American Airlines redemption schemes
American Airlines has a hybrid redemption scheme: mostly revenue-based on its own flights combined with a chart-based scheme on the partner airlines. I say mostly because they still publish award charts even on their own metal, although the rumors about AA award charts’ upcoming demise have been circulating since summer 2021.
American airline partners
Oneworld airline partners
- Alaska Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
Other airline partners
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Cape Air
- China Southern Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Fiji Airways
- GOL Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Silver Airways
American Airlines Web Specials can be terrific – if you’re lucky enough to get it on the days you want. These specials, unfortunately, aren’t published, so even if you’re flexible about your dates and the destination, there is no way to browse them. You have to start a search and see what happens. Here are some past examples of AA Web Specials.
- New York to LA: 5,000 in Economy
- U.S. to Australia: 10,000 miles in Economy
- U.S. to Brazil: 47,000 in Business
Web Specials are fully cancellable, however, since you can’t easily find and browse these awards, their value and appeal are limited.
American International Business Class
American doesn’t have many long-haul international routes – Turkish or Emirates it ain’t, and their premium-class cabins are not especially luxurious. However, they serve the purpose, so if (a huge if!) you can find award space at the MileSavers levels, grab your seat quickly or at least put it on hold for five days (free) while you’re contemplating whether or not to take the plunge.
Here are all or at least the vast majority of current American long-haul international destinations.
- Argentina: Buenos Aires
- Brazil: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro
- Chile: Santiago
- Uruguay: Montevideo (seasonal)
- France: Paris
- Germany: Frankfurt, Munich
- Greece: Athens (seasonal)
- Irland: Dublin
- Italy: Milan, Rome; Venice (seasonal)
- Netherlands: Amsterdam
- Portugal: Lisbon (seasonal)
- Spain: Barcelona, Madrid
- Switzerland: Zürich
- UK: London
- Israel: Tel Aviv
- Qatar: Doha (starts 6.4.22)
- China: Beijing, Shanghai
- India: Delhi
- Japan: Tokyo (NRT and HND)
- South Korea: Seoul
- Australia: Sydney
- New Zealand: Christchurch; Auckland (seasonal)
American sweet spots
- “Luxury” routes to the Middle East, Asia and Australia
The miles redemptions below are per one way travel.
Continental U.S. to: Business First
Middle East 70,000 115,000
Indian Subcontinent 70,000 115,000
Africa 75,000 120,000
Asia Region 1 60,000 80,000
Asia Region 2 70,000 110,000
South Pacific 80,000 110,000
Wholly within Europe 12,500 (Economy) 22,500 (Business)
Wholly within Russia 10,000 (Economy) 17,500 (Business)
Wholly within South America 2 10,000 (Economy)
Wholly within Brazil 7,500 (Economy)
NB: AA Routing Rule
American Airlines has a very annoying routing rule: when you travel between two regions you typically can’t transit through a third one.
What it means, for example, is that you can’t travel from the U.S. to Africa via Asia or vice versa. However, AA does offer some “third region” exceptions. You can fly to:
- Asia 2 via Asia 1
- Africa via Europe, Middle East
- Indian subcontinent via Europe, Middle East
- Indian subcontinent via Hong Kong – on Cathay Pacific only!
So even though American routing rules are quite rigid, you still have some leeway.
- AA miles on Cathay Pacific for ultra-long hauls to Asia 2 and India in Business and First
Cathay Pacific has great Business and First Class seats, and redeeming AAdvantage miles on the Hong Kong carrier is usually cheaper than using Cathay Pacific miles. A flight in Business Class from anywhere in the U.S. to Hong Kong, as well as anywhere in South East Asia and India via Hong Kong runs at 70,000 miles (110,000 in Business Class).
- AA miles on Japan Airlines for ultra-long hauls to Japan in Business and First
Japan Airlines has some of the best Business (Sky Suites) and First Class (JAL) seats in the world. “Sky Suites” on a 777 are extremely private due to the smart seat distribution in the cabin. And since Japan is located in Asia 1, you’ll only pay 60,000 miles for a Business Class seat and 80,000 for the First.
- AA miles on Qantas Airways for Business and First Class to Australia
Qantas premium seats to Australia and New Zealand / Oceania (via Australia) will cost you 80,000 miles in Business and 110,000 miles in First. Finding award space is extremely hard, though.
- AA miles on Qatar Airways and Etihad for Business Class to the Middle East and Africa
Qatar has terrific Business Class Q-suites with doors between U.S. and Doha, and is one of the few airlines that makes quite a substantial number of Business Class seats available to partners. Even better, you can fly anywhere in Africa via Doha for 75,000 miles (just 5,000 miles more than a flight to Doha).
Etihad has solid Business Class too, especially so-called Business Studios on A380. And while Etihad did ground A380, it’s just announced it’s going to bring it back, at least temporarily. If that happens, you might still have a chance to fly in First Apartment, which I believe is the best First Class seat in the world. It’s true that 110,000 miles is not a cheap experience.
- AA miles for Intra-Europe flights including Russia (west of the Ural Mountains)
You can fly anywhere in Europe (including the western part of Russia) for 12,500 miles in Economy or 22,500 miles in Business. And while you might think that Europe is small, that’s not always the case. The distance between Reykjavik and Moscow is about 2,300 miles, while the distance between Tenerife and Istanbul is 2,700 miles. And American has four European partners: British Airways, Iberia, Finnair and S7, and you can mix the carriers to get where you need to go.
- AA miles on GOL in Brazil and between Brazil and the rest of South America
A flight between Brazil and other South America 2 countries (such as Chile, Argentina, or Uruguay) costs 10,000 miles in Economy on GOL (GOL doesn’t have Business Class).
During the pandemic GOL has suspended most flights between Brazil and most of South America 2, but they will be back at some point. Still, if you’re interested in exploring the vast expanses of Brazil, GOL surely can help. You can fly from Boa Vista in the North to Porto Alegre in the South (the 2,300 miles distance) for 7,500 AA miles.
How to book
You can search and book all AA partners online except two: China Southern and GOL. Call 800-433-7300 to book your ticket.