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More award availability restricted by married segments / connections

Old Jan 3, 2018, 5:05 pm
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AA has increased award availability at the SAAver / MileSAAver level, apparently at the cost of reducing the availability of nonstop and direct routing and increasing availability requiring connections using married segment logic.

This means those originating travel at one hub may well find themselves forced to connect through another hub - whose residents will also be required to connect through another hub. This is suspected to be a way of accommodating SAAver awards without competing with those purchasing more convenient nonstop routing. See post #17 by ashill.

Gary Leff: “Cranky Flier got American to confirm last week that much of the space they’ve opened up is on connecting flights. They’re offering married segment availability — award space that’s highly restrictive...”

See American Significantly Increases Coach Award Space On Connecting Flights, By Cranky Flier on Dec 21, 2017

How to Game American’s New Connecting Flight Award Availability to Get the Ticket You Want, by Gary Leff on December 26, 2017 but see post #75 by Psyclone*Jack; this loophole may now be closed.
Married Segment Logic and Effects on Awards

"When selling seats for through flights and the desired inventory is not available, you cannot opt to sell the flight point-to-point. If sold point-to-point, the error response MULTIPLE SEGMENTS FOR SAME FLIGHT - SELL AS ONE SEGMENT will be received, indicating this booking is not allowed. Overriding the error check by ending the PNR twice is not acceptable." Link to FT thread; see wikipost info by JonNYC and hillrider.

"Sometimes when you’re searching for award space... you’ll find that some seats will show as available when you search for them from origin to destination, but when you call to book the flights segment-by-segment, those flights show as unavailable."

"Married segment logic is a tool used by airlines that restricts availability based on origin and destination, rather than by segments."(DCTA, on Boarding Area)

Married segment logic controls routings based on origin and destination, rather than segment-by-segment availability. Boarding Area
Link to Boarding Area: Sunday Reader Question: What are married segments?

From Amadeus: Married Segment Control Link

Amadeus Married Segment Control is a revenue maximisation tool that ensures that airline revenue management decisions, made at availability time, are applied throughout the booking process. It prevents agents bypassing availability controls, based on origin and destination (O&D) information. It also improves both load factors and revenue forecasting accuracy.

Key benefits
  • Ensures more effective forecasting by preventing O&D misuse and matching revenue forecasts with final revenues.
  • Improves consistency of sales processes by controlling travel agent selling behaviour.
  • Fully customisable and flexible solution that meets airline unique system requirements.
Link to Worldspan page with extensive information on MSL and coding.

Older posts have been archived off to https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...nnections.html
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More award availability restricted by married segments / connections

Old Dec 11, 2018, 12:54 pm
  #256  
 
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Originally Posted by JonNYC
Not a statement I'd agree with personally, highly route-dependent.
Well, I meant on married segment limited city pairs exclusively - I guess I shouldn't give them ideas.

Originally Posted by Dave Noble
If booked in U on A-B and T on B-C and wanting to book U on B-C
It does not require that U be available on both sectors to make the change, it just requires that U class be available onB-C when checking availability on A-C via B
I was wondering if based on an earlier post that married segment availability might require that both be available again; however, I was basing that on the OP's experience that changing the time of one of their segments required availability on the other segment to be married and it wasn't to the new flight.
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 1:00 pm
  #257  
 
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What if you ticket with BA avios, for example, on an AA flight? I assume they'll be affected. Don't other programs sometimes piece together individual flights to ticket an award?
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 1:20 pm
  #258  
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Originally Posted by zachary
I'm probably just confused here, but does this new focus impact the ability to drop the first segment of an award ticket without penalty if it doesn't change the total number of miles required for the ticket? I've done this before, but it's been a couple of years. So, for example, I find married STL-DFW-HKG availability, but no DFW-HKG availability. I'm pretty sure that I used to be able to ticket the connecting itinerary and then call and drop the first segment. Is that dead or something that could get the agent in trouble?
If DFW-HKG is not available as a standalone booking but only able to be booked as STL-DFW-HKG, then dropping just the STL-DFW is not something that should be able to be done . I think that the system will pick it up and not permit it rather than requiring the agent to spot it
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 2:11 pm
  #259  
 
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble
If DFW-HKG is not available as a standalone booking but only able to be booked as STL-DFW-HKG, then dropping just the STL-DFW is not something that should be able to be done . I think that the system will pick it up and not permit it rather than requiring the agent to spot it
So is the second example in this picture,
, which JonNYC posted on August 17, 2017, now dead? The thread that I found the picture in is https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/american-airlines-aadvantage/1861570-dropping-last-segment-award-ticket.html.
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 2:23 pm
  #260  
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Originally Posted by zachary
So is the second example in this picture... which JonNYC posted on August 17, 2017, now dead?
Nope, not dead.

Originally Posted by Dave Noble
...I think that the system will pick it up and not permit it rather than requiring the agent to spot it
No, I wouldn't go so far as to say that. That's why the agents are being "firmly reminded" and monitored in this.
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 2:35 pm
  #261  
 
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Thanks for responding, Jon. I think I'm being dense here (nothing new, of course). Is the distinction between awards where dropping the first segment changes the type of award and those where it doesn't? Or between awards on hold versus awards that are already ticketed? If the example isn't dead, why would the agent get in trouble if you ticket the connection and drop the initial segment (again, assuming that this doesn't change the type/number of awards)?
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 2:41 pm
  #262  
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Agree that there's a big difference between dropping a married segment while the award is on hold vs. when it's been fully ticketed, and it's not quite clear what scenario the agents are getting increased scrutiny over.
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 2:42 pm
  #263  
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Originally Posted by zachary
Thanks for responding, Jon. I think I'm being dense here (nothing new, of course). Is the distinction between awards where dropping the first segment changes the type of award and those where it doesn't? Or between awards on hold versus awards that are already ticketed? If the example isn't dead, why would the agent get in trouble if you ticket the connection and drop the initial segment (again, assuming that this doesn't change the type/number of awards)?
If-- and only if-- it's being done to circumvent the availability restrictions that come into play in the linked-to blogs, etc. My opinion is that in the majority of cases that -wouldn't- be the goal of the passenger, but in the cases of those HUCAing after being told it -is- trying to circumvent, agents will now particularly wary.
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 2:49 pm
  #264  
 
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Originally Posted by JonNYC
If-- and only if-- it's being done to circumvent the availability restrictions that come into play in the linked-to blogs, etc. My opinion is that in the majority of cases that -wouldn't- be the goal of the passenger, but in the cases of those HUCAing after being told it -is- trying to circumvent, agents will now particularly wary.
Ah, got it. Thanks for clarifying. That's almost logical (which beats a lot of what I've seen from AA on this board lately).
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 6:55 pm
  #265  
 
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Originally Posted by rrgg
mipaho'scase seems like the opposite of what is described at the posted link.
'AA has increased award availability at the SAAver / MileSAAver level, apparently at the cost of reducing the availability of nonstop and direct routing and increasing availability requiring connections using married segment logic."
I submitted a DOT complaint on this a month ago because of the lacking response I received from customer relations.

Call it divorced segments, or what you like, but essentially A-B and B-C T class available on legal connection, but not A-B-C for the exact same flights. AA is *reducing* availability when combining segments, which is the exact opposite of industry married segment logic as noted (increasing segment availability with a connection). EF confirmed. BA wouldn't price the connection, but QF would (but they have been showing a lot of phantom recently).

To make matters worse, one can not purchase an award ticket, and then at a later date modify it (add/subtract) using the ticketed inventory - the entire itinerary needs to be available - which is unrealistic (and the reason for the short or suboptimal ticketing in the first place).

Implicitly, point to point construction is not allowed.

This is completely based on domestic connections, so perhaps involving long haul or oneworld carriers will change it.

At any rate, the rules need to be clearly communicated and married segment awards need to be clearly distinguished when purchasing. At this point, there is no such thing as a 'change', just a cancel reticket based on current inventory availability.

The response I received from AA was thoughtful but disappointing. It was basically explained that there is a cost associated with each flight (or combination thereof) that needs to be below a threshold to qualify for saver award. So the individual segments may be below the threshold for saver, but combined not. I challenged this of course with how then does adding segments (in the married segment examples) decrease cost below a threshold when clearly adding a flight can only increase AA's cost.

There is no reason for AA to be playing these games with it's customers.

Jon, appreciate whatever you can uncover.
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 7:07 pm
  #266  
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Originally Posted by zozeppelin
I submitted a DOT complaint on this a month ago because of the lacking response I received from customer relations.

Call it divorced segments, or what you like, but essentially A-B and B-C T class available on legal connection, but not A-B-C for the exact same flights. AA is *reducing* availability when combining segments, which is the exact opposite of industry married segment logic as noted (increasing segment availability with a connection).
You are absolutely whizzing into the wind on this one. Married segment availability has been used on purchased fares by U.S. carriers for decades. Decades! The DOT and the FTC haven't touched the practice. They're not going to step in on award tickets.

Accept that AA miles are worth less than they used to be. 2% cash-back cards are the way to go.
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 7:08 pm
  #267  
 
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FWIW, a few weeks ago, before the latest report from JonNYC broke, I ticketed a LGA-BOS-MIA-MVD married segment award in U, with the intent of only flying BOS-MIA-MVD. 24 hours after ticketing, I called to drop the first segment, which the agent happily did in less than a minute. I asked if she needed to send it off for reissue, and she said no, which I found odd but did not think too much about.

I didn't think much of it until I checked my ticket on prefunds.aa.com the other day and noticed that the ticket was still showing the first LGA-BOS segment in there, while AA.com was definitely not showing it in the "view reservations" page. I figure the agent could have just "voided" the first segment so that me not flying it would not have impacted the remaining two flights, and so that she did not have to go through breaking up the married segments.

In any case, I noticed that BOS-MIA-MVD alone was available for a new U booking (wasn't originally), so I just cancelled and rebooked, to avoid raising any eyebrows by calling a second time to confirm everything on the original booking was in order.
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 7:23 pm
  #268  
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Originally Posted by zozeppelin
... It was basically explained that there is a cost associated with each flight (or combination thereof) that needs to be below a threshold to qualify for saver award. So the individual segments may be below the threshold for saver, but combined not. I challenged this of course with how then does adding segments (in the married segment examples) decrease cost below a threshold when clearly adding a flight can only increase AA's cost.
I tend to suspect that what that agent was -trying- to contend was not "cost to AA" but rather "cost if you were purchasing the tickets."
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 7:35 pm
  #269  
 
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Originally Posted by JonNYC
I tend to suspect that what that agent was -trying- to contend was not "cost to AA" but rather "cost if you were purchasing the tickets."
Correct, at least that is how in interpreted it. The term 'bid-price' was used for valuation and miles were turned into a dollar value (at 1cpp). Essentially they have a associated a value for the miles and a value for the flights, and it needs to beat some threshold, with who knows what factors and coefficients. With this and 'Economy Web Specials' dynamic pricing that often are more expensive the Saaver seat on the same flight(s) ... not liking where this is headed.

I tend to stalk award availability at times, and the volatility and step changes doesn't give demand a lot of credibility of a fined tuned machine to manage these types of nuances. When you see hourly swings from T7 to T0 to T7 on the same flight ... makes you wonder.
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Old Dec 11, 2018, 7:43 pm
  #270  
 
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Originally Posted by 3Cforme
You are absolutely whizzing into the wind on this one. Married segment availability has been used on purchased fares by U.S. carriers for decades. Decades! The DOT and the FTC haven't touched the practice. They're not going to step in on award tickets.

Accept that AA miles are worth less than they used to be. 2% cash-back cards are the way to go.
Don't intend to get into a pissing match over this. Hate to burst your bubble, but nowhere did I say I expected DOT to do anything, nor do I expect some valuation of a mile.

My complaint stemmed from their lack of coherent answer to my question to Customer Relations. They obviously are changing the rules, I contacted them for clarification using my situation of an example of something that doesn't make sense compared to past experience, and was basically told 'nothing to see here' and no explanation. Requested elevation to a supervisor to actually answer the questions, and was told 'don't see anything new in this that would change our response'. In summary, reasonable customer service would have left an unhappy, but satisfied customer not filing a DOT complaint. A simple matter of policy should be able to be articulated.
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