Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 1 – Introduction

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I’ve updated this post to reflect the new American Airlines award chart that went into effect on March 22, 2016.

Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro:

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American Airlines Miles Can Take You All Over the World! Use Miles for American Airlines, oneworld Partner, and Other Partner Flights

Introduction

American Airlines miles are among the easiest to redeem for both domestic and international trips and will let you have lots of Big Travel with Small Money. 

You can book 1-way awards which gives you terrific flexibility.  For example, you can fly to Europe using American Airlines miles and fly back using United Airlines miles.  And you can redeem American Airlines miles, but fly on American Airlines partner airlines.

In my experience American Airlines has some of the best telephone booking agents and some of the most available award seats for both domestic and international destinations.

oneworld and Other Airline Partners

More importantly, you can redeem your American Airlines miles for travel not only on American Airlines (this is very important!), but ALSO on oneworld partner airlines and other (non-oneworld) partner airlines which have partnered with American Airlines. 

The oneworld alliance is a group of 15 airlines (Air Berlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines (and merger partner TAM Airlines), Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 and Sri Lankan Airlines) which together fly to over 1,000 destinations in 150+ countries.  

Oneworld includes 15 airlines that fly all around the globe

oneworld Includes 15 airlines That Fly all Around The Globe

American Airlines has also partnered with other airlines (outside of the oneworld alliance) such as Etihad Airways and Fiji Airways.  You can also redeem your American Airlines miles for travel on some of these other partner airlines!

Oneworld3

American Also Has Several Partners Not in oneworld

This is a BIG deal (no, it is a huge deal!), because between oneworld and other partner airlines you can use your American Airlines miles to fly to places where American Airlines doesn’t fly themselves.

Some airline award tickets can be booked on AA.com including:

  • Air Berlin
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines (including American Eagle)
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian

Unfortunately, to book all other partners you have to call American Airlines (NOT the partner airline) to book the award.  I’ll cover how to find available award seats on partner airlines in future posts so that you don’t have to rely on the phone agent to find the seats you want.

Where Can American Airline Miles Take Me?

Almost anywhere in the world!

Your American Airlines miles can take you to places where:

1)  American Airlines fly themselves

2)  American Airlines’ oneworld partners fly

3)  American Airlines’ other partner airlines fly

The easiest way to see where American Airlines and their oneworld partners fly to is to use the oneworld online tool.

A more time consuming, but more thorough way, is to individually visit the oneworld partner and other partner airline’s websites and see where they fly.

Use Miles to Fly Where American Airlines Doesn’t

Let’s take 3 out of many possible examples:

1.  Bangkok, Thailand.   You can redeem American Airlines miles for travel on Cathay Pacific from the US to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to Bangkok.

American Airlines doesn’t fly its own planes (sometimes referred to as “AA metal”) from the US to Thailand, but you CAN redeem American Airline miles to fly on Cathay Pacific (a oneworld partner) from the US to Hong Kong and then connect to another Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok.

You won’t be able to search for Cathay Pacific award seats online at AA.com, because you can only search for flights on American Airlines and the partners listed earlier in this post online.

Currently, you have to call American Airlines (NOT the partner airline) to book awards on partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific.

But don’t worry!  I’ll show you how to find available award seats on many of American Airlines’ partners before you call and we’ll walk through how to call American Airlines and get the agent to book your $15,000 First Class seat using miles and only a few hundred dollars in taxes & fees.

2.   Anchorage, Alaska.   American Airlines has limited service on its own flights to Alaska.  But since Alaska Airlines is an American Airlines partner airline, you can use your American Airlines miles to fly on Alaska Airlines routes to Alaska.

For example, American Airlines doesn’t fly from Seattle to Anchorage directly.  You would normally have to fly from Seattle to Dallas and then from Dallas to Anchorage during the months when American Airlines flies from Dallas to Anchorage.

But because Alaska Airlines (an American Airlines partner) flies from Seattle to Anchorage you can redeem your American Airlines miles, but fly on an Alaska Airlines plane from Seattle to Anchorage.

3.  Cairo, Egypt.  American Airlines not only doesn’t offer any service to Cairo, but does not offer a single flight to any country in the Middle East.  But since Qatar Airways is a member of the oneworld alliance, you can use your American Airlines miles to fly Qatar to Cairo, with a quick layover in Doha. 

Another option would be to use American Airlines partner (that is NOT in oneworld), Etihad Airways.  With a quick layover in Abu Dhabi, you can also redeem miles to travel to Cairo. 

You have to book both airlines over the phone and not on AA.com.  But these are still great options for booking travel to the Middle East.  

Bottom Line

The American Airlines AAdvantage program has numerous opportunities to score great award tickets around the world.  Whether it is flying Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, or British Airways to London, or any other partner destination, you have the chance to take great trips for a mere fraction of the cost of a normal ticket!

To be continued…(next post: award types, fees, and rules)

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

224 responses to “Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 1 – Introduction

  1. Cathy Fitzgibbon

    Flying this Sept to Germany and back from Austria. This time we got award tickets for business class. Wanted to get in while there were a lot of seats opening up, before the devaluation on 22 Mar. Previously we’ve used miles to upgrade to business.

  2. I like to upgrade cheap coach tickets to business class on transpacific trips using miles

  3. Also making a trip to Germany this summer, in my case in early to mid August with my dad. It’ll be his first time in Europe, and as a long-time genealogy/family-tree researcher, he’s really looking forward to seeing the Rhineland where our ancestors hail from long ago. I got us First Class redemptions prior to the devaluation, so he’ll also get to experience medium-haul Intl. 1st and I think he’ll love that!

  4. I’m saving up AA miles to take a trip to Europe for my boyfriend’s 50th birthday. He’s never been, and I’ve only been once, when I was a teen.

  5. I love your giveaways!

  6. Best use of AA miles is for travels on Cathay Pacific business or first class!

  7. Business class!!

  8. Looking forward to a year of travel.

  9. I have yet to book with American Airlines miles but am saving for an anniversary trip to Hawaii!

  10. Lewis Franck

    My favorite way to use AA miles is to book vacation travel.

  11. I’d use the extra miles to visit family or gift to a niece

  12. ibemanthony

    Haven’t done business class yet, but favorite way so far was to book RT non-stop from NYC to GRU via BA for 50K miles instead of 60K on AA or United. Great when transferring points from Chase UR!

  13. Flying to my next job in the carribean as a dive instructor.

  14. I usually go on one trip to Europe each year in Business Class and my wife & I book separately so we can each get the 10,000 rebate because of our Citi AA cards.

  15. My favorite way to use AA miles is for a safari and I could use some more to book an award ticket,

  16. My favorite use is creating family memories by flying to Disney World.

  17. Thanks for all the tips! It’s been so helpful!

  18. I am looking forward to a trip to Hawaii.

  19. I like to travel domestically and to Europe!

  20. I live in Dallas, so American Airlines is the big contender for international getaways. These points of helped my husband and I visit dream adventure travel getaways on our bucket list, including India (the Golden Triangle of Rajasthan) and Ecuador (the Galapagos). We are adventure travel junkies so banking miles to help make this happen is the best!

  21. Miami on AA!

  22. Terry Anserello

    Using AA miles towards a trip to Europe!

  23. Love using miles for trip to Europe or the Caribbean … fantasy trips! one day!

  24. Taking my family on great trips to expand our horizons!

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