How to Fly to Los Angeles, Disneyland, San Diego, Las Vegas With an American Airlines Card Bonus

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Want to get away for a vacation to Los Angeles, Disneyland, San Diego, or Las Vegas?

With the huge sign-up offers (some only available for a limited time) on the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, or  Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard, you could book any of these getaways for nearly free with miles earned from your welcome bonus!

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

American Airlines Offers Many Flights to LAX, Which is a Great Destination for Many Different Souther California Destinations Like San Diego, Los Angeles, and Disneyland
American Airlines Offers Many Flights to Los Angeles, Which Is a Great Starting Point for Many Different Southern California Destinations Including Disneyland

I’ll show you how easy it is to use miles from just one credit card to get to these great destination spots.

One Citi American Airlines Card Bonus Can Jump Start Your Dream Getaway!

The Citi American Airlines cards each come with their own perks and advantages.  This gives you plenty of options to choose from to find the perfect card for your spending habits and travel style.

Here are the bonuses you can earn:

  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®:   Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 4 months of account opening
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®  Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard:   Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $7,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Redeeming Miles Towards Top Destinations Like Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas.

Once you apply for a card and earn the welcome bonus, you will want to start planning a fun trip.  I really like the way that American Airlines handles award flights using a simple award chart.  It makes it easy to plan ahead to many destinations.

Here are some common questions we get on using miles for award flights.

How Many Miles Will It Cost?

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

Link:   American Airlines Partner Award Chart

American Airlines award charts are region-based, which makes it easy to know how many miles are required just by looking where you want to go.

Book early and you should find MileSAAver flights which are only 12,500 American Airlines miles each way.  If you are flying on American Airlines flights (not partners) and the flight is 500 miles or less in distance, then MileSAAver is an even better deal of only 7,500 American Airlines miles each way.

Any of the above cards also give you access to Reduced Mileage Awards to certain airports which change each month, allowing you to make your welcome bonus stretch even further.

Which Partners Can You Fly On?

Within the US, you can redeem American Airlines miles on their own flights and partners like Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines Will Both Be Partners to Check for Domestic Flights
You Can Redeem American Airlines Miles for Flights on Partners Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air – This Is Handy for West Coast Flights!

You can search for and redeem miles for these partner flights directly on the American Airlines website.

Can You Fly First Class or Business Class?

Yes, you can redeem American Airlines miles for award tickets for Business Class and First Class fares.  It is best to reference the award chart for how many miles these will cost because it can vary based off the type of fare it is, if it’s a 3 cabin aircraft, and other factors.

Use the Award Charts to See Pricing for Business and First Class Award Fares.
Use the Award Charts to See Pricing for Business and First Class Award TIckets

Business Class, in particular, can be a pretty good deal to book with miles if you can find a MileSAAver fare like from New York to Las Vegas.  These fares could otherwise cost more than $1,000.

Tips on Flying to These Destinations

Los Angeles

The airport you will be flying into is the Los Angeles International Airport or LAX.  Even infrequent travelers seem to know it by its airport code.

With the 50,000 mile bonus from the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card, you’d have more than enough miles for 2 round-trip flights to Los Angeles from anywhere in the continental US.

Los Angeles airport is a main hub for American Airlines, which means there are going to be lots of flights to this destination.  Most West Coast departure cities have a non-stop flight option here, as well many cities in the southwest. 

Depending on where you’re staying in the Los Angeles area, you might look at flights to other area airports:

  • Ontario International Airport (ONT)
  • John Wayne Airport (SNA)
  • Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)
  • Long Beach Airport (LGB)
There are a Total of 3 Admirals Clubs at LAX to Make Flights Comfortable When Traveling Here
There Are a Total of 3 Admirals Clubs at LAX to Make Your Airport Experience Comfortable When Traveling Here

If you have the Citi Executive AAdvantage card, you get complimentary Admirals Club access for yourself and immediate family or up to 2 guests.  Authorized users (which are free to add) get access as well.  This card is worth considering if you’ll use Admirals Clubs a lot because this benefit can more than make up for the annual fee.

American Airlines has 3 Admirals Clubs at LAX.  The largest club is in Terminal 4 by Gate 40 and offers showers, a TV room, a quiet room, and a conference room for rent.  The second club is in Terminal 5 by Duty Free and offers showers in addition to standard amenities.  Finally, there is even an Admirals Club with standard amenities in the American Eagle Regional Terminal where you might find yourself if traveling under 500 miles or connecting from a nearby airport like San Francisco.

San Diego

The San Diego airport (SAN) is smaller than LAX and will have fewer flight options available, but still enough that you should have a few options no matter where you live.

Despite being less popular than LAX, San Diego is still a popular vacation spot and popular for business conferences.  For this reason, there are a surprising number of direct flights, even from the East Coast to this airport.

After meeting the minimum spending on the CitiBusiness AAdvantage card, you’ll have nearly enough miles for 3 round-trip coach tickets.  San Diego airport is also on the reduced mileage award list for August and September 2018, so you could get a discount of 7,500 American Airlines miles round-trip!

San Diego Beaches are Some of the Best Beaches in the US. A Great way to use American Airlines Miles.
San Diego Beaches Are Some of the Best in the US.  This Is a Great Way to Use American Airlines Miles

These airports have non-stop flights to San Diego:

  • Charlotte
  • Chicago O’Hare
  • Dallas / Fort Worth
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York (JFK)
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Portland
  • Seattle

Depending on where you’re flying from, you may have to connect through either Phoenix or Los Angeles.  If you are still struggling to get a MileSAAver flight, like during peak summer months, you could instead find a flight to LAX and rent a car to drive to San Diego.  It’s a ~2.5 hour drive along the Pacific coast.

You will have to drive along the infamous I-5 in Los Angeles which could add a few hours to your trip, depending on the time of day you drive.  However, once you make it south to San Clemente, things are usually smooth sailing from there.


Who doesn’t want to go to Disneyland?  If you have your heart set on the most magical place on earth, then using your Citi American Airlines welcome bonus to get there makes it even more magical.

With the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card, you and your partner could each get a card, that way you’ll have enough miles for 4 round-trip tickets for a family of 4.

Disneyland is Even More Magical When you Use Points to Get There
Disneyland Is Even More Magical When You Use American Airlines to Get There

Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California.  The closest airport is Santa Ana (SNA) also known as John Wayne / Orange County Airport.  It is only 12 miles away by car, and shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to get to Disneyland or the nearby hotels even in heavier traffic.  This airport has very few non-stop flights on American Airlines, so you may have to connect in many cases.

The only non-stop flights are from:

  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Phoenix
  • Portland
  • Seattle

Much of the traffic that this airport gets is Disneyland traffic, so finding a shuttle to your hotel or to Disneyland won’t be a problem if you want to skip the rental car.

The other option is to fly into Los Angeles International (LAX).  The drive is only 30 miles from the airport to Disneyland but depending on traffic it could take a while.  Rental cars are much cheaper at LAX than other nearby airports, so you might be able to get a great rate or free upgrade on your car.  They usually have tons of available vehicles at very low prices because of the increased competition here.  For many families, this might be the best option, especially if you are renting a larger class vehicle like a minivan.

Los Angeles is Famous for Its Traffic. Something to Consider Before Renting a Car
Los Angeles Is Famous for Its Traffic. Something to Consider Before Renting a Car

The last option is Daugherty Field in Long Beach, California (LGB).  It is only 18 miles away from Disneyland but American Airlines only maintains one flight to this airport which is through Phoenix.  This means getting flights here can be expensive, might include long layovers, and finding those MileSAAver deals could be hard.  This airport has a very small car rental area with few cars available.  I have seen car rental prices be nearly double what you would otherwise find in LAX, even within the same brand.

For many folks, the best bet to get to Disneyland on award flights is through LAX because it has more flight options.  But be sure to see what options are available through the other 2 airports we discussed.

Las Vegas

American Airlines has many flights to the Las Vegas airport (LAS), but most are funneled through their main hubs.

Short-haul flights here from Phoenix or Los Angeles cost fewer American Airlines miles because they’re 500 miles or less.  The welcome bonus from the Citi AAdvantage Executive card could earn you 6 one-way tickets from these locations to Las Vegas.

Non-stop flights to Las Vegas are available from:

  • Charlotte
  • Chicago O’Hare
  • Dallas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York (JFK)
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Washington, DC
Take a Shuttle From the Airport to the Strip (It’s too Far to Walk). But Once There, Everything Is Accessible by Foot

Las Vegas’ airport is pretty easy to navigate.  It is not possible to get to the city or your hotel by foot, and renting a car in Vegas rarely makes sense.  Most hotels now charge you for parking (even if you are staying with them) and driving the strip is a miserable experience.  In Vegas, nearly everything is accessible by foot, and stuff that isn’t will offer shuttles to bring you from any of the major hotels (all of which are within walking distance of each other).

My recommendation is to call your hotel ahead of time to arrange a shuttle from the airport to your hotel.  Most of the major hotels offer this service and others will be able to reserve 3rd-party transportation for you.  Taxis, Uber, and Lyft are all available but beware the costs of these can get out of control in Vegas because you sit in traffic.  I once paid $54 in cab fare to go 2.1 miles back to my hotel one night in Vegas.  Another time I took a Lyft from the Las Vegas Convention Center to the Sands Convention center (which is 1.2 miles according to Google Maps) and it cost me $38.  Once you are in town, its usually faster to walk around the strip than to drive.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a great vacation, top summer picks include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Disneyland.  With the current big bonus offers from the Citi American Airlines credit cards, you’ll earn:

  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®:   Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 4 months of account opening
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®  Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard:   Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $7,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

American Airlines offers lots of flights to these locations, making it easy to redeem miles for award flights here.  If you plan ahead, you can find MileSAAver flights for as little as 12,500 American Airlines miles each way (or 7,500 miles for flights 500 miles or less).

Do you have any tips or tricks to share for these destinations?  Please let us know in the comments!

Alex Curtis is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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