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American Airlines Award Travel
Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro:
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – Types of Awards & Charts
- Part 3 – How Much Will My Award Cost?
- Part 4 – One-way, Openjaws, Stopovers, & North American Gateway Cities
- Part 5 – American Airlines, Alaska Airlines & Hawaiian Airlines for North American awards
- Part 6 – International Award Routes
- Part 7 – Finding British Airways Award Availability
- Part 8 – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability using the British Airways website
- Part 8b – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability using Japan Airlines’ Website
- Part 9 – Finding Iberia (& European) Award Availability using the Qantas Website
- Part 10 – Finding LAN & South American Award Availability
- Part 11 – Finding Air Tahiti Nui Awards to France & French Polynesia with FlightStats
- Part 11b – Finding Air Tahiti Nui Awards to France & French Polynesia with ExpertFlyer
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 (albeit at the cost of a stopover except at the North American gateway city on international itineraries). For example, you can fly to Europe using American Airlines miles and fly back using United miles. And you can redeem American Airlines miles, but fly on American Airline partner airlines.
In my experience American Airlines has some of the best telephone booking agents and some of the best availability for award seats for both domestic and international destinations.
I can usually complete my American Airlines award travel booking in about 7 minutes with American Airlines compared to the hours it could take with, say, US Airways.
Oneworld and other airline partners
More importantly, you can redeem your American Airline 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 12 airlines (American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Mexicana, Qantas, Royal Jordanian & S7) which together fly to over 750 destinations. Air Berlin, Kingfisher, and Malaysia Airlines are scheduled to become oneworld airlines soon.
American Airline has also partnered with other airlines (outside of the oneworld alliance) such as Jet Airways and Hawaiian Airlines. You can also redeem your American Airline miles for travel on these other partner airlines!
This is a BIG deal (no, it is a huge deal!), because between Oneworld and other partner airlines you can use your American Airline miles to fly to places where American Airlines doesn’t fly themselves.
Unfortunately, you have to call American Airlines (NOT the partner airline) and pay a $25 telephone booking fee to book most partner airlines, but it is well worth it. I’ll cover how to find award availability 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 Airline miles can take you to places where:
1) American Airlines fly themself
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 2 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 or Alaska Airlines online at AA.com. However, there are plans to make more award bookings via partner airlines available 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 availability 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 Airline miles, but fly on an Alaska Airlines plane from Seattle to Anchorage.
Even better, you can book this ticket online at AA.com because Alaska Airline is the only partner airline which can currently be booked online.
To be continued…(next post: award types, fees, and rules)