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Hey there, you’re reading an outdated post! The updated series from April 2015 can be found here.

This is the nineteenth post in a monthlong series. 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 flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Here are the basics of using for award bookings. Use when you are searching for award space on flights operated by American Airlines or Alaska Airlines regardless of what type of miles you are redeeming. Reread that sentence. If you want to fly on a plane that is painted with the AA or Alaska logo, use to search for your space whether you’re redeeming AAdvantage miles, Avios, or some other mileage currency.

Searching for space on AA and Alaska flights is easy on Starting on the home page, type in your departure and arrival cities. Put in your dates, number of travelers, and click the box for Redeem AAdvantage Miles.

I’ve typed in LAX to CLO (Cali, Colombia) from 7/11 to 7/18.

Along the top, color coded, are the possible redemption classes and rates, mine range from 17.5k per direction for Economy MilesAAver to 80k per direction for First AAnytime. The map below shows the lowest mileage cost per day. Since my route has no availability at all for the entire month of July in Economy MilesAAver, my cheapest option is Business/First MilesAAver at 30k per direction. When you select the date and class you want, you are taken to the screen where you choose itineraries.

I selected Business/First MilesAAver on 7/22 to 7/28. On the itinerary screen, itineraries are ordered by shortest duration. If you click the + sign for expansion, you can see the class and aircraft for each leg. You can use this information on seatguru, or you can click View Available Seats to see the seatmap.

After you’ve picked your itinerary, you can follow the steps to book it if you are using AA miles for the award. If you are using another carrier’s miles, say British Airways’, now would be the time to go to their site, and search for the same flights you just found and book.

The reason to start on AA’s site if you want AA flights but want to use BA miles is that AA has a more convenient, easier-to-use calendar that makes finding the perfect itinerary easy.

Again these are just the basics of using to find award space on AA and Alaska flights. For more complex itineraries, you’ll need to learn more, perhaps from my series Anatomy of an Award, or you can hire a professional award booker like me.

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Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 75,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

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