New AA Award Sweet Spot?: Morocco Is Now “Europe”

Photo courtesy of RAM

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There has been a lot of excitement and intrigue building over the last few years for trips to Africa. If you missed the “Year Of Return” but have American Airline miles, you may want to bookmark this page.

Africa (the continent) is notoriously expensive to travel to, both with paying cash or award miles so when the US3 begin to expand to various cities in Africa and partnering with Africa-based airlines, it’s important to pay attention to what is happening.

Over the past year or so, there has been a race to expand faster to Africa among airlines and at the beginning of April (2020), Royal Air Maroc, the Moroccan national carrier, as well as the country’s largest airline, officially joined Oneworld Alliance.

Given the current pandemic we’re facing, this transition did not receive much attention. However, this is an exciting development as you can now earn and redeem miles with all Oneworld loyalty programs for travel on Royal Air Maroc.

In other words (and assuming most readers are US-based), you can fly on American Airlines and credit those miles to Royal Air Maroc or use AA miles to fly on Royal Air Maroc.

AWARD CHART NUMBERS

Photo courtesy of RAM

American Airlines uses a zone-based award chart which basically means Asia is a zone, Europe is a zone, Africa is a zone, etc. Regardless to what country you’re flying to, the amount of miles are determined by the zones you’re flying between (e.g. US and Africa), but this can present some challenges.

For example, should South Africa and Morocco both be categorized in the “African Region” given their distance from the USA? If so, the journey would cost the same amount of miles to arrive in each destination.

American charges the following rates for travel between the US and Africa:

  • 40,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in economy
  • 75,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in business class

Given this information, would you rather:

  1. pay 75,000 miles to fly one-way in business class on Royal Air Maroc from Miami to Casablanca, Morocco (a total of ~8 hours) or;
  2. pay 75,000 miles to fly one-way in business class on Qatar Airways (and likely in Qsuites) from Miami to Doha to Capetown (a total of ~25 hours)?

MOROCCO IS NOW “EUROPE”?

Well, there is great news as far as Morocco is concerned. American has “moved” Morocco to Europe according to their award chart regions.

In other words, it just got cheaper to fly to Morocco. Between the US and Europe, American charges:

  • 30,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in economy
  • 57,500 AAdvantage miles one-way in business class

Additionally, with Morocco now being “moved” to Europe, this means you could route from the US to Europe via Morocco, which opens up another award award option when award availability is slim on other airlines.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS

Unfortunately, there is some not-so-good news. Now that Morocco is categorized as “Europe,” awards between Morocco and other destinations within Africa just became more expensive because you would be flying from “Europe” to Africa. For example, say you were going to fly from Casablanca (CMN) to Accra, Ghana (ACC). One-way award prices have increased from:

  • One-way economy awards = 17,500 miles, now 30,000 miles
  • One-way business class awards = 35,000 miles, now 55,000 miles

FINAL STAMP

This is obviously great news for those that are interested in traveling to Morocco (or continuing on to Europe) as the amount of miles have been reduced.

Morocco is a fantastic country and I would totally recommend it if you have the opportunity and/or miles.

What do you think about this development? Have you ever been to Morocco? Do you have plans to go to Morocco now?

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