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For approximately the past 2 years, you could find two different award calendars on American Airlines’ website.
In brief, the airline had simply launched a “new” calendar but hadn’t removed the “old” calendar but here’s the kicker…the calendars displayed different awards prices.
THE “OLD” CALENDAR
Personally, I found the old calendar easy to navigate and user-friendly. While searching in the calendar mode, you could view the availability simply by clicking on the award type at the top of the screen.
For example, in the calendar below, I selected the (blue) Business MileSAAver tab, and only the days with corresponding business class availability would turn blue. If I selected the (green) Economy MileSAAver tab, only the days with corresponding economy class availability would turn green.
THE “NEW” CALENDAR
Nearly two years ago, American Airlines implemented a new calendar which was far more complicated. It displayed a calendar view but it shows the lowest price on a given day.
WHY DOES THAT MATTER?
Let’s say that you are searching for a business class ticket from Los Angeles to Doha and you desire to fly specifically on Qatar Airways because you know this cool travel blogger that talks about how great it is all the time. 😉
As you can see above (and below), American charges 70,000 miles (+$7.65) for that ticket and it’s operated by Qatar Airways.
However, let’s say that you search the same route (LAX-DOH) and American Airlines also flies that route but they charge 69,000 miles.
In that case, you would never see Qatar Airways’ availability displayed because the calendar only displays the lowest price, in this case 69K. So you would have to manually choose a date and see if Qatar had availability. If Qatar was not available on that date, you would have to begin the entire award search over again which is frustrating and time consuming.
Note: Just for clarification, I know that American Airlines does not fly that route. It was only an example to aid in understanding the concept.
Another challenge that I often find with the “new” calendar is that it will display the cheapest price in the calendar view but offer the worst option.
For example, you may search ATL-MIA and the calendar view will display a cheap award, say 5,000 miles but when you select the date you’ll notice the routing is Atlanta (ATL) – Charlotte (CLT) – Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Miami (MIA) and has a total trip time of 17 hours. Why is this even an option!?!?
THE WORK AROUND
Over the past two years, there has been a work-around to using the new calendar (if you knew where to look).
Generally, when landing on American Airlines’ home screen, most people head toward the middle of the page, type in the origin and destination, select the “redeem miles” box, and search. Following this process would give you the “new” award calendar.
However, if you clicked the “AAdvantage” button at the top of the page, it would take you to the “old” calendar.
There was only one problem…Tthe “new” calendar displays ‘Web Special Awards.’ Remember, that ticket that I booked to New Zeland for 6,000 miles (but forgot that I booked and missed my flight)? Well, that was a web-special ticket. If you were searching on the “old” calendar, it would NOT display those cheap tickets. Confusing, yeah!?
Unfortunately, this only means that AA has fully implemented dynamic pricing for their redemptions making it more complicated to find the saver awards that you are searching for (particularly if you’re new to miles and points).
I guess the silver lining here is that you no longer have to worry about searching multiple calendars because the old calendar has been eliminated as of today.
If you are interested in booking a Qatar Airways flight using AAdvantage miles, don’t forget to check out THIS STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE on how to do that.
Were you aware of the two calendars? Were you aware one calendar displayed cheaper award tickets than the other?