I fired up my RSS reader to some potentially disastrous (OK, that’s overly dramatic) news from One Mile at a Time in the US this morning. AAdvantage have started allowing Qantas award seats to show in their booking engine for booking, holding and award research.
Why disastrous? AAdvantage pretty much prints miles for US based frequent flyers. More competitive Credit Cards and offers, route based bonuses and the ability to efficiently ‘mileage run’ (flying cheaply for the purpose of earning more valuable miles) all give AAdvantage members in the US the ability to accrue miles at an astonishing rate compared to Australian schemes.
The ease of redemption for a program should directly correlate with the amount of (lack of) award availability, and this significantly reduces friction for the average AAdvantage member doing research on Qantas flights, meaning more Qantas award tickets get booked. Given Qantas Classic Award (and cheap Any Seat Award) availability comes from the same overall ‘bucket’ used by AAdvantage (and other Qantas partners), this will inevitably reduce the pot of award seats available for Qantas members.
AAdvantage members can also hold award seats without the necessary miles in their account for 5 days, and this can be done online. Can you imagine how useful it would be if Qantas themselves would let you do this? There’s probably a booking hack to be had in here somewhere – it may be possible to hold an award online through AAdvantage while you wait for Qantas points to credit or transfer into your account, then cancel your AAdvantage hold and quickly snap up that Qantas seat when it shows availability on Qantas.com after release.
The only saving grace is that Qantas generally release award seats to Qantas Frequent Flyer members 353 days prior. For all other programs, this is 331 days, so you all have a 22 day window to slug it out and secure the best Qantas seats before the AAdvantage members get a look in.
Of course, for AAdvantage members in general, and especially for those in reside in Australia, this is great news. So should you just move to AAdvantage from Qantas? That’s a whole other post, but in a nutshell it’s only worth doing if you earn a lot of miles from flying, and the fare classes that you book are eligible to credit to AAdvantage.