and June 8, during the high season, but only 89,500 miles from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8, during the lower-demand season.

“What I think is good about this, it aligns the award chart where American is today. To tell [travelers] that an award ticket is going to cost them a certain number of miles is no longer accurate,” said Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group, a travel industry consulting firm.

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