Bad news is on the horizon for American Airlines’ loyalists. The airline announced that its rewards program will go fully dynamic in 2023 — just a week after I recommended its credit cards to you. The silver lining here is that it’s only tied to American Airlines flights, so you can still use partner airlines in the traditional manner.
What is dynamic pricing?
As the name suggests, dynamic pricing means that the rates for award flights will now fluctuate dependent on many factors, including the cash price of a standard ticket, the time of year, how full the plane is, and basically whatever else the airline feels justified.
Other airlines, like British Airways, use award charts. These simple-to-understand systems determine the award rate of a ticket based on the region (e.g., North America to Europe = 25,000 points) or by distance flown (e.g., 1500 – 2500 miles = 10,000 points). These systems are far more favorable for so-called travel hacking.
But American is keeping its chart too
It’s true that American is holding onto its award chart, but it almost definitely won’t remain in its current form. Details are few and far between, but it should be expected to be some sort of algorithm-based portal that shows current rates, demand levels, and other metrics to help customers decide whether to book a flight. It’s still very unclear.
Doesn’t this mean I could get better deals?
In theory, yes, you could. It’s more likely you’ll find some heavy savings on flash sales. But these are the exception, not the rule. Dynamic pricing generally devalues your points and makes it hard to determine when you’re getting a good deal.
While you won’t have to navigate award space, you’re at the mercy of the airline. This is especially true for booking award tickets for first or business-class seats, as they could skyrocket.