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I’ve updated this post to reflect the new American Airlines award chart that went into effect on March 22, 2016.
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. For example, you can fly to Europe using American Airlines miles and fly back using United Airlines miles. And you can redeem American Airlines miles, but fly on American Airlines partner airlines.
In my experience American Airlines has some of the best telephone booking agents and some of the most available award seats for both domestic and international destinations.
oneworld and Other Airline Partners
More importantly, you can redeem your American Airlines 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 15 airlines (Air Berlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines (and merger partner TAM Airlines), Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 and Sri Lankan Airlines) which together fly to over 1,000 destinations in 150+ countries.
American Airlines has also partnered with other airlines (outside of the oneworld alliance) such as Etihad Airways and Fiji Airways. You can also redeem your American Airlines miles for travel on some of 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 Airlines miles to fly to places where American Airlines doesn’t fly themselves.
Some airline award tickets can be booked on AA.com including:
- Air Berlin
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines (including American Eagle)
- British Airways
- Royal Jordanian
Unfortunately, to book all other partners you have to call American Airlines (NOT the partner airline) to book the award. I’ll cover how to find available award seats 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 Airlines miles can take you to places where:
1) American Airlines fly themselves
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 3 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 and the partners listed earlier in this post 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 available award seats 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 Airlines miles, but fly on an Alaska Airlines plane from Seattle to Anchorage.
3. Cairo, Egypt. American Airlines not only doesn’t offer any service to Cairo, but does not offer a single flight to any country in the Middle East. But since Qatar Airways is a member of the oneworld alliance, you can use your American Airlines miles to fly Qatar to Cairo, with a quick layover in Doha.
Another option would be to use American Airlines partner (that is NOT in oneworld), Etihad Airways. With a quick layover in Abu Dhabi, you can also redeem miles to travel to Cairo.
You have to book both airlines over the phone and not on AA.com. But
these are still great options for booking travel to the Middle East.
The American Airlines AAdvantage program has numerous opportunities to score great award tickets around the world. Whether it is flying Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, or British Airways to London, or any other partner destination, you have the chance to take great trips for a mere fraction of the cost of a normal ticket!
To be continued…(next post: award types, fees, and rules)