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As the world’s largest airline, American Airlines is a prevailing option for domestic and international travel. An expansive network also means plenty of ways to redeem American Airlines miles for optimal value. Here are several redemption options to consider first.
1. MileSAAver Awards
American Airlines is a unique exception as they are one of the few airlines still publishing an award chart. Admittedly, that characteristic will be changing in 2023 as there are several upcoming AAdvantage program changes, including a modified award chart.
For now, you can book AAnytime Awards and the ultra-cheap MileSAAver awards on many routes. An award chart will still exist for American-operated flights and partner airlines.
When possible, look for MileSAAver award options first as they are the most affordable. For example, a short-haul flight within the continental US or Canada that’s 500 miles or shorter can require 7,500 miles instead of the standard 20,000 miles for an AAnytime Level 1 award ticket.
You can also find MileSAAver awards on international flights in the main and premium cabins. Off-peak award flights are also available to many select destinations for additional savings. However, space can be limited, and you will need to jump on booking a ticket if you find one.
2. Web Special Awards
According to American Airlines, more AAdvantage members are booking Web Special Awards instead of MileSAAver awards. It just so happens that Web Specials will be the exclusive way to book discounted award flights as the MileSAAver program phases out.
Web Special Awards can be as low as 5,000 miles one way on select routes, but the pricing is variable and depends on the route and travel day.
You can look for these flights on AA.com by entering your trip details and ticking the “Redeem Miles” box. Next, you can browse award flight prices by departure time and day. An interactive calendar also displays the lowest price for that particular travel month.
Unfortunately, Web Spacial Awards are non-changeable. You may stick with MileSAAver awards if you want additional flexibility despite potentially having to redeem more miles.
3. Fly on a oneworld Partner Airline
Here’s another way to redeem American Airlines miles that can help you travel the globe. American Airlines currently publishes a fixed award chart for oneworld alliance airlines that lists the flight cost by cabin class instead of having to worry about MileSAAver and Web Special Awards.
Here are some of the current one-way mileage requirements for select destinations:
- Lower 48 US States and Canada: 12,500 miles (main cabin) or 25,000 miles (business/first)
- Hawaii: 22,500 miles (main cabin) or 55,000 miles (business/first)
- Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America: 17,500 miles (main cabin) or 27,500 miles (business/first)
- Europe: 30,000 miles (22,500 off-peak in the main cabin) or 57,500 miles (business/first)
Some of the oneworld partner airlines include:
- Alaska Airlines
- British Airways
- Japan Airlines
- Qatar Airways
Carrier-imposed fuel surcharges can apply. You should compare your total out-of-pocket cash costs in addition to the mileage requirements to determine if international award flights are worth it.
4. Off-Peak Flights to Europe
The off-peak travel dates from the continental US to Europe are from January 10 to March 14 and November 1 to December 14.
During these travel dates, you can book a main cabin seat for 22,500 miles each way. Peak season flights to Europe cost 30,000 miles, which is still reasonable, but you should pay attention to fuel surcharges too.
If you prefer a premium cabin experience while crossing the Atlantic, it’s also possible to book a first-class trip to Europe. You may able to get a business or first-class flight for as low as 47,500 miles on an American-operated flight or 57,500 on a oneworld member or a partner airline.
Related: Best Credit Card for Europe Travel
5. Book Etihad Airways Award Flights
If you crave luxury travel, using AAdvantage miles to fly on Etihad can be a travel dream to strive for. You will need to contact reservations and book your flight by phone. While it’s more effort, award flights requiring the extra step are typically of greater value than online listings.
For example, you may be able to book an Etihad First Class Apartment from New York to Abu Dhabi for 115,000 miles one way. While that’s not exactly a cheap flight, it can be worth doing once and be a leisurely way to embark on a long flight.
You can also explore flying from other continents as you may be able to enjoy more affordable prices with similar flight lengths.
6. Japan Airlines Sky Suites
Being able to redeem American Airlines miles with a trip to Japan is pretty sweet. The Japan re-opening is now in full swing and tourists are welcome to this corner of the world again after a long respite. Flying on a Japan Airlines JAL Sky Suite in Business Class is an excellent way to celebrate the occasion.
A one-way fare from the United States to Japan can set you back 80,000 miles. You can enjoy a fully-flat bed, privacy partitions, and other onboard amenities that will help you arrive refreshed.
7. Fly to Hawaii
American Airlines can also serve up competitive fares to Hawaii from the mainland. In particular, this can be ideal if you live on the East Coast or mid-America and can’t easily fly directly from a West Coast airport, which offers the cheapest award flights.
While MileSAAver awards are available, you can scoop up a one-way flight in the off-peak season for 20,000 AAdvantage miles or 22,500 during peak season.
It’s also possible to find partner airline fares through Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines where a one-way economy ticket costs 22,500 miles. A business or first-class fare can cost 55,000 miles in one direction.
While you should compare prices if you have one of the best travel credit cards offering 1:1 point transfers to your preferred airline, you shouldn’t overlook American-operated flights or those from one of its many partner carriers.
If Hawaii is too far away, don’t forget that you can find competitive award flight prices to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. You can also spend fewer miles, which makes it easier to fly a family or travel with a small points balance.
Award flights are consistently the most valuable American Airlines redemption option. There are sweet spots for American-operated flights, but you shouldn’t overlook the partner airlines that can help you get to a tropical Caribbean paradise, Europe, Asia, or Africa.