Redemption woes with AAdvantage

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by Solar1, Apr 29, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. I've been a member for more than 20 years, yet nowdays it is nearly impossible to book a fligh using miles, too bad American is not rewarding those of us who've been around a long and loyal time. Im a Platinum flyer and have been for many years, approaching 3M miles.
     
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  2. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Hi Solar1, welcome to MP!

    Sorry to hear that you're struggling with using your miles for award flights. I've actually had quite the opposite experience. I recently booked an around the world trip in First class using my AAdvantage miles. The award space was very easy to find and I ended up with all the dates I wanted.

    Keep in mind that American, like most other US carriers, uses a tiered approach to its award. While the lower cost MileSAAvers might not always be available, you can use more miles to secure any available seat on a flight using the AAnytime awards. It might not be ideal to pay the higher level, but since the higher cost AAnytime awards can be used for any available seat you can almost always get to where you want to go.

    If you only are interested in the lower cost MileSAAver awards, some things to keep in mind when looking to book:
    • AA makes space available approximately 330 days out but could wait longer, so plan early.
    • Avoid trying to book awards to late to high season destinations. For example, trying to find award seats to Europe this summer would be very difficult. Summer is high tourist season and school is out of session, so AA's award flights disappear very quickly.
    • Try to be flexible with your dates and times
    • If you're struggling online try calling AA and seeing if they can route you through another city. If you want to fly from DFW-LHR direct and it isn't available, try looking at DFW-MIA-LHR or DFW-ORD-LHR.
    • You can use your AA miles for award flights on AA's partners like British Airways, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, etc. These award flights are not visible online, so you need to call AA to book them. If you can't get from Dallas to London on American, you might be able to on British Airways (watch out for the fuel surcharges though!)
    I hope you have better luck in the future with your award miles!
     
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  3. jasher926

    jasher926 Silver Member

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    This has been a frustration of mine for a while. I have been Executive Platinum for 3 years and the AAdvantage Program supposedly has "Expanded Award Seating Availability" giving you access to additional MileSAAver (lowest redemption) awards over regular members. However, I have NEVER found additional awards available to me as an EP. I login to my account to look at award availability and check the same flights without logging in and it always shows the same thing.
     
  4. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    You have to call for the expanded availability, it's not computerized.

    Example: On my recent OW award, I wanted to change my flight from ORD-LHR to another day, but AA.com was showing no awards. I called in and had a new flight on my desired day in 2 minutes.
     
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  5. Wurm
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    Wurm Silver Member

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    To add to David's list above, with the understanding that this will not work for everyone: Often single tickets are available on consecutive days, but not a pair on the same flight. Consider splitting the party up - unless the trip is very short, it won't "kill" you to travel a day apart (if it means the difference between getting the MilesAAver tickets or not getting them).

    Another approach is to go to nearby cities and use train connections to get to the desired city: for example, no MilesAAvers available to Paris, but seats are available to Brussels; fly there, then take the Thalys high-speed train to Paris (this also has the benefit of avoiding onerous exit taxes, as Belgium does not charge them),
     
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  6. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    As one has had good success in booking awards flights i would agree that diligence is perhaps the best tool in booking AA awards. Personally I am not at all convinced AA is releasing less award inventory it just that due to the proliferation of " frequent flyers experts" more pax seem to be aware of the need to book close to 10/11 months out.
    Too often we read on these boards " I checked at 330 days out and no awards seats are visible is AA now cut back on awards?"

    The understanding and use of partner websites in the case of international awards is essential
    Related to the above however the previously accepted " 331 days out" factoid ceratainly no longer holds true since AA has for sometime now at least on many popular International routes, stopped releasing MilesAAver tickets at anything close to 331 days.
    Having recently booked award tixs to FCO, LHR, CDG .. although AAnytime awards to those cities are still being loaded early, MilesAAvers are now showing up about 30 days later in a quite discernable pattern and with some effort one can actually predict the day they will show up.
     
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  7. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I agree and disagree with you. I agree that the rule isn't 100% steadfast. For a general redemption question though it's important to know the official "opening" date on award tickets. We don't know when and where someone might be looking for a ticket, so giving the basics is the best option. If 330 is the earliest date, it makes sense for a casual user to make that their starting point and work from there. It's noted that this timeframe is the earliest they could become available, but at the end of the day it's flexible. Luck of the draw.

    The MileSAAver loading at 30 days is common, but it doesn't hurt to look at the earliest timeframe either. :)
     
  8. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Actually the loading of Milesaaver awards at 300/1 days is a relatively recent phenomenon and appeared to be only put in place after AA started allowing one-way awards. Previous to this they were often loaded at the 331 day (332 days if one calls in ) and one was allowed to put a (20 day??) hold on the outbound until return inventory became available.
     
  9. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    True but that's been about a year and a half. It's all relative but I think that falls past 'recent'.
     
  10. It definitely helps to call and from there it sometimes depends on the CS rep you speak with. I was trying to book 1st class MIA-HKG last year using miles on specific dates and was getting nowhere because the connection out of LAX or SFO had zero award availability. I kept calling about 1x per week to check and finally got a CS rep who realized I could be routed thru Toronto on Cathay (huge score!).

    Other than that I've never really had an issue using miles though at times it seems somewhat hard to use miles for coach travel, instead having to spend double to go 1st class.
     
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  11. miamigrad
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    miamigrad Silver Member

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    I've had great success redeeming my AAdvantage miles for sAAver awards.

    It helps that I have also been flexible on my dates, partner airlines that I'd use, and that I haven't been trying to redeem to popular destinations during the height of peak season.

    I wish the OP the best of luck, and safe travels!
     
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  12. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    agreed and not just for AA but UA also. I'd add that almost all the time I have to book at height of peak season as Mrs Sweet Willie is in education and does not have flexibility when she can take off, so we are booking when everyone else wants to go. We have various destinations in mind so if one place is 'sold out' or redemptions are very high, we book another.
    no kidding, we do this somewhat frequently but it is an unthinkable action to take for many couples. Mrs Sweet Willie used to complain about how we didn't fly together on some trips, that for the most part has come to a stop with good reason per the following example:

    Trip to Rome: she got the first class ticket on LH across the pond, I flew over in Y a day early with all the luggage, she simply had to hop off the flight, go through customs and catch the pre-arranged private car to take her to our hotel where all the luggage has already been unpacked in the room for her. She is worth it and I'm not complaining (well maybe a little as I've never flown LH in F ;))

    She does receive A LOT of questions from co-workers and friends when she comments that she & I are not flying together, most of them say they wouldn't split up.
     
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  13. garyst16
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    garyst16 Silver Member

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    I have had some problems redeeming award miles, but it has been relatively easy going. Of course not all flight/date combinations will be available for what you want, but if you are a little flexible, it should work out.
     
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  14. Wurm
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    Wurm Silver Member

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    I don't have kids myself (so this is not a consideration for me personally), but I do know a few couples who will not fly on the same flights, under the principle that, should a disaster occur, the kids will not lose both parents simultaneously.

    On the broader question, when I was younger and would travel with several single friends (say, a total group of six on a ten-day trip to France), we would travel separately from the US (days 1-3), meet up in Paris and tour and dine as a a group (days 4-7), then split up for more solo or pair travel and for the return home (days 8-10). It was great in that we had time with the group and also time to do our own thing(s). And coming back on-topic, it ensured that everyone had flexibility in booking their air travel, whether award or revenue tickets were to be used.
     
  15. 7Continents
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    7Continents Silver Member

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    Just to root you on, many of us AAers will tell you that you are probably not checking often or not adding in a reasonable degree of flexibility in your requests. If you ask most of the really experienced people the % of truly impossible redemptions, I'm sure the median # will be quite low.
     
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  16. GUWonder
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    GUWonder Silver Member

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    I am having a tougher time getting great award ticket redemption value from AA miles this year than I was during periods of time when the economic buzz (and employment situation) was better than it is in AA's home market. The irony is that when AA failed me, DL actually worked out.
     
  17. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    The primary reason I like to have a chunk of miles in a few programs. DL came through for me last year as well with J to Europe, when AA & UA I couldn't get things to work.

    Now my DL account is near zero and I'm concerned about it:eek: shows how brainwashed I am with the whole gotta have miles idea, I should be pleased I basically zero'ed out my account on a program I probably won't fly for a long time.
     
  18. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Being a FFer is like a military operation: you need a back up plan for your back plan's back up plan. ;)
     
  19. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    Was this a OneWorld award or a series of one-way flex (All Partner) awards? I have had a terrible time trying to book OneWorld awards, even starting 330 days out, since they can only be held for 5 days, and there always seems to be one or two carriers (such as CX) that just won't release award space until a month before departure. I have resorted to one-way flex awards, but they tend to be a lot more expensive.

    Which class are these?
    This is an interesting approach to the "be flexible" mantra! In my case, my partner would kill me if we flew on different flights, much less different days. The flights are a big part of our annual trips; we go to a lot of trouble to pick flights we'll enjoy. While sometimes one needs to choose an alternate destination, flying to an alternate city and then taking the train to the desired city can add significant time to a vacation. For a trip to one place, this may be fine, but for an around the world with only two or three days in each city, it can make a city infeasible. I suppose the point here is that there are many possible techniques in the tool box, and it helps to be aware of as many as possible, to pick one that will work for you and allow booking the trip.
     
  20. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    It's a Oneworld award. It's the first one I've booked, so I don't have tons of experience, but I'm planning a 2nd trip now and so far I've found most of the award space on the flights I want. Interestingly I've found CX to be pretty generous with their award space. It's BA and JL that I often hit roadblocks on and have to hit the drawing board again.
     
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  21. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    Congratulations on being successful with your first OneWorld award :)
     
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  22. I'm new to MP so this is probly not new to everyone but I'm shocked at how the Business and 1st class mileSAAver award postings have gone down so much from last year. Last July I diligently checked awards for flights to and from DFW to LHR for a cruise we were taking this June. Everyday I checked showed new awards one day further out than the previous day, regardless of the day of the week. By doing this I was easily able to get a flight over on Wednesday and back on Sunday like I wanted. Now I'm checking for a cruise I'm booking for next year and, although it's not time for the 331 day window I'm discouraged because now it looks like the only awards being posted are for flights on Tuesday and Wednesday. NO OTHER DAYS OF THE WEEK APPEAR IN ANY MONTHS EXCEPT A FEW IN AUGUST OF THIS YEAR. When did Aadvantage become so unfriendly with mileSAAvers in Business and 1st class? I'm seriously considering dropping my Citi Aadvantage card if this is the way American is going to treat its customers from now on.
     
  23. Sagy

    Sagy Gold Member

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    I have had good success with AA awards in general and OneWorld awards in particular. I was able to book ORD-LHR-JNB in F last year for the World Cup. I was also able to book several F or J trips to Europe & Israel (several during what one would consider High season). The key for me has always been to earlier book early (if I had little flexibility) or be flexible as to the date, route or be willing to stay overnight in order to get a connection. As an example, on a recent OW trip I had to fly ORD-JFK-MAD since ORD-MAD was not available and on the return TLV-LHR-MAD-ORD since I need a second OW airline and didn't want to pay the BA fuel surcharge for LHR-ORD (AA J wasn't available LHR-ORD that day). This trip was booked on a Monday and started Sunday (6 days later).
     
  24. MyTravels
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    Do these parents not ride in the same car together either? There's a much higher likelihood of disaster occurring in an automobile than an airplane.
     
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  25. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Nothing on BA, either? Granted you'll pay the fuel surcharge, but if you really need to be there it's something you should consider.

    I see F availability ("Z") on AA for Thursday and Friday, May 24 and 25, from JFK. Also F availability from LAX on Friday, May 25, and from ORD on both Thursday and Friday, May 24 and 25. Have you looked at alternate departure points?
     

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