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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
Award Types & Charts
American Airlines has 3 different award types for redeeming miles and 2 award charts for upgrades.
These are the only awards which you can book online at AA.com. Booking online saves you the $25 telephone ticketing fee.
However, you CAN NOT search and book for partner airlines (besides Alaska Airlines) online. For awards within North and Central America, this really doesn’t matter since your only options to get to those destinations are mostly on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines and AA.com is very good at showing you those options.
However, you may need to call American Airlines to book flights from the US to Hawaii using partner airline Hawaiian Airlines, since you can’t do that online.
For international flights, you are almost ALWAYS better off researching available seats on partner airlines (both Oneworld and other AA partner airlines) and then calling in to make the reservation. Yes, you’ll pay a $25 telephone booking fee (waived for top tier Executive Platinum members), but you’ll get much more availability and options.
For example, if you search for flights from Chicago to Rome on AA.com, you’ll only see American Airline options online. But you can also fly on British Airways (Oneworld partner airline) or American Airlines to London and then connect on a British Airways flight to Rome. Or you could fly on Iberia to Spain and then connect to Rome.
2. AAdvantage All Airline Award. This award chart lets you combine travel on:
a) American Airlines
b) Oneworld partner airlines which include:
- British Airways (including Cityflyer, Comair, Sun-Air of Scandinavia)
- Cathay Pacific (including Dragonair)
- Japan Airlines ( including JAL Express, J-Air, Japan Transocean Air)
- LAN Airlines (including LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador, LAN Express, LAN Peru)
- Mexicana (suspended indefinitely)
- Qantas (including QantasLink & Jetconnect)
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 (including Globus)
c) Other American Airline partner airlines which include:
- Air Berlin
- Air Pacific
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Alaska Airlines/Horizon AIr
- Cape Air
- El Al
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Jet Airways
- Kingfisher Airlines
These awards can only be booked via telephone and you have to pay a $25 telephone booking fee per award (waived for top tier Executive Platinum elite members), but it is totally worth it because of the vastly increased flight options.
3. Oneworld Airline Award Chart. The above 2 charts should cover 95% of your award needs.
The Oneworld award chart is a distance based award chart which lets you book flights on certain Oneworld airlines (but NOT the other airline partners listed in 2. c) above.
You have to travel on at least 2 Oneworld airlines excluding American Airlines and can’t have more than 16 segments on the award.
This award chart is a terrific value if you are looking to book award travel with many stopovers or a round-the-world trip.
You can’t book this award online, but it is well worth the $25 telephone booking fee.
1. American Airline Upgrades. This chart lists the co-pay and miles required to upgrade flights on flights operated by American Airlines, American Eagle, or American Connection.
Upgrades are only possible to the next higher class of service, so you can’t upgrade from economy to first class, but you can upgrade from economy to business class or from business class to first class.
I’m not a big fan of using miles to upgrade flights because it is usually a poor value when upgrading from the cheapest discount economy ticket.
For example, it costs 25,000 miles PLUS a $350 co-pay to upgrade a 1-way discount economy ticket to Europe from economy to business class.
Total cost using miles to upgrade: $1,350. Cost of discount economy ticket to Europe (~$750) + co-pay to upgrade ($350) + value of 25,000 American Airline miles ($250 @ 1 cent per mile).
However, it costs only 50,000 American Airlines miles when you redeem miles for a business class ticket to Europe.
Total cost using miles to redeem for a business class ticket: $500 (50,000 miles X 1 cent per mile)
However, using miles to upgrade could make sense if your company has purchased your ticket for you or if you regularly purchase business class tickets, or if you just want to save your American Airline miles.
2. Upgrades on British Airways and Iberia. This chart lists the amount of miles required to upgrade flights on British Airways and Iberia.
However, this is a pretty meaningless option to me, because your ticket has to be booked in full fare economy, premium economy or business class.
Since these full fares are almost always higher than the discounted fares, this is usually not a great value unless you are forced to buy a ticket at full fare or your company buys the ticket for you.
You also have to book the ticket directly through American Airlines to be eligible to upgrade a British Airways or Iberia flight. This means that tickets booked through any other sources besides AA.com or American Airlines reservations can not be upgraded.
Next in the series will be: how many miles does my award cost, fees, rules, & booking domestic and international awards.