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I’m in the midst of planning a trip down to South America and have been working on piecing together a premium cabin flight into Brazil for my buddy and I. I’ve been noticing a weird thing going on…award seats that are showing up on AA’s site are not accessible to Alaska or even British Airways. And in case you’re wondering…I’m not an AA elite anymore so increased access because of status isn’t a factor, and I’ve even put a couple of the flights on hold without any issue. Perhaps a problem would arise when going to ticket, but I’ve noticed an increasing trend with AA marrying segments using their own miles, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they’ve taken a step towards releasing more seats to their own loyalists than partners. Let’s take a look at an example.
Here’s a flight from LA to GRU on November 2nd. Both First and Biz are avail all the way through.
However, when you search on Alaska…the space doesn’t match.
I phoned into Alaska and inquired to see if perhaps there was a ticketing glitch, or if it was because they couldn’t have access to the first leg ( their partnership has changed considerably and some fares don’t earn miles, but as far as I was concerned if Saaver space was avail, they could still access the award even if they didn’t sell that specific ticket) – so I also had the rep look for just the JFK to GRU segment in either cabin. Nothing could be found.
I then broke the first leg off and searched via BA for JFK to GRU
Only space on LATAM shows up
I then searched on Expertflyer…
No seats avail.
However…as I mentioned above – no problem putting the ticket on hold.
If this is true – This is a big deal if you’re looking to redeem partner miles on American metal – especially short haul flights that BA and Iberia have access to at favorable rates to AA. If the AA chart is showing space that isn’t avail to partners, it devalues its use considerably.
Perhaps this is phantom space and when I go to ticket I’ll get an error, but typically in that situation the error occurs when trying to place on hold.
With the rising number of occurrences I’ve run into recently with AA married segments it makes me wonder if AA isn’t taking a page out of SQ’s book and opening up more space to their own loyalists that isn’t avail to partners.