AA Web Specials Last Minute
This weekend we are co-sponsoring a huge miles/points meetup in New Orleans. It’s going to be a great event, however flights for this one have never been easy. Southwest has been crazy expensive since day one and Spirit’s nonstop service has been expensive too. I guess there are some pre-Mardi Gras activities that weekend causing prices to go up.
Seek Alternate Airports
My first strategy when prices are high is to seek out alternate airports. New Orleans has several. Here are a few I identified:
- Houston (5 hours)
- Jackson, MS (3 hours)
- Baton Rouge (1 hr 20 minutes)
- Gulfport/Biloxi (1h 30 minutes)
- Mobile, AL (2h 15 minutes)
While flights to Houston were cheap I chose not to go that route since it was a bit too far. I then turned to AA and their web specials to get me there. AA no longer charges close-in booking fees and I have noticed a ton of last minute space at special rates to all of those airports.
Here are a couple of examples:
AA Web Specials Last Minute – Closer-In = Better
One thing you might notice from the screenshots above is that many days next week are at the lowest price of 5K points, however flights in two weeks are more expensive. I have noticed that American does adjust the amounts of miles needed closer-in on lower demand flights/routes. For example, Baton Rouge was not even on Web Specials for the day I needed (February 7), however just a few days out I was able to snag their lowest price.
Using Executive Platinum to My Advantage
During my initial planning I was able to secure flights from LAS-GPT and MOB-LAS for 12K miles roundtrip. The timings were okay (LAS-GPT wasn’t the best), however combined with a cheap one-way car rental, it got me there for the meetup. Thankfully though my gifted Executive Platinum status came in handy since I was able to move to better flights.
While web specials do have some restrictions, as an Executive Platinum member I can choose to redeposit my awards for free and I did that! I dumped my original flights and ended up with LAS-DFW-BTR and GPT-DFW-LAS with decent timings and the same cost of 12K RT. I’m also excited to check out Biloxi for the first time. Utilizing my Caesars Diamond I got a $41 rate at Harrah’s Gulf Coast with no resort fee!
AA Calendar Pricing Can Be Misleading
One thing I will point out is that AA’s calendars as shown above can be a little misleading. Once you click through you may be offered many more expensive flights, however you will find at least one that hits the price shown in the calendar. Keep in mind AA’s site loves to give two stop routings with long layovers. Just because the calendar shows a good price doesn’t mean you’ll actually want to fly it!
A Tremendous Value
In my case AA web specials turned out to be a tremendous value. The cheapest flights on low cost carriers are about $300 plus seat and baggage fees while my exact flights on American are $617 in cash. Either way paying 12K AAdvantage miles for the entire roundtrip is a steal, especially considering I get Main Cabin Extra and possible First Class upgrades with my status.
AA Web Specials Last Minute – Bottom Line
I really love to approach travel this way. What was once a trip to New Orleans has now turned into a trip to Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Biloxi. I’ll get to revisit New Orleans while meeting tons of miles/points people and get to check out some new areas as well. While revenue based redemptions are not always good, this is a real world example of how AA’s web specials worked for me.
Have you had success booking AA web specials last minute since they removed the close-in booking fee? Share your experiences in the comments below!