American Airlines Award travel to Europe and Western Africa is getting easier with more options thanks to Royal Air Morac joining Oneworld. Royal Air Maroc connects New York City and Montreal to Royal Air Maroc largest hub in Casablanca. As American Airline Awards are based on award zones, award costs are dependent on which zones one flies to, from, and within. American Airlines Award zones also dictate cost of awards and legal routing.
Morocco Joins the Euro Zone
As far as American Airlines is concerned, Morocco is now part of Europe. At least for AAdvantage Awards. This is extremely important as it provides more travel options and makes travel cheaper if someone wants to fly to Morocco or Europe on partner Royal Air Maroc. Or you can fly AA on their Philly to Casablanca flight, which may or may not start in 2021.
North American To Africa Award Costs
Previously, travel to Morocco would cost the same as travel to anywhere in Africa. The prices below are the current cost for travel to Africa from the lower 48 and Canada
- 40,000 AAdvantage miles in economy class (one-way)
- 65,000 AAdvantage miles Premium class (one-way)
- 75,000 AAdvantage miles Business class (one-way)
- 120,000 AAdvantage miles First class (one-way)
Due to routing rules, if someone wants to connect to Europe via Morocco or vice versa, this previously would require two awards. Economy class awards between Africa and Europe start at 30,000 AAdvantage miles!
New Award Cost
By moving Morocco into the “Europe Zone” travel costs are reduced significantly. The new travel cost of awards to travel to Morocco or to Europe via Morocco are below.
- 30,000 AAdvantage miles in Economy class (one-way)
- 40,000 AAdvantage Miles in Premium economy Class (one-way)
- 57,500 AAdvantage miles in Business class (one-way)
- 85,000 AAvantage miles in First class (one-way)
New York to Casablanca is only 3,609 miles. This is just slightly further than other Oneworld hubs in Madrid (3589 miles) and London (3451 miles). Casablanca is closer than JFK to Helsinki (HEL) at 4,117 miles. As Royal Air Maroc has a robust network throughout Europe, connecting via Casablanca may reduce overflying one’s destination.
Winners and Losers
With Morocco moving to the Europe award zone, some travel becomes cheaper and other awards become much more expensive. Below are the winners and losers I have thought about.
Winner: Travel between Europe and Morocco is cheaper. Now costing just 12,500 miles in economy. This somewhat makes sense, as Casablanca is within 500 miles of many cities on the Iberian Peninsula. Cities in Morocco are closer to many western European cities, than Eastern Europe cities are.
Winner: Traveling between Morocco and North America or connecting via Morocco to and from Europe. As shown above, travel costs are significantly cheaper.
Loser: Travel from Morocco to the rest of Africa. Royal Air Maroc opens several travel options within Africa for AAdvantage members. One-way economy class Intra-Africa award travel costs 17,500 AAdvantage miles. Yet, as Morocco is now classified as Europe, traveling from Casablanca to the rest of Africa costs significantly more. Economy tickets now cost 30,000 miles, an increase of 12,500 miles one-way! Air travel within Africa is not cheap. Seems as though awards are no longer either!
Loser: Intra-Africa Travel. American Airlines does not allow award travel within Africa to connect in Europe. If flying from Tunis to Accra via Casablanca, this is now two awards! 60,000 miles for a flight within Africa, which connects via Casablanca! This is a major blow to intra-Africa awards.
A Mix Bag for AAdvantage Members
I think the change is decent, but for those who want to explore Africa, this is a huge devaluation. OneWorld and American Airlines partners presence in Africa is sparse. Award travel options are limited, and this doesn’t help. I would rather see AA allow routing via Casablanca to Europe, without Morocco being moved to the Europe award zone. Or since AA is launching their own flight to Casablanca, maybe there needs to be an exception. Where Morocco is within the Europe zone if only flying to Casablanca or connecting to Europe, but is considered Africa for travel wholly within Africa.
What are your thoughts? Does this boost travel options or further restrict award options for you? Is this a Win or a loss?