Ouch! Is American Blacking Out Nonstop Saver Award Availability Within 2 Weeks Of Flights?

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Update, 10/5: American has now blocked 10/18 from saver award redemption on all of the routes below as that date is now within 2 weeks. This confirms American’s 2 week award blocking pattern on many nonstop routes.


DDF member farmbochur posted yesterday, “Has AA started blacking out saver availability within 2 weeks? I’ve been monitoring PIT-NYC over the last couple weeks. There seems to consistently be plenty of availability for many dates, but it all disappears once I’m within 14 days.”

Delta eliminated close-in fees for booking award tickets within 3 weeks, but they simply charged more miles for flights within 3 weeks that more than offset that benefit. It was a devaluation in sheep’s clothing:

 

Some of the most valuable award redemptions are for last minute tickets when paid flights are expensive but award tickets are cheap. The value of Delta miles is low because they’re stingy with business class awards and last minute saver award space is abysmal.

I checked out farmbochur’s claims and American does indeed seem to be dipping their toes in saver award blocking, though it’s only on select nonstop routes for now.

Here are some examples routes of routes where nonstop space is wiped out for travel within the next 2 weeks. As farmbochur points out, with each passing day another travel date 2 weeks in advance is blocked out.

CLE-NYC:

 

It’s worth noting that American is still willing to sell saver award flights from say, Cleveland to Boston via NYC during the 2 week blackout period as a married segment, but they won’t sell the CLE-LGA flight on it’s own (at least not without some advance hacking in marriage breaking and lots of time to kill)

 

Here are some other routes where I find the 2 week blackout shenanigans:

PIT-NYC:

 

But you’ll find space during the blackout via NYC to BOS:

 

CMH-NYC:

 

But you’ll find space during the blackout via NYC to BOS:

 

PHL-NYC:

 

But you’ll find space during the blackout via NYC to BOS:

 

MEM-NYC:

 

But you’ll find space during the blackout via NYC to BOS:

 

CAK-NYC:

 

But you’ll find space during the blackout via NYC to BOS:

 

RIC-NYC:

 

But you’ll find space during the blackout via NYC to BOS:

 

It’s not just to/from NYC either.

Here is the same story from Cleveland-Dallas:

 

But you’ll find space during the blackout via Dallas to Houston:

 

This is obviously a big devaluation for AA miles, though it’s only being implemented on select routes for now. Hopefully it’s just a test and will go away.

So far, United has yet to copy this devaluation, as their close-in award space remains excellent as always:

 

What others American routes have you noticed this close-in blackout period?

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45 Comments On "Ouch! Is American Blacking Out Nonstop Saver Award Availability Within 2 Weeks Of Flights?"

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zow

Dan,
Very helpful. I noticed similar black out for BOS-PHL in September. I had been monitoring in August and, a few days before I was ready to pull the trigger, several weeks of saver availability disappeared.

Question about the close-in saver availability on AA: doesn’t the close-in booking fee kill the value? I presume you could/would use Avios, but don’t the connecting flights kill that value proposition, as well?

S

I noticed today Detroit to Chicago also was blocked out anything within a week

Thingy

After what they have done in the past, I’m not surprised. I used to be able use Avios to fly to Toronto almost any day. Now, there is almost never availability. I have not examined their terms & conditions but their behavior seems like a breach of contract. It is for sure a breach of the common understanding of how they will execute their program. #AAsham

iahphx

I did have a situation about a month ago where I was looking for “last minute” saver award seats (I was going to book them with Avios) on a flight from RSW to PHL and they seemed to all be pulled a few days before departure (not 2 weeks). Oddly, 3 days before departure, AA loaded a $69 “Basic Economy” fare, even though the cheapest standard coach ticket was over $500. I bought the Basic Economy fare and stopped looking for an award seat! Buy an airline ticket can be a weird and unpredictable game.

Eliteflyer

Just this week, I thankfully booked 4 seats YYZ-MIA with 2 days notice, with two flights to choose from on the same day. On other occasions, I have experienced the blocking described above.

Eg

The airlines are trying to find the sweet spot for them where there’s perceived value in the miles for the ignorant masses, while eliminating value for people that actually understand how the programs work, and can actually compare values.

leshmah

This will devalue BA as well as you can’t book a last minute flight without paying any closin fee at all

JS

BH for skiplagged

Yes, I\'ve noticed

RDU-JfK and RDU-LGA availability within two weeks has been much worse lately than in the past.
And yes, you can find flights for 12,500 to NYC connecting thru CLT, yet when you try to book from RDU-CLT without going to NYC, it’s 20K or 30K over the next few weeks.
This is pure speculation, but I wonder if this is AA’s way to prevent passengers with BA Avios from avoiding the $75 close-in fees (or maybe they’re just being stingy)!

mrthnman

I would imagine this would kill the availability using avios as well ?

elli

its forever long post!
Dan lets hear about your flight experience over chol hamoed for gramps 90th bday party!

Dxd

started on msp-ord route over the summer!

OW

I have noticed this a couple times on the BDL-ORD or NYC-ORD routes where sudden change of availability two weeks before the flight. The last time it happened the 24 hours before a ton of SAAver flights opened up and I was able to book on avios.

Jeff B

The airlines prefer simple people who earn miles and spend 25k miles on a $200 flight.

All the best use of miles blogs are not what they want.

They are losing no geese because the blogs still keep pushing the credit cards and all the airlines keep making the awards suckier.

E

I’m booking tkts for Aug. 2019. Was able to book saver outbound but can’t book saver return. I checked the seats and everyday has the same seats blocked out.

yelped

Ouch. Nuts. They keep on treating customers like garbage. So much for “loyalty” programs.

pau

just to understand what you are trying to say , American Airlines didn’t close sAAVER bookings they just closed it off 2 weeks in advance on many routes especially when people need them the most because of the cost of last minute paid airfare. can you answer correct or incorrect? thank you

Shalom

Correct

Yehudaa

I used Avios to book saver seats on YYZ-LGA for a same-day flight on 9/20.

PM

Hopefully its just a bug. Otherwise I can see how every airline does the same.

bigissy

just checked you can still book aa flights thru ba w/in 2 weeks. just looked ord to lga for tomrrow

United

Funny how you’re so positive on united availablity. I fly very often NJ to lax and united has terrible last minute availability even with their 10 daily nonstop ewr-lax. (Even when i log in to my united accnt with the chase explorer club card) I did find a few times recently last minute availablity from phl-lax direct saver rewards which I was able to use avios.

Bob

Your examples are all from eastern US. I just checked PHX to LAX, and LAS to DFW, and there is Saver award space available for next two weeks.

bob

I noticed recently that LHR-NYC AA was only showing connecting flights for approx 3 weeks prior to flight

Jack out of the box

Several months ago I booked last minute using BA Avios round trip NYC-PIT. On the going it took 2 flights which on BA meant double mileage and on the return only business/first class was available which was again double mileage.

Carl M Sherer

They seem to have done the same thing on flights to Israel – the only thing available close in is Royal Jordanian (although when I asked the question, they blamed the partner airlines – BA, IB and AY – and didn’t attribute it to American policy).

More info?

Not such a detailed explanation of marriage breaking…

Gary Leff

I booked close-in flights on AA for my in-laws this week. I booked close-in flights on AA for myself and my wife last week. Bear in mind that what’s going on with connecting availability vs non-stops and married segments is fare-driven, there seems to be a fare value being assigned to miles and cheap tickets are frequently being made available while more expensive tickets get made available on the basis of older algorithms — which are ungenerous. Those may well be getting tightened up even as they add more revenue-based availability, but that’s speculative on my part at this point.

me

jfk-mia even about 3-4 weeks out not available…

Abe

In July I noticed this for phl-msn but was hoping it wasn’t a new policy rather just something seasonal. Sad to hear BA wont ever work for that route. Ord-NYC they are still allowing it though, if they take that away BA will be useless.

JW

Had experience with this just today. Was changing a flight for my wife that was originally PIT-DFW-FAT, to one that is PIT-PHX-FAT. Biz saver is available, but the rep I was speaking with couldn’t find it and thought I was wrong. Turns out they were looking at just the first leg, PIT-PHX and if you do that the only options involve a connection. It just feels shady to offer a flight at saver if it’s a connection, but not if you want it direct. Thankfully, I was able to get the flight switched for my wife to eliminate the 7 hour layover at DFW, so this didn’t affect us other than having to spend an extra 15 minutes on the phone explaining to the rep.

dov

any info on how to “break marriages” anywhere…?

Memphis

Dan, what’s the benefit of leaving empty seats on flights. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the airlines to open up these unsold seats then to leave them empty. Isn’t the use of some mileage better than none?

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