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American Airlines’ loyalty programme ‘AAdvantage’ used to be a superb programme for redeeming Miles, with an attractive award chart and enough ‘quirks’ (stopovers and routing rules that could be used to your advantage) to make things really interesting. A series of changes and devaluations in recent years mean that it’s not the programme it once was – but it can still offer superb value redemptions!
I booked some tickets using AA Miles over the weekend for the first time in a while and was reminded of some interesting elements I’d half forgotten about – and that some readers might not be aware of at all.
Cool American AAdvantage redemption tips
1) Award chart sweet spot
Although American theoretically split the ‘Middle East’ and ‘Indian Subcontinent’ regions on its award chart a while back, the change didn’t alter anything in practice as far as I can tell.
You can still fly as far east as the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, etc, for the same number of Miles as flying to Dubai or Doha, etc. You can also still connect in the Middle East on the same award (as long as the connection is less than 24 hours), meaning you get to try some of the best premium cabins in the sky, like Qatar’s fantastic ‘QSuite’ Business Class, or the incredible Etihad First Class ‘Apartments’ too!
Yes – American partners with both Qatar and Etihad. The American website doesn’t show award space for either airline, but in my experience this week, the booking agents had no trouble locating it. What the agents can see should correspond to what you can find yourself using the BA site for Qatar space, and ‘GuestSeat’ availability on the Etihad site.
The award prices are extremely good value – plus there are no nasty surcharges either! 42,500 Miles for Qatar Business Class is a steal, and 62,500 for a chance to fly in an Etihad ‘Apartment’ (and then continue on to the Maldives etc) is one of the best redemptions around.
You can put award bookings ‘on hold’ for 5 days
If you are anything like me, when you spot the perfect award availability, you normally want to grab it immediately – but don’t always have the right Miles in the right place. This can lead to an anxious time while you wait for the Miles you need to hit your account.
With AAdvantage, it isn’t a problem because agents are very happy to put awards on hold for up to 5 days. This gives you the time to confirm your plans and to wait for any Miles transfers to hit your account. My most recent transfers from SPG to American have taken about a day, but I imagine this can vary.
~24 hour stopovers are allowed
I know I’ve already mentioned this briefly, but it is worth elaborating a little bit.
When you ring AAdvantage and ask them to look at space for an award that requires multiple flights, the agents will normally (logically) tell you about space on the connecting flight that is closest to the time after your first flight lands. Sometimes that’s what you want, but sometimes it isn’t.
For example, if your flight arrives late in the evening in Doha or Abu Dhabi, etc, I would normally prefer to get a proper sleep at an airport hotel and continue my journey the next day, rather than be put on a flight departing at 3am. With AA, you can do that and it doesn’t cost any more Miles.
It makes the process a lot quicker if you can tell the agent the flight number and departure time for the connecting flight you actually want, rather than have them list all the options.
American AAdvantage isn’t as good as it used to be, but it still offers some very useful quirks/perks. I’ll share a couple more in Part 2 soon.
What’s your favourite thing about AAdvantage?