Monday, March 21, 2016 is the final day to use your AA miles at prevailing rates. On March 22nd a massive devaluation kicks in for premium cabin awards in nearly every region, making your AA miles much less valuable. But there is still time — one more day — to take advantage of some great deals on premium cabin awards.
Stick to Business Class!
At this point, the transpacific Cathay Pacific first class space is gone so I will not even mention it beyond this sentence — don’t waste your time looking for it (because I certainly have for Award Expert clients). Etihad first class pace is also virtually gone, though I’ve seen a couple of dates with space from New York today in early 2017. There is first class space between Australia and Abu Dhabi on some days. JAL First Class has also been booked up on transpacific flights.
But business class space is still there — a lot of it if you can plan in advance. Cathay Pacific, Etihad, and Qatar have seats for the whole family on their flights in business class and that is a remarkable use of miles.
The best business class deal out there right now is getting to SE Asia for 55K miles each way with no fuel surcharge on a carrier like Cathay Pacific — you just cannot beat that. AA allows connecting flights too and with generous domestic award inventory and ample intra-Asia space, you can travel from small town America to small town Asia on a single-award.
Going to the Middle East or India? Both Qatar and Etihad have good amounts of business class space from the USA and both offer top-notch products.
Keep AA’s region defeinitions in mind, because konwing them can save you a lot of points. I had a client who to take her family to Sri Lanka and New Delhi. Easy enough, but she wanted to fly Qatar on the way out and Cathay Pacific on the way back.
I couldn’t let her do it…
Sri Lanka is part of AA’s “Asia 2” region and thus flying from Los Angeles to Doha and Doha to Colombo, though the award space was there, would have required a 67.5K award to Doha and a 30K award to Colombo. Instead, we booked her on Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong for 55K miles for both flights.
On the way back, instead of flying Delhi to Hong Kong for 30K miles and Hong Kong to LA for 55K miles, we booked Delhi to Doha to LA for a total of 67.5K miles.
Australia/New Zealand is going up quite a bit in price so that is another region to target. First Class space on Qantas is like a unicron, but business class space on Air Tahiti Nui is out there and certainly paying 125K r/t instead of 160K r/t makes a lot of sense (note that if you route through Asia on the way to Australia/New Zealand you are charged two awards).
The bottom line is that premium cabin prices are going up across the board on Tuesday and if at all possible, you really want to burn your miles today. This is the final call. Award Expert agents are working overtime to help, but you can do this yourself — you just have to do it NOW. As in, right this minute.
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