How To Redeem American AAdvantage Miles

Posts from me are going to be a bit lighter over the next week as I travel to the MaldivesAs you may (or may not) know, I also have a points consulting service, whereby we help people redeem their airline miles. I have several colleagues working with me, and they’re some of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know in this hobby. This post is from my friend Tiffany, whom you’ve heard from before.


Now that we’ve finally said goodbye to the Dividend Miles program (*cries*), there are many of us with an abundance of American AAdvantage miles. The programs are very different, and we’ve been getting a lot of questions as to how to get the best value for American miles, or even just how to redeem them.

Once you know the rules, it’s pretty easy to use American miles, so I thought I’d go through the main points of the program, at least on the redemption side.

Redeeming AAdvantage miles for travel on American and US Airways

If you’re traveling exclusively on American and US Airways, AAdvantage does offer increased availability for their “AAnytime awards,” which start at double the cost of “SAAver” awards.

AAdvantage-award-types

AAnytime awards require a downright excessive number of miles, in my opinion, and don’t make sense unless you have a ton of miles and extremely limited flexibility.

So for the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to assume that you’re only interested in saver awards. As far as the other rules are concerned, AAnytime and SAAver awards are equivalent, but I thought this was a good distinction to clarify up front.

Redeeming AAdvantage miles on oneworld and other partner airlines

One of the main tricks to finding saver level award space is to leverage partners as much as possible. While US Airways has decent domestic award availability, American has been incredibly stingy the past few years. For international routes, both carriers are quite good about releasing unsold space to award inventory just prior to departure, but otherwise award availability is pretty depressing in premium cabins.

Fortunately, AAdvantage miles can be redeemed on all oneworld carriers, which gives you a good chunk of airlines to choose from:

airberlinFinnairMalaysia AirlinesS7 Airlines
American AirlinesIberiaQantasSriLankan Airlines
British AirwaysJapan Airlines (JAL)Qatar Airwaysoneworld affiliates such as:
Cathay PacificLATAMRoyal JordanianCathay Dragon, Comair, NIKI, Jetconnect, & OpenSkies

As well as the following partner carriers:

Air Tahiti NuiEtihad AirwaysHawaiian Airlines
Alaska Airlines/Horizon AirFiji AirwaysJet Airways
Cape AirGulf AirSeaborne Airlines

How to find AAdvantage award availability

While you can use your American miles for any of the above partners, not all these carriers show up on aa.com.

It’s also worth noting aa.com won’t show complicated routings. You’re allowed to make several connections in most cases, and can have very long layovers on international itineraries, but the website won’t display those options by default.

You can still redeem your miles for flights that don’t display on the website, you just need to search elsewhere, and then call reservations with your preferred flights.

My favorite places to search for award space on oneworld carriers are as follows, though many of these will also display on ExpertFlyer:

For flights on:Search for space on:
airberlinAmerican*
British Airways
American AirlinesAmerican
British Airways
British AirwaysAmerican
British Airways
Cathay PacificBritish Airways*
JAL
Qantas
FinnairAmerican
British Airways
IberiaBritish Airways
ExpertFlyer
Japan Airlines (JAL)British Airways
LATAMBritish Airways
Malaysia AirlinesBritish Airways
QantasAmerican
British Airways
Qatar AirwaysBritish Airways
Royal JordanianAmerican
British Airways
S7 AirlinesBritish Airways
SriLankan AirlinesBritish Airways

For non-oneworld partners it’s a bit trickier, and in many cases you’ll need to call:

For flights on:Search for space on:
Air Tahiti NuiExpertFlyer
Alaska AirlinesAmerican
ExpertFlyer
Saver space on Alaskaair.com
Etihad Airways"Guest" space on Etihad.com
Fiji AirwaysExpertFlyer
Hawaiian AirlinesDifferent availability for all partners.
Use partner site or call.
Jet AirwaysCall reservations

Fortunately, AA agents are quite competent for the most part, so calling shouldn’t be too painful.

American has a zone-based award chart

Programs with a “zone-based” chart charge a given number of miles for awards between two regions. American defines their regions as follows:

AAdvantage Award Zone:Countries Included:
North America U.S. (including Hawaii and Alaska), Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, The Bahamas and the Caribbean
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Venezuela
South America Zone 2Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile (excluding Easter Island), Paraguay, Uruguay
EuropeAlbania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovinia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia
Middle EastBahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
Indian SubcontinentBangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
AfricaAlgeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Melilla, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Reunion, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Asia Zone 1Japan, Korea, Mongolia
Asia Zone 2Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
South PacificAustralia, Easter Island, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Tonga, Republic of Vanuatu, American Samoa and Samoa

So if you’re wondering how many miles it will cost you to travel between Charlotte and Bangkok, just look at the chart for flights between the US and Thailand.

We get a surprising number of questions about this, but your domestic and short-haul flights are including in the mileage cost of a zone-based award (pending availability, of course).

There is one huge exception with AAdvantage though:

American generally doesn’t allow you to transit via a third region

This is honestly the most maddening and, in my opinion, stupid rule out there.

American already has rules about Maximum Permitted Mileage on award tickets, and AAdvantage requires the “significant” carrier in an itinerary to publish a fare in order for a routing to be valid.

The “no third region” rule grinds my gears because it seems to mainly be based on old relationships, and doesn’t take into account the current route network. So you can’t connect in Asia on the way to Australia, for example, even though every other legacy carrier would allow the routing.

Want to travel between the two oneworld hubs of Santiago and Hong Kong? You literally can’t on a single award.

There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule:

Traveling Between:And:Third-Region Connection Allowed In:
North AmericaCentral America or
South America Zone 1
North AmericaSouth America Zone 2
North AmericaEurope
North AmericaMiddle EastEurope
North AmericaIndian Sub Continent Europe
Hong Kong*
Middle East
North AmericaAfricaEurope
Doha*
North AmericaAsia Zone 1
North AmericaAsia Zone 2Asia Zone 1
North AmericaSouth Pacific
Central America or
South America Zone 1
South America Zone 2
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Europe
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
Europe
Central America or
South America Zone 1
AfricaEurope
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Asia Zone 1
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Asia Zone 2
Central America or
South America Zone 1
South PacificSouth America Zone 2
South America Zone 2Europe
South America Zone 2Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
Europe
South America Zone 2AfricaEurope
Doha*
South America Zone 2Asia Zone 1
South America Zone 2Asia Zone 2
South America Zone 2South Pacific
EuropeIndian Sub Continent /
Middle East
EuropeAfrica
EuropeAsia Zone 1Asia Zone 2
Doha*
EuropeAsia Zone 2Doha*
EuropeSouth PacificAsia Zone 1
Asia Zone 2
Doha*
Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
Asia Zone 1Asia Zone 2
Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
Asia Zone 2
Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
South PacificAsia Zone 2
AfricaAsia Zone 1Asia Zone 2
Doha*
AfricaAsia Zone 2Doha*
AfricaSouth Pacific
Asia Zone 1Asia Zone 2
Asia Zone 1South PacificAsia Zone 2
Asia Zone 2South Pacific

The “Doha” exception is specifically to flights on Qatar Airways, and you must both arrive and depart Doha on Qatar to take advantage of this rule. It’s also worth noting you can’t double dip — a routing from the US to Europe to Doha to South Africa won’t price as a single award.

Stopovers, open-jaws, and one-ways

For those of you accustomed to Dividend Miles, I have some bad news.

American no longer allows stopovers on award tickets. Period.

You can have connections of less than 24 hours on international itineraries, but that’s it.

However, you can have open-jaws to your heart’s content, given AAdvantage prices all awards as a series of one-ways. This should give you much more flexibility overall, though it is sad to lose the value of stopovers.

Holding AAdvantage award tickets

American will allow you to hold award tickets for five days, which is incredibly helpful if you’re transferring in points from SPG.

The exception (with AAdvantage there’s always an exception), is for travel involving Iberia or Malaysia Airlines. American still has a manual ticketing process that can result in awards not being issued for up to 24 hours after you’ve provided payment. This doesn’t play nicely with the ticketing deadlines Iberia and Malaysia impose on their award inventory, so it’s not uncommon for Iberia and Malaysia flights to fall out of the record, even when you think you’ve ticketed your award.

Many AAdvantage agents are aware of this, and won’t hold flights on these carriers for more than 24 hours. The reservations line is about to inherit a whole bunch of US Airways agents though, so it’s a good thing to be aware of. The good news is that both Malaysia and Iberia consistently return seats to award inventory, and if for some reason the flights are pulled after ticketing but prior to final issuance, it’s a pretty easy fix.

Changing AAdvantage awards

American doesn’t charge any fees to change award tickets as long as the origin and destination and award type remains the same. You can change the routing, dates, times, airlines, and so forth.

If you do change the origin, destination, or award type (like switching from an AAnytime award to a SAAver award, downgrading, etc.), the change fee is $150 for the first passenger and $25 for each additional passenger on the same record.

In order to redeposit an AAdvantage award ticket, American charges $150 for the first passenger, and $25 for each additional passenger on the same record locator. In other words, if you need to redeposit an award ticket and have three people on the same record locator, you’d pay a total of $200 in cancellation fees, which is comparatively reasonable.

The policy for making a change from one award type to another is that you must reinstate the award ticket, which will cost $150 (though this generally isn’t charged if you’re upgrading the class of service).

Bottom line

While I’m sad to see US Airways go, American miles are still incredibly valuable. Once you understand the general rules and guidelines you’ll find many more opportunities to use your miles.

How have you used your AAdvantage miles? Any favorite redemptions?

Comments

  1. I still hope they relax the routing rules at some point. It seems like to remain competitive they would want to do it. But I suppose if they haven’t seen the need already…

  2. @ RakSiam — Me too, and I think the Doha exception is an indication they’re willing. Unfortunately, the relaxed rules will probably be in conjunction with a new award chart and 30%-40% increase in mileage requirements.

  3. In the last month I booked SLC-PHX-LAX-PPT (62.5K each business class), PPT-AKL (30K ea business class), and KRK-TXL-ORD-SLC (50K ea business class). Plus my husband and I received 10% back for having the Citi AA cards (well almost-we maxed out at 10K ea).

  4. 20K offpeak to Europe in Y is not bad.

    I know, I just suggested a coach flight that’s longer than a couple hours. If Lucky’s reading this, someone get smelling salts for him, OK? I know this violates his tender sensibilities, given that he’s never flown his favorite airline Lufthansa in longhaul coach (might not be his favorite after that)… but an East Coast-LHR flight in Y isn’t too bad, especially if you get an empty seat next to you on offpeak travel.

  5. How come I can’t pick my airline seats when I try to use AA miles for flights which are (currently) US Airways? How do you select seats?

    Thanks.

  6. I am so disappointed with expert flyer. Only good for Iberia and Alaska air. What a waste of money

  7. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that AA miles are incredibly valuable. Sure there are some sweet-spots — every program has them — but overall it is a very expensive award chart.

  8. Imho, their online aadvangae awards booking still stinks.

    recently I looked for san/bkk/san with no luck. called in and got seats on jal right our of san diego. (for their booking fee of course)

  9. I’ve been really happy with Air Berlin getting to and around most of Europe with no fuel surcharges.

  10. Annoying as those routing rules are, sometimes it’s not as big a deal as it might seem. As an example, I just booked Europe to Asia 2 in J on Etihad using AA miles. Since I wasn’t traveling on QR via DOH, I knew I’d be charged for two awards rather than one. But it wasn’t bad at all – 60,000 miles total (30,000 miles Europe to Middle East, and same for Middle East to Asia 2). That’s more than the 52,500 miles the award chart gives for a single award, but hardly a big deal, especially compared to 70,000 miles with MileagePlus and 80,000 with Skypesos. I still get one itinerary and one e-ticket so no worries about re-checking or being protected in case of IRROPS.

  11. FYI regarding Qatar space. I was looking at a December 5th flight last week on QR from FRA to DOH to try out the A350. Searching on BA I saw something like 4 seats in business, but when I called AA to book they could not see. I later checked via Qantas website which could not see Qatar space either. I was able to replicate on other dates and routes.

    Wonder if this has anything to do with QR’s new 10% ownership of IAG. Maybe they are making more award space available to BA members?

  12. @ JRG — In many cases only the operating carrier (so whatever is painted on the outside of the plane) can assign seats. If you enter your confirmation number on the US Airways website that should do the trick.

  13. @ A. S. — I might disagree that it’s “overall” a very expensive chart, actually. There are some outrageously priced regions (Africa, and Australia given realities of award space), but for Europe, Asia, South America, the rates are equal to, if not better than, those charged by Delta and United, aren’t they?

  14. @ mike murphy — Indeed, as JAL doesn’t show online for American. They’ll sometimes waive the booking fee if you ask though.

  15. “American doesn’t charge any fees to change award tickets as long as the origin and destination and award type remains the same. You can change the routing, dates, times, airlines, and so forth.”

    Is it true that you can change airlines for no fee? I currently have an award ticket booked on an Alaska flight using AA miles and I’m trying to switch to an American fight that’s a bit more convenient schedule-wise. The AA phone rep is telling me that there would be a $150 change fee because I’m switching carriers from Alaska to American?

  16. @ 02nz — Great example! There are definitely areas where the additive pricing isn’t as painful as others!

  17. @ Eddy — Is the award just that one segment? There is technically a fee if you’re changing the type of award. So if you’re moving from a partner/all carriers award to an AA/US only award, that would be considered a product change.

    That being said, you may be able to get the fee waived if you call and ask nicely.

  18. Great post and very helpful!

    One other thing I just learned–today in fact–is that intra-Japan flights can only booked in economy (S/T class) if it is part of an international award. Business class (D class) can be booked if it is a separate intra-Japan award. For some reason, the system allowed the agent to set up ITM-NRT-JFK for ticketing with ITM-NRT in D class for 62,500 miles total. Fortunately, someone from AAdvantage contacted me about the issue and there was still S space available on the flight I needed.

    Anyways, I know this issue probably applies only to about 1% of award tickets, but I thought it was interesting and is not at all well documented. Funny that as soon as I resolved this issue I came here and saw this post.

  19. @Tiffany — It’s a one-way award ticket, SFO-SEA-ORD. The flight I’m trying to change to is on AA and goes direct from SFO to ORD. Based on what you described, it sounds like making this change would be considered a product change, hence the fee.

    We’ll see if calling back and asking nicely will help in this case. 🙂

  20. @Tiffany
    “as JAL doesn’t show online for American. They’ll sometimes waive the booking fee if you ask though.”

    They should ALWAYS waive the fee now for awards not bookable online, even without asking, per the policy change on 2/3/15. >> http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2015/02/04/american-aadvantage-now-waiving-phone-ticketing-fees/

    Indeed, I recently booked a QR award over the phone, the booking fee was never mentioned, and I was not charged it.

  21. My mistake, Malaysia is for upgrades only, but the others are supported for awards.

  22. @ ExpertFlyer Voice — Yep, that’s why I noted above the chart “My favorite places to search for award space on oneworld carriers are as follows, though many of these will also display on ExpertFlyer.” Thanks for the link though!

  23. @ Polk — That’s excellent! I’ve still had to ask every time when booking out of a non-EXP account, so hopefully that memo becomes more widely-read 🙁

  24. Hi Tiffany
    Where ive booked a USDM award that breaches an AA rule (ie transits 3rd region) and i wanted to just change the dates of the flights (keeping the same ‘transits 3rd region’ routing) would AA allow it as a previously approved routing or would any changes have to comply with AA rules regardless of what was previously approved?

  25. Would CMB-DOH-HND be an invalid routing? It strikes me as completely stupid that India and the Maldives are not in the same region as Sri Lanka…

  26. AA is the worst. Charging me 40k miles for a r/t to Europe. Gosh. Horrible. Sitting with those peasants.

  27. @ tyoflyer — That would be Asia 2 to Asia 1, and you can’t transit a third region without incurring additional mileage costs, so routing through Doha would be 60k in business. If you position to MLE, it would only be 30k.

  28. Tiffany,

    A very timely post. You don’t specifically address the fuel surcharges for BA and (to a lesser extent) Iberia awards. Do you have any tips for excluding flights on BA when searching for awards (to Europe)? Based on my (limited) experience, most of the saver availability that shows up on either the AA or BA site is actually on BA and hence adds hundreds of dollars per ticket to the cost – something that I would rather avoid.

  29. @ Phil — Thanks! Europe is unfortunately not my favorite destination with AAdvantage miles for that very reason, but there are a few things you can do. If searching on the AA site, uncheck the box for British Airways results.

    You’ll often need BA for intra-Europe connections, so this works best if you’re searching to the European hub/focus cities. This same tactic works for using the BA site as well — if you search JFK-TXL you’ll see non-stops on airberlin before connections on BA.

    British Airways does have the bulk of the transatlantic award availability for oneworld nowadays, so you’re not crazy.

  30. Thanks for the article! if i want to book a flight on Alaskaair.com or Etihad Airways by redeem with my AA mile, I have to call AA and give them the information regard to the flight I found on Alaskaair.com or Ethihad airway? I never book over the phone before, so if you can let me know how the process work i would be appreciated thanks!

  31. @ ro — My pleasure! Alaska Air flights can be booked online at aa.com. For Etihad, you’ll just call and let the agent know you’re hoping to redeem on Etihad, and it’s typically pretty straightforward.

  32. I actually bookmarked this, because it’s so clear and helpful. Thanks!

    Recently I booked KIX-HNL-LAX-IAD on Hawaiian and AA, in J between KIX and HNL, Y between HNL and LAX, and F between LAX and IAD. When I told some miles-and-points friends of mine about this redemption, they acted like I’d drowned a basket of puppies. But I’m actually excited to try Hawaiian’s A330 business class, even though it might not feature the fully-flat seats you’ll find on most carriers these days.

  33. How do you find award flights on the BA site? Do you have to be a member of their executive program in order to see award flight availability?

  34. Tiffany,

    Regarding the reduced award change or redeposit fee for each additional passenger if all pax are on the same record locator: does this only apply if the miles come from the same mileage account, or is it ok if miles are from different accounts, as long as the miles are used for the exact same itinerary?

  35. @ Jeffrey — Good question! It has to be the same record locator, which means miles have to come from a single account.

  36. That’s too bad, though understandable.
    Thanks for the comprehensive post and your swift response!

  37. I have an award booked from usdm. If I make any date and route changes, does it follow the AA Advantage rule?

  38. @Tiffany – That’s not clear at all as you have ExpertFlyer noted for specific airlines in the chart, but only a few of them, not all the supported ones. That gives the impression that only those airlines can be searched on EF which is not correct.

  39. I want to use AA miles on CX from the US to Siam Reap with a Hong Kong stopover. Now that stopovers aren’t permitted is the best bet to combine a one-way from HKG to REP with an open jaw to HKG returning from REP? Thanks and great post.

  40. @ Philipe — Yep, that’s pretty much exactly what I’d do. You might also want to look at using Avios for the flight between Hong Kong and Siem Reap. Dragonair flies that route and you’d save a significant number of miles.

  41. @Tiffany, I need to fly an open jaw from SFO outbound to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and return from Santiago, Chile, to SFO. In terms of hard and soft product, which airline do you think is the best, using AAdvantage awards? Is American the best I can do? Thanks!

  42. @ Cel — American is a great choice for the outbound to Brazil, while LAN is probably the better option from Santiago. Availability can be tight, so I’d plan on making a couple connections.

  43. Hey Tiffany,

    Great post as always. I do have a question though :

    “If you change your outbound award travel date to within 21 days of the original booking date, a $75 award processing fee will apply, provided the new date is valid for the original award type claimed”. From : aa.com

    What do they exactly mean by this ? Do I need to change my travel date more than 21 days (from 25th to 2nd), so that I won’t be charged ? It’s really confusing, so please enlighten me.

    Thanks !

  44. @ Ryan — Ah, good question. American charges a $75 rush processing fee for awards booked within 21 days.

    So imagine you booked an award on the 1st, for travel on the 22nd — you wouldn’t pay that fee.

    If you then call later on and change the date to the 21st, you would pay the $75, whereas if you changed to the 23rd you would not. Does that help?

  45. Thank you for the quick reply. So my understanding is that I need to space 21 days between calling AA and my (new) departure date. Is that right ?

  46. @ Ryan — Not quite. It’s based on the original date of ticketing — in the example above you could call on the morning of the 22nd and change travel to the 23rd and not pay the $75 fee. The new date just has to be more than 21 days from when you originally issued the ticket.

  47. Ok, I think I get it. One thing though, on your earlier post this month about different phases a record can go through, which one of those would be the 21 days based on ? Is “On Request” enough ?

  48. @ Ryan — I think On Request should be fine. They can see when the award was sent for ticketing.

  49. Then I have to book the award like ASAP to give me the 21 days space I need. Thank you so much for your help !

  50. I’m a bit late to the party here, but I noticed that you mentioned ‘phantom space’ on BA’s site for Qatar Airways? I’m in the early stages of looking into a flight from Melbourne to Rome or Melbourne to Paris in November (short notice, I know, but worth a look!) and was using BA’s site to do that. There’s three of us (two adults, one child), so I was surprised to find loads of business award seats available for both destinations almost every day in the middle couple of weeks of November – often four award seats per trip on each of the two legs.

    But having read that comment, I looked that up on Qantas’s site and found no availability at all. I’m sure I can already work out the answer to this, but the BA site is giving me unreliable info? I presumably should assume that the Qantas site is correct and that there won’t be availability?

    I mean, I’d ring AA when I’m ready anyway to check, but it would be good to know at this early stage if I can expect to be disappointed.

    Thanks!

  51. Hey! Can we combine two different airlines for connections? I think domestic flights with the domestic sector on AA should be fine. But what about something like flying AKL to SYD on Qantas and then SYD to AUH on Etihad? Great post!

  52. US Airways AAdvantage is a fraud.
    Do NOT waste your money on booking flights to earn miles because you wont be able to redeem it later

  53. Does changing the airline, for example from QR to CX, incur any fee/penalty? Is it new rule?

    Copied from aa.com :
    Changes to the origin or destination or airline

    – For MileSAAver awards, origin or destination changes to the itinerary will incur a change fee of $150, even when retaining the same award type
    – For awards involving travel on other airlines, origin or destination changes or changes to the airline(s) in the itinerary will incur a change fee of $150, even when retaining the same award type
    – For AAnytime awards, origin or destination change fees are waived only when retaining the same award type

  54. @Ryan: Yep, unfortunately it does look like it, so I think that only if you leave the origin and destination the same, you won’t be charged a change fee.
    While less flexible, it does maintain the possibility of changing dates and flights – on the same airline – without additional cost. This is still better than with other programs AFAIK.

  55. Thanks Jeffrey for responding. The origin and destination stay the same actually, but two different agents (Germany) that I spoke said it will still incur the $150 fee. What’s interesting is that an agent (US one I believe) actually assured me that changing from QR to CX is free, since they’re both oneworld partner, that’s why I went ahead with issuing the tickets.

    Lucky also answered to some questions recently on this post http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2015/10/28/best-award-ticket-change-fees/ :

    “There are no change fees if you’re changing a oneworld partner to another oneworld partner, or changing a non-oneworld partner to a non-oneworld partner, or changing American metal to American metal. But if you change American metal to Cathay, Cathay metal to Etihad, etc., you would incur the fee. Hope that makes sense.”

    “The fee only applies if you’re switching between oneworld partners, non-oneworld partners, and/or American metal flights. Swapping Cathay for JAL is fine. Swapping Cathay for American or Etihad isn’t.”

    So, I’m a little bit confused now, whether to keep trying finding an agent that will do it for free or if that’s actually the rule now.

    Help, anyone?

  56. @Ryan: you could plead your case with an agent, using Lucky’s information. It does help tremendously if you first find that particular information on an AA web page to back up your claim, and quote that info directly to the agent.

    If an agent is uncooperative, you know to “Hang Up and Call Again”.
    Or you could ask for a supervisor if you’re adamant you’re right. Be persistent, but stay polite at any cost.
    By the way, I find U.S. based agents tend – in general – to be more customer-friendly than in Europe. This is coming from a guy who’s lived in Europe for 25 years (and traveled there extensively).

    Good luck!

  57. Hey guys, I am trying to redeem AAdvantage miles for my honeymoon in December. Found the longhaul segment (on HA) this morning in Business — put it on hold and am now trying to add domestic segments to get from PHL-HNL. Found SAAver availabilty for the leg to the west coast, but literally nothing to HNL from anywhere (on AA or AS), so I can’t “connect the dots.” Was on the phone with 2 agents tonight and they were doing everything they could to find an alternate solution, but no dice. Was wondering if you/Ben had any advice… Any chance of requesting an exception to convert 2 AAnytime seats (they have 7 for each flight) down? We’d be happy to do coach for that segment. Or any other ideas? Thank you!

  58. Hi Ben,

    First off, thank you for posting this article of yours, it is very informative and helpful! Now, I am currently researching for a trip to Japan or South Korea that I want to do in 2018 as a gift to someone but I really would like to get them first class or business if possible. I can’t imagine being able to save up enough to pay for it in money form, so this other option through mileage is really great and helpful.

    Just wanting to make sure, but all these ‘pricings’ of yours is for just a one-way trip am I correct? So what would happen if I wanted a round trip, what would the ‘pricing’ be in mileage for a round-trip then? Would it simply double or a little different? Thank you very much!

    Best Regards,

    Lilian

  59. Hi OneMile Team,
    I’d love to go to Bangkok for a honeymoon, but AA doesn’t fly there and I’d like to use my AA miles. I looked at the One World map (which, I might add, is super confusing) and it led me to a partner website (I checked out both Cathay and Quantas…both fly there from JFK) but I don’t see how I can apply my miles. Is it more advisable (and easier?) to just hop on the phone with the partner airline directly?

    (PS-are miles for an all or nothing use? In other words, if trip requires 150K miles, but I only have 65K can I use it towards the balance, or not at all?)

    Thank you,
    Sheena

  60. @ MrsWright — Hi! You can use your miles on any of American’s partners. If you look at the table in the post it lists all the partner carriers, and where to find award space. Once you’ve found award availability, call American to book. No need to call the partners, they can’t help you if you want to use American miles.

    If you get stuck, we do offer a service that does this for folks. Click on the “need award help” link at the top of the page.

  61. Hi!
    Great article!
    I’m still confused regarding redeem AA miles. The route I want to do, ideally, is EZE-PAR-NY-EZE (combining business with economic rates). Is this route possible? or it applies the “no third region” rule?.

    Another thing, there are not flights available for NY-EZE during the month I’m planning to travel, I can only find *anytimes* fares in the AA page which are very expensive for what I need. So, I looked a flight with LAN and it has availability. According to the award chart (https://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/redeemMiles/all-partner-chart2016.jsp), I would need 57.500 for a business cabin or 30k for Economics, Is that correct? It doesn’t matter that is with LAN?
    If I want to redeem a fight with LAN I need to call to make the reservation, correct?

    Thank you very much! Is the first time I’m going to use the AA miles 🙂

  62. @ Paula — Correct, you can’t route from South America to North America via Europe. You can call and book the flight on LAN though, and AA will even put the flight on hold to make sure all the details are correct before you ticket. Good luck!

  63. AA’s booking is confusing. Since they ask for the number of passengers first, you’d assume that the required miles shown for different flights are the total amount for all passengers, but I’m not sure and they don’t have a clarifying note. Which is it – for two of us do I multiply the miles shown for the selected flights by two?

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