Airline Miles Lose Value - Again

American Airlines has apparently gone the "stealth" route and quietly increased the number of miles needed for transatlantic travel by 33 percent.

When looking into using my miles for a trip last year, a business-class ticket could be had for 75,000 miles off-peak and 150,000 on-peak. Now, they're 100,000 miles off-peak -- IF you can find an open seat -- or 200,000 miles on peak. Yikes!

My frustration is that I am within easy striking distance of having 150,000 miles.

As of this writing, one can still use a far more modest amount of miles to upgrade from the main cabin to business or first-class, but I suppose we'll see just how long THAT lasts....

UPDATE as of January 26:

American responded:

These changes came into effect in October 2008.

Fortunately, our members now have more opportunities to earn AAdvantage
miles through participating airlines, hotels, car rental agencies,
online shopping, banking services and many other companies. There are
even ways to buy miles. All of these methods of accumulating mileage
help offset the increased levels. Additionally, the majority of the
mileage level increases affect Premium Cabin or AAnytime Awards. By
selecting these awards, we impact the least number of AAdvantage

Frankly, I think the last point is a red herring. Savvy travelers don't redeem miles for the short-haul flights or for inexpensive seats. I'll update this if I find hard figures, but my guess is the majority of miles are redeemed for those premium seats and not for steerage.

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