Is American Airlines Limiting Award Availability?

I am in the process of planning our 2013 Spring vacation.  My husband’s first choice is Belize.  I was thinking of using our American Airlines miles since a round-trip award ticket is only 30,000 miles.  As with other vacations, I made sure that I was on aa.com exactly when the day opened up for booking.  However, unlike other times, the MileSAAver award availability just wasn’t there.  So instead of 30,000 miles round-trip, it would have cost us 60,000 miles round-trip.  That’s just not viable when we’re trying to fly 4 people.  I even search availability from several airports that are within driving distance from our house and still did not find any availiabity.

I wondered if it was just me or if there was some larger award availability issue.  I went to Flyertalk and found an entire thread on how booking award tickets has been more difficult this year (the thread goes back to 2009, but if you read the more recent posts, you’ll see comments about how it’s been difficult this year).  There is speculation around the cause from the bankruptcy to the glut of people who have miles from the 75k sign-up bonus.  My gut tells me that it’s a result of the bankruptcy and trying to get more revenue out of each flight.  I never had an issue booking an award flight until this year.  And I was on aa.com, refreshing every second, so I know there is no way someone booked all the flights that quickly.

I wanted to alert people that this is happening in case you run into the same situation.  It may be easier this year to use another airline’s miles or book a flight on one of American’s partner airlines instead.

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