American Airlines has launched a new style of award tickets called Economy Web Specials. These discounted awards start at 5,000 AAdvantage miles, potentially offering good value so long as availability holds up.
The first batch of Economy Web Specials is limited to six routes, so hopefully this is just a trial rollout rather than being indicative of how limited these awards will be in the future. By contrast, Delta’s latest award sale has 25 routes listed for 5,000 miles one way/10,000 round trip, but many other routes are available at that pricing too.
The six initial routes are as follows:
- Phoenix (PHX) – Long Beach (LGB)
- Charlotte (CLT) – Orlando-Melbourne (MLB)
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Corpus Christi (CRP)
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Wichita (ICT)
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – McAllen (MFE)
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Brownsville South Padre Island (BRO)
These routes are all less than 500 miles and so usually cost 7,500 miles one way. The Economy Web Specials awards are available for flights starting on January 8, 2019 and there’s a fair amount of availability at the 5,000 mile level on the PHX-LGB route. Be aware that you have to click the ‘Economy Web Special’ button in order to get these lower priced awards to show, as the search results default to Economy MileSAAver.
Availability is even better in the other direction:
Keep an eye on the pricing once you’ve selected your dates, as not all flights will necessarily be priced at 5,000 miles.
When researching the latest Delta award sale, I found that in some cases you’d only get 1.33cpp of value from using miles compared to paying cash. Based on my (limited) searches of American’s Economy Web Specials, you might get much better value from your miles.
For example, the cheapest flights I saw for Phoenix to Long Beach in Main Cabin were $225 round trip. That means you’d be getting ~2.14cpp of value from your AAdvantage miles if these routes are of interest to you.
Main Cabin is the most accurate comparison rather than Basic Economy as Economy Web Specials awards allow you to choose your seats, get upgrades, etc.
One limitation to be aware of though is that you can’t make changes to your reservation once it’s ticketed. You’ll be warned of this when selecting a flight, so at least American gives you a heads up.
Ticket cancellations are allowed, but with a $150 fee to reinstate miles for the first passenger and $25 for each additional passenger, you’d likely be better off eating the loss of miles if you can’t make the flight.
Overall, this appears to be a positive development in the AAdvantage program, especially because these tickets are in addition to Reduced Mileage Awards rather than being a replacement. It’s also more straightforward seeing as the flights can be booked online and don’t require that you have an American Airlines credit card to take advantage of them.
Speaking of which, you’ll still get 10% of your redeemed miles rebated if you have a card like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select that offers up to 10,000 rebated miles per year. That potentially reduces the cost of these Economy Web Specials to 4,500 miles one way which is even better value.
Ultimately though, the value of these specials will depend on how many routes are made available with each new batch and the availability that goes along with that. If they’re stingy with both of those, these awards will be largely ignored. If they instead offer interesting routes and wide open availability, it’ll be far more enticing. If future routes also happen to match up with IHG PointBreaks locations, you could have an extremely great value weekend getaway on your hands.