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 through its oneworld and non-oneworld partner airlines offer a lot of choices when booking international awards.
However, none of these partner airlines (except Alaska Air) can currently be booked via AA.com. I get lots of emails from folks who can’t find award availability when they search online. That’s because only American Airlines and Alaska Airlines results show up online and you don’t see availability on the many other partner airlines.
However, American Airlines has pledged to include more partner airlines online and British Airways awards could soon be available online at AA.com
You’ve got to call AA reservations (800-433-7300) and pay a $25 fee to book via the telephone. But paying this fee is worth it, because it opens up so many possibilities when booking award tickets!
But instead of calling and relying on the agent to find you availability from, say, Kansas City to Rome, it is much better to know which partner airlines could get you to your destination. And even better if you have already found award availability on those partner airlines so that you can feed the flights to the agent to book. We’ll cover this in future posts.
American Airlines partner airlines have outstanding First Class availability as Gary has previously written about. I’ve almost always been able to find 2 or more awards on British Airways and Etihad flights.
Piecing awards together
Finding an award to a destination is not easy and you have to be flexible. The airlines don’t want to make it easy for you to redeem your miles. But with a little patience and planning you’ll be able to redeem your miles for First and Business class seats which costs thousands of dollars!
The most important rule is to start piecing your award together segment by segment, starting with the international segments first.
For example, if you want to fly to Rome from the US, you should work on finding award flights from a US city to a city in Europe (say, Chicago to London on American Airlines or British Airways).
Then find an award from London to Rome (on, say, British Airways) and from your home town to Chicago (on, say, American Airlines or Alaska Airlines).
Once you’ve pieced together the itinerary, write down the segments and call American Airlines to book the trip. We’ll cover this in more detail in future posts.
Routes to Popular Destinations
In the next section, I’ve listed popular destinations and the different airline combinations which will get you there.
This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a list of potential routes and airlines to different destinations and will change. Please let me know in the comments of any changes and I will update the list.
Also keep in mind that as Lucky has pointed out, American Airlines “require the overwater carrier to publish a routing between the origin and destination.” This isn’t an issue for most awards, but keep it in mind if you’re unable to book an award via the telephone. I haven’t checked if all the routings below have a published route.
If you’re looking to see which partner airlines fly out of which North American airports, please see post 4 in the Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro series.
1. American Airlines, British Airways & other partners to London and connect on British Airways to many different destinations in Africa.
Expect to pay fuel surcharges of ~$250 to $400 for each British Airways segment, so this does not make sense for many coach award redemptions.
2. American Airlines, British Airways, or Iberia to Spain and then Iberia to destinations in Africa.
3. American Airlines, Air Berlin, British Airways, or Iberia to Germany and then Air Berlin to destinations in Africa.
Awards to Australia are usually hard to get.
1. Qantas to Sydney from Honolulu, & Los Angeles, to Brisbane and Melbourne from Los Angeles, and to Brisbane/Sydney from Dallas.
2. Hawaiian Air from Honolulu to Sydney.
3. Air Pacific from Los Angeles to Nadi connecting to Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne. Or connect to Auckland or Christchurch and then take Qantas to Australia.
4. Air Tahiti Nui to Papeete connecting to Auckland and then to Sydney (very hard to find seats).
If you really want to use American Airline miles to Australia and are willing to pay for 2 awards, you could route from the US to Japan or Hong Kong and from Japan or Hong Kong to Australia.
Gary Leff writes in the comments that using an American Airlines oneworld distance-based award could also help get to Australia.
1. American Airlines to select cities in Europe or American Airlines to London and then connect to British Airways, Iberia, or Air Berlin flights to many destinations in Europe.
2. British Airways has outstanding availability in First and Business class to London. British Airways has non-stop flights to London from more US cities than American Airlines or any other US airline!:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York (JFK & Newark)
- San Diego
- San Fransisco
Expect to pay $200 to $400 in fuel surcharges each way (so it may not make sense to redeem miles for travel in British Airways economy class), but you will almost always find award seats available. And from London you can connect to British Airways, Iberia, or Air Berlin flights to the rest of Europe
3. Iberia from the US to Spain and then connect on Iberia, British Airways, or Air Berlin to the rest of Europe. Via New Girl in the Air, Iberia now charges a modest fuel surcharge. Key Iberia routes from the US are:
- Boston to Barcelona & Madrid
- Chicago to Barcelona & Madrid
- Miami to Barcelona & Madrid
- New York to Barcelona & Madrid
- Los Angeles to Madrid
4. Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles to Paris (Usually great availability).
5. Jet Airways from Newark & Toronto to Brussels.
6. Finnair from New York (JFK) to Helisinki.
7. Air Berlin from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Fort Myers, Miami, San Fransisco, & Vancouver to Duseldorf & Los Angeles & Miami to Berlin
1. American Airlines or British Airways from the US to London and then either Jet Airways or British Airways from London to India non-stop. Jet Airways flies to Mumbai and Delhi from London, and British Airways flies from London to Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore & Chennai
2. Jet Airways from Newark & Toronto to Brussels and then onto India
3. Etihad from Chicago, New York (JFK) & Toronto to Abu Dhabi and then connecting to an Etihad, Gulf Air, or Jet Airways flight to India.
4. El Al from Los Angeles, New York (JFK & Newark) to Tel Aviv and then connect on El Al from Tel Aviv to India.
5. Gulf Air from Europe or the Middle East to India. Use American Airlines or partner airlines to get from the US to Europe or the Middle East.
6. Royal Jordanian from Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York to Amman and then connecting to Royal Jordanian, Ethiad, Gulf Air, & Jet Air flights to India. Or use American Air or partner airlines to select cities in Europe and then connect on Royal Jordanian to India.
1. El Al from Los Angeles, New York (JFK & Newark), Toronto to Tel Aviv.
2. Royal Jordanian from Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York to Amman and then connecting to Royal Jordanian flights to Israel.
3. American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia to London (and select other European cities) and then British Airways or El Al to Israel.
4. Jet Airways from Newark & Toronto to Brussels and then connect on El Al to Israel.
JAPAN / SOUTHEAST Asia / CHINA
1. Cathay Pacific from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Fransisco, Toronto, Vancouver to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong connect on Cathay Pacific (link to Cathay Pacific route map) to China or Southeast Asia (not Japan).
2. Japan Airlines from Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Fransisco, Vancouver to Japan (link to Japan Air route map) and then connect on either Japan Airlines to other destinations in Asia, or Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and onto other destinations in Asia.
3. American Airlines to few destinations in Japan, Southeast Asia, and China.
American Airlines miles are the best poised to get you to the Maldives.
1. Etihad from Chicago, New York (JFK) & Toronto to Abu Dhabi and then connecting to an Etihad flight to the Maldives.
2. American Airlines, British Airways, Gulf Air, Royal Jordanian to Abu Dhabi and then Ethiad to Maldives.
3. American Airlines or partners to London or select cities in Europe and then from London or select cities to the Maldives via Abu Dhabi on Etihad or Berlin or Duseldorf on Air Berlin.
4. Air Berlin from Fort Myers, Los Angeles, Miami, San Fransisco & Vancouver to Berlin-Tegel or Duseldorf and then connecting to an Air Berlin flight to the Maldives.
5. American Airlines or British Airways to London Heathrow and then a British Airways flight to the Maldives from London Gatwick.
Gary Leff writes in the comments that you could fly to Columbo (Sri Lanka) and then buy a cheap ticket to the Maldives.
1. American Airlines or partners to London and then connect via British Airways, Royal Jordanian, & Gulf Air to the Middle East.
2. Etihad from Chicago, New York (JFK) & Toronto to Abu Dhabi and then connecting to an Etihad, Gulf Air, or Royal Jordanian.
3. Gulf Air from Europe. Use American Airlines or partner airlines to get from the US to Europe.
4. Royal Jordanian from Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York to Amman and then connecting to Royal Jordanian, Ethiad &Gulf Air, & Jet Air flights to the Middle East.
5. Air Berlin or Finnair from Berlin/Duseldorf or Helsinki to the Middle East.
American Airlines and partners have great availability to South America
1. American Airlines to many destinations in South America.
2. LAN from Los Angeles, Miami, New York to Lima and Santiago, and from San Fransisco to Lima. Link to LAN route map.
Bottom Line: Using partner airlines opens up a lot more ways to get to your destination, but you’ve got to do the research before and call to book these awards.
Next in the series will be: Finding British Airways award availability