American Matches United's Short-Haul Award Sale

For more than a year now, United has been deploying round after round of award sales, eliciting nary a peep from competing carriers. Apparently other airlines saw little benefit in fighting United for the title of Premier Award Discounter.

But United's latest award promotion—a 30 percent discount on coach award trips of 700 miles or less—apparently caught the corporate eye of arch-rival American, with predictable results.

Offer Details

Members of American's AAdvantage program can save 30 percent on coach MileSAAver award trips of 700 or fewer miles each way, within the U.S. and Canada, booked by August 31 and completed by December 15.

With the discount, a round-trip award ticket will cost 17,500 miles instead of the 25,000 miles normally required. And the price for a one-way award drops from 12,500 to 8,750 miles.

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There's a long list of discount-eligible flights on American's website. Among them:

  • Dallas to/from Little Rock, Santa Fe, St. Louis, Denver
  • Los Angeles to/from San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Jose
  • Miami to/from New Orleans, Atlanta, Charleston
  • New York to/from Montreal, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Boston

Deal or No Deal

While American's award sale is obviously a response to United's, there is one significant difference. Where United Mileage Plus members can travel at the reduced rates through January 7, 2011, American's sale is only for travel through December 15, 2010.

But this isn't really a case of one offer trumping another, or not. American's sale is for AAdvantage members; United's is for members of its program.

Since the promotions are alike except for the travel period, I'll simply repeat what I said about United's offer:

If there's a short flight already in your plans, taking advantage of the discount is a no-brainer. You might even want to squeeze in an unplanned short trip, just to get some extra value from your miles.

And:

This might also be an opportunity for members with modest account balances to use their miles for an award that would otherwise exceed their mileage budget.

Reader Reality Check

Discounting award tickets implies that award seats are available. What has your experience been when redeeming miles with American?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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