AAdvantage morphing into Nonepass (re: award availability problems)

Old Apr 2, 04, 11:07 am
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,420
AAdvantage morphing into Nonepass (re: award availability problems)

Well, was hoping to "bump" a very active thread just prior to the recent site conversion to re-engage eveyone's interest AND awareness of a very OMINOUS TREND within Aadvantage, however, for reasons unknown to me, the entire thread seems to have been removed, deleted, accidently eaten by the IT monster, who knows ? I've searched keywords such as "nonepass", "morph", and even my posting name, and that thread, which was up to 60+ postings off the top of my head, and a top 10 AA thread (not total posts, but in recent posts) the day the web site was taken down for revision...and it can't be found anywhere.

The main point of the thread was to discuss my perception, based on several failed attempts in recent weeks to get domestic 25K awards set up for three different trips, of GROWING PROBLEMS WITH AWARD AVAILABILITY in the AAdvantage program. My tongue in cheek comparison was that "AAdvantage was morphing into Continental's Nonepass" program, which is well-recognized now for being THE stingiest affinity program, bar none, to the point of deception, with respect to making domestic award seats available to ff flyers. Continental's program is so bad that I literally have put my Chase/Continental affinity card into hibernation, and refuse to accrue a single Nonepass mile now until they admit, and fix, the problem. I am not holding my breath for Continental. But I surely expected better, and held to a higher standard, AA's AAdvantage program, one in which I've accrued miles now for over a decade, and thought was the "gold standard" for an affinity program in terms of being "frequent flyer friendly".

After all, we all know AA is the KING in terms of prolific selling of AAdvantage miles, to every tom (kellogs), dick (citibank), and several harrys (MCI, more than one mortgage company). With this prolific selling of affinity miles, I believe AA has a responsibility and an obligation to meet expectations they themselves have spent over a decade developing - that 25K, NOT 50K miles, is the standard award, and one should expect to get one with reasonable planning ahead.

The thread hit about 30 posts in a day or so, with active debate of good experiences from other posters, as well as with active posting by some (like me) who could not seem to score seats that have been easily available last year and all years prior that I can recall. All of a sudden now it seems to be that domestic 25K award seats are severely limited to a couple or less (in some cases there aren't even single domestic 25K PLANAHEAD award seats on flights, months out in advance. Yet, one can go to Orbitz and score very cheap prices on those EXACT FLIGHTS, implying there were still many open seats on those EXACT FLIGHTS, even at the lowest priced "fare buckets", still available).

Then a poster came online and essentially ended the debate with a de facto post of what appeared to be an internal document from AA literally describing a new process that HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED as to who AA allocated domestic 25K awards. WOW. It was revealing to say the least.

After this abrupt turn of events, the thread became less of a debate about whether AAdvantage was being tweaked (more like radical surgery was performed on AAdvantage), and became more a discussion about how bad this was going to be for all Aadvantage award travelers, especially those who mostly use their award miles for simple domestic 25K PLANAHEAD-type awards.

What single greatest issue to a frequent flyer can there be, than discussion of the absolute AVAILABILITY of award seats, or not ? If one can't claim a seat, or multiple seats for one's family, on multiple flights (in my case, Orlando in Nov, which I attempted to book in early Feb, I could not find a single group of five seats for a 10+ day window of travel dates - that's pathetic and totally unacceptable), then WHY BOTHER TO ACCUMULATE THE POINTS ?

RHETORICAL QUESTION: DOES AA REALLY WANT TO BECOME INFAMOUS SIMILAR TO HOW CONTINENTAL's NONEPASS PROGRAM HAS BECOME ? Damage your credibility, and you literally damage your affinity partners. AA, you have a golden goose that lays golden eggs. I strongly encourage you to NOT FIX WHAT AIN'T BROKEN.

CALL FOR ACTION: Now, the entire thread is gone. Not good. Randy, please get with your IT guys and find that thread and, if possible, rejuvinate it. TIA.
The title of that thread was not unlike the title of this new thread.

THE POST BY THE OTHER POSTER (whose screen name I fail to recall:
..."Good Evening!

ILUVCITIBANK is correct actually. Things did change around the beginning of the year. I find it increasingly frustrating myself to find T inventory on flights and I certainly understand the passengers frustration.

Here's a snippit I copied from a Hot star regarding the changes.

quote:Recently, Revenue Management changed from loading award inventory based on the daily load factor of the flight to one where it bases award inventory on how they predict the flight will operate on the day of departure. This means that a flight with no seats sold may not have any award inventory far in advance because Revenue Management anticipates a high revenue demand on the day of departure.

If they expect a flight to go out full or oversold, they will restrict loading MileSAAver award seats far in advance. While it is okay to advise our customers that we load Sabre availability 331 days in advance, please do not suggest this as the time to book AAdvantage® award travel. We realize it is frustrating for both Res reps and our customers, but there is no perfect time to call to find award availability. There will be times when it is available 331 days out and times when it is available close in to departure. If a flight does not perform the way Revenue Management expects it to, then they will load award inventory. In addition, MileSAAver award inventory is not likely to become available on weekends, Holidays, special events or prime vacation spots (I.e. Orlando and Las Vegas).

Revenue Management no longer uses Travel Embargo Dates because this allows them the freedom to load award inventory without any advance notice or programming changes. It gives them and our customers more flexibility."

Last edited by ILUVCITIBANK; Apr 2, 04 at 11:18 am
ILUVCITIBANK is offline  
Old Apr 2, 04, 11:13 am
Join Date: Oct 1999
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What are the dates (ranges) that you are looking at? Have you considered looking for a block of 2 and 3 seats on different flights? Have you tried to look for award seats point to point? If you post/send me the dates I will see what I can find via Sabre.

I have found few problems getting award seats (granted I am not looking for 5 seats)for domestic flights. I have noted a bigger problem in finding award seats in business for overseas travel and this has to do with the elimination of 3 class cabin flights throughout most of the network.
Tango is offline  
Old Apr 2, 04, 11:35 am
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.
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Could it be that the topic has not piqued others interest (or agendas)?
I for one have not had any real problems obtaining the seats I require provided I show a little flexiblilty - so the question as to whether I should further accumulate AA miles is moot.
Earlier this year I was able to get two award seats from DTW/TPA when NWA, CO DL or US had nothing at all available at all for a short notice family bereavement and most wanted in excess of $1000 fo a ticket that goes for under $200
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Old Apr 2, 04, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by ILUVCITIBANK
Well, was hoping to "bump" a very active thread just prior to the recent site conversion to re-engage eveyone's interest AND awareness of a very OMINOUS TREND within Aadvantage, however, for reasons unknown to me, the entire thread seems to have been removed, deleted, accidently eaten by the IT monster, who knows ? I've searched keywords such as "nonepass", "morph", and even my posting name, and that thread, which was up to 60+ postings off the top of my head, and a top 10 AA thread (not total posts, but in recent posts) the day the web site was taken down for revision...and it can't be found anywhere.
All AA forum threads containing posts from about 3/16 thru 3/25 were lost (forever) in last Thursday's pre-conversion meltdown. I emailed the FT technical staff yesterday morning when FT reappeared and was told essentially, "Sorry, they are gone forever." Your thread (and others) contained some very worthwhile discussions.
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Old Apr 2, 04, 12:47 pm
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No real problems for me

I have had no real problems, but then again I am very flexible since I am retired. Also I am not adverse to going to an airport 2-3 hr drive from destination as I usually rent a car (and have no deadlines).

For example, I got an award res. for CMH - CUN for Feb no problem. Also have my AANYC to Manchester, Eng. and had choice of dates. (maybe not real popular, but I prefer not to fly into London to get car if doing a 15 day vacation around the islands.

It would be good idea for FTs to post what awards they did or did not get and the circumstances. This would give all of us a better idea on how AA is doing with seat fulfillment.

Personally, I think all airlines need to make more seats available on those flights where they have a much less than full plane 2 weeks before. i.e. a flight with only 65% full 3 weeks before departure date could have 4 seats released without much fear of lost revenue. (yes, there will be an occasional person that would have bought a ticket - but not too many). And those flight routings that usually (90% of the time) have 15 or more seats empty seats (there are quite few) could have more seats available for awards much earlier.

I know the yeild management system is used, but if too tight - customer satisfaction sufferrs.
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Old Apr 2, 04, 12:57 pm
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I was also involved in that thread and while personally have had really great success using my miles on AA, apparently there has been some real changes in mileage redemption on AA. One idea is that you may be able to find someone to make a trade with. Maybe a private transaction with someone you know?
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Old Apr 2, 04, 1:33 pm
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Thumbs up

My experience:

Booked one seat for a friend to ride with me on a road trip.
5/7 SHV - DFW - DCA
8/20 DCA - DFW- SHV

Had to get an early flight out of SHV 5/7 to get a seat but otherwise no problem. The limitation in fact was on the SHV-DFW route, not DFW-DCA based on my search. I was even able to get my friend on the same flight as family for the way back!
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Old Apr 2, 04, 4:25 pm
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Just two weeks ago I was surprised at the amount of Intl Business Class award availability AA had to Asia. (Of course, I'm sure the new LAX-NRT flight is helping.) But I was able to get a friend a ticket with no problems for May dates. Also just was checking for coach seats for a friend to go with me to Cancun next week, thinking it would be difficult being around spring break. Nope-- plenty of availability all over the place. United on the other hand is becoming ridiculous in what's available. It's a good thing they're giving miles away like water... you need them cuz everything is a standard award!

My $0.02: No issues w/ AA at this point at all.
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Old Apr 2, 04, 7:36 pm
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I think looking for five seats (as ILUVCITIBANK was) will severely limit the number of flights available to you. I have had no problems getting seats, with the exception of flights to Europe this summer in F or J. He also said that he was looking for seats to Orlando in November. Perhaps it was Thanksgiving period in November when AA will probably be able to sell most seats to that destination. I did a quick check and seats were available on that route for a number of days up to November 17.

Last edited by JIMCHI; Apr 2, 04 at 8:16 pm
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Old Apr 2, 04, 8:11 pm
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: oklahoma city, ok, usa
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Award availability

I guess I just got really lucky. Three weeks ago I booked five 25,000 mile awards for Oklahoma City to Anchorage July 20-Aug 3. I wanted July 18 but no seats were available until the 20th - which worked out okay. Good thing I got them - not even one seat available for that run the entire month of July now. I'm happy - all 5 on the same flights.
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Old Apr 3, 04, 9:14 am
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It is a *significant* change

I think I was the first to post regarding this change (in January), so let me see if I can summarize my current thoughts. We now know, from the earlier posting quoted here, as well as a new thread started today, that AA is formally changing to MileSaver from PlanAhead. This *is* a significant change, although we don't yet know whether it will be good or bad for everyone.

It was *bad* for me (this time), but may be *good* for me on other occasions. That is, I wanted to PlanAhead for a summer trip. I wanted to go from LAX-BOS, with a familiy of 4, on specific dates. Yes, even though it was an award, I didn't want to be flexible. NOTE: In the past 20 years, until this change, I *never* found that I needed to be flexible on domestic coach. I might not have been able to choose my exact time, and I might not have been able to get the non-stop, but I could always get a flight that fit my schedule. But, as of 2 months ago, there was not ONE seat on ANY flight from BOS-LAX (nonstop or one-stop) from July 11. Is that a Sunday in the summer? Yes. But, under the old program, it wasn't a blackout day, so there would have been *some* award seats. Now there are *none*. So, I bought 4 tickets.

Is that the end of my loyalty to AA? Of course not. I have been happy with AA for 20 years, and I am not going to change my opinion over one change. In fact, because I often travel "last minute", this new system might work to my advantage. Maybe I will be able to claim MileSaver tickets the day before the flight if I choose one with a light load. So, over the long run, this might work good for me and for AA.

However, in closing, I return to what I said in January. This is a *severe* change in AA awards. Whether it is overall good or bad isn't known yet.
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Old Apr 3, 04, 10:29 am
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In my recent experience I found quite odd that more than 21 days ahead intl legs to/from USA had availability yet from the hub towards the final domestic destination no seats available, even when accepting co-terminals; The only possible choice would either be on a Wednesday or Tuesday next week.

Not enough bad experiences to say it's a trend, but very odd.
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Old Apr 3, 04, 11:01 am
Join Date: Dec 2001
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Domestic programs are changing

The biggest change UA and AA are going through is that historically, the award/upgrade availability were based on the ability to sell premium seats while now, the premium cabins are being used as a carrot/reward for high fare buyers in coach. Since most of the latter happens in the last few weeks, the pressure is to leave as many seats as possible open for such purposes.

The consequences of this revenue management is that a lot more seats will be held open for "revenue" (not premium revenue but extortion fare coach revenue that has set an expectation of upgrades into premium cabins) until much closer to date of flight affecting both awards and upgrades.

UA, for example, currently makes a fixed number of domestic seats available for upgrade for awards/upgrades on its 757s and above but not on most 737s and Airbus flights. Once those seats are gone, it will not release any more seats until a couple of days before the flight at the most even to the point of not releasing it at 100 hour window on many flights (not sure whether they are considering the fare basis at this point to decide whether to release seats to upgrade someone waiting at that window).

Since International has no such pressures, I don't expect a change from the previous policy at least for now.
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Old Apr 3, 04, 11:19 am
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By the end of July American Mainline will have 114 less aircraft then 9/11 thats almost a 18 % reduction, meanwhile Leisure Travel is almost back to pre 9/11 figures. There has been a slight increase in the number of Leisure seats available on exsisting aircraft thanks to LRTC, but overall there's almost 14% less capacity on North and Central American flights. I estimate around 3% has moved from Mainline to Eagle so at the end we have 10-11% less seats available. So where does an airline take these seats from? -Revenue producers or AAwards. I dont think its rocket science to realize they are going to go from AAwards. Something we are going to have to live with.
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Old Apr 3, 04, 12:00 pm
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I was able to score 5 seats

I haven't tried booking a lot of awards recently - but a few days ago I ticketed 5 people PDX-DFW-LGW-BRU-NSI in July and back NSI-BRU-JFK-SNA-PDX .... the domestic portions had seats availbable for most dates I tried - but not on all fligths - but I agree things could be getting a lot worse. Time will tell.
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