Holy bleep! It’s one month till the anti-churn establishment guts another awards program leaving points players with even fewer options to preserve this here lifestyle. To combat this, I’ve been fighting with Citi to get me my new AA cards before my closing date. Sensing the impending doom, I wanted to make a booking for my trip in November to Africa which culminates with an already ticketed return on Etihad Apartments. Unfortunately, I think Citi sent the damn cards to Michigan again which means I have to call them again and deal with the automated phone system again…
And that concludes my complaining, for now. The reason I wrote this post is to tell my points colleagues that they should be wary of burning all of their AA points pre devaluation. While I recommend, taking advantage of the current rates for trips that have already been planned, I would caution against speculatively booking in an effort to be rid of all your AA miles. I say this for two reasons: First, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get approved for more and more cards and to hit the mins. Even with all the loopholes for churning the AA card, I still would keep some AA miles in the bank because there are some deals to be had post devaluation. For example, business class to the Middle East from the US only goes up by 2,500 and, as it turns out, business class flights to Africa from the US stay the same.
Note: In a churner unfriendly year, TPOL is scaling back on flying first in favor of business. If you do want to fly Cathay first which goes up from 67.5k to an obscene 110k or Qantas first which goes from a steal at 72.5k to a price gouging 110k, be sure to book now as OneWorld will not be the alliance to get you to Asia/Australia.
The second reason against blowing all your miles in a final hoorah is because we inevitably will become desensitized to depreciation. Post United devaluation, I said I would never fly Star Alliance again. Post Hilton devaluation, I said I would never stay in a Hilton again. That protest was short-lived. Last week I applied for the United personal card and am already plotting the best ways to use those miles. Last month I booked 5 nights in Moorea for 280,000 HHonors points, a great deal all things considered.
The same will happen with American. Next year will come and those that saved some points will be in a better position to plan international trips, while those that burned their points out of spite may find themselves either long haul in coach or on their way to Orlando.
While devaluations are terrible, what keeps TPOL up at night is the harsh reality that banks are beginning to follow Chase and Amex’s stricter churning policies. These changes, if lasting, will make the severity of future devaluations a non-issue.
In closing, I still preach Shut Up & Book! but this mantra includes a new addendum: save what you can.