AAdvantage

August 31, 2016 will be the last day to get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® sign up bonus of 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles.

There’s a lot you can do with the 60,000 mile sign up bonus from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. You’ll actually have 65,000 miles after meeting the $5,000 minimum spending requirement to unlock the bonus. 

Here’s four ways to spend those 65,000 American Airlines miles.

  • Fly five people to the US and Mexico, Caribbean, or Central America during the time window of April 27 to May 20 or September 7 to November 14 (off peak dates). If you and your spouse both got this card, you could take five people including yourselves on roundtrips and still collectively have 5,000 miles leftover.
  • Fly yourself to Europe from the US in Business class and still have 7,500 miles leftover
  • Fly roundtrip in Business Class to Northern South America and still have 5,000 miles leftover.

Lucky for you, there’s plenty of award space for upcoming months on these routes that makes these trips not just theoretical prices on an award chart, but 100% doable in the near future.

Award Space

Miami <-> Belize

An atoll in Belize
An atoll in Belize, by Serge Melki

The calendars below show non-stop award space for five travelers between Miami and Belize flying American Airlines (you only get the Off Peak price of 12,500 each way when flying AA planes).

Here is Miami to Belize.

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And here’s the return back to Miami from Belize.

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New York City <-> Paris

9441717990_9494e6066b_zTreat yourself one of the ways to Paris in Business Class. Calendars below show non-stop award space for one traveler, flying only American Airlines planes since you want to avoid British Airways for the massive fuel surcharges.

Here is New York City to Paris.

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And here’s the return to New York City from Paris.

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Miami -> Lima, Quitos -> Miami

Take that dream trip to Machu Picchu, and pamper yourself with Business Class roundtrip. The calendars below show non-stop award space for one person.

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January and February is the prettiest time to be in Lima. That is the wet season for the area around Machu Picchu, but I think the ruins are especially mystical shrouded in cloud and fog, and there are less people.

Here is Miami to Lima.

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And here’s Quito to Miami.

Be adventurous! Business Class award space from Lima to Miami around the time of return is not so hot. But there’s tons of room flying back from Quito. Just imagine, you can see the Galapagos AND Machu Picchu in one trip! Use 7,500 Avios to hop between Lima and Quitos– it’s only a two hour fligh

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A sea lion in the Galapagos, by Derek Keats

Connections

If you don’t live in one of the gateway cities listed above, you can add a leg from or to your hometown airport in the United States for no extra miles as long as it’s SAAver level space and is in the same or a lower cabin than your transoceanic leg.

Bottom Line

The 60,000 mile sign up bonus for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is ending on August 31, 2016. If you want all 65,000 miles you’ll earn by meeting the minimum spending requirement, sign up this week. As you can see, there’s a lot you can do with those miles, and not just theoretically.

Want more inspiration for how to spend 65,000 American Airlines miles? Read 11 Cool Things You Can Do With the Sign-up Bonus from the AAdvantage Executive Mastercard.

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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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Right Now

Citi Prestige® Card offers American Airlines lounge access on any day you are flying American Airlines flights for you and either your spouse and kids or any two guests.

It also offers Priority Pass lounge access worldwide for you and either your spouse and kids or any two guests, no matter what airline you fly.

Full post on Citi Prestige Airport Lounge Access

But Only Until July 23, 2017

The Citi Prestige® Card loses access to American Airlines lounges on July 24, 2017. It maintains Priority Pass lounge access.

By August 31, 2016

If you are a current cardholder or open a new Citi Prestige® Card by August 31 (next Wednesday), you can enjoy American Airlines lounge access through July 23, 2017. If you open your card September 1 or later, you don’t get that 11 months of American Airlines lounge access.

That information is from an email Citi sent me:

I wanted to note that you are correct in stating that existing Citi Prestige cardmembers will have Admirals Club lounge access until July 23, 2017. But, we also want to be transparent that for those who become a Citi Prestige cardmember on or after September 1, 2016they will not have access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges.

 

The following benefits of the Citi Prestige card will remain unchanged:

  • Annual $250 Air Travel Credit
  • $100 Statement credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases
  • 24/7 Access to the Citi Prestige Concierge
  • 3x Points on Air Travel & Hotels, 2X points on Dining & Entertainment and 1 Thank You® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
  • Travel & Emergency Assistance, Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection and Trip DelayProtection

Full Admirals Club membership costs $500 per year, so an extra 11 months of free membership is a big deal for a lot of people. Admirals Clubs feature free:

*only at select Clubs

My favorite Admirals Club is at Honolulu Airport with lots of food and overlooking the gardens. There are more than 50 Admirals Clubs worldwide.

As a reminder, to access an Admirals Club with a Citi Prestige® Card:

  • You must present your Citi Prestige® Card and a boarding pass on American Airlines for a flight that takes off in the next 12 hours or landed in the last 12 hours.
  • You can bring in your spouse and all your children under 18 for free, or you can bring in any two guests for free.
  • Only the primary cardholder of a Citi Prestige® Card account receives the Admirals Club lounge access benefit. Authorized users on the same account do not.

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Should You Get the Prestige by Next Week?

Right now the Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

I value those bonus points at about $760.

If you get the card this week, you have about four months to get your first $250 Air Travel credit and eight months to get your second. That’s $500 worth of airfare, award taxes, airline fees, or fuel surcharges in the first twelve months.

Full post on $250 Air Travel Credit

If you get the card this week, you’d get 10.5 months of AA lounge access and 12 months of Prioirty Pass lounge access for you and guests in the first year of cardmembership.

All that dwarfs the $450 annual fee.

Maybe you’re kicking yourself because a few weeks ago you could get the card with 50,000 bonus points and a $3,000 spending requirement. But if you missed that, getting the card this week is the next best deal, and quite a bit better than getting it in September with no American Airlines lounge access.

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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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August 31, 2016 will be the last day to get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® sign up bonus of 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. The standard offer for this card is 50,000 American Airlines miles, so that is what we can safely assume it will return to.

Here are the details on the current offer. Read my full review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®.

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Quick Facts

  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Admirals Club® membership for you with guest privileges (up to 33 people total can get Admirals Club access!!)
  • 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles from American Airlines after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines 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*

The card also has a $450 annual fee.

What You Could Do with 65k American Airlines Miles

Why 65,000 American Airlines miles? Because to earn the sign-up bonus on this card, you will need to spend $5,000, so you will earn at least 5,000 more miles (1x spending, or perhaps 2x if you buy any American Airlines tickets) in that process. So, what can you do with 65k American Airlines miles?

  • Fly five people to the US and Mexico, Caribbean, or Central America during the time window of April 27 to May 20 or September 7 to November 14 (off peak dates). If you and your spouse both got this card, you could take five people on roundtrips and still collectively have 5,000 miles leftover.
  • Take eight flights within the Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada that are under or equal to 500 miles and still have 5,000 miles leftover
  • Fly yourself to Europe from the US in Business class and still have 7,500 miles leftover
  • Fly roundtrip in Business Class to Northern South America and still have 5,000 miles leftover.
  • Fly yourself to Japan or Korea from the US in Business Class and still have 5,000 miles leftover.

Read the series I wrote that explains everything about redeeming American Airlines miles including guides based on where exactly you want to go.

Remember to consider Citi’s new sign up bonus rule before applying for this card: you are only eligible to earn a sign up bonus if you haven’t opened or closed a card from the same type (brand or co-brand) within the last 24 months.

What American Airlines Admirals Clubs Are Like

Check out the list of American Airlines lounges here.

American Airlines lounges have greatly improved in the last year or two. You can now get free soup, fruit, cheese and crackers, crudités, desserts, alcohol, and soft drinks. In Phoenix recently, I made a meal of chicken noodle soup, tomato bisque, cheddar cheese and crackers, celery and hummus, and brownie bites. I saved $10 by not getting Chinese food in the terminal.

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You can also get free wifi and a comfortable chair.

My favorite American Airlines lounge is at Honolulu International Airport. It is shared with Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand Business Class passengers, so its offerings are slightly upgraded. You also can’t beat its garden views.

Here is a review of a typical American Airlines lounge in Miami.

Bottom Line

On August 31, 2016 at 5 pm ET the 60,000 AA mile limited time sign up bonus offer for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®  is ending. It will probably change to 50,000 American Airlines based on previous information.

10,000 American Airlines miles, which is most likely the difference between the bonus offer now and on August 31, is almost enough miles to fly to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America from April 27 – May 20,  and September 7 – November 14 (12,500 miles needed).

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My take on this card is that for some people, it will be one of the best offers of the year. For other folks, this will be an offer they should skip in favor of cards with spending requirements and annual fees that more closely align with their comfort levels.

If you are interested, sign up soon so you don’t miss the deadline and all those extra miles.

Application link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

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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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Etihad First Class Apartment on the A380 currently has tons of availability between London and Abu Dhabi in April and May of 2017.

This post is aimed at all the readers out there based in the United Kingdom. However, that is not to say this award space isn’t useful for those of you based in the United States as a part of an extended or around the world trip.

You can fly Etihad First Class from London to Abu Dhabi for 62,500 American Airlines miles. As long as you pick award space on an A380, your First Class seat will be enclosed in a suite with its own couch, flat screen TV, vanity unit, and access to a shower, onboard lounge, and bar. The Etihad First Class Apartment on the A380 is the fanciest commercial First Class in the world, which you get to fly for seven and a half hours from London to Abu Dhabi.

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Etihad has nine First Class Apartments on its A380s spread across four-and-a-half rows  in the front of the upper deck.

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Award Space

I’m going to show you the current picture of award space during two popular months to travel to the United Arab Emirates, when the weather is agreeable: April and May of 2016.

If you want to fly in an A380 First Class Apartment, the key is finding a flight on an A380 specifically. Check in the aircraft column on the search results of etihad.com.

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Let’s look at London to Abu Dhabi first.

Every day on the calendar that is around 88,000 (that’s the price in Etihad Guest miles, not American Airlines miles) has award space in First Class. The Guest First column is the award space that American Airlines miles has access too.

Beginning April 16 and lasting through May, there is First Class award space every day from London Abu Dhabi. There are anywhere from two to three flights a day, some days with two flights on the A380 and some days all three flights are on the A380.  Some flights have one seat available and even more flights have two seats available.

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There is almost as much First Class space in the opposite direction from Abu Dhabi to London, although it’s not every day like London to Abu Dhabi.
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Tips for Award Searches

Find the award space on etihad.com, and call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book it, and pay the government taxes on the flights (highlighted above). You won’t pay anything to book over the phone.

Ignore the miles price listed on etihad.com. You will pay 62,500 American Airlines miles instead.

Ignore the cash component listed next to the mileage price. That includes a small fuel surcharge that you will not pay when booking an American Airlines award. You’ll pay the taxes listed above.

American Airlines only has access to award space in the “GuestSeat” column. You’ll notice this space prices around 88,000 Etihad miles. That’s convenient to scan the dates at the top of your award search to see which dates have award space for that price. (Again, you won’t pay that price, but knowing it makes award searching quicker.)

Out of Pocket Costs

American Airlines doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Etihad award flights, but departing from London will incur expensive departure taxes, making for a total out of pocket cost of 192.75 GBP (roughly 253 USD) for that segment.

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To avoid departure taxes and to expand the scope of your trip, you could always use Avios (or transfer your Membership Rewards to Avios with the current 50% transfer bonus) to hop over to a low departure tax city, just choose one that Etihad flies to from Abu Dhabi, and then continue the trip from there. But you won’t be able to fly the A380 First Class Apartment this way, just normal Etihad First Class (which is still a fantastic product, just with a smaller enclosed suite that doesn’t have a couch or vanity).

Luckily the out of pocket cost on the return to London from Abu Dhabi is much lower (24.30 GBP or 32 USD).
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Bottom Line

There is tons of award space available flying the most luxurious commercial First Class in the world, the Etihad Apartments on the A380, between London and Abu Dhabi during April and May of 2017.

Read Scott’s trip report on his journey in an A380 First Class Suite between Abu Dhabi and New York to learn about all the luxurious details.
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If you’re based in the United States and want to take advantage of this award space, here are two ways to earn a lot of American Airlines miles quickly:

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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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Right now there is a lot of award space in flat bed American Airlines Business and First Class between the United States and Australia from late April to early June, 2017 (Australia’s fall).

“A lot” is a relative term in this case because premium cabin award space bookable with American Airlines miles is rare, but there are a good deal of options if you’re flexible (especially if you are a solo traveler or don’t mind traveling on the following day after your companion).

The Los Angeles to Sydney route is flown on American’s Flagship Boeing 777-300ER with fully lie-flat beds and aisle access for every seat in Business and First Class.

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

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

Premium Cabin Award Space United States to Australia

From the end of April through the beginning of June (fall for Australia) there is actually A LOT of First Class award space flying American Airlines direct between Los Angeles and Sydney for one person.

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There is less Business space but still more than what you’ll normally find.

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I also saw four days in May and two days in June with Business Class award space for two people (Los Angeles to Sydney).

Connections

If you don’t live in Los Angeles you can add a leg from your hometown airport in the United States to Los Angeles for no extra miles as long as it’s SAAver level space and is in the same or a lower cabin than your transpacific leg.

If you want to fly to New Zealand or elsewhere in Australia from Sydney, you can tack a Qantas leg on the award without changing the price (again, just make sure it’s SAAver level space and in the same or a lower cabin than your transpacific leg).

Read Redeem American Airlines Miles: Part 10 — Redeeming for Australia and New Zealand to learn more about the ins and outs of of redeeming American Airlines miles to the land down under.

How to Get American Airlines Miles

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® currently comes with 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership
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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 and up to 32 other people
  • 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*

The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select card normally comes with 30,000 American Airlines miles after spending $1,000 in three months, but it’s common to find links for the 50,000 AA mile bonus for spending $3,000 in three months (hat tip Doctor of Credit).

Those are two of the fastest ways to accrue American Airlines miles in one fell swoop. But beware of the new rule from Citi that restricts you from getting the sign up bonus if you’ve opened or closed a card of the same type within the last 24 months.

Bottom Line

Act fast if you want to fly to Australia in a premium cabin with your American Airlines miles– itt is not common to see this much Business and First Class award space, and it will go fast.

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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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The wording of the terms and conditions for Citi credit card sign up offers has changed. Now you are only eligible to earn a sign up bonus if you haven’t opened or closed a card from the same type (brand or co-brand) within the last 24 months.  This is significantly different from the prior rule which only restricted you to earning a sign up bonus on a card 24 months after you opened or closed the same card.

Example of New Rule

Let’s say you opened a Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card seven months ago. That means for the next 17 months (a full 24 months after you opened it) you are not eligible for the sign up bonus from the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, the other Hilton co-branded card issued by Citi. If you close that Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card, the 24 month clock will start over again and you won’t be eligible for any other Citi Hilton cards for 24 months past the date you closed it.

Take a look at the following screenshots from the terms for the various reward earning Citi cards to see further examples of the new rule. If a card earns the same kind of reward currency as another card, then they’re the same type. Click on the screenshots to see any of them enlarged.

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Citi Hilton cards:

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Citi American Airlines cards:

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Citi ThankYou Points cards:

What about business cards?

Thankfully business cards are treated differently by the new rule, at least for now. When you last opened or closed a personal Citi card doesn’t have an impact on your eligibility for the sign up bonus on a business card. When you last opened or closed the same business card does follow the 24 month rule though.

Example: even if you have opened or closed a Citi AAdvantage personal card in the last 24 months, you can still get the sign up bonus on the Citi AAdvantage business card– as long as you haven’t opened or closed the Citi AAdvantage Business card in the last 24 months.

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Bottom Line

This is not good news for churners, albeit not too surprising considering the tightening of rules across the board. Citi changed its 18 month clock for repeat sign up bonuses to 24 months back in April, Chase has 5/24, and Amex has the once in a lifetime bonus rule.

If you have signed up for or closed a Citi card in the last 24 months and were considering another, beware if they share the same brand or co-brand. You must wait 24 months after opening or closing a Citi card to be eligible for another Citi card of the same type’s sign up bonus.

Feel free to share your questions and comments below.

Hat Tip Doctor of Credit

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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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Every two months, American Airlines publishes a list of new destinations in the United States and Canada eligible for discounted MileSAAver awards. The current list covers awards that must be booked by September 30, 2016 for travel by November 30, 2016.

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You must be a card holder of one of the following cards.

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Award travel must originate somewhere in the continental United States or Canada and must go to a city on the very long destination list. The discount varies depending on what card you have, but for the majority of American Airlines card holders:

  • awards that fly a distance longer than 500 miles can be booked one way for 8,750 miles in economy or 21,250 miles in First Class (roundtrip awards are double those prices)
  • awards that fly less than 500 miles, you’ll pay 6,500 one way in economy and 14,000 one way in First Class (again, roundtrips are double those prices)

What to Do

To book the discounted awards you have to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 and give the agent the appropriate discount code depending on what card you have, where you are traveling to/from, and the cabin.

Luckily American Airlines has eliminated the phone booking fee for awards that can’t be booked online.

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Below are just some of the discounted destinations– here is the full list of discounted destinations for August through November. Not all destinations are discounted each month. For instance, Austin, Texas is only discounted in August and September while Abilene, Texas is discounted all four months.
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Major cities are on the list–Quebec!–as well as competitors’ hubs like Houston.

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Let’s say you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®.

You decide to fly from Los Angeles to Richmond next month with your miles to see family. You find ample award space with a search on aa.com.

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You pick out your American Airlines-operated flights with MileSAAver space.

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At this point, you do NOT complete the purchase. Purchasing online will cost 25,000 miles. You have to call in to get your discount: 800-882-8880.

You book the roundtrip for 17,500 miles and $11.20. You use less than 1/3 of the 60,000 mile bonus you got from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. You will also you get a free checked bag in both directions for being an American Airlines card holder, saving you $50 roundtrip.

United and Delta charge at least 25,000 miles roundtrip for domestic awards that span the distance between the west and east coast. You could book these flights for 25,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip, though sometimes using Avios will be cheaper than one of these discounted awards because Avios award prices are distance based.

And if you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, you get an additional 10% rebate on the award that is deposited into your account in a few weeks. That would make the net cost of the example above only 15,750 miles.

Bottom Line

Discounted domestic and Canada MileSAAver awards open to American Airlines credit card holders are a fantastic deal.

If you need to book a domestic award, make sure to check what destinations are discounted. If your destination is on the very long list, you can save big miles.

Key Links

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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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Until September 14, 2016, you can transfer 20,000 SPG Starpoints to 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. This is a repeat of an awesome promo we saw in the summers of 2014 and 2015 as well.

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This is not the only SPG transfer bonus at the moment, with Aeroplan offering something similar.

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

Here’s what American Airlines says:

Convert your Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints® to AAdvantage® miles and earn a 20% bonus from August 1 – September 14, 2016.

Plus, if you convert 20,000 points in one transaction, Starwood automatically adds a 5,000 bonus.  

With the additional 20% mileage bonus offered by the AAdvantage program, you’ll receive 30,000 miles from the transaction.

The bottom line is 20,000 SPG Starpoints = 30,000 American Airlines miles until August 31.

  • 20,000 Starpoints = 20,000 AAdvantage miles (1:1 transfer partner)
  • Standard SPG bonus = 5,000 AAdvantage miles per 20,000 Starpoints transferred
  • AAdvantage 20% mileage bonus = 5,000 AAdvantage miles
  • Total: 20,000 Starpoints = 30,000 AAdvantage miles

How Many Starpoints Can You Transfer?

You can transfer up to 79,999 Starpoints per 24 hours to an airline. Since you need to send Starpoints in exact 20k point increments to maximize transfer bonuses, the effective limit is 60,000 Starpoints per day to 90,000 American Airlines miles.

Starpoints do not transfer instantly to American Airlines miles. The transfer usually take 2-4 days in my experience.

Other than the daily limit, there is no limit to the number of Starpoints you can transfer to American Airlines miles during this promotion.

Speculative Transfers

I value Starpoints at 2.5 cents each and AAdvantage miles at 1.5 cents each, so I’d rather have 20,000 Starpoints ($500) than 30,000 American Airlines miles ($450). So I am not going to rush off and convert all my Starpoints to American Airlines miles since transferring kills the option value of holding transferable points. What if for my next award Asiana or Singapore or British Airways or Delta miles are better than American Airlines miles? I’d rue my transfer.

However, if you have an immediate high value redemption in the mind, then this transfer bonus could help to top off your AAdvantage account balance.

It is also very important to note that the bonus American Airlines miles will not post until after the SPG > AAdvantage transfer is complete, and could take up to seven business days according to the promotion’s terms and conditions (detailed below). You can hold American Airlines’ awards free of charge for five days, but not beyond that.

Getting Starpoints

You could possibly, emphasis on possibly, get Starpoints by September 14 by opening a new credit card, but more importantly this promotion highlights one of the many reasons you’d want to get a new Starwood Preferred Guest personal or business card.

Both cards offer 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Get More American Airlines Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months. That means you’ll have at least 65,000 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

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Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you and up to 32 other people can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American and and even if you’re not present.

Offer Terms and Conditions

(Click to enlarge)

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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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11

Recently I reviewed the improved offer on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, which now offers 60,000 bonus American Airlines after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers American Airlines lounge access, but comes with a $450 fee. In these two features, it is reminiscent of the Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card‘s sign-up offer recently changed. It now comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open, $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the Priority Pass lounges, the fourth night free on paid hotel stays, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee. See my review.

So which is better?

This comparison will be useful for anyone considering getting a premium credit card–one of those cards with an eye-watering annual fee and huge benefits. I’ll break down the comparison by:

  • value of points
  • sign-up bonus
  • category bonuses
  • lounge access
  • statement credits
  • other benefits
  • annual fee

Value of Points

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® earns American Airlines miles, which I value at 1.5 cents each. The Citi Prestige® Card earns ThankYou Points, which I value at 1.9 cents each. But the two currencies are very different.

American Airlines miles can be used for American Airlines and oneworld flights according to the American Airlines award chart. Award space is not available on all flights, so miles are not great for people without flexibility. Business and First Class awards often cost less than double an economy award, so miles are fantastic for people who want to fly premium cabins. Check out this series on redeeming American Airlines miles.

Citi ThankYou Points can be used like cash toward any flight OR can be transferred to 12 types of airline miles and one hotel point (links redirect to best uses of those miles):

This flexibility to book awards on any alliance exceeds the number of flights you can book with American Airlines miles, but overall those 12 partners probably just equal American’s program, which is better than any of the 12.

For even more flexibility, though, ThankYou Points earned on the Prestige offer you 1.33 cents toward any flight.

That makes ThankYou Points far better for saving cash on low-cost carrier tickets–which are often impossible to book with miles–or if you’re going for status with an airline, so you want to fly paid tickets. (Airlines see tickets purchased directly with points as paid tickets because American Express or Citi is buying the ticket on your behalf.)

If you want to use the points for paid tickets, ThankYou Points are better. If you are only interested in flights to South America, Europe, and Hawaii, ThankYou Points are better. If you want to go to Asia, American Airlines miles are better.

Sign Up Bonus

Multiply the miles by your value of the miles to figure out which card has the more valuable sign up bonus. The bonus miles on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® are worth $900 after spending $5,000 to me. The bonus points on the Citi Prestige® Card are worth $760 after spending $4,000 to me.

The AAdvantage Executive offers a higher absolute value, but the Prestige offers a slightly higher rebate percentage on the minimum spending requirement (very slight, 19% versus 18%). Read this post to learn about comparing sign-up bonuses between by absolute values or rebate percentages.

Big spenders should care more about absolute value. Small spenders should care more about rebate percentage.

Category Bonuses

After hitting the minimum spending requirement on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, it doesn’t offer an attractive proposition to continue spending on the card. Even its 2x category bonus on American Airlines purchases isn’t as good as putting the same purchase on a Prestige for 3x.

The Citi Prestige® Card aims to be more than just a sign up bonus. It aims to be a card you actually use day-to-day, and I think it succeeds. All the benefits of the Citi Prestige® Card are primarily valuable to travelers, so I will assume the average reader spends quite a bit on air travel and hotels, which rack up ThankYou Points at a rate of 3x per dollar. Restaurants and entertainment–common costs while traveling and at home–earn 2x per dollar.

I know a lot of people, for simplicity, only want to carry one card. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® can’t be your one card because the earning rate is so low. The Citi Prestige® Card could be that card if you want a card with good earning and great benefits as long as you can get good value out of ThankYou Points.

To figure out the extra value of the Citi Prestige® Card‘s category bonuses, multiply your dining and entertainment by your valuation of ThankYou Point as if it were a percentage and your air travel and hotel expenses by double your valuation of a ThankYou point.

For instance, I spend about $7k on dining and entertainment and $3k on airfare and hotels per year. I value ThankYou points at 1.9 cents.

$7000 * 1.9% + $3000 * 3.8% = $247

That’s $247 of extra value per year from having the Citi Prestige® Card‘s category bonuses versus the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. I imagine many people spend quite a bit more than me in those categories. For them, the Citi Prestige® Card would be even more valuable.

Lounge Access

With the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, you have Admirals Club membership, which means you can access an Admirals Club even if you’re flying United that day.

The Prestige offers Priority Pass Select membership, which gets me into an airport lounge at nearly every airport I use worldwide.

Which card has the edge on lounge access depends on which lounges you find nicer and where you travel, but in general you will have more options in more places with the lounge access granted by the Citi Prestige® Card.  There are over 900 Priority Pass lounges and only around 90 lounges that the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® gives you access to.

There is one exception though. Adding an authorized user for Priority Pass lounges to the Prestige costs $50. By contrast, you can add ten authorized users to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® for free, and they all get American Airlines lounge access (no matter what airline they fly) for themselves plus two guests.

Statement Credits

The Citi Prestige® Card is the clear winner in the statement credit game. The Citi Prestige® Card allows you to get statement credits to offset flights, fees, and award taxes, basically any charge from any airline, so everyone should easily max out $250 per year. This is a calendar year benefit, so you get the $250 twice in the first year of cardmembership, once in the calendar year you apply and once early in the next calendar year before your annual fee is due.

Other Benefits

The Citi Prestige® Card offers the 4th night free on hotel stays booked through its travel provider and three free rounds of golf per calendar year.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® earns 10,000 American Airlines status miles if you spend $40,000 in a calendar year.

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the both cards is $450. You pay it with your first statement, and again 12 months later if you don’t cancel the card.

Both cards are clearly worth paying the annual fee in year 1 because of their sign up bonuses, lounge access, and statement credits. The Citi Prestige® Card is worth holding indefinitely if you get any value out of the lounge access, free hotel nights, or free rounds of golf since the $250 Air Travel Credit offsets more than half its annual fee. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is only worth holding if you really love that American Airlines lounge membership.

Which Card is Better?

Citi recently relaunched the Prestige with a new offer that isn’t quite as good the previous one. Despite those changes, I still think the Prestige is the winner when directly compared to the Executive if you’re not a status chasing American Airlines flier. The Prestige is outright better in all other categories except American Airlines lounge access and the ability to earn American Airlines status miles. Depending on whether or not you’re a big spender, the sign-up bonus could be more valuable with the Executive. But I don’t spend a ton, so to me the sign-up bonuses from each card are about equal in value.

For folks who want more lounge access, big category bonuses on spending, statement credits, free hotel nights, and good rates on using points to pay for airline tickets, the Citi Prestige® Card is better.

For folks who want American Airlines lounge access and want American Airlines miles, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is better.

Citi Prestige® Card with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months, lounge access, $250 per calendar year in airline fee credits, and more

  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for $532 towards any flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® with 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership
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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*

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

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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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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

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.17.42 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.18.05 AM

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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 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 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, 40,000 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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