AA’s Dynamic Pricing Actually Worked in My Favor & Their Dirty Little Trick!

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Book American Airlines Economy Web Special plane

How to Book American Airlines Economy Web Special Fares

It was rumored that American Airlines is going to a dynamic award chart later this year to the chagrin of many.  Dynamic means that there is no set award chart anymore and that AA can charge what they want for award flights.  Dynamic pricing also usually means that prices are going up!  You can already see dynamic pricing in American’s economy web special prices. But on this one occasion dynamic pricing actually worked in my favor. Because of that I wanted to show you how to book American Airlines economy web special fares.  There is also a little trick American plays with economy web special fares that you should be aware of.

RELATED: How American Airlines Almost Ruined Our Trip & Their Response

My Upcoming Washington D.C. Trip

I need to head to Washington D.C. for a work trip and was checking my options.  I started out checking Google Flights but the cash prices were just okay.  The next thing I did was check Delta and American’s website for award pricing.  Delta’s prices were over 20K roundtrip which wasn’t very inspiring.  When I pulled up American Airlines’ award chart though I found a decent deal.

Book American Airlines Economy Web Special screenshot 1

Book American Airlines Economy Web Special screenshot 2

Those prices were slightly better than Delta’s prices so that was a good start.  But I noticed that economy web special fares were also an option so I checked out those too.  This is what I found:

Book American Airlines Economy Web Special screenshot 3 Book American Airlines Economy Web Special screenshot 4

The prices dropped from 12.5K and 7.5K to 8.5K and 5K when I went over to the economy web special tab.  When I went to book the flights it was actually 6.5K and 5K but I forgot to get screen shots then.  That is how dynamic American Airlines is with their web specials – the prices go up after a single booking sometimes!  I was pretty happy with finding a $287 ticket for 11.5K AA miles.

American Airlines’ Dirty Little Trick

Did you notice the dirty little trick AA pulls there? They don’t automatically show you the lowest option like everyone else does when searching awards.  They dump you into the standard pricing and you have to actually select the economy web special fares.  They add extra steps to book the cheapest flights which I think is kind of shady.  If you are in a hurry or just don’t know any better you may book the regular rate and miss out on saving 5-10,000 miles.  That isn’t a very customer friendly setup.

Also when you go into web specials the prices are all over the place and there is no way to sort them by price.  Another way they like to play, gotcha!

Final Thoughts

Whenever a program goes to dynamic pricing it is a net negative for the customer.  But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some nice wins along the way.  This so happened to be one of those times.  Just remember to select the cheapest option since American wants to make you work for it a little bit.  Now that I have shown you how to book American Airlines economy web special fares hopefully you find some savings on your next flight.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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15 COMMENTS

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15 COMMENTS

  1. If intentional and not “bad IT”, it could be part of the casino-style mentality companies try to exploit in people. It’s hard to be rational if there isn’t rationality in the pricing and you can’t dub a mile worth a cash value

  2. If it doesn’t show a box for the economy web special does that mean there are none or is there a different button to push? Are there web specials if you use cash as well?

  3. Yep, first noticed it over a month ago. I first thought there was a glitch but eventually realized what the game was.

  4. It may be “bad IT” as you note. Just checked for PHX-LAX, a standard web special route. Put me straight inthe web special bucket, though it was 7K vs 7.5K so no huge deal.

    The dynamic SAAvers do still work for reduced mileage airports though, if that’s not public knowledge. Got 1K knocked off of a 7.5K award yesterday.

    • I am not sure if it is on purpose or just really bad IT – probably bad IT that the decided to “stick with” LOL

  5. @ Mark — The real “dirty little secret” is that this dynamic stuff saves tiny amounts on tiny purchases (4-5k on a domestic coach ticket) and massively screws you on big ones (50-100k on an international business class ticket). Don’t fall for the hype; overall, you are majorly screwed.

    • Gene I agree 100% as I thought I explained above (may need to make it more clear). But there will be small wins along the way – overall it is always bad though.

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