Tips On Maximizing Aadvantage Miles?

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by Vik Murthy, Feb 8, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Vik Murthy
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    Vik Murthy Silver Member

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    First post. Apologies in advance if I'm missed a more appropriate thread to post this to.

    I was wondering if folks had any tips or advice for maximizing AAdvantage miles in booking award tickets (ideally in premium class). I've accumulated a decent chunk of AA miles after following Gary Leff's recommendation to open a checking account at BankDirect (Gary is an absolute travel stud, by the way).

    With the miles in hand, I'm finding myself a bit frustrated with American's online booking engine. Invariably, the flight times that I want don't qualify for the Saver awards and instead require an exorbitant number of miles to book (especially in comparison to Star Alliance).

    Are there some effective tricks to making AA miles go farther -- e.g., something akin to transferring AmEx or Starwood points to Air Canada to book Star Alliance award tickets? Is there a best way to book awards on American's partner airlines?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
     
  2. benolaa
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    benolaa Gold Member

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    Using a tool like KVS help check award availability. I find the transfer out of AA via hotel or car to be a bad trade. The best way to redeem would be for International Award travel with a partner such a Cathay especially in F.
     
  3. noam
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    noam Silver Member

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    It might help if you told us the sorts of places you were interested in going. For instance... If you are looking for international routes, have you looked into the partner awards?
     
  4. Vik Murthy
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    Vik Murthy Silver Member

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    Fair enough. My frustrations have been primarily with booking short-haul North American flights (ORD-LAS, ORD-SJU, DCA-SJD), although I did also try to book ORD-CDG.

    Going forward, I would almost certainly be looking to use the miles for premium class tickets to Europe and Asia. To book partner awards to these destinations, do you need to call AA directly (e.g., is it similar to using US Airways miles to book Star Alliance awards)?

    Thanks.
     
  5. noam
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    noam Silver Member

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    Yes, you will need to call. You can do some research in advance to know what is available. Your best bet would be sign up for Qantas or BA (or both). Their websites will show you partner availability in the searches, so you can see what is available. You can also use Expertflyer for some Oneworld airlines.
     
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  6. noam
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    noam Silver Member

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    One additional point.. If you happen to be interested in flying to Australia, now is a great time to book an award. Qantas is opening a new route (SYD-DFW and DFW-BNE-SYD) and loaded a ton of inventory a couple of weeks ago. Even better is that they are flying a four class 747 with only three classes, so you might be able to snag a first class seat on a business award.
     
  7. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    Most people already know that booking 330 days out is usually the best bet, although some airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, don't release award space until months later. Also, transferring Starwood points to AA miles in units of 20k gives you a 5% bonus, so 20k becomes 25k, hence 1.25 miles per dollar on the Starwood AmEx.

    More specific advice would depend on what you want. For example, do you want to go to Europe? Hawaii? Japan? Do you want one seat or multiple? Or maybe you want to buy one ticket and use miles for a second?
     
  8. Bobofoosh
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    Bobofoosh Silver Member

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    Business class OneWorld award was a great redemption for me last year. Use a tool like ExpertFlyer to find the flights to make your own itinerary.
     
  9. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    To maximize the value of premium class award flights, I would pick exotic destinations and foreign carriers. Foreign carriers often have a higher service level than American carriers in premium classes. For a really nice experience, I would recommend CX first to HKG, connecting to someplace in Asia.
     
  10. buschoi
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    buschoi Gold Member

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    I agree with gemac that the best you should get out of AA miles will be premium cabin on long-haul flights. I have redeemed AA miles for several CX flights to Asia in J.

    To get the dates you want, you just have to redeem 330 days out.
     
  11. rdp

    rdp Active Member

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    Long-haul premium is definitely the way to go. A problem with foreign carriers is many charge rather high fees (particularly YQ).

    FWIW, I recently looked for AA flights JFK-FCO and JFK-MXP and found no non-stop premium cabin availability for any date.

    It would be nice if there was a good way to search online for partner airline flights. The BA and QF websites may be the best alternatives.
     
  12. Travelman
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    Travelman Gold Member

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    We have been able to use upgrade awards to business from HNL to Europe several times on cheap deep-discount economy tickets --- doing it from HNL gives it extra value over from the mainland since HNL to anywhere on the mainland is at the minimum a 5+ hr flight ... plus we were then able to use the Lounge because of the same day intl business class seat assignments.
     
  13. The Traveller
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    The Traveller Silver Member

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    For short hauls I would recommed looking at alternative aiports in the area which you can look up under the more options link as your going to price out a fare. Many of these smaller airports are often included in the Citi card reduced mileage awards (if you have that card). And of course, if all else fails, just keep checking availabilty. I've had some flights show up a available a week before that hadn't been available for months. Hope this helps!!!
     
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  14. wanderlust
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    wanderlust Silver Member

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    This might not be helpful for you, but you can get quite a "bang for your buck" redeeming AA miles for hotels, with the 1000 AA mile + cash option. Here's a good link about that from Loyalty Traveler.
     
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  15. monster
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    monster Silver Member

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    Wise use of stopovers can help you maximize award value.

    Oneworld awards can be very useful this way. For example, if you can't get to Australia directly from North America, a oneworld award will let you route via Asia. Since it allows stopovers, it's like getting a trip to Asia for free!

    All Partner awards only allow you to stopover at the North American gateway city. If you happen to live in such a city (and your examples suggest you may be based at ORD), you can use the free stopover to effectively get half of a domestic round trip for free. For example, I live in NYC, and I recently went to Hawaii. For the return, I booked the following: LIH-LAX-JFK (3 month) stopover JFK-LHR-VCE. So what started as a simple trip to Venice allowed me to visit Hawaii for only half the number of miles it would normally take. You can play the same game on the return, and get the first half of a domestic round trip for free.
     
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  16. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    Oneworld awards are much cheaper per mile of travel the more miles you buy. The award terminates when you return to your starting point. What I will do is start in St. Louis, do trip number one ending in Dallas, start trip number two in Dallas six months later and end it in St. Louis. I book the whole thing as one giant Oneworld trip with a six month stopover in Dallas. Then I buy a separate DFW-STL-DFW ticket to go home and do other things for that 6 months. The key limitations are no more than 16 segments, the whole thing has to be done within a year of getting the award ticket, no more than one stopover and two connections in any one city.

    As an example, a business class award of 14,000 to 20,000 miles costs 130,000 miles. An award of up to 35,000 miles costs only 190,000 miles.
     

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