Via Giddy for Points, there’s a loophole in the Citi American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards. It allows you to book award flights from all the airports on the list (this month it’s 128!) to anywhere in the continental US or Canada at a discount!
If you have 1 of the Citi AAdvantage credit cards listed here, you can book award tickets at a reduced rate to destinations that change monthly. But I’ve confirmed that you can also book tickets originating from cities included in the sale!
This is especially good news for folks who live in cities that are frequently on the reduced mileage award list, because it means they’ll be able to fly almost anywhere in the continental US and Canada for a reduced number of miles (as long as they have the right credit card!).
How Does This Work?
American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards are published every other month. The list of destinations that qualify for the discount changes each month. American Airlines says:
Choose your destination in your preferred month of travel from our list.
But what they don’t mention is that you can fly from 1 of the included cities to a destination not on the list, and still get the reduced mileage discount!
You’ll only get the discount if you have 1 of the cards that qualify, like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® or the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®.
You won’t often see busy or popular destinations on the list, like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. But if you live near a city included in the reduced mileage awards, you can book flights to any city with the discounted rate.
And most Citi cards also give you a 10% mileage rebate when you redeem for award tickets, up to 10,000 miles a year. So you could save even more!
Note: You can NOT book reduced mileage award tickets online. To book a ticket, call American Airlines AAdvantage Reservations at 800-882-8880, or visit a ticket office or the airport.
Example: New York (JFK)
New York (JFK) is almost never on the reduced mileage award list. But I wanted to see if I could fly to New York from an included destination and still get the reduced rate.
First, I checked for low-level award seats from Raleigh (which is on the list every month from August to November) to New York. There were lots of seats available. Normally, you’d need 12,500 miles to book this ticket.
I called American Airlines AAdvantage reservations and told them I wanted to book a reduced mileage award from Raleigh to New York on October 28, 2014. The award code for a coach class reduced mileage award ticket is TD8X7B.
The agent found the flight I was looking for and said it would cost 8,750 miles and ~$6!
Example: Cincinnati to Los Angeles
Los Angeles is another destination that’s almost never included in the sale. So I checked for flights to Los Angeles from Cincinnati, which is also on the list every month from August to November.
Normally, a 1-way coach class award ticket from Cincinnati to Los Angeles costs 12,500 miles.
When I called American Airlines and gave the agent the award code and flight numbers, she said it would cost 8,750 miles plus ~$6 per segment (there were no non-stop flights available).
So it seems to work consistently, as long as your origin city is on the discounted list!
This is great news for folks who live near smaller cities that often appear on the reduced mileage award list. I wish Austin were 1 of those cities!
What If Your City Is NOT on the List?
There’s a workaround you can use, but it can be risky. By using hidden city ticketing, you can still get a reduced mileage award to almost anywhere by booking a ticket to an included city, with a connection in the city you want to fly to.
Here’s how it works. Suppose I want to fly from Austin to Chicago. Neither of these cities are included on this month’s reduced mileage award list. So a regular 1-way award ticket would cost 12,500 miles.
But if I book a flight from Austin to a city included in the sale with a connection in Chicago, I can get the discount and only pay 8,750 miles. Then I get off the plane in Chicago!
For example, Columbus is included on the reduced mileage list from August to November. There’s an available award ticket that connects in Chicago. So this ticket would cost 8,750 miles (because Columbus is included), and I’d just get off the plane in Chicago and not fly the 2nd segment of the trip.
For this to work, you can NOT check a bag (because it will be tagged to your final destination), and you can only book a 1-way ticket. That’s because if you miss a segment on the outbound portion of a round-trip itinerary, the airline will cancel the rest of your trip! You can get around this by booking 2 separate 1-way tickets.
And there’s always a possibility of being re-routed (due to weather, schedule changes, or cancellations) through an airport other than the 1 you want to fly to. You may end up somewhere you did not want to go.
The airlines don’t like it when folks use hidden city ticketing to save money or miles, so I wouldn’t do this repeatedly. If the airline suspects you’re abusing the system, they may find ways to punish you (like taking away your miles!). 🙁
You can book American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards both TO and FROM the destinations included in the sale each month. Even though the included cities say “destination,” you can book a ticket originating in that city and still get the discount!
You’ll save between 5,000 and 7,500 miles on a round-trip award ticket, and half that on a 1-way award ticket, depending on which Citi AAdvantage card you have.
If you’re someone who lives near a city that’s included frequently, this means that you can save miles on American Airlines award tickets to just about anywhere in the continental US and Canada.
And even if you’re not near an included city, you could use hidden city ticketing to still get the discount (but there are risks!).
Have you booked American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards in this way? Please share your experience in the comments!