AAdvantage

Citi just changed the benefit terms regarding Admiral’s Club Lounge access for Citi Prestige® Card holders. Take a look at this screenshot from my Prestige account’s explanation of benefits:

aa lounge prestigeThe Admirals Club lounge benefit will be pulled effective July 23rd, 2017 (roughly a year from now). This is one of many changes happening with the Citi Prestige® Card right now. We’re not sure exactly what the rest of those changes will be yet, but I did have to remove the current card offer from this site– so there is no doubt change is on the horizon.

If Admiral’s Club lounge Access was a perk of the Prestige that you valued highly, then you should consider the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. You can get up to 33 people lounge access with it. That’s not a typo. I actually meant 33 people.

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Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Full Offer Details

You can read my full review of this limited time offer here.

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  • Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you with guest privileges
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles from American Airlines after $40,000 spent on purchases every year (January through December billing statement)
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • A statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • $450 Annual fee

I’ll go ahead and address the elephant in the room.

$450 is a scary large annual fee. But it’s not nearly as straightforward as it looks. Aside from the obvious value of the sign-up bonus, consider these two things:

  1. The first year you get a $100 statement credit that you can use for your own Global Entry application or someone else’s. That effectively knocks down the price of the annual fee to $350 (the first year).
  2. One of the listed perks is complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users. One Admiral’s Club membership for a year costs $500. If Admiral’s Club lounge access is something you would consider paying for anyways, then that brings your net “annual fee” to $150. You are making $150 so far, and we haven’t even considered the value of the sign-up bonus (which I personally value at about $975).

But it doesn’t stop there. You get Admirals Club access for yourself AND authorized users. So what does this ambiguous term “authorized users” mean? For once the fine print is in our favor.

“Authorized Users” = 33 People

As of 2015, you can add up to 10 authorized users to your Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® account, and each one will get access to American Airlines lounges for himself and two guests. They get the lounge access no matter what airline they’re flying, and even if you, the accountholder, are not present.

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With you plus your two guests, that means a total of 33 people can access the same Admirals Club for free in the unlikely event that you, your 10 authorized users, and your 22 combined guests were all together.

You, the primary cardholder, are an Admirals Club member. The authorized users do not have to be.

As the primary cardholder you can enter not just the 50 American Airlines lounges, but also the 40 partners lounges that are affiliated with the Admirals Club including Alaska Airlines and Qantas lounges. The authorized users can only access the 50 American Airlines lounges, not the 40 partner lounges.

Bottom Line

Unfortunately as of July 23, 2017, Citi Prestige® Card holders will no longer have access to American Airlines’ Admirals Clubs.

Fortunately, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge access as one of its many perks, that you can stretch to apply to up to 32 other people. Not to mention you get at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting the minimum spending requirement of $5,000 in three months (bonus + at least 1x on regular spending), which is enough to redeem on all of these super cool awards.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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American Airlines is releasing a ton of flat bed Business Class award space to and from Europe for four+ people from February 2017 through April 2017. This is news because American Airlines doesn’t normally release so much premium cabin award space, and the majority of the other award space bookable with American Airlines miles to Europe is on British Airways which incurs ridiculously expensive fuel surcharges.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

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You would earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting that minimum spending requirement, which is more than enough for a one way in Business Class to Europe which costs 57,500 miles.

The card offers a host of other benefits as well, including Admirals Club lounge membership and 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year. Read my review of the Citi® /AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® here.

Product

The award space I will focus on is between:

  • Miami and Paris
  • New York and Paris
  • Chicago and Paris
  • Paris and Miami
  • Paris and New York

The Miami to Paris route flies a Boeing 777-200, which by early 2017 (according to View From the Wing) will be reconfigured to have only four seats per row in Business Class, all fully lie-flat, in a 1-2-1 layout so everyone has aisle access.

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Reconfigured American Airlines 777-200

The New York City to Paris/Paris to New York City route flies a few different planes, the 777-200 with a 1-2-1 layout and fully lie flat beds mentioned above, the 767-300 with a 1-2-1 layout (reconfigured) and fully lie flat beds but narrower seats, and also a 757-200, with a 2-2 layout and angle lie flat beds. So if you want the fully lie flat bed be sure to check the aircraft type.

The Chicago to Paris route flies the reconfigured 767-300 with a 1-2-1 layout and fully lie flat beds (but narrower seats than the reconfigured 777-200).

You can check the aircraft type by clicking the View Available Seats link (on the flight schedule results page when you click a specific day from the calendar), and comparing the flight map pop-up to the same flight map searched on SeatGuru.com (Seatguru differentiates between angle lie flat and fully lie flat beds, and the View Available Seat link shows you the seat layout). Here’s how to use SeatGuru.

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Award Space

Business Class award space is great from Miami, New York, and Chicago to a Paris on American Airlines flights in early 2017, with plenty of options for the return as well.  All calendars in this section are for direct American Airlines flights only.

I wanted to isolate American Airlines flights to avoid the nasty fuel surcharges you pay when redeeming American Airlines miles for British Airways flights. I did that by selecting “American Airlines and American Eagle” at the bottom of the search page.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 6.57.04 AMI also wanted to isolate direct flights in my search results, to eliminate the number of connections necessary (in case you need to add another American Airlines flight from your hometown– see the Connections section of this post below). To do this, on the left side of the search results page that displays the calendar, check “Non-stop only” in the drop-down menu next to Number of Stops:

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Miami to Paris

Award space is plentiful for up to four people (with a lot of days have as many as six business class seats available!) February through April 2017.

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New York City to Paris

Again, space is wide open February through April 2017. All calendars below are for four people.

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Chicago to Paris 

You really have your pick if you fly from (or through Chicago). All calendars are for four people.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.03.30 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.03.59 AM Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.04.34 AMReturn Options

The following calendars are also for four people, on direct American Airlines flights only. There are plenty of (if not even more) options for the return.

Miami to Paris

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Paris to New York

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Connections

If you don’t live in any of the American cities mentioned, you can still take advantage of this space. The cities are hubs for American Airlines with flights to most of the country. You can tack on Economy, Business, or First Class MileSAAver award space onto these international flights for zero extra miles.

If you don’t want to go to Paris, or you want to fly an open jaw award, this space is still useful. You could take American Airlines partners British Airways, Iberia, or Finnair to elsewhere around Europe.

Award Prices (Including Taxes and Fees)

London is not mentioned as a destination in this post, but if you’re considering returning from London back to the United States, don’t. When you see “London,” your first thought should be about taxes and fuel surcharges. The big taxes are for departing London. The big fuel surcharges are for flying British Airways across the Atlantic. Both things are easy to avoid to limit the out-of-pocket cost of travel to Europe.

A one way Business Class ticket from the United States to London on American Airlines costs 57,500 miles + $5.60.Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 7.12.27 PMA one way Business Class return from London costs 57,500 miles + $287.26.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 7.14.56 PMIf you want to connect in London to a British Airways flights, taxes and fuel surcharges stay reasonable. Connecting to Munich has $60.30 in taxes and a $40 fuel surcharge for $100 total.

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Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 7.36.24 PMThis should give you an idea for how to lower the taxes in your trip. Do an open jaw and see two or more cities in Europe. Start the return on the continent. Even if you fly from a high tax country and fly British Airways to London, you save about $100 in taxes and fees.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 7.42.51 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-05 at 7.43.39 PMIf you start in a low tax country, like Helsinki, and fly a no-surcharge partner, like Finnair, you’ll save over $200.

Off Peak Economy Awards to/from Europe

If you don’t mind flying one of the ways on your Euro-trip in economy, you can save a lot of miles by taking advantage of American Airlines Off Peak prices to Europe. Fly the economy leg sometime between January and March or November to mid December, and it will only cost 22,500 American Airlines miles.  The Off Peak dates line up nicely with the current Business Class award space, so you could treat yourself one way and save miles on the other. Doing so would reduce your mileage price tag to 80,000 roundtrip a person instead of 115,000 if you flew in Business roundtrip.

Booking the Award

You can search for award space and book these awards right on aa.com.

Pay the taxes and surcharges with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes on an award ticket definitely count.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to 12 types of airline miles or used like cash toward the purchase of any ticket.

Bottom Line

Book your trip to Europe with fantastic flat bed award space options in American Airlines Business Class. By signing up for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® you’ll get 65,000 American Airlines miles for reaching the minimum spending requirement for the sign-up bonus, which is more than enough for a one way in Business Class to Europe. Then use the leftover miles towards an Economy Off Peak award from a low tax city in Europe to return back to the US.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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A reader wrote to me recently about his success story planning and booking a fantastic Round-the-World honeymoon, through knowledge and tips he picked up right here on MileValue. He was eager to share his story, in hopes of showing you all that a luxurious round-the-world adventure is completely within reach if you apply and dedicate yourself to making it happen. For the sake of anonymity, we will call him by his avatar here on the site, Pumatiger. 
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Where A Reader’s Honeymoon Around the World, Part 2 left off: With the Maldives portion of the trip and a side journey to visit Pumatiger’s grandmother in Bangalore set, it was time to figure out how they would get to their final destination, Australia. 
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And now, back to you, Pumatiger…

From Bangalore to Australia With An Interesting Twist

From Bangalore we had various options to get to Sydney including Qatar Airways (via Doha) and Etihad (again via Abu Dhabi). Another option was to fly cheaply to Dubai and then fly via Qantas to Sydney. Initially I reserved an award via Doha with a long layover but after talking with family it looked like if we transited through the UAE a cousin of mine could be our tour guide. I also saw this MileValue post about the Etihad A380 apartment and this one about the Etihad A380 lounge.

These articles and the various YouTube videos I watched along with the prospect of seeing family and having a 21 hour layover in the United Arab Emirates all sounded great. We were able to find Business Class tickets for the dates we had in mind and we jumped on them, again having to call Australia to make the booking. We were excited to be able to get a long layover in UAE, see family, and enjoy Etihad Business Class service that included chauffeur pick up in Bangalore and drop-off in Sydney! Plus, there was the great A380 lounge and the chance to possibly get the A380 Apartment a few days before the flight! The Business awards from Bangalore-Abu Dhabi-Sydney were 45k miles (90k total for two people) and $86 total in taxes.

Here are some photos from our 21 hour layover in the UAE:

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Skyline of Dubai
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Indoor Skiing!
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The tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa.

We didn’t end up with the A380 First Class Apartment, but Business Class on the A380 was still quite luxurious.

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The A380 with the iconic AUH air traffic control tower!
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Etihad Business Class on the A380 from Abu Dhabi to Sydney
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Etihad Business Class on the A380 from Abu Dhabi to Sydney
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Premium lounge flying Etihad on an A380

Accommodation and Our Time in Australia

For the first part of our Australia trip we decided to stay in the Blue Mountains using AirBnb. It was nice having a whole home instead of a hotel room for a bit. We took advantage of the washer to do laundry

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The Jamison Valley, a Grand Canyon with trees

We decided instead to use miles for our time in Sydney. After garnering the correct amount of AA miles I opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 40K Ultimate Reward bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements. By adding my fiancé as a registered user I was able to acquire an additional 5k miles and after purchases I was able to get the account up to 60k miles.

I joined slightly before Chase upped their award from 40k to 50k. This was a bummer– calling agents made no difference and they would not honor the additional 10k.

With the 60K Ultimate Rewards we looked at booking the Park Hyatt Sydney via the Ultimate Rewards website but after reading about transferring Ultimate Rewards to partners instead of cashing them in for a penny a piece for cash back, we performed a comparison analysis of transferring to Hyatt and decided to do that instead.

We were able to book two nights at the beautiful property right on the harbor.

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Our hotel, the Park Hyatt Sydney
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View of the Opera House from outside the Park Hyatt Sydney

For the other two nights we planned on staying in Sydney, I opened the Hyatt Credit Card featured in this MileValue post so we could extend our stay at the same Park Hyatt.

Any round-the-world trip is bound to hit some snags and this was the biggest for us: the two nights posted after hitting the $1000 minimum spending requirement, but Hyatt created a second rewards number for me. Since I was looking in the account with my original rewards number, I never saw the award post. I finally realized the error one day before we were leaving the Blue Mountains to head to Sydney, however, the property decided to block one of the nights we needed. As a result, we had three nights booked with one night not booked. When we got to the property we asked for the night to be made available and we were given the run around and definitely made to feel as though we were second class citizens since we were booking via points. I don’t know if this was a Hyatt thing or just specific to this property but that along with other peculiarities makes me believe that the Park Hyatt Sydney is not the most welcoming to those wanting to redeem points.

But a trip is what you make of it– and the trip was still great. We enjoyed Sydney to the fullest.

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A honeymooner’s welcome :)
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Catching a drama at the Opera House
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The Thai food in Sydney was to die for!
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Bondi Beach

Getting Home

For our return to the United States we used my wife’s AA miles to book two economy awards on Qantas. Her 50k bonus from the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card had come through which allowed us to book two tickets from Sydney to San Francisco at 37.5k miles each (75k total). For whatever reason, in order to reach Phoenix from San Francisco on an award we would have had to route through Seattle.This was out of the way and not something we wanted to do at the end of our trip. Instead we opted for a 12 hour layover in San Francisco to have lunch with friends and family, and then to simply fly to Phoenix using cash since the tickets were approximately $80 each one way. We were able to use 500 mile upgrades to get into First Class and finish the trip the way we started.

In the end we were able to visit four countries in two weeks. We spent 345,000 American Airlines miles and approximately $400 each ($800 total) on airfare– the actual cash value of which was approximately $50K total. Our booking at the Hyatt should have been approximately $800/night, $2400 total. Instead we got the three nights for free.

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(click to enlarge)

It was a great trip and only made possible through a lot of hard-work, patience, and the great advice from MileValue! There were definitely frustrations and planning took more than most would probably be willing to do, but hopefully you can see what is possible and that you too can book a dream vacation for you and your loved ones!

Happy Travels!

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-Pumatiger

Bottom Line by Scott

I would like to extend a big thank you to Pumatiger for taking the time to write about the process and execution of an excellent set of awards that took him and his wife around the world. It’s stories like these, written by real people and not professional bloggers that study miles and points on a daily basis, that remind us that anyone can book amazing travel for very little money if they put their mind to it.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Let’s talk about how….you did it! Those fireworks are for you!

You passed Redeeming American Airlines Miles 101. You should now have the basic tools to accrue and spend tons of American Airlines to destinations all over the world.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Now, let’s talk about the highlights of what we have learned. Below are key points drawn from each post in this series. I recommend reading each post individually to get a full understanding and complete details.

Part 1 — 5 Ways to Stretch American Airlines Miles on Economy Redemptions

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American Airlines miles are currently one of the most valuable airline miles for economy awards because of off peak awards. During some months of the year, your favorite destination can cost up to a 1/4 fewer miles to travel to.

All of the following examples are for one way in economy from the United States:

  • To Europe during January 10 – March 14 or November 1 – December 14: 22,500 miles
  • To the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America from April 27 – May 20, September 7 – November 14: 12,500 miles
  • To China and Hong Kong for most of the year: 32,500 miles
  • To Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Manaus, Brazil from January – June, and September – November: 17,500 miles

It also only costs 7,500 miles to fly America Airlines anywhere in the Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada that is (≤ 500 miles) away.

Part 2 — 6 Ultra-Luxurious First Classes to Book with American Airlines Miles

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As far as the three US legacy carriers go, it is almost always cheaper to use American Airlines miles to fly one of its awesome partners’ First Classes than it is to use United miles to fly one of its partners’ First Classes. You can’t even use Delta to miles to book a three-cabin First Class.

  • Japan Airlines First Class for 80,000 between the US and Japan
  • Cathay Pacific First Class for 110,000 between the US and China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia
  • Malaysia Airlines First Class for 90,000 between Kuala Lumpur and London
  • Etihad First Class for 62,500 between Europe and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives
  • Qantas First Class for 62,500 between London and Dubai
  • British Airways First Class for 80,000 between London and South Africa

However, First Class awards took the biggest hit with American Airlines’ devaluation.  So if you can, look to use Alaska miles, Korean miles, or Singapore miles instead for First Class awards.

Part 3 — Where to Search Award Space for All PartnersScreen Shot 2016-07-05 at 8.34.02 PM

Searchable on aa.com

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • airberlin
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian

Here’s how to search aa.com.

Searchable on ba.com

  • Cathay Pacific
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

Here’s how to search ba.com.

Must Search Elsewhere

  • Air Tahiti Nui and Gulf Air award space is searchable on Expert Flyer.
  • Etihad Airways award space is searchable on etihad.com.
  • Fiji Airways award space is searchable on alaskaair.com.
  • Jet Airways and Seaborne award space is only searchable by calling American Airlines.

Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need

If your award is a single, direct flight, you can just read the price of the flight off one of American Airlines’ two award charts:

Otherwise, how does the award price? That’s where American Airlines’ award routing rules come into play:

  1. Stopovers are not allowed on American Airlines awards.
  2. The airline that operates the flight that connects the two regions must have a published fare for your origin and destination city pair.
  3. Your trip must not exceed AA’s Maximum Permitted Mileage for your origin and destination by more than 25% as flown.
  4. Awards between Region A and Region B cannot transit Region C unless specifically allowed.

Part 5 — Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges

Three most important things to remember about taxes, fuel surcharges, and fees:

1. Premium cabin awards that originate in the United Kingdom are the most expensive. Avoid those–see List of Award Taxes from Major Cities in Europe so you can plan a return to the US from a low tax country.

2. American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on award flights operated by British Airways (outrageously expensive) and Iberia (can be reasonable).

3. 21 is the magic number. There is a $75 fee to book an award within 21 days of departure or to change departure date to a date less than 21 days away. Both fees are waived for elites. However there is no fee to change the date of an award more than 21 days in advance.

Part 6 — Redeeming for Domestic Awards

Domestically, American Airlines miles can be redeemed on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines flights. Award space on both airlines is searchable on aa.com. American miles can book all the exact same award space that Alaska opens up to its own members at the Saver level.

New as of March 2016: For direct flights only on American Airlines planes that fly a distance less than or equal to 500 miles within the continental 48 U.S. states and Canada:

  • 7,500 miles each way in economy
  • 15,000 miles each way in First Class on a two-cabin aircraft (almost all aircraft) and in Business Class on three-cabin aircraft

In general, you should mainly be using American Airlines miles for international awards and booking domestic awards with Avios or Southwest points.

Part 7 — Redeeming for HawaiiScreen-Shot-2013-06-11-at-10.15.24-PM

To Hawaii, American Airlines miles can be redeemed on:

  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • any combination of the two

As of September 1, 2015, American Airlines miles cannot book Hawaiian Airlines flights between the mainland and Hawaii. AA miles can still book interisland flights on Hawaiian and flights between Hawaii and Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Award space to Hawaii is highly seasonal on all airlines, and it lines up well with American’s Off Peak dates (which have cheaper award prices).

Part 8 — Redeeming for East and Southeast Asia

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Business and First Class awards from the United States to Japan and Korea, in terms of duration and partner product (Japan Airlines), have the best value on the new American Airlines award chart.

Prior to their devaluation, American’s under-pricing of awards to Southeast Asia relative to its competitors was one of the main reasons that American miles were the best miles to Southeast Asia. Now I recommend using Alaska or Etihad miles instead if you have them (SPG and ThankYou Points both transfer 1:1 to Etihad Airways), because you can book awards to Asia with either of those miles at the same prices American had pre-devaluation.

Cathay Pacific premium cabin award space, which is useful to China and Southeast Asia, is widely available 11 months out and within a week of departure. Japan Airlines Business Class award space is available on all its routes if you have date flexibility. American’s own flights have good economy award space, but Business and First Class are spotty unless you can book far ahead of time or within a few days of departure.

Part 9 — Redeeming for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent

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American is not the leader to the Middle East and India because of its pricing as much as its partners. American partners with two of the big three Middle Eastern carriers, Etihad and Qatar. Add in the other Middle Eastern and Indian partners, and American really has a lock on the region (i.e. the best award space to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent by far).

I find award space to be excellent on Etihad. This is my go-to airline when I am looking for award space for MileValue Award Booking Service clients to the Middle East and India. With flexibility, you can find two seats in any cabin. In my experience, Qatar award space is not as strong as Etihad award space.

Part 10 — Redeeming for Australia and New Zealand

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American Airlines miles have access to incredible economy award space to Australia and New Zealand flying Qantas and American Airlines from the continental United States. You can also redeem AA miles on Hawaiian from Hawaii easily with tons of economy award space (but US->Hawaii->Australia would price as two awards). Unfortunately Business and First Class award space redeemable with AA miles is incredibly hard to find across the board, although it does exist.

Part 11 — Redeeming for South America

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American Airlines flies more routes from the United States to Central and South America than any other carrier–by far! You can also use partner LATAM (previously LAN and TAM until May 2016) to fly pretty much anywhere you’d want to go within South America.

Award space varies by destination and season, but the general pattern on American Airlines flights is OK economy award space and poor Business and First Class award space that gets slightly better the last few weeks before departure. I also notice that there is often better premium cabin award space from South America to the United States than from the United States to South America.

LATAM’s award space from the United States to Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador is pretty bad, but to Chile and Brazil. And LATAM intra-South American award space is consistently pretty good.

Part 12 — Redeeming for Europe

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Redeeming to Europe is not the best use of American Airlines miles because award space isn’t great, and American collects fuel surcharges on two partners to Europe. But there are routes with no fuel surcharges and good award space that you should know about.

Here are the American Airlines partners with direct flights from North America to Europe:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
    • not worth it, huge fuel surcharges
  • Iberia
    • Iberia charges moderate fuel surcharges, has great economy award space, and OK Business Class award space as long as you book in advance
  • airberlin
    • Airberlin has the best award space of these three partners
  • Finnair

Part 13 — Redeeming for Africa

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It is not the best use of American Airlines miles to redeem to Africa because award prices are high, and there is only partner you can really use while avoiding fuel surcharges (Qatar). But if you’re rolling in the AA miles, Qatar does have excellent economy and Business Class award space.

Part 14 — Redeeming for Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia

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American Airlines partners with Fiji Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui to offer the best options to these distant Pacific Islands. Both have wide open economy award space, but for premium cabin award space you’ll have a lot better luck with Air Tahiti Nui.

American Airlines is not partners with Air Tahiti, a different airline than Air Tahiti Nui which only flies a few long haul flights. To travel within French Polynesia (to places like Bora Bora or Moorea) you’ll need to purchase flights on Air Tahiti.

So What’s Next?

Your mileage education is never complete. The miles and points hobby is ever evolving, so check back daily at this blog, and sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts. You should now have the basics down and can understand the more complicated posts. You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date.

Bottom Line

After reading this entire series you should be equipped with the knowledge to start redeeming American Airlines miles to numerous locations around the globe. So start collecting!

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles. Read about 11 cool things you can do with that sign-up bonus.

Still don’t feel like applying the knowledge? We’ve got you covered. Just contact my Award Booking Service  by filling out this form and we’ll get to work for you.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Update 6/30/2016: Alaska Airlines is changing the way you accrue redeemable Alaska miles when flying partner American Airlines for travel beginning August 1, 2016 to align with American Airlines’ changes to a revenue-based award earning structure. When I first published this post and crunched the numbers about which partner program was the most advantageous to credit miles to when flying American, Alaska Mileage Plan was among my top two choices. Due to the changes Alaska is making to their accrual rates, they are no longer a top contender. 

In light of the news that American Airlines is changing to a revenue-based award earning structure, and the fact that all three major US carriers now abide by a revenue-based award earning structure, I am wrote a series of posts about when and where you should diversify the award miles you earn through paying for airfare. This post is Part 1, and discusses when and to where you should diversify your award earning when flying paid tickets on American Airlines flights.

“When & Where You Should Diversify Revenue Ticket Miles” Series Index

As of August 1, American Airlines will award miles for revenue tickets based on two things: the ticket price less any government imposed taxes or fees, and the elite status you have with the airline.  

This is a big departure from the current system that awards miles based on the distance flown.

The new award earning structure will be worse for folks who fly far, cheap tickets and better for people who fly short, expensive tickets. That is, at least, if we’re talking about crediting miles to AAdvantage. But it is not obligatory to do that–you can enter your frequent flyer number with any American Airlines partner instead.

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In your mind, this fact should pose two questions.

  1. When should I choose to credit my award miles to American Airlines?
  2. If not American Airlines, then who?

I’m going to dive into both questions here to help equip you with the knowledge to make these decisions in the future.

Note that this post is specifically referencing the award miles earned from flying American Airlines flights. The amount of American Airlines miles earned for flying a oneworld alliance or other partner airline will be based on a percentage of the distance flown and the fare class. These rates have yet to be published, but should be available by July 15.

When Should I Choose to Credit my Award Miles to American Airlines?

The simple answer to this question: Not when you’re buying a cheap economy ticket, but maybe if you’re buying an expensive premium cabin ticket. American Airlines’ new revenue-based award earning system rewards those who generate more revenue for American Airlines, point blank. 

The more correct answer to this question is: when the math works out, and when you’re not chasing or trying to maintain status. Before I go any further, let me explain what I mean by the latter part of that sentence.

The value of status miles will factor into the decision too (in American’s case, they are called Elite Qualifying Miles, or EQM’s), if you’re trying to get or maintain American status. For example, even if an American Airlines Executive Platinum elite earns fewer redeemable American miles by crediting their butt in seat miles to American over Etihad, he might still prefer it to boost his Elite Qualifying Mile balance.

But if you’re not concerned with status, then all that should matter to you is the math.

 

The Math

To figure out how many American Airlines miles you’ll earn flying their planes, use the following equation:

Status multiplier x (ticket price – government-imposed taxes/fees) = award miles earned

The status multiplier depends on what tier elite status you might or might not have with the airline:

  • 5x– AAdvantage member
  • 7x – Gold
  • 8x – Platinum
  • 9x – Platinum Pro (will be introduced at some point in 2017)
  • 11x– Executive Platinum

We know the ticket price is how much aa.com tells us the flight costs.

But how can we isolate the government-imposed taxes and fees from that price? ITA Matrix. If you’re not familiar with ITA Matrix, here’s how to use it— it will show you the breakdown of a ticket by base fare, fuel surcharges, and government-imposed taxes and fees.

Look at this breakdown of a roundtrip American Airlines ticket between San Francisco and Zurich:

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This is a great example of the kind of cheap revenue ticket readers of this blog would buy, because it’s an example where you’re probably better off paying for the flight in cash rather than using miles that could be put towards higher value redemptions (since it’s only $414 for a roundtrip between the United States and Europe!)

The dollar amounts outlined in the red rectangle are the government-imposed taxes and fees (sum = $114.06). Fuel surcharges are always labeled as either YR and YQ (in this case YR). Fare 1 and 2 are the base fares in each direction on the roundtrip. 

Now we can plug in our equation.

5 x (414.06 – 114.06) = 1,500

So, assuming you are just normal AAdvantage member without status, you would earn 1,500 American Airlines miles for flying about 13,000 miles on an American Airlines plane.

Even if you are a Executive Platinum elite, you would only earn 3,300 American Airlines miles on this flight.

But let’s say you purchased a Business Class ticket on the same flight, which costs $7,059 (oh yea, now I remember why I collect miles!). Your equation would look like this:

5 x (7,059 – 114.06) = 34,725

Then you would certainly want to credit those miles to American Airlines, because you cannot beat that crediting to any other partner.  It is easy to see how this system rewards those that spend more. But I assume the majority of us will find ourselves with something closer to the first equation’s answer most of the time. 

Conclusion

When it comes time for you to make this decision, plug your own numbers in. If you get a number greater than 125% of the distance flown (if flying Business Class) or a number greater than 150% of the distance flown (if flying First Class), then stick with collecting American Airlines miles. Those percentages represent the maximum amount of miles you could get crediting to any partner (assuming you don’t have status with any of them.) 

Otherwise, read on to see your options for crediting to other partners. 

If Not American Airlines, Then Who?

Listed below are the award earning structures for some of American Airlines’ partners. Loyalty programs that generally lack valuable award redemption opportunities have been left out. What you earn for crediting miles to these airlines is represented by the percentages in the tables below. To figure out the total, you multiply the percentage by the distance flown.

Members of oneworld Alliance

British Airways 

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to British Airways Executive Club here.

Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to Asia Miles here.

Iberia

Iberia Avios doesn’t have a published earning structure online, but I would assume it’s somewhat like British Airways Avios. This FlyerTalk thread has a homemade earning chart, but beware it is from 2014 and appears to have some errors. Let us know in the comments if anyone is aware of a more accurate and recently published chart.

Japan Airlines (JAL)

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to Mileage Bank here.

Malaysia Airlines

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to Enrich here.

American Airlines’ Other Partners

Alaskan Airlines

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to Alaska Mileage Plan here.

Etihad Airways

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to Etihad Guest here.

Hawaiian Airlines

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to HawaiianMiles here.

Conclusion

Again, the following conclusion is not considering the incentive of status. If you’re aiming for or trying to maintain status with American or one of its partner airlines, than perhaps the elite qualifying miles earned from crediting to them matter more to you than redeemable miles.

That being said, the best alternative airline to credit miles to when flying American Airlines is Etihad. It offers the highest percentages of distance flown, ranging from 100% for even the lowest economy fares (which are the most common types people like you and I buy) and 150% for First Class. I will choose to credit the miles I earn flying cheap American Airlines revenue tickets to Etihad Guest in the future.

The other options listed above offer similar ranges of percentages for distance flown, but with lower tiers for discount economy tickets that range from 0 to 50%. So if you’re flying a discounted ticket, like the one from the example in this post that is categorized as fare class “O”, then definitely choose Alaska or Etihad.

If your fare class is not one associated with a discounted economy ticket, then it doesn’t matter. Any full price fare will earn something in the 100% to 150% of distance flown range depending on whether it is full fare economy or First Class. If this is the case, then it’s a matter of choosing which miles are more valuable for you when redeeming awards. Click here to read about the top 11 most valuable miles to me.

Best Card to Buy Airfare With

Your top choice for buying American Airlines’ tickets with should be the Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that applies to airfare. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy the fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement.

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases, which is a higher category bonus than what any of the American Airlines’ co-branded cards offer for buying their own plane tickets (2x).

See my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many components like its annual $250 Air Travel Credit, 50,000 point sign up bonus, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

Bottom Line

If you’re like me and only spend cash on the cheapest of airfares, then it is very likely you will not want to credit the miles you earn from flying American Airlines to AAdvantage anymore now that the airline has changed it’s award earning structure. If you haven’t started an account with Etihad’s frequent flyer program Etihad Guest, then do so today. Out of American Airlines’ partners, it is probably the most valuable program to funnel your miles into. 

If you want to jumpstart that Alaska miles collection, sign up for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card. Earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 within the first three months of opening the account.

While I can not directly link to Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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You can now book Etihad First Class Suites departing the United States for Abu Dhabi in advance. This is exciting news because previously, you could only book this award at the last minute, within a few days or week of departure. The return direction from Abu Dhabi to the United States has had more space historically, and remains uncomplicated if you want to book Etihad First Class Suites.

For those of you that don’t know, Etihad has two types of First Class: the First Class Apartment on the Airbus A380, and the First Class Suite (on their Boeing 777) which isn’t quite as large as the Apartment but is still a top of the line premium product. The only way to fly Etihad’s First Class Apartments from the United States is flying through New York (JFK). Both products are incredible.

I flew in an Etihad First Class Apartment on an A380 from Abu Dhabi to London last January and it was fantastic– 15 hours of pure luxury. I highly recommend it if you can swing it.

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The Etihad First Class award space pattern has changed so that all in all, there is more First Class Space available farther in advance. Unfortunately though, the New York to Abu Dhabi route no longer releases award space for First Class Apartments last minute like it used to pretty consistently.

Where Can I Fly Etihad First Class?

Etihad flies from six American cities to Abu Dhabi. From there you can connect to elsewhere in the Middle East or India. Read more about American Airlines award routing rules if you’re going to redeem American Airlines miles flying Etihad.

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You can also take the Etihad Chauffeur service anywhere in the UAE if flying into Abu Dhabi in Business or First Class.

What Miles Should I Use to Get There?

Etihad awards are bookable with ThankYou Points,  Membership Rewards, or SPG points as they both transfer to Etihad Guest at a 1:1 rate. They are also bookable with American Airlines miles. Unfortunately Etihad miles offer poor value on Etihad flights. Each award costs more Etihad miles than it would cost with American Airlines miles, so it’s best if you have the option to redeem American Airlines miles versus transferring any of your points.

Award Space

Award space on Etihad is searchable on etihad.com. Here’s how to search etihad.com.

Let’s start with the bad news first. It is now harder to nail down an Etihad First Class Apartment on the New York to Abu Dhabi route, in either direction. I actually didn’t even see one seat available during my searches. To distinguish between the Etihad First Class Apartment and Etihad Suite when searching, make sure the aircraft of the flight with availability is an A380:Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.11.20 AM

It used to be expected that a couple First Class Apartments would consistently open up within a few days of departure, but it does not look like that is the case anymore.

Now, on to the better news! There is more space in Etihad First Class Suites from the United States to Abu Dhabi on advance dates. Below is the current picture of award space for the cities in the United States with the most award space in Etihad First Class Suites to Abu Dhabi.

The prices in all the screenshots below are in Etihad miles for two people, not American Airlines miles for two people. One way between the United States and the Middle East or the Indian Subcontinent costs 115,000 American Airlines miles for one traveler.

San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

San Francisco probably has the most award space out of any route. Dates that say “279,556” have award space in First Class. All calendars are for two people.

Over the next week.
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Three months out.
Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.25.55 PMSix months out.Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.30.20 PMNine months out.Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.41.41 PM

As far out as the availability stays open.

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New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi

This route has a lot of options six weeks within departure, but not much past then. Dates that say “235,112” have award space in First Class. Calendars are for two people.

Over the next week…Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.56.46 PMThe end of July…Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.13.40 PMAnd beginning of August….Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.15.17 PM

Dallas to Abu Dhabi

I checked five weeks of award availability spread out across the year. Each week had the same space for two people: on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday flights, through May 10, 2017.

Washington D.C. (IAD) to Abu Dhabi

I also checked five weeks of award availability spread out across the year, but Washington D.C. doesn’t have quite as much space booking as far out as next year. However it does have a lot of space available through September for two people (at least two thirds of the days).

Even if you don’t live in one of these cities with good First Class award space, you can add a leg from your hometown to one of them. This will cost you zero extra miles as long as the domestic award space is at the MileSAAver level, the cabin is the same or a lower tier than the transoceanic flight, and Etihad “publishes a fare” from your home airport to your destination, a concept explained in this post about American Airlines award routing rules.

Award space is always more available for Etihad First Class Suites when the award doesn’t originate in the United States. London to Abu Dhabi costs 62,500 American Airlines miles, and Abu Dhabi to Sydney costs 100,000 American Airlines miles, for example. You could include either of those as part of a larger trip easily as both routes have open award space.

How to Book

If you choose to book with American Airlines miles, you’ll need note the date, cabin, and flight number and call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. If you choose to book with Etihad miles then you can do it right on etihad.com.

How to Get the Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You would earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting that minimum spending requirement.
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Bottom Line

Unfortunately it looks like there isn’t much award space flying Etihad’s First Class Apartment on the A380 between the United States and Abu Dhabi. The seats that used to be released on a last minute basis between New York and Abu Dhabi are not being released anymore. However, there is a ton of award space available flying Etihad’s First Class Suites to Abu Dhabi from the United States, even for dates farther in advance, which wasn’t the norm in the past. That is certainly welcome news.

Hat tip View from the Wing

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia. American Airlines partners with Fiji Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui to offer the best options to these distant Pacific Islands.

I am updating and re-posting my series on redeeming American Airlines miles. Why now?

  1. To reflect current award prices
  2. To celebrate the increase of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®‘s sign-up bonus.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You would earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting that minimum spending requirement. The card offers a host of other benefits as well, including Admirals Club lounge membership and 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year.

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If you find this guide to redeeming American Airlines miles to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® /AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

The Partners for Pacific Islands Awards

American Airlines has two partners from outside its oneworld alliance that are based in the in the South Pacific:

  • Fiji Airways
  • Air Tahiti Nui

Award space on Fiji Airways is searchable on alaskaair.com. Here’s how to search alaskaair.com.

Award space on Air Tahiti Nui is searchable on Expert Flyer. Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Pricing

From North America to the South Pacific, American Airlines charges:

  • 40,000 miles one way in economy
  • 80,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • There are no First Class options to these islands

These miles prices are the same as awards to Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to the miles, you pay government taxes on all awards. There are no fuel surcharges on these awards.

Routes & Award Space

Fiji Airways flies from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu to Nadi, Fiji. Air Tahiti Nui flies from Los Angeles to Pape’ete, Tahiti.

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You can connect to these flights in Los Angeles very easily on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights. This will cost you zero extra miles as long as the domestic award space is at the MileSAAver level, the cabin is the same or a lower tier than the transoceanic flight, and Fiji Airways or Air Tahiti Nui “publishes a fare” from your home airport to your destination, a concept explained in Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need.

Award Space on Fiji Flights

Award space is searchable on alaskaair.com. Any space you see there you can book with American Airlines miles by calling American Airlines. When booking with AA miles, you pay the prices listed above, not the prices listed on alaskaair.com.

You can search one month at a time by selecting flexible dates and then setting the calendar to show the cabin you prefer.

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My searches indicate that award space in economy is available most months, though a little less available during the peak dry season from June through October. Business Class award space is very rare.

All calendars in this section show searches for two people. Dates that say “40k” have economy award space, and dates that say “55k” have Business Class award space.

Los Angeles to Fiji

Here are economy results throughout the next 10 months starting with August (there is no availability in July):Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.21.09 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.22.56 PM

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Business Class space is super rare, but it does exist for a day here and there, especially if you can book 10 or 11 months out.Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.31.00 PM

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Fiji to Los Angeles

Here are the calendars for return flights, which look pretty similar except there is no availability next month nor August.
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Business Class award space just really isn’t there, not even if you book far in advance. Except for this one pocket I found in September.Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 1.05.49 PM

San Francisco to Fiji

This route is seasonal. It flies between mid June and mid August, which is peak tourism season. Here is July and August’s availability:

In July, there is award space for two people in Business Class on July 14, and that’s it. Apart from that there is no economy space.

In August, there is space for two people in Business Class on August 7, 11, and 14. Here are the days available in economy for two people:

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Calendar created on Award Nexus

 

There is currently no award space in Business nor economy on the direct return flight to San Francisco from Fiji.

Award Space on Air Tahiti Nui Flights

You can search one week at a time on Expert Flyer by filling in the search screen like this.

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A strong tendency I notice with Air Tahiti Nui award space is that the most Business Class space is available 10 to 11 months in advance. Space deteriorates in Business Class as the departure date approaches, but stays pretty consistently available in economy.

It does look as though they might release some Business Class space last minute, as there are two seats open next week on July 7, flying TN7.
Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 1.58.12 PMFor the week I searched in September,  I saw one Business Class seat and up to six economy award seats. Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 2.07.37 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-28 at 2.08.31 PMFor the week I searched in December, I saw up to seven economy seats and three Business Class seatsScreen Shot 2016-06-28 at 2.11.50 PMFor the week I searched in February, I again saw tons of economy seats, and two Business Class seats.

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For the week I searched in May, 10 months out, we start to see tons of Business Class space for two people– on almost every day that week.

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Air Tahiti is Not Air Tahiti Nui

I haven’t mentioned award space to any other French Polynesian islands yet like Bora Bora or Moorea. The reason is that American Airlines partners with Air Tahiti Nui, which flies only a few longhaul flights, all of which go to Tahiti.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.51.04 PM

There is a separate airline called Air Tahiti that provides service among the French Polynesian islands. You can NOT book Air Tahiti flights with American Airlines miles.

These Air Tahiti flights are expensive. For instance, a roundtrip from Tahiti to Bora Bora this January would be 43,187 XFP francs, about $389 at current exchange rates.
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Just because you can’t use American Airlines miles on Air Tahiti flights doesn’t mean you have to pay cash though.

  1. You can use the $250 Air Travel Credit on your Citi Prestige® Card (and you’ll earn 3  ThankYou Points per dollar spent for an airfare purchase!)
  2. You can pay with Arrival miles at a net rate of 1.075 cents off the ticket for each Arrival mile redeemed.
  3. You can pay with ThankYou Points earned from the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which can be used like cash toward the purchase of any airline ticket. Points earned on the Prestige are worth 1.33 cents toward the purchase of any flight (or 1.6 cents toward the purchase of American Airlines/US Airways tickets), so the roundtrip from Tahiti to Bora Bora would be 30,2315 ThankYou Points.

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The bottom line is that you can get to the other islands of French Polynesia with points, but it is a separate and expensive ticket from the one that gets you to Tahiti.

Booking the Award

Search segment-by-segment to find award space from your airport to Los Angeles and award space on the flights to the South Pacific separately.

You need to book by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880. The good news is that you will pay zero phone booking fee, since that fee was waived when an award can’t be booked online.

Pay your award taxes with your Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the award taxes and fees on these ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy pay the taxes with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement.

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are good for getting to Fiji and Tahiti in economy, offer a smattering of Business Class throughout the year if you are flexible, and have a lot of seats available in Business Class if you can book 10+ months in advance.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles, which is more than enough to book one way in economy to Fiji and Tahiti, and almost enough to book a one way in Business Class.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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8

Japan Airlines First Class space is widely available for 1-4 people per flight between Tokyo and Sydney in 2017 for only 60,000 American Airlines miles each way, one of the rare First Class sweet spots on the new award chart.

Japan Airlines First Class is one of the nicest products in the world, and right now you can get all the miles you need to book this trip from Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, which is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership for a limited time.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 5.29.36 AM

You can very cheaply book Japan Airlines First Class with American Airlines miles as part of a larger trip that includes both Asia and Australia.

  • How good is Japan Airlines First Class?
  • Where does Japan Airlines fly?
  • How many miles do you need between Tokyo and Sydney? How many miles from the United States to Sydney?
  • How can you search for and book the award space?
  • How can you get American Airlines miles?

How good is Japan Airlines First Class?

Japan Airlines First Class is a world class flat bed enclosed in a suite.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 5.29.48 AM

I haven’t flown the product personally, but everything looks top notch and Asian airlines have the best service in my experience.

Here’s a tour of the plane.

Where does Japan Airlines fly?

The only Japan Airlines plane with First Class is the 777-300ER. Seasonally, Japan Airlines adds its 777-300ER to its Tokyo-Narita to Sydney route.

Source: gcmap.com

Japan Airlines also flies its 777-300ER to America, specifically between Tokyo and San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 5.02.39 AM

The San Francisco route flies to Tokyo-Haneda, so it doesn’t connect to the flight to Sydney. The others fly to Tokyo-Narita. From either airport, you can connect throughout Asia.

How Many Miles Does the Award Cost?

Despite American Airlines’ devaluation in March, Japan Airlines First Class is still cheap. American charges only:

  • 60,000 miles one way in First Class between the Japan (Asia 1) and Australia (South Pacific)

You cannot route from the United States to Australia via Japan on a single American Airlines award. You’d have to pay for one award from the United States to Japan and a second award to Australia. American charges:

  • 80,000 miles one way in First Class between the United States and Japan

I realize almost no one reading this blog lives in Australia or Japan, but I still think highlighting these foreign deals is important because, hey, why not dream big and book a round-the-world trip as a series of one way awards?

How Can You Search and Book the Award Space?

Search on ba.com. At the moment, I see one First Class seat on many flights from Sydney to Tokyo during the Australian summer.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.55.43 PM

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.55.35 PMIn April 2017, the Australian fall, there are four First Class award seats on many flights from Sydney to Tokyo.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.55.43 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.56.45 PM
If you’d prefer a redeye, the Tokyo to Sydney flight also has four First Class award seats on many April 2017 flights.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.55.43 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-27 at 11.00.57 PM

Note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you like.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.55.51 PM

If necessary, pair it with other airlines’ award space you find on ba.com as part of a segment-by-segment searching strategy. Once you’ve found all your space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book the award by feeding the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight. There is no longer a phone booking fee to book awards that cannot be booked at aa.com, so you’ll just pay the miles plus taxes.

Pay your award taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

Alternatively, instead of booking now, you can put the award space on hold for five days for free when you call American Airlines.

How Can You Get American Airlines Miles?

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® comes with 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three month. The card also gives the main cardholder Admirals Club lounge membership (and up to 32 other people Admirals Club access.)

The card has a $450 annual fee, but the miles and lounge access will make that worth paying for many people.

Bottom Line

Book–or put on hold–Japan Airlines First Class award space between Japan and Australia today with your American Airlines miles. Japan Airlines First Class suites are world class, American Airlines’ award chart is underpriced on the route, and 1-4 First Class award seats on many flights in 2017.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Alaska Airlines is changing the way you accrue redeemable Alaska miles when flying partner American Airlines for travel beginning August 1, 2016. The number of Alaska Mileage plan miles you will earn for flying American will be based on a percentage of the distance flown, determined by the fare class. Business and First Class fares will rake in 150 to 200% of miles flown (compared to the prior rates of 100 to 150%), and the discount economy fares will earn as little as 25% of the distance flown (compared to 100% before…ouch).

This is not a surprise considering the switch American Airlines had already planned and recently announced a start date for– to a revenue-based award earning structure that also applies for travel as of August 1. Just like Alaska’s, American Airlines’ new system rewards the big spenders grandly while hanging the budget travelers out to dry.

New Rates Earning Alaska Miles on American Flights

Below is Alaska’s new award earning chart as of August 1, 2016:

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 5.34.13 PM

To show you how Alaska Mileage Plan’s award earning system is changing, here is a chart that compares post-August 1 and pre-August 1 accrual rates:

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 4.12.35 PM

Even if you’ve already bought a ticket flying American, the new accrual rates will apply if the travel date is on or after August 1, 2016.

Examples of Earnings at New Rate

The following section is taken from Alaska Airlines’ blog post “Customer Q&A on Mileage Plan earn rates change for American Airlines flights“. They give two examples on both ends of the spectrum, to show how one buying an expensive full-priced First Class ticket will earn a lot more miles with the new earning structure, and how one buying a discounted economy ticket will earn less.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 5.01.04 PM
Thank goodness for the 500 minimum mile guarantee! **insert eye roll here**

What this Change Doesn’t Mean

Alaska changing the way you earn Alaska miles on American Flights does not also mean Alaska is changing the way you earn Alaska miles on Alaska flights. Those earning rates are not changing, nor do I expect they will anytime in the near future as they have not announced any plans in that regard. And after the slaughtering Alaska went through for the un-announced devaluation of their Emirates award chart, I think (or hope, at least) that we’ll get some advance notice before changes of that magnitude in the future.

Alaska is already on the defense regarding the Mileage Plan award earning rates for their own flights:

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 5.47.42 PM

Where to Credit Butt in Seat Miles Now

After American Airlines announced the changes they are making to their award earning system, I wrote a post about when and where you should diversify your butt in seat miles when flying American Airlines. Alaska Airlines was at the top of the list, with stellar accrual rates (100%) even for the most discounted economy tickets, which most of the time are the only kind of revenue tickets people like you and I buy. I figured the shoe would drop at some point, and now it finally has. Once the new accrual rates hit, I wouldn’t even consider Alaska to be among my top three choices for crediting butt in seat miles when flying a discounted economy ticket on American. If you’re not considering the incentives of status or have an immediate redemption in mind with a certain airline, I would probably choose to credit miles earned from flying economy American tickets to Etihad Guest. But if you’re flying a more expensive fare, you’ll need to run your own numbers as rates vary for each partner and fare class.

Bottom Line

For travel beginning August 1, 2016 and on, Alaska Airlines is changing their award earning system for redeemable miles to more closely align with American Airlines’ new revenue-based award system. The amount of Alaska miles you will earn flying American Airlines will be a percentage of the distance flown based on fare class. Expensive tickets will earn more miles and cheap tickets will earn a lot less.

You can’t expect to accrue a bunch of Alaska miles from flying anymore, but at least it’s still easy to collect them via credit cards. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card comes with 30,000 Alaska miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months, as does the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card. Evidence points to these cards as still churnable.

While I can not directly link to the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card, you may find them by clicking below if you decide to apply.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Rocketmiles is running a promotion for first time users that lasts through August 15, 2016. You can earn a 3,000 or 4,000 American Airlines miles bonus for booking your hotel through the site, depending on whether you are just an AAdvantage member (3k bonus) or if you charge the stay on a Citi AAdvantage card (4k bonus).

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This bonus is on top of the miles you normally earn (at least 1,000 miles per night, maximum 10,000 depending on the price of the hotel nights).

You can also earn a 1,000 mile bonus after your first stay by registering through this referral link at any time.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 3.25.00 PM

How to Get An Easy 5k American Airlines Miles

If you’ve never used Rocketmiles before…

  • Sign up through this referral link and get 1,000 miles after completing your first stay
  • Book a hotel through Rocketmiles and earn 1,000 to 10,000 miles per night based on the price of the hotel nights. If you book by August 15, 2016:
    • Earn a 3,000 mile bonus for simply being an AAdvantage member
    • Earn a 4,000 mile bonus for charging the hotel on your Citi AAdvantage card

That’s an easy extra 5,000 American Airlines for just booking your hotel you were already planning on booking through the Rocketmiles platform. I value American Airlines miles at 1.5 cents, so that’s a few minutes of effort for $75.

What’s Rocketmiles?

For those who don’t know, Rocketmiles is a hotel booking site. Hotel booking sites have huge margins, but they can’t usually undersell the price on the hotel’s site, so most simply offer the same price without differentiation. Rocketmiles is totally different. It takes those huge margins and rebates as much as it can to its customers in the form of frequent flyer miles in any of nine programs. Each night booked at a hotel earns 1,000 or more miles to be accredited to the loyalty program of you’re choosing. Affiliated loyalty programs are at the bottom of the homepage, and include:

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.05.31 PM

If I were booking a lot of reimbursed hotel stays for business travel, I would always book through Rocketmiles to earn thousands of airline miles from the bookings.

Since I don’t travel much for business, I don’t pay much attention to it except when it has a big promotion like this one.

Another important aspect to note about Rocketmiles is that you earn airline miles in place of hotel points. So if you’re trying to build a stash of hotel points, Rocketmiles isn’t for you. Whether or not booking hotels through Rocketmiles counts towards earning elite status depends on the hotel.

Read their FAQ to learn more.

Examples of Earnings with Current American Airlines Promotion

This hotel in the Atlanta area that costs $89 a night normally earns 1,000 American Airlines miles for each night. If you purchased this one night reservation as a first time user by August 15, 2016 on a Citi AAdvantage card, you would earn a 4,000 mile bonus. If you signed up via my referral link, you’d get another 1,000 mile bonus after completing the stay. That’s a total of 6,000 American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 4.17.40 PM

This slightly more expensive hotel, also in Atlanta, earns a base rate of 2,000 miles per night. If you purchased a one night reservation on a Citi AAdvantage card, you would earn a 4,000 mile bonus. If you signed up via my referral link, you’d get another 1,000 mile bonus after completing the stay. That’s a total of 7,000 American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 4.18.00 PM

Don’t Forget to Double Check Against Kayak

When I’ve investigated Rocketmiles‘ prices in the past, I’ve found that most match the best online rate, but some do not. Always double check the price on Rocketmiles against Kayak to make sure you are paying the market rate, so the miles are a pure rebate.

Bottom Line

Rocketmiles is an easy way to earn airline miles on paid hotel stays. If you are first-time user and book a hotel through Rocketmiles by August 15, 2016, you can earn a bonus 3k American Airlines miles just for being an AAdvantage member or a 4k bonus for charging the hotel on a Citi AAdvantage card. Sign-up for Rocketmiles through this referral link and you’ll earn an extra 1k bonus just because. These bonuses are on top of the miles you normally earn through booking (1k to 10k depending on the price of the hotel nights).

Hat tip One Mile at a Time

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Africa. This is not the best use of American Airlines miles because award prices are high, and there is only partner you can really use while avoiding fuel surcharges. But if you have American Airlines miles and want to know your options to Africa, this is your guide.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 7.55.04 PM
Me on Safari in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

I am updating and re-posting my series on redeeming American Airlines miles. Why now?

  1. To reflect current award prices
  2. To celebrate the increase of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®‘s sign-up bonus.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You would earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting that minimum spending requirement. The card offers a host of other benefits as well, including Admirals Club lounge membership and 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

If you find this guide to redeeming American Airlines miles to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® /AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

The Partners for Africa Awards

American Airlines puts Egypt in the Middle East Region. The rest of continental Africa is the Africa region.

There are no American Airlines partners with direct flights from North America to Africa. As you undoubtedly remember from Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need, American Airlines has that weird rule that you need to fly directly from your origin region to destination region unless there is a specific exception.

From North America to Africa, there are two specific exceptions:

  1. You can transit Europe
  2. You can transit the Middle East on Qatar flights (but not other partners like Etihad)

Realistically transiting Europe means flying British Airways, which has a big African route network. You can also fly Iberia and airberlin to some North African destinations, but their route networks are small.

The main partner to lock into is Qatar Airways because it has good award space and no fuel surcharges.

Award space on British Airways and airberlin is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Award space on Qatar and Iberia is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Pricing

From North America to Africa, American Airlines charges:

  • 40,000 miles one way in economy
  • 75,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 120,000 miles one way in First Class

These miles prices are steep, about in line with the United and Delta’s prices.

In addition to the miles, you pay government taxes on all awards. In addition to taxes, you pay fuel surcharges on American Airlines awards that fly British Airways and Iberia. The fuel surcharges on British Airways flights are humungous. Here is an award from New York to South Africa, flying British Airways Business and First Class.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 7.41.21 PM
Fuel surcharges are $1,430 in addition to the $193.56 in taxes.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 7.43.23 PM

Because of the fuel surcharges, I won’t be mentioning British Airways flights again in this post.

Fuel surcharges on Iberia are much smaller, at just a few hundred dollars roundtrip.

Routes & Award Space

As I mentioned, the key partner to Africa is Qatar because it has the best award space and a good route network. Here is Qatar’s North American and African route network from its hub in Doha.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 7.30.13 PM

You can connect to the Qatar flights in New York, Philly, Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles very easily on American Airlines flights. This will cost you zero extra miles as long as Qatar “publishes a fare” from your home airport to your destination, another concept explained in Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need.

Award Space on Qatar Flights

Qatar economy and Business Class space is excellent. I used Award Nexus to search five out of the eight American routes that fly to Doha (New York, Philly, Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles–the ones that are easy to connect domestic American flights to to get to your hometown airport), from March 24 to March 30, 2017. I found award space on almost every flight, Monday through Thursday, during that time period. Apparently weekends are harder to find Business Class seats on, but as long as you are flexible to fly on weekday, you have a boat load of options. A lot of flights have multiple seats, and some routes have multiple flights that day.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 8.34.24 PM

Award space is similarly excellent from Doha to Africa and on return flights.

Booking the Award

Search segment-by-segment if necessary to find award space from your airport to an international gateway and award space on the Qatar flights separately.

You need to book by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880. The good news is that you will pay zero phone booking fee, since that fee was waived when an award can’t be booked online.

Pay your award taxes with your Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the award taxes and fees on these ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy pay the taxes with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement.

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases which includes award taxes and fees.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are not very good to Africa because the awards are expensive and basically need to route through Doha, which is out of the way, to save on fuel surcharges. There is great award space though on the relevant Qatar flights in economy and Business Class.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles, which is 10k away from enough miles to book a Business Class ticket to Africa.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Europe. This is not the best use of American Airlines miles because award space isn’t great, and American collects fuel surcharges on two partners to Europe. But there are routes with no fuel surcharges and good award space that you should know about.

I am updating and re-posting my series on redeeming American Airlines miles. Why now?

  1. To reflect current award prices
  2. To celebrate the increase of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®‘s sign-up bonus.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You would earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting that minimum spending requirement. The card offers a host of other benefits as well, including Admirals Club lounge membership and 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year. Read my review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® here.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

If you find this guide to redeeming American Airlines miles to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® /AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

The Partners for Europe Awards

Here are the American Airlines partners with direct flights from North America to Europe:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Iberia
  • airberlin
  • Finnair

Award space on all the partners except Iberia is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Award space on Iberia is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Pricing

From North America to Europe, American Airlines charges:

  • 22,500 miles one way in economy from January 10 – March 14 and November 1 – December 14 (Off Peak dates)
  • 30,000 miles one way in economy the rest of the year
  • 57,500 miles one way in Business Class
  • 85,000 miles one way in First Class

These miles prices are the same whether you fly directly or with connections, so even your tiny home airport to Mykonos, Greece with a few connections and flying multiple partners costs the same number of miles.

These prices are very similar to what United and Delta charge for the same awards. However United and Delta do not have published Off Peak prices to Europe, so American does have the edge for those dates. Note that the Off Peak price to Europe applies on American Airlines planes as well as partners, which is unlike the rest of American’s Off Peak prices that only apply to flying American Airlines planes.

In addition to the miles, you pay government taxes on all awards. In addition to taxes, you pay fuel surcharges on American Airlines awards that fly British Airways and Iberia. The fuel surcharges on British Airways flights are humungous: over $400 each way.

Washington to London in British Airways First Class is 85,000 American Airlines miles + $442.
Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 6.21.59 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-22 at 6.22.18 PMWashington to Madrid roundtrip in British Airways First Class is 170,000 American Airlines miles + $1,020

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Because of the fuel surcharges, I won’t be mentioning British Airways flights again in this post, which is a bummer because it is the American Airlines partner offering the most award space to Europe.

Fuel surcharges on Iberia are much smaller, at under $100 each way.

Routes & Award Space

American Airlines has a decent route network to Europe from New York and Philadelphia.
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American also flies transatlantic flights from Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, and Raleigh.

Award Space on AA Flights

At the moment, the following routes have a very solid amount of Business Class award space open in early 2017:

  • Chicago and London
  • New York City and Barcelona
  • New York City and Paris
  • Paris and New York City
  • Barcelona and New York City

As award space varies by destination and season, the general pattern on American Airlines flights to Europe is usually OK economy award space and poor Business and First Class award space.

All calendars show award space for two passengers unless otherwise noted.

For instance, Raleigh to London is typical in having good award space in economy and basically none in Business Class.

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There are exceptions to the basically-no-Business-Class-award-space “rule.” Let’s look at some of the American Airlines routes with more award space.

New York to Paris has award space in economy nearly daily outside of peak travel times.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 6.59.31 PMAnd it also has a good deal of Business Class award space scattered throughout, including a ton of space in 2017.

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I hardly saw any First Class American Airlines award space at all on any of my searches.

Unfortunately, American Airlines does not open up last second award space in premium cabins on its European flights. Here is the award space from New York to London this week. There is some economy space, but nothing in Business or First.Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 8.07.13 PM

Iberia, Finnair, and airberlin Award Space

Iberia, Finnair, and airberlin fly from seven American cities to Europe, including four American Airlines hubs. Let’s go through their award space one at a time.

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Finnair

A lot of Finnair award space shows up on aa.com, but it is nearly all phantom award space. Check the real space on ba.com, and don’t get your hopes up.

airberlin

Airberlin has the best award space of these three partners, and is your best way to get to Europe with American Airlines miles other than the routes mentioned in the American Airlines section above.

For instance, New York to Dusseldorf has a decent amount of Business Class award space this summer.

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Award space in Business Class is not nearly as good on the return to New York from Dusseldorf, but there is still some.
Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 8.27.48 PM

New York to Berlin has wide open economy but not much Business Class space in general.

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Dusseldorf and Berlin are both airberlin hubs with connections all over Europe.

Iberia

Iberia has great economy award space and OK Business Class award space as long as you book in advance. For instance, here are the days with Iberia Business Class awards in the first week of April 2017 from New York, Miami, and Chicago to Madrid.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 9.28.15 PM
Here is the economy space the same week on the same routes.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 9.38.44 PM

What about last minute award space? You sometimes see economy seats available, but not Business. For the routes mentioned above, there is not even economy space within a week of today.

From Madrid, you can connect all over Europe on Iberia.

Booking the Award

Search segment-by-segment if necessary to find award space from your airport to an international gateway, the transatlantic flight, and any connecting flights in Europe.

If all your award space is searchable on aa.com, book online. If your award includes Iberia flights, you need to book by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880. The good news is that you will pay zero phone booking fee, since that fee was waived when an award can’t be booked online.

Pay your award taxes with your Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the award taxes and fees on these ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, pay the taxes with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement.

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases which includes award taxes and fees.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are not stellar to Europe in premium cabins. The prices are expensive and award space isn’t that hot. Using American Airlines miles during the Off Peak dates to Europe for the lower price of 22,500 miles is a better bet since there is plenty of economy space (and Off Peak prices to Europe apply for American Airlines flights as well as partner flights).

There are some American Airlines, some Iberia, and some airberlin routes with decent award space if you know what to search and can be flexible. But I’d rather book awards to Europe with United, Delta, Flying Blue, or Virgin Atlantic miles.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles, which is more than enough to book a roundtrip in economy or a one way in Business to Europe.

------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Central and South America. American Airlines flies more routes from the United States to Central and South America than any other carrier–by far!

IMG_0870
Me in Rio de Janeiro during the last World Cup, Christ the Redeemer in the background

I am updating and re-posting my series on redeeming American Airlines miles. Why now?

  1. To reflect current award prices
  2. To celebrate the increase of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®‘s sign-up bonus.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You would earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting that minimum spending requirement. The card offers a host of other benefits as well, including Admirals Club lounge membership and 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year. Read my review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® here.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

If you find this guide to redeeming American Airlines miles to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® /AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Central and South America

Central and South America (excluding Mexico) is divided into three regions.

Central America is:

  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama

South America Zone 1 is:

  • Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Manaus (Brazil)

South America Zone 2 is the rest of the continent:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile (excluding Easter Island)
  • Falkland Islands
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to South America Zone 2 must fly directly from North America to the South America Zone 2 region. They cannot transit Central America or South America Zone 1. That would break the trip into two awards and increase the miles price.

The Partners for Central and South America Awards

American Airlines partners with direct flights from North America to Central America and South America:

  • American
  • LATAM and its affiliates (eg LATAM Argentina)
    • The airlines LAN and TAM joined in May, 2016 to become LATAM

Award space on American is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Award space on LATAM is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Pricing

From North America to Central America American Airlines charges:

  • 12,500 miles one way in economy from September 7 – November 14 and April 27 – May 20 flown exclusively on American Airlines planes
  • 17,500 miles one way for other economy awards
  • 27,500 miles one way in Business Class

The peak economy is the same prices that United and Delta charge to Central America in economy. American’s Business Class price is a little cheaper than the competitors’. The most value can be found using the economy Off Peak awards, which are the same price as most airlines charge for a one way within the continental United States.

From North America to South America Region 1, American Airlines charges:

  • 17,500 miles one way in economy from January 16 – June 14 and September 7 – November 14 flown exclusively on American Airlines planes
  • 20,000 miles one way for other economy awards
  • 30,000 miles one way in Business Class

Prices are similar flying United or Delta economy–the best deal is flying during the Off Peak dates to take advantage of the discounted economy award price. To fly Business Class, using American miles to is definitely a better deal (5,000+ miles cheaper) than redeeming either United or Delta miles.

From North America to South America Region 2, American Airlines charges:

  • 30,000 miles one way for economy awards the rest of the year
  • 57,500 miles one way in Business Class
  • 85,000 miles one way in First Class

Economy prices are on par with what United and Delta charge. Business and First Class are cheaper when redeeming United miles. Delta miles should be your last choice to use for premium cabin flights to Southern South America–they are the most expensive in Business Class and you can’t redeem them on partners’ First Classes.

Routes & Award Space

American Airlines has a massive, massive route network from Miami to Central and South America.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 1.04.46 PM
image from gcmap.com

American also has a smaller network from Dallas and Charlotte in addition to the LATAM flights to South America from around the country.

While American flies to nearly every major city in the region, it doesn’t hit all the tourist destinations like Patagonia, Galapagos, and Machu Picchu. But even here American Airlines miles shine. LATAM Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru have massive route networks that get you wherever you need to go in South America for no extra miles.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.05.55 PM
LATAM Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Argentina flights
Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.10.12 PM
LATAM Paraguay and Brazil flights
Award Space on American Airlines Flights

Award space varies by destination and season, but the general pattern on American Airlines flights is OK economy award space and poor Business and First Class award space that gets slightly better the last few weeks before departure. I also notice that there is often better premium cabin award space from South America to the United States than from the United States to South America.

For instance, here is Buenos Aires to Miami. There are three days in the next week with two Business Class seats on the same flight.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.33.06 PM

Miami to Buenos Aires only has one such flight (today) in the next few weeks.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.32.57 PM

Similarly here is Miami to Rio de Janeiro. There are seven days in the next three weeks with two Business Class seats.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.28.17 PM

But from Rio to Miami, there is more Business Class award space for two people–nine days out of the next three weeks.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.26.17 PM

Finally, as I said, economy award space is just OK. Here is award space for two from Miami to Santiago mid September through mid October. You can find space if you’re flexible, but it is not available daily.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.44.56 PMLATAM Award Space

LATAM’s award space from the United States to Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador is pretty bad.

LATAM award space to Chile looks pretty open for Southern South America summer at the moment. This week in mid July has tons of options flying economy or Business, up to seven seats in each with multiple flights a day from New York City.Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.09.30 PM Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.09.19 PM

LATAM’s award space to Brazil is very good. Here is a day in November with 8+ Business Class award seats and 8+ economy award seats from Miami to Sao Paulo.
Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.20.52 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.18.49 PMIntra-South America, LATAM has pretty good award space. It’s a common sight to see several daily Lima to Cuzco flights with award space, like this day in mid November that has ten flight options.
Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.25.03 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.25.36 PM

I couldn’t find LATAM Argentina award space from Ushuaia or Calafate to Buenos Aires for January 2017–the peak of high season in Patagonia, but much of the year, there is such award space from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires.

LATAM Ecuador has decent economy award space to the Galapagos Islands from Quito and Guayaquil if you are flexible, like this day with seven award seats from Quito.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.32.27 PM

LATAM Brazil has great award space within Brazil.

Booking the Award

If the backbone of your award is American Airlines flights to Central and South America, begin your search on aa.com. If you need to add LATAM flights, search for those next or simultaneously on ba.com.

If your award is only American Airlines flights, book online. If it includes LATAM flights, you need to book by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880. The good news is that you will pay zero phone booking fee, since that fee was waived when an award can’t be booked online.

If you want to fly a premium cabin, you can book economy now and if space opens up closer to departure, you can change the award for no change fee to a higher cabin.

If you want to take a grand tour of South America, consider hopping around with:

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are fantastic to get to pretty much every town and city in Central and South America in economy. There is some premium cabin award space, mostly right before departure with more on the flights to the United States than from the United States.

Awards to Central and South America are cheap if you take advantage of American Airlines’ Off Peak economy awards.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles. With just a little more spending, you’d have enough to fly two people roundtrip to Northern South America during Off Peak dates (January 16 – June 14 and September 7 – November 14).

------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Australia and New Zealand. American Airlines miles have access to incredible economy award space to Australia and New Zealand.

Fireworks in Sydney over NYE. Source:
Fireworks in Sydney over NYE

I am updating and re-posting my series on redeeming American Airlines miles. Why now?

  1. To reflect current award prices
  2. To celebrate the increase of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®‘s sign-up bonus.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You would earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting that minimum spending requirement. The card offers a host of other benefits as well, including Admirals Club lounge membership and 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year. Read my review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® here.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

If you find this guide to redeeming American Airlines miles to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® /AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are part of the South Pacific region on American Airlines’ award chart. This post only focuses on Australia and New Zealand. Some of the Pacific Islands are covered in a different post. Here are all the places in the South Pacific:

  • Australia
  • Easter Island
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Guam
  • Kiribati
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Republic of Tonga
  • Republic of Vanuatu
  • American Samoa
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tuvalu

The Partners for Australia and New Zealand Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to Australia and New Zealand must fly directly from North America to the South Pacific region. They cannot transit East Asia. That would break the trip into two awards and increase the miles price.

American Airlines partners with direct flights to the Australia and New Zealand from North America:

  • American Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Hawaiian

Other American Airlines partners with on which you can reach Australia and New Zealand on a single award:

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Fiji Airways

Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways aren’t all that useful to Australia and New Zealand because no connections of longer than 24 hours are allowed on American Airlines awards. If you want to stop in Fiji on the way to Australia, use Alaska miles instead.

Award space on American, Qantas, and Hawaiian is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Award space on Air Tahiti Nui is searchable on Expert Flyer. Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Award space on Fiji Airways is searchable on alaskaair.com. Here’s how to search alaskaair.com.

Pricing

From North America to Australia and New Zealand, American Airlines charges:

  • 40,000 miles one way in economy
  • 80,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 110,000 miles one way in First Class

Compared to competitors, American charges similar and in some cases cheaper prices:

  • Economy: United charges 40k, Delta charges 45k or 50k depending on the date
  • Business: United charges 70k or 80k, Delta charges 80k or 95k
  • First: United charges 80k or 130k, Delta miles cannot book First Class

Routes & Award Space

American flies from:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney
  • Los Angeles to Auckland (starting June 23, 2016)

Qantas flies from:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne
  • Dallas to Sydney
  • San Francisco to Sydney
  • Honolulu to Sydney
  • New York-JFK to Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne

Hawaiian flies from:

  • Honolulu to Auckland, Sydney, and Brisbane
Award Space on Hawaiian

The Hawaiian Airlines routes have uniformly excellent availability in economy for two passengers. However American Airlines no longer allows you to book from the United States mainland to Asia or Australia on a single award that flies Hawaiian Airlines from Hawaii to Asia or Australia.

You will have to pay two awards: your home to Hawaii plus Hawaii to Australia. That will be very expensive, so ignore Hawaiian award space unless you live in Hawaii.

Award Space on Qantas

Qantas runs three-cabin planes with economy, Business (trip report), and First. Economy award space for two passengers is very good on all routes for most of the year. I never see Business or First Class space for two passengers on the same Qantas flight between the United States and Australia. Occasionally there is one award seat in Business or First Class, but even these are extremely rare.

San Francisco to Sydney typifies the good award space on Qantas flights in economy for two passengers right now (with about half the month displayed having at two seats available).

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 6.30.16 PM

Business Class award space on Qantas between the United States and Australia is rare, but it exists if you’re traveling solo.

First Class award space is even rarer. I sometimes see it like these seats that were available for booking in February 2015 for October 2015 travel, but I don’t see any at the moment.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.37.44 AM

It is a shame because Qantas First Class looks awesome!

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.33.16 PM

Award Space on American

There is pretty good economy MileSAAver award space on the Los Angeles to Auckland flight from American Airlines that launches at the the end of this month, through the rest of the year:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 6.01.23 PM

But there’s not nearly as much space in the return direction in economy and virtually nothing available in Business Class in either direction.

From Los Angeles to Sydney, there lots of economy award space (the calendar below is for two people):
Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 6.39.03 PM

We also saw American Airlines release Business Class award space within a week of departure recently, but I don’t see any Business seats available at the moment between Los Angeles and Sydney nor Los Angeles and Auckland. Hopefully that will become more of a trend– keep an eye out if you the flexibility to book last minute.

Another American Airlines Option to Australia

I can’t mention Australia with American Airlines miles and not mention Etihad’s First Class Apartments from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

For 110,000 American Airlines miles, you can get about 14 hours in the world’s nicest First Class. Getting to Abu Dhabi would require a different award.

Read my full write up in Amazing Award Space for Two on Nicest First Class in the World? 14 Hours in Etihad A380 First Class.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are fantastic to get two people to Australia and New Zealand in economy. There is almost zero premium cabin award space.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles, which is almost enough for a roundtrip economy award to Australia!

------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

35

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent. American Airlines has the best award space to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent by far and some of its nicest partners fly these routes.

Etihad First Suite on 787
Etihad First Suite on 787. I have mine Booked for May.

I am updating and re-posting my series on redeeming American Airlines miles. Why now?

  1. To reflect current award prices
  2. To celebrate the increase of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®‘s sign-up bonus.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You would earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting that minimum spending requirement. The card offers a host of other benefits as well, including Admirals Club lounge membership and 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year. Read my review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® here.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

If you find this guide to redeeming American Airlines miles to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® /AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Middle East and Indian Subcontinent

The Middle East and Indian Subcontinent are two regions on the American Airlines award chart, but have the same prices to fly to either.

The Middle East is defined as:

  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • the United Arab Emirates

The Indian Subcontinent is defined as:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

The Partners for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, it is a standard rule that you cannot transit a third region–awards between Region A and Region B cannot transit Region C unless specifically allowed.

American Airlines partners with direct flights to the Middle East or India from North America:

  • Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi)
  • Qatar Airways (Doha)
  • Jet Airways (Mumbai)
  • Royal Jordanian (Anman)

Other American Airlines partners with hubs in the region:

  • Gulf Air (Bahrain)

There are three exceptions that apply to awards between the United States and the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent that do allow you to transit a third region, which opens up our routing possibilities:

1.  You can connect in the Middle East on the way to the Indian Subcontinent, utilizing the airlines mentioned above.

2. You can transit Europe en route to the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent from North America.This means that any partner that flies between the United States and Europe or Europe and the Middle East is potentially useful:

  • American Airlines
  • Airberlin
  • Qantas (London to Dubai)
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • British Airways

3. Recently, American added the exception that you can transit Hong Kong (on Cathay Pacific Airlines only) between North American and the Indian Subcontinent, which is great news for those who live on the West Coast since routing via Hong Kong is faster than routing via Europe or the Middle East. Not to mention it’s another routing option for everyone, i.e. more award space, and Cathay Pacific’s premium products are superb

Award space on American Airlines, airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, Qantas, and Royal Jordanian is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Awards space on Iberia, Qatar, and Cathay Pacific is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Award space on Gulf Air is searchable on Expert Flyer. Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Award space on Etihad is searchable on etihad.com. Here’s how to search etihad.com.

Award space on Jet Airways is searchable by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

Pricing

From North America to the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent, American Airlines charges:

  • 40,000 miles one way in economy
  • 70,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 115,000 miles one way in First Class

Economy and Business are decent values. First Class prices are very expensive, although the product available is top shelf. Read my trip report of Etihad First Class from Chennai, India to Los Angeles.

If you can, use Alaska miles– it only costs 62,500 miles one way in Cathay Pacific Business and 70,000 miles in Cathay Pacific First Class to India or the Middle East.

American is not the leader to the Middle East and India because of its pricing as much as its partners. American partners with two of the big three Middle Eastern carriers, Etihad and Qatar. Add in the other Middle Eastern and Indian partners, and American really has a lock on the region.

Booking the Awards

To book 99% of Middle East and Indian Subcontinent awards, you need to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. You will not have to pay a phone fee since the award is not bookable online. I recommend searching award space on aa.com, ba.com, Expert Flyer, and etihad.com before calling and feeding the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight with award space instead of relying on the agent’s searching skill.

Routes

There are too many routes to cover all of them, so I’ll restrict myself just to the direct Etihad and Qatar flights from the United States the Middle East.

Etihad flies from six American cities to Abu Dhabi and from there throughout the region including 11 cities in India and three in Pakistan.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 6.57.44 PM

Etihad flights feature First, Business, and economy class.

I find award space to be excellent on Etihad. This is my go-to airline when I am looking for award space for MileValue Award Booking Service clients to the Middle East and India. With flexibility, you can find two seats in any cabin.

Qatar flies from ten American cities to Doha and from there throughout the region including 13 Indian cities.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 2.52.52 PM

Qatar’s flights to the United States do not feature First Class, just Business and economy.

In my experience, Qatar award space is not as strong as Etihad award space.

I realize I haven’t said much useful information about the award space to the Middle East, but it is difficult to sum up space on dozens of routes across several airlines and cabins. Better to just tell you which airlines to start with and where to search that award space.

Bottom Line

American Airlines has amazing partners to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, topped by Etihad and Qatar. Award prices to either from the United States are the same.

First Class Awards are pricy but economy and Business class are decent values. If the award doesn’t fly directly from North America, the only other routings allowed are:

  • connections in the Middle East en route to the Indian Subcontinent
  • connections in Hong Kong en route to the Indian Subcontinent
  • connections in Europe en route to either the Middle East or the Indian Subcontinent

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles. With just a little more spending on the card, you’d have enough to fly Business Class from the United States to India or the Middle East!

------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

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