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 Awards
Booking travel within North America (as defined by American Airlines) using American Airlines miles is very easy to do (if there are award seats available) and can be completed on AA.com (unless you’re booking seats on Hawaiian Airlines).
According to American Airlines, North America refers to the US (including Hawaii and Alaska), Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
For flights within North America, you can use your American Airlines miles for award flights on:
- American Airlines (including American Eagle etc.)
- Alaska Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Cathay Pacific from New York (JFK) to Vancouver, Qantas from Los Angeles to New York (JFK), and LAN from New York (JFK) to Toronto
You can hold your award for 5 days if booked between 330 and 15 days prior to departure, 1 day if booked within 14 days of departure, and for 2 hours if booked within 24 hours of departure. There is NO charge for holding an award.
But you have to call American Airlines reservations (& pay a $25 booking fee unless you are a top tier Executive Platinum) for flights on Hawaiian Airlines. We’ll cover how to search for Hawaiian Airlines award availability later in this post so that you don’t have to rely on the telephone agent to find you flights!
- You can book a maximum of 4 one-way awards on single ticket
- The award booking window opens 330 days prior to the flight’s departure
- Changes to award tickets (both MileSAAver & AAnytime) are free as long as the origin and destination remain the same
- $150 fee to cancel and redeposit the miles into your account ($25 for additional tickets from the same account) waived only for top tier Executive Platinum members
- All travel must be completed within 1 year (365 days) of making the booking
- No stopovers are allowed on awards within North America
- You have to connect to another flight within 4 hours (regardless of award availability) unless the next scheduled flight is more than 4 hours away (but less than 24 hours)
Booking awards on American Airlines & Alaska Airlines
Booking awards on American Airlines & Alaska Airlines within North America is extremely easy to do on-line at AA.com.
That’s because American Airlines has the best online booking tool for domestic awards which will let you:
- See availability for both low level (MileSAAver) and high-level (AAnytime) awards
- Show you a 30 day calendar view of award availability at a time
- Sort availability by class of service
You don’t even need to be an AAdvantage member to see award availability!
Award Booking Tips for Domestic Awards
1. Book Early. I’ve noticed that availability tends to be the best once the schedule is loaded 330 days from the day of departure. Of course, airlines continually add or remove award availability, but if you know that you visit Florida every year during the 3rd week of August, it is probably best to book your seats earlier rather than later.
2. Be Flexible. It will be very hard to get your family of 4 on the same flight unless you are flexible or book early. And even then it may not be possible. Try to break up your family of 4 into say, 1 adult & 1 child and look for separate flights to and from your destination. Or look for flexibility around your travel dates. Or try to get 2 first class and 2 coach seats on the same flight. Or choose a destination based on award availability.
3. Consider Business SAAver awards. Before spending twice the amount of miles for a coach AAnytime seat (which guarantees you last seat availability) look for Business Class SAAver awards. Very often there are business class seats available for the same price as coach awards!
4. Dummy Searches. Do dummy searches using the American Airlines award tool to see award availability. It is just like searching for a flight and you’ll see what your options are. You’ll also get more familiar with the tool which will help you as you book more awards.
5. Be Patient. Booking awards can be very frustrating. But if you’re patient and flexible, you’ll usually get the award you’re looking for.
6. 1 Seat at a time. Instead of searching for 4 seats, start by searching for 1 seat and increase the number of seats with each search. You’ll get a better sense of how many tickets are available.
American Airlines Award Booking Video
Here’s a video from American Airlines on how to use the online award booking tool.
American Airlines Award Booking Screenshots
Here are a few screenshots to help get started with searches on AA.com
Go to AA.com
Enter in your flight information and select “Redeem AAdvantage Miles”
You can see award availability in 30 day blocks and can search for award seats based on MileSAAver (regular) or AAnytime (double-priced) awards.
Hawaiian Airlines Award Booking
You can use your American Airlines miles for flights on Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaii. However, you can’t see award availability on AA.com for Hawaiian Airlines.
So we’ve got to search for super saver award availability on Hawaiian Airlines using the Hawaiian Airlines website, write those flight numbers down, and then call American Airlines reservations and ask them to book the flights.
Sure, we can also rely on the phone agent to search for us, but in my experience it is much better to find the award availability yourself and then ask the agent to book it for you.
Remember, we can’t just go to AA.com and search for Hawaiian Airline availability, because Hawaiian Airlines award flights don’t show up on AA.com
This may be confusing at first, so here’s what we are trying to do. We’re trying to find award seats on Hawaiian Airlines which can be booked using American Airlines miles.
American Airlines charges 17,500 miles for a 1-way off-peak coach award, 22,500 for a 1-way regular MileSAAver coach award, and 37,500 miles for a 1-way Business/First class award to Hawaii. If we book an award using American Airline miles, we’re going to have to pay what American Airlines charges.
Not all awards on Hawaiian Airlines (if you search for awards on the Hawaiian Airlines website) can be booked using American Airline miles. Only Hawaiian Airline Super Saver awards which are 20,000 miles 1-way in coach (17,500 miles if you have the Hawaiian Airlines credit card) and 40,000 miles (1-way in First Class can be booked using American Airline miles.
We’ll check award availability for Hawaiian Airlines Super Saver awards on the Hawaiian Airlines website, but we’ll have to call American Airlines to book those flights – because we’re using American Airline miles.
Hawaiian Airlines Non-Stop Flights
Hawaiian Airlines flies non-stop to Honolulu from:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Diego
- San Fransisco
- San Jose
Hawaiian Airlines also flies non-stop to Maui from:
- Las Vegas
Searching for Hawaiian Airlines Award Flights
Sign-up for a free HawaiianMiles account which will let you check award availability on Hawaiian Airlines flights.
Sign-in to your HawaiianMiles account.
Click on “Book Travel” on the top and then select “Find a Flight” from the drop-down menu.
Enter in your departure city, destination, and travel dates & click “Continue”
Select “View fares by Miles” in the top left hand side.
You can click on the “View fares by Month” to see availability, in 30 day blocks, on a calendar.
Remember, that only the Super Saver coach flights for 20,000 miles (17,500 miles if you have the Hawaiian Air credit card) or Super Saver First Class flights for 40,000 miles can be booked using American Airlines miles. And you have to call American Airlines to book these flights.
However, you can’t sort the calendar by 1st class or coach awards, so you’re better of using the “View fares by Miles” option if you’re looking for first class saver awards (40,000 miles).
If you’re looking for coach awards you can use the calendar view.
Once you find Super Saver award availability for your flights (20,000 miles in coach or 40,000 in business), write down the flight details.
For example, “HA 3 departing at 10:30 am from Los Angeles and arriving at Honolulu at 1:15 pm on August 24, 2012.”
If you’re NOT departing from a city from which Hawaiian Airlines has direct service to Hawaii, you would need to find availability to that city using AA.com
For example, I couldn’t find availability using AA.com from Kansas City to Honolulu.
So I used steps 1 to 5 above to check Hawaiian Airlines award availability from different cities. I found a First Class seat on August 24 from Los Angeles to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines at the 40,000 mile level which can be booked using American Airlines miles by calling American Airlines reservations.
But I need to get from Kansas City to Los Angeles. So I look for award availability from Kansas City to Los Angeles on AA.com
Once I find availability from my departure city (Kansas City in this case) to the Hawaiian Airlines departure city (Los Angeles), I’ll write down the series of flights on both American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines and call American Airlines reservation and ask them to book the itinerary.
Since I’m using American Airline miles, I’ll pay either 17,500 miles for a 1-way off-peak coach award, 22,500 for a 1-way regular MileSAAver coach award, or 37,500 miles for a 1-way Business/First class award to Hawaii.
I’ll still pay the same amount of American Airline miles above if I book a direct flight to Hawaii from Los Angeles on partner airline Hawaiian Airlines or if I combine the itinerary with American Airlines flights from Kansas City to Los Angeles and then fly from Los Angeles to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines.
I’ll feed the agent the information segment by segment and ask to put the award on hold. Once the award is on hold, I’ll check to make sure that the dates and times match and then call back and ask the agent to ticket the flight.
Hawaii, here I come!
Next in the series will be: booking international awards.