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MileSAAver / SAAver award reduction / scarcity discussion

MileSAAver / SAAver award reduction / scarcity discussion

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Old Mar 5, 18, 10:57 pm   -   Wikipost
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Be sure to check the lengthy http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...elections.html and oneworld and Other Airline (Partner) Awards info, rules 2014 on threads, as many members have posted questions - and useful answers - there. See the wiki posts for informative summaries.

Also be aware - AA have reduced capacity and apparently chosen to make MileSAAver flights less available during high periods of demand, undoubtedly knowing some will still use AAnytime awards.

Older posts as of 1 Jan 2015 and later may be found in thd archived thread ARCHIVE: MileSAAver / SAAver award reduction discussion post 2015 AAdvantage merger

Older posts may dating from Aug 2011 through the AAdvantage program merger January 2015 be found in the archived thread here.

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Old Dec 22, 16, 11:42 am
  #1  
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MileSAAver / SAAver award reduction / scarcity discussion

This thread was somewhat helpful (and depressing) going to Machu Pichu from Montana. Going down 0 business saver on AA- ever. I called and said LAN goes a lot form LA but found out LAN releases maybe 1 business saver per month which was less than helpful on an anniversary trip. So we booked an economy which includes a long layover in Dallas and a dreaded 9 hour flight to Lima which every seat guru comment was bad. In fairness to American we found business saver back but only from Quito and only if you searched every day using the 331 day guide. Seats would pop up and be gone within 24 hours- it is possible but quite time consuming and includes a nasty Miami layover.
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Old Dec 22, 16, 11:47 am
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Originally Posted by Happy View Post
Check out AS partner charts and learn how its program works - it is partner specific, cannot mix partner on same itinerary. It should work better for you than AAdvantage for your travel needs.
Wow - that sounds terrible actually. In that case will stick with AA for now!
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Old Dec 22, 16, 7:05 pm
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Originally Posted by no1cub17 View Post
Wow - that sounds terrible actually. In that case will stick with AA for now!
Seriously? 70K in CX F one way to Asia or Africa, including a stopover in Hong Kong is terrible when AA charges you 110K for the same CX F just to Asia, without a stopover?

Same on the JL chart.

Either you are wanting others not realize how valuable AS miles are, or you (I hope not) dont even know how to read AS partner charts. or never actually look at AS charts.

Or, may be you rather pay 110K for F just so you can fly AA coach to a gateway city, versus AS redeemers only pay 70K for F and just buy a ticket to the gateway, plus enjoy a stopover in either HKG or TYO. Does not take much of gray matter to see which way is better. YMMV though.

The more people stay with AA the happier for those who use AS miles - pay less fly further, and enjoy a stopover.
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Old Dec 24, 16, 4:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Happy View Post
Seriously? 70K in CX F one way to Asia or Africa, including a stopover in Hong Kong is terrible when AA charges you 110K for the same CX F just to Asia, without a stopover?

Same on the JL chart.

Either you are wanting others not realize how valuable AS miles are, or you (I hope not) dont even know how to read AS partner charts. or never actually look at AS charts.

Or, may be you rather pay 110K for F just so you can fly AA coach to a gateway city, versus AS redeemers only pay 70K for F and just buy a ticket to the gateway, plus enjoy a stopover in either HKG or TYO. Does not take much of gray matter to see which way is better. YMMV though.

The more people stay with AA the happier for those who use AS miles - pay less fly further, and enjoy a stopover.
But what if neither CX nor AS flies from anywhere near you? AS has an unusual restriction that any one award redemption can only include on partner. So to fly CX you have to fly either only CX or AS+CX on that award.

And to be safe with a separately booked connection on AA, you may need to add a "self-forced" stopover at your AA-CX connection city! But what if you didn't want a stopover?

I once was on an AA flight DFW-LAX, where I was just returning home, and an engine failed in-flight, it diverted to Lubbock (where AA only had Eagle operations at that time), and it took 7 hours for a replacement plane to arrive, take on the stranded passengers, and depart for LAX. You wouldn't believe how many people were complaining about "unprotected" connections they would miss (most of them to cruise ships, but some to other flights).
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Old Dec 24, 16, 5:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Happy View Post
Or, may be you rather pay 110K for F just so you can fly AA coach to a gateway city, versus AS redeemers only pay 70K for F and just buy a ticket to the gateway, plus enjoy a stopover in either HKG or TYO. Does not take much of gray matter to see which way is better. YMMV though.

The more people stay with AA the happier for those who use AS miles - pay less fly further, and enjoy a stopover.
Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
But what if neither CX nor AS flies from anywhere near you? AS has an unusual restriction that any one award redemption can only include on partner. So to fly CX you have to fly either only CX or AS+CX on that award.

And to be safe with a separately booked connection on AA, you may need to add a "self-forced" stopover at your AA-CX connection city! But what if you didn't want a stopover?

I once was on an AA flight DFW-LAX, where I was just returning home, and an engine failed in-flight, it diverted to Lubbock (where AA only had Eagle operations at that time), and it took 7 hours for a replacement plane to arrive, take on the stranded passengers, and depart for LAX. You wouldn't believe how many people were complaining about "unprotected" connections they would miss (most of them to cruise ships, but some to other flights).
Already gave you the answer before you even asked - See the bolded part in my post you answered. READ carefully on what is being said.

You know about the concept of "position flight", dont you?

So I repeat the rhetoric questions again, would you rather have an AA coach (and that itself is NOT a guarantee gives the current state of AA award seat!), pay 110K for CX F without stopover? Or pay for a coach domestic ticket to the gateway, then use only 70K to fly CX F or JL F, and have a stopover at HKG or TYO instead?

Even if you do not want a stopover, hardly see anyone would not want one - the stopover at HKG or TYO, does NOT mean you stay in these cities - you can use that to branch out to wherever suits your heart and your budget - we often have multiple tickets on one trip - a main TPAC or TATL ticket, and several regional tickets, incl awards and LCCs. The highest total on one trip we have 7 tickets fwiw.

As for AA domestic coach award, well, let me put it this way - there are 7 daily flights MIA-LAX yet the only Saaver coach I can find, are connected at CLT or somewhere used to be US hubs. Occasionally I can find a very early or very late departure., out of SEVEN daily flights. As for business? You can forget about it. AA rather flies an half empty J cabin than release last min J award seat.

Therefore the mixed carrier part is only good in theory. In the current practice, it is fairly useless.

On our last AS award which is US-HKG-JNB and back, we used LAX as CX gateway and used an BA MIA-LAX on AA coach when it was suddenly available on one day - I booked it as a place holder, thinking all I would lose is just $5.60 pp should I find better option and had to cancel this BA booking. Turned out this was THE BEST option ever available! Never see any direct flight available again. On the return, we used a PAY ticket to fly UA LAX-IAH-FLL. Yes, we paid additional for the domestic r/t. But it still beats AA's price to Africa, which can only be thru Europe or DOH on QR to QR. AS F is cheaper than AA J award. On top of that we had a mini stopover at LAX because of the separate tickets so to be able to get together with friends. On the return we had a few days to spend in SoCal. I say the separate domestic tickets are well worth it.

We actually could use AS for the domestic portion as AS flies FLL-SEA, and then we can fly SEA-LAX to catch our CX flight. However, the FLL-SEA at least one direction (forgot which one) is a red eye which we hate any domestic redeye. The connection is not convenient and it also forces us to have an overnight at SEA. Much prefer to overnight at LAX than at SEA. So we did not even bother with that and went straight with separate domestic portion instead.

As I said, it does not take much of gray matter to decide which way is better value, but again YMMV.

Last edited by Happy; Dec 24, 16 at 5:31 pm
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Old Dec 24, 16, 11:09 pm
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Originally Posted by gregillinois View Post
This thread was somewhat helpful (and depressing) going to Machu Pichu from Montana. Going down 0 business saver on AA- ever. I called and said LAN goes a lot form LA but found out LAN releases maybe 1 business saver per month which was less than helpful on an anniversary trip. So we booked an economy which includes a long layover in Dallas and a dreaded 9 hour flight to Lima which every seat guru comment was bad. In fairness to American we found business saver back but only from Quito and only if you searched every day using the 331 day guide. Seats would pop up and be gone within 24 hours- it is possible but quite time consuming and includes a nasty Miami layover.
I would check the IAD-LIM route on LAN. Back in May when I was booking Machu Picchu tickets, that route often had 7 saver seats in J on the days it operates (it doesn't operate every day). The other route to look at is MEX-LIM, but that will require going through customs in MEX (so a little bit of a hassle).
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Old Dec 25, 16, 8:40 am
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Originally Posted by Jwerking View Post
I am leaving from the East Coast - we retired to Virginia Beach (ORF) but lived in DC Metro area - so we fly out of there a lot to get award seats.

Yes, I just checked again now for DC airports and found I can get 2 saver seats at 22.5K out of DCA for Nov 13 - only ones available for the entire month of November. Surprised in change in availability but maybe someone was holding these seats and they got released.

Also checked from Charlotte NC - which is a big hub now inherited from USAir and found two 20K awards also for Nov 13 - once again, the only saver seats for the whole month of Nov. But I think it is about a 5 hr drive to Charlotte - ugh!

So looks like Saver seats to HI are going to be slim pickings and will take a lot of work. You always use to see the Alaska Air flights, but even they do not show up now - so apparently AA's relationship with AS has significantly changed. Bummer, at least,AS was always an easy option.

Also appears that the AA availability is perhaps not showing award seats requiring an overnight stay enroute. So may have to piece available legs together and call to book with an agent. This is really starting to add to the cost of a freebie award seat - as we get a one way car rental car to airport and often have to get a hotel for night prior. So an overnight stay enroute would add another hotel cost - so min of about $300 total for Motel 6 type accomodations.

Just playing around now as I need seats for Jan 13 2018 - which is more of an issue because AA never offers saver seats for the time period around the Xmas holidays or loads them very late. I delayed our Big Island accomodations for our Jan 2018 stay for this reason. Had few saver options for our Jan 8 2017 checkin - so hopefully delaying it for another week will definitely get us out of Holiday travel.

Ah well, maybe my freebie airfares to HI are over - hope not!
They're definitely harder to find. We booked about330 days out for September 2016, and had to use United miles to get to HNL and AA to get home. Neither program had to *and* from. Probably not the answer you want to see but if you do have miles in multiple programs, don't be afraid to book two one ways!
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Old Jan 1, 17, 3:06 pm
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
I would check the IAD-LIM route on LAN. Back in May when I was booking Machu Picchu tickets, that route often had 7 saver seats in J on the days it operates (it doesn't operate every day). The other route to look at is MEX-LIM, but that will require going through customs in MEX (so a little bit of a hassle).
Some of the LA seats are phantom.

In any case I have found booking LANTAM seats is a frustrating experience, including the married segments being very common. There seems nothing available from MIA despite this should be LA's big gateway.
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Old Jan 1, 17, 3:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Happy View Post
Some of the LA seats are phantom.

In any case I have found booking LANTAM seats is a frustrating experience, including the married segments being very common. There seems nothing available from MIA despite this should be LA's big gateway.
In my experience, what often happens is that there might be several seats available, but as soon as someone books 1 or 2 seats, all the seats disappear.

I agree MIA is one of the harder, if not the hardest, gateways to find seats on LATAM.
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Old Jan 6, 17, 9:07 pm
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Note that you have can mix Alaska metal flights plus one partner, and Alaska is fairly generous (around on par with United) when it comes to award availability on their own metal. It's relatively recent that they have become more generous, but this seems to be in response to losing Delta as a partner; they're pretty much going to have to be in order to backfill this. Once Virgin America flights get added to the mix (happening Monday), it should be possible in most cases to reach an international gateway on Alaska or Virgin flights.

Originally Posted by Happy View Post
Seriously? 70K in CX F one way to Asia or Africa, including a stopover in Hong Kong is terrible when AA charges you 110K for the same CX F just to Asia, without a stopover?

Same on the JL chart.

Either you are wanting others not realize how valuable AS miles are, or you (I hope not) dont even know how to read AS partner charts. or never actually look at AS charts.

Or, may be you rather pay 110K for F just so you can fly AA coach to a gateway city, versus AS redeemers only pay 70K for F and just buy a ticket to the gateway, plus enjoy a stopover in either HKG or TYO. Does not take much of gray matter to see which way is better. YMMV though.

The more people stay with AA the happier for those who use AS miles - pay less fly further, and enjoy a stopover.
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Old Jan 9, 17, 8:54 pm
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Amusing AA.com searches

So, who says TPAC availability in J and F is non-existent?!?

If you search for LAX/SYD, March pops up with J and F almost every day ... by routing LAX/SFO in F, and SFO/SYD on QF in Y. Helpful.

If you then search SFO/SYD in the vain hope of being able to pick out the "real" ones from the calendar, nope, lots of lit up days, which are routed SFO/LAX in F and then LAX/SYD in Y. Helpful again. And yes, these were with "Direct/Non-Stop only" selected, which seems to be useless, as does "AA only" to try and avoid BA options for TATL flights.

But the real bonus is BOS/MEL, which shows up as BOS/SEA, SEA/LAX, then LAX/MEL. With the BOS/SEA and LAX/MEL segments in Y, but the SEA/LAX segment in F. In an E75.

Oh, and you can book this in either J or F, but since your extra miles get you, well, F on the SEA/LAX leg either way, not sure what the extra 30K miles are for.

Sigh.

Last edited by andyr; Jan 10, 17 at 10:00 am
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Old Jan 10, 17, 12:03 am
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Originally Posted by andyr View Post
So, who says TPAC availability in J and F is non-existent?!?

If you search for LAX/SYD, March pops up with J and F almost every day ... by routing LAX/SFO in F, and SFO/SYD on QF in Y. Helpful.

If you then search SFO/SYD in the vain hope of being able to pick out the "real" ones from the calendar, nope, lots of lit up days, which are routed SFO/LAX in F and then LAX/SYD in Y. Helpful again.

But the real bonus is BOS/MEL, which shows up as BOS/SEA, SEA/LAX, then LAX/MEL. With the BOS/SEA and LAX/MEL segments in Y, but the SEA/LAX segment in F. In an E75.

Oh, and you can book this in either J or F, but since your extra miles get you, well, F on the SEA/LAX leg either way, not sure what the extra 30K miles are for.

Sigh.
Just another one of those website "enhancements"...

Seriously, though, AA.com showing these "mixed" cabin itineraries where the "main" or overwater segment has been downgraded is so annoying.
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Old Jan 10, 17, 8:53 am
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Originally Posted by andyr View Post
So, who says TPAC availability in J and F is non-existent?!?

If you search for LAX/SYD, March pops up with J and F almost every day ... by routing LAX/SFO in F, and SFO/SYD on QF in Y. Helpful.

If you then search SFO/SYD in the vain hope of being able to pick out the "real" ones from the calendar, nope, lots of lit up days, which are routed SFO/LAX in F and then LAX/SYD in Y. Helpful again.

But the real bonus is BOS/MEL, which shows up as BOS/SEA, SEA/LAX, then LAX/MEL. With the BOS/SEA and LAX/MEL segments in Y, but the SEA/LAX segment in F. In an E75.

Oh, and you can book this in either J or F, but since your extra miles get you, well, F on the SEA/LAX leg either way, not sure what the extra 30K miles are for.

Sigh.
Just to compare.
I am watching UA availability SFO-SYD for near future booking.
Every single day in Dec 2017 so far (12/1-12/10) had premium seats to SYD with one connection. Every day there has been a choice of 3 airlines - CA via PEK, OZ via ICN and UA/NZ via AKL. Best one is SFO-AKL in UA F and AKL-SYD in NZ J for 80K miles.
Many of these are still open.
Compare that with AA
Why in the world would I be collecting/buying AA miles? I know, award availability is not the only reason to be loyal to an airline but it is an important consideration for me. When I choose to spend my money with them, I want something in return from them. Let's face it - it is not the service that makes me choose AA (nor UA, for that matter), rather it's the award availability that I want in return. YMMV.
PS UA engine shows ahead when there are mixed cabins without having to go through the booking process and a single click reveals what the "mixture" is.

Last edited by Paulchili; Jan 10, 17 at 9:31 am
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Old Jan 10, 17, 9:48 am
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Originally Posted by Paulchili View Post
Just to compare.
I am watching UA availability SFO-SYD for near future booking.
Every single day in Dec 2017 so far (12/1-12/10) had premium seats to SYD with one connection. Every day there has been a choice of 3 airlines - CA via PEK, OZ via ICN and UA/NZ via AKL. Best one is SFO-AKL in UA F and AKL-SYD in NZ J for 80K miles.
Many of these are still open.
Compare that with AA
Why in the world would I be collecting/buying AA miles? I know, award availability is not the only reason to be loyal to an airline but it is an important consideration for me. When I choose to spend my money with them, I want something in return from them. Let's face it - it is not the service that makes me choose AA (nor UA, for that matter), rather it's the award availability that I want in return. YMMV.
PS UA engine shows ahead when there are mixed cabins without having to go through the booking process and a single click reveals what the "mixture" is.
Oh man - not just Oz, but domestically, Asia, Europe - UA and Star award availability is so much better it's not even funny. Sure UA charges 80K miles one-way SE Asia-US vs 70K AA - but UA has 10x the number of partners and 100x the available award space in advance. With AA you either get extraordinarily lucky or compete with everyone else for those last-second CX seats, and those may be going away at some point so then we'll be totally SOL. Don't have too much flying planned yet but a UA status challenge doesn't seem like a terrible idea at this point.
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Old Jan 10, 17, 10:31 am
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Originally Posted by no1cub17 View Post
Oh man - not just Oz, but domestically, Asia, Europe - UA and Star award availability is so much better it's not even funny.
Definitely agree-- it's no longer even remotely close between AA and UA award-availability-wise.

If there was a kosher way to trade AA miles for UA miles even at a 30% loss or more, I'd **jump** at the chance (obviously AC miles and maybe a couple of other *alliance programs even more so!)
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