Dynamic pricing means that the flight price in points is tied to the cash price of the same flight. In the past, a flight would cost the same number of points, whether on the slowest day of the year or Christmas Day.
Now, if a flight is really expensive (like on Christmas Day, for example), that flight will cost a LOT more points than average.
It's a clear-cut devaluation of the program. As we've seen from other programs that have made the same move, dynamic pricing works in the airline's favor and never in the consumer's. As a result, the prices will likely be far higher than the old award chart and never lower than the old award chart.
This means that American Airlines' miles will become less valuable over time.
My favorite part about this announcement is how they tried to present it by saying that these new dynamic awards are great because the award chart is now "simplified."
That's like someone selling you a car with no brakes and claiming it's in your best interest because the car is more "simplified." The award chart is simplified because it will cease to exist...
Basically, American Airlines is being... dumb. And bad. Pardon my French; I get a little flustered over these things...
So how can you mitigate these new changes?
1. Pick a different airline to be loyal to.
American Airlines isn't the only player in town that has shifted toward dynamic pricing. In fact, most airlines do already.
The issue is that American's Award chart is what made it stand out from the others. Without it, American isn't quite up to snuff with the other programs, in my opinion.
2. Don't use your miles on American Airlines flights.
Like most airlines with dynamic pricing, American will likely be keeping its award chart for partner airlines.
That means that the award chart (or some shell of an award chart) will still exist when using your AA miles to book flights with airlines like British Airways or Qatar. If you live outside the U.S., AA miles could still be very helpful for this reason.
3. Use your miles before things switch over.
Right now, everything is business as usual. If you want to book a flight on American Airlines using the current award chart, I'd do it sooner rather than later. You might end up salvaging your miles after all!
Overall, it's a dark day for us travel hackers and for any diehard American Airlines loyalists. We should see more specifics about these changes being announced in the next couple of weeks.
For now, I'll continue my mourning until further notice.