Category Archives: AAdvantage

Free First Class 2014: American Airlines AAdvantage Basics

This is the thirteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

I’ve covered how to earn miles and the redemption options for miles. Now I want to give the basics on several major airline programs where you can quickly collect miles for amazing trips. I’ll start with the American Airlines AAdvantage program.

Why Collect American Airlines Miles?

American Airlines miles are the best miles for ultra-luxury redemptions like Cathay Pacific First Class, Etihad First Class, or Qantas First Class.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 1.42.22 AM

Cathay Pacific First Class booked with American Airlines miles

American Airlines has very cheap off peak awards. If you are willing to go to Europe in the fall, winter, or spring in economy, you can pay only 20,000 miles each way. There are also great off peak economy awards to Japan, Korea, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

American Airlines (and US Airways, which have merged legally but will maintain separate loyalty programs and award charts until early 2015,) has not devalued its award charts for years. United and Delta greatly increased the miles price of premium cabin awards in 2014, but at least for bookings through late 2015, you can lock in American Airlines’ very low prices for business and first class awards, compared to its American competitors.

  • What airlines can you fly with American Airlines miles?
  • What are the routing rules for American Airlines awards (stopovers, open jaws, free one ways)?
  • What are the special features of the AAdvantage program (off peak awards)?
  • How can you book an American Airlines award?

Continue reading

Gold Mine First Class Award Space from United States to Asia

There is excellent award space in Japan Airlines First Class between San Francisco and Tokyo for most of the next 11 months. This is space you can cheaply book with American Airlines or US Airways miles, and you can use the space wherever you live in the United States to access anywhere in Asia.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.15.16 PM

Starting December 1, 2014, Japan Airlines (JAL) is changing the aircraft on its San Francisco to Tokyo-Haneda route to a 777-300ER, which features a fully flat Business Class bed and eight enclosed suites in First Class.

Award space is wide open on the route in First Class, with many days from December 1, 2014 through late June 2015 showing two available award seats in First Class.

  • What is the award space picture?
  • What are the connection options in San Francisco and at Haneda?
  • How many miles will awards cost with US Airways, American Airlines, and British Airways miles?
  • How does the JAL Suite look?

Continue reading

You Can Still Get 110,000 American Airlines Miles from a Single Sign Up Bonus

Update 7/15/14: The link to the 100k application is dead again.

The strange saga of the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard with 100,000 bonus American Airlines miles keeps getting stranger. The good news is that the offer, after disappearing for three days, is back. You can still get 110,000 American Airlines miles from a single credit card sign up. That’s enough miles to fly anywhere in the world roundtrip on American Airlines partners.

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 12.04.51 AM

The saga:

  • January 2014: The Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard’s sign up bonus increases from 60,000 to 75,000 to 100,000.
  • June 27, 2014: I wrote that the landing page for the 100,000 mile offer was gone but that a direct link to the card’s application (with no mention of the 100,000 mile bonus) still worked. Several readers confirmed getting the bonus through that link.
  • July 11, 2014: The direct link stops working. There were still offers available for 75,000 miles on the card.
  • July 14, 2014: The same direct link works again.  FlyerTalkers are reporting applying through the link, getting approved, and confirming with a phone agent that they are in line for 100,000 bonus miles on the card.

It is still be possible to quickly earn 110,000 American Airlines miles by getting the card and meeting its minimum spending requirement of $10,000 in the first three months, but there are major drawbacks to the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard that you should consider before getting the card.

  • What is the direct link to the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard application?
  • What is the full offer on the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard?
  • Can you get the card if you’ve had other Citi American Airlines cards?
  • Can you get this sign up bonus more than once?

Continue reading

Amazing Summer 2014 Award Space to Hawaii

American Airlines releases a ton of award space on its routes to Hawaii at the last minute.

On almost all of American Airlines’ routes from Los Angeles to the four major Hawaiian islands and Dallas/Fort Worth to Oahu and Maui, there is award space for 4+ people in the next few weeks.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.40.16 AM

If you live in Southern California or North Texas, this is a great chance to use as few as 12,500 Avios per person per direction to get to Hawaii during high season when the weather is a perfect 85 degrees and sunny.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.40.36 AM

If you live somewhere else, this is a great chance to use 17,000+ Avios or 22,500 American Airlines per person per direction to take advantage of the last-second award space.

If you’d rather fly a different time of year when American Airlines has released no MileSAAver award space, this is a great reminder to look again within a few weeks of departure because American Airlines has been routinely releasing award space a few weeks out on its routes to Hawaii.

  • What is the award space for four people from the continental United States to Hawaii on American Airlines flights?
  • How can you book that space for 12,500 Avios each way?
  • Why might you want to book the space with Avios even if it costs fewer American Airlines miles?

Continue reading

Are US Airways and American Airlines Scamming Us?

American Airlines and US Airways are currently offering huge bonuses on transfers from SPG Starpoints. Until July 31, 2014, you can transfer 20,000 Starpoints to 30,000 miles in either program.

American Airlines and Citi are still offering 100,000 miles on the American Airlines Executive Card, a deal which has been around since January, though presumably is on life support since the landing page is now gone.

US Airways and Barclaycard upped the public bonus on The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® to 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase this year, its highest level in my memory.


All this is great news, or is it?

  • Why do I feel like American Airlines and US Airways are scamming us?
  • Why doesn’t it bother me?

Continue reading

BA.com Isn’t As Good At Finding Connections as AA.com

British Airways has a unique, distance-based award chart that can provide fantastic value for short-haul flights.

Both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios.

imagesBritish Airways has access to all American Airlines “MileSAAver” award space. Furthermore, on some routes British Airways actually charges fewer miles for the same flight than American Airlines.

Unfortunately, using ba.com is not as straightforward as using aa.com. BA.com is perfect for searching direct flights, but it often misses connecting itineraries, even simple ones with only one layover.

The other day, a reader emailed me saying that he had found MileSAAver award space from New York to Lima on American Airlines, but ba.com wouldn’t find it,. I looked into the problem and found a classic case of ba.com missing an obvious connecting itinerary.

  • What is the simple trick to finding award space on ba.com?
  • How can you book American Airlines flights using British Airways Avios?
  • When should you use British Airways Avios instead of American Airlines miles?
  • How can you fly a one way award flight for only 4,500 miles?

Continue reading

Starpoints Transfer to 50% More US Airways Miles During July

Until July 31, 2014, you can transfer 20,000 SPG Starpoints to 30,000 US Airways Dividend miles.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 3.46.02 AM

This promotion is identical to the current promotion to transfer 20,000 Starpoints to 30,000 American Airlines miles, which makes sense since US Airways and American Airlines have legally merged.

Yesterday I said about the American Airlines promotion: “it’s July 2nd, and I think we can probably declare this the best miles deal July will see!” Of course, such a statement was disproved in less than a day because I consider the US Airways promotion slightly better.

  • How many Starpoints can you transfer?
  • Do Starpoints transfer instantly to US Airways miles?
  • In what increment must you transfer Starpoints to maximize this deal?
  • Should you transfer your Starpoints to US Airways miles, American Airlines miles, or neither?

Continue reading

Full Analysis of Current AA/SPG Transfer Bonus

Overnight, I wrote about the current Starwood/American Airlines promotion: for all of July, 20,000 Starpoints will transfer to 30,000 American Airlines miles.

I gave the facts in this post, but I was called out in the comments for not analyzing the promotion. Said DH:

“Is this offer an indication there’s an AA devaluation right around the corner? If so, is this transfer still a good idea? Starwood points are really valuable, and I doubt devalued AA miles would be anywhere close. It’d be nice if you could discuss a bit about the merits and drawbacks/risks of the transfer instead of just saying the offer is available. It’s usually your analysis of an offer that sets this site apart. Thanks.”

DH is totally right that I want this site to stand apart because I don’t just say there is a promotion, I analyze it.

In my defense, I was coming back from a night out in Brazil celebrating the USA’s World Cup run, so I wasn’t up to the analysis. But I am now, and there’s 1,500 words of it below!

  • Should you transfer Starpoints to AAdvantage miles speculatively this month?
  • What are the 30+ airline partners of Starpoints?
  • What are the 10+ to which I’d transfer?
  • What are the three best?
  • What are the strengths of those three airline programs?
  • What is my forecast for upcoming devaluations?
  • What are four other great uses of Starpoints besides airline transfers?
  • Will I transfer?
  • Should you?

Continue reading

Starpoints Transfer to 50% More American Airlines Miles During July

Until July 31, 2014, you can transfer 20,000 SPG Starpoints to 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 3.43.49 AM

It’s July 2nd, and I think we can probably declare this the best miles deal July will see!

  • How many Starpoints can you transfer?
  • Do Starpoints transfer instantly to American Airlines miles?
  • In what increment must you transfer Starpoints to maximize this deal?

Continue reading

Etihad Award Space is Bookable with American Airlines Miles Again

American Airlines’ non-oneworld partner, Etihad, has fantastic award space to the Middle East, India, and the Maldives. Etihad also features one of the world’s nicest First Class suites and world-class flat beds in business class.

(Since Etihad is not a oneworld airlines, and it is not a US Airways partner, US Airways miles cannot be used to book Etihad flights.)

Etihad award space is not bookable on aa.com, so you always have to call American Airlines to book the space. Unfortunately since late May 2014, American Airlines phone agents couldn’t see or book Etihad award space on any routes.

This problem has been resolved. American Airlines agents can now see and book all the award space that Etihad releases to partners.

In general, that’s quite a lot of space since American Airlines is the only American partner of Etihad and Etihad’s space isn’t bookable online, which protects it from non-expert award searchers.

  • How do you search for Etihad award space?
  • Is Etihad reliable about releasing premium cabin award seats?
  • Once you find Etihad seats, how do you book them?

Continue reading

How to Get 110,000 American Airline Miles in Three Months or Less

For five months, the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard has been offering 100,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $10,000 in the first three months. That’s why it is the #1 card for travel for June 2014.

Meet the card’s minimum spending requirement, and you’ll have 110,000 American Airlines miles, more than enough for a roundtrip award anywhere in the world or for a business class roundtrip award to Europe or South America.

This week, the link to the card’s former landing page (pictured below) disappeared.

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 12.04.51 AM

However a direct link to the card’s application where none of the bonus details are listed is still active. I have read reports online that this direct link is still offering 100,000 bonus miles. Folks have confirmed the sign up bonus with a rep while activating the card.

It appears to still be possible to quickly earn 110,000 American Airlines miles, but there are major drawbacks to the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard that you should consider before getting the card.

  • What is the full offer on the Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard?
  • Can you get the card if you’ve had other Citi American Airlines cards?
  • Can you get this sign up bonus more than once?

Continue reading

Great Award Space to Kona, Hawaii

Getting to the Big Island of Hawaii from the United States mainland is easy with miles. There are a ton of direct flights on several airlines, most of which have fantastic award space. Several of the flights can even be booked for as little as 12,500 miles each way.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 2.03.36 AM

I’ve been on the Kona side of Hawaii Island this week with my family, and it has been fantastic.

The snorkeling on this coast is the best I’ve ever experienced. I’ve seen more turtles than I can count, and just last night 1,000-pound manta rays swam within a few feet of me on a beautiful night snorkel.

Plus the weather here is like the rest of Hawaii, but better. Every day has been in the eighties with a nice breeze, and the Kohala Coast (the northern part of the west coast of the Big Island) almost never sees rain in contrast to some parts of the state.

There won’t be any trip reports from this trip because we aren’t staying at a hotel–rented a house for the week–and because my flights are 27 minutes each way. But, better than a trip report, I want to share how you can get here with miles.

  • What cities have direct flights to Kona?
  • What miles are best to get to Kona?
  • What is the award space picture to Kona?

Continue reading

New Award Routing Rules from USA to Africa Save 90% Out of Pocket

You can now route through the Middle East on Qatar Airways on your way from the United States to Africa with American Airlines miles.

Screen shot 2014-06-12 at 2.57.52 PM

American Airlines has a unique routing rule that you cannot transit a third region on an award between two other regions. Under this rule, flying from the United States to the Middle East to Africa would require two awards, one from the United States to the Middle East and one from the Middle East to Africa. Two awards meant spending more miles for a single trip.

There have always been exceptions to this rule, like being able to transit Europe on the way between the United States and Africa or being able to transit North Asia on the way from the United States to Southeast Asia.

Now transiting the Middle East from the United States to Africa has been added to the acceptable exceptions list, which is great news, because it saves 90% on the out-of-pocket costs of booking an American Airlines award to Africa.

  • What are the new routing rules for American Airlines awards to Africa?
  • How can you find award space to Africa with American Airlines miles?
  • How can you limit the out-of-pocket cost of your award ticket?
  • Which carriers are included in the new routing rules?

Continue reading

Etihad Award Space Currently Unbookable with American Airlines Miles and Your Workaround

Etihad is an incredible partner of American Airlines. Etihad is not part of American’s oneworld alliance, nor is it a partner of US Airways, but you can use American Airlines miles to fly Etihad in style to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and beyond.

We explained how to search and book Etihad award space with American Airlines miles in “Anatomy of an Award: Booking Etihad Business Class Using American Miles.”

Etihad First Class

Etihad First Class

Etihad’s First Class is a fully enclosed suite. Etihad Business Class is a fully flat bed. And Etihad flies to several North American cities, with particularly great First Class award space to/from Washington-Dulles:

While I salivate about riding in Etihad First Class for 90,000 miles each way between the United States and the Middle East, Maldives, or Indian Subcontinent, there’s a bit of a hiccup.

American Airlines agents cannot book Etihad flights for the moment.

  • Why can’t American Airlines agents book Etihad flights?
  • What is your workaround?

Continue reading

This One Mistake on the US Airways Award Chart Can Save You 15k Miles

US Airways charges the same price for three-cabin First Class within the United States and Canada as it does for two-cabin First Class or Business Class.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 7.08.12 AM

I consider this a mistake rooted in the fact that US Airways only operates two-cabin planes within the United States as did its former partner United (with a few exceptions.)

But US Airways’ new partners American Airlines and Cathay Pacific both operate three-cabin planes within the United States on a few routes:

  • New York-JFK to Los Angeles (American Airlines)
  • New York-JFK to San Francisco (American Airlines)
  • New York-JFK to Vancouver (Cathay Pacific)

I expect that at some point soon, US Airways will charge 65k miles for roundtrip awards on these three routes, so book them now for big savings.

If you’re short on US Airways miles, The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® offers 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase.

  • How is award space on these three routes?
  • How can you book the award space with US Airways miles?
  • How is Cathay Pacific First Class?

Continue reading