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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

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

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

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement. That’s enough miles for two roundtrips anywhere in Central and South America.

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Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

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

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Central and South America

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

Central America / South America Zone 1 is:

  • Belize
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Venezuela

South America Zone 2 is the rest of the continent:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile (excluding Easter Island)
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay

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

The Partners for Central and South America Awards

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

  • American
  • US Airways
  • LAN (and its affiliates)
  • TAM

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

Award space on LAN and TAM is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Pricing

From North America to Central America / South America Zone 1, American Airlines charges:

These are the same prices as United and Delta charge to Central America (except for American’s awesome off peak awards, which no one matches.)

These prices are steals to Northern South America. Delta wants 22,500 miles year round to Peru. American wants 1/3 less for more than half the year.

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

  • 20,000 miles one way in economy from March 1 – May 31 and August 16 – November 30 on any of its partners
  • 30,000 miles one way for economy awards the rest of the year
  • 50,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 62,500 miles one way in First Class

The off peak awards to Southern South America that you can fly on any American Airlines partner including LAN and TAM are a steal at 20,000 miles one way, 1/3 less than United and Delta charge year round. The Business and First Class prices are cheaper than United and Delta charge also. For instance, Delta charges 62,500 miles one way in Business Class.

Routes & Award Space

American Airlines has a massive, massive route network to the region from Miami.

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image from gcmap.com

American also has a smaller network from Dallas in addition to the LAN and TAM flights to South America from around the country and US Airways’ Central American flights from Charlotte.

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

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LAN Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru flights
Award Space on AA Flights

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

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

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Miami to Santiago only has one such flight in the next two weeks.

 

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

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But from Rio to Miami, there is much more Business Class award space–seven days out of the next three weeks.

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Finally as I said, economy award space is just OK. Here is award space for two from Miami to Rio de Janeiro in March. You can find space if you’re flexible, but it is not available daily.

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TAM and LAN Award Space

LAN’s award space from the United States to South America (Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador) is pretty bad.

TAM’s award space to Brazil isn’t nearly as bad. Here is a day in May with 8+ Business Class award seats and 8+ economy award seats from Miami to Sao Paulo on TAM.

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Intra-South America, TAM and LAN both have pretty good award space. It’s a common sight to see several daily Lima to Cuzco flights with LAN award space.

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

 

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

 

TAM has great award space within Brazil.

 

Booking the Award

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Awards to Central and South America are cheap, especially if you use plentiful off peak economy awards.

Right now, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

 

 

 

 

5

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Qatar’s A380 First Class looks fantastic. It is not the best Middle Eastern product and looks a half step behind Emirates First Class and Etihad First Class on their A380s, but overall the Qatar A380 is definitely a plane I would love to fly in First Class, especially for 40,000 or 45,000 miles.

The spacious seat/beds are not fully enclosed, but are luxurious.

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You and a companion can dine at one table.

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The bathrooms are large, but do not contain showers like Etihad’s and Emirates’.

The star of the Qatar A380 is the bar behind Business Class. Yes, Emirates has one also, but this one looks larger, nicer, and better designed.

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Here’s a video shot in Qatar A380 First Class:

  • What routes does the Qatar A380 fly?
  • What are the award prices?
  • What is the award space picture?
  • How can you get the miles for a roundtrip in Qatar A380 First Class from one card?

Routes

Qatar flies its A380 between London, Paris, and Bangkok and Doha.

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All three routes are also serviced by planes other than the A380, so look for these flight numbers, which are operated by A380s:

  • London <-> Doha: QR1, QR2, QR3, QR4
  • Paris <-> Doha: QR39, QR40, and most of QR41 and QR42 until September 16, 2015 when QR41 and QR42 are no longer operated by the A380
  • Bangkok <-> Doha: QR830, QR831, QR833, QR836

Award Price

From anywhere in the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent to Europe in First Class is 40,000 American Airlines miles one way. To SE Asia plus China (Asia 2) is 45,000 American Airlines miles one way.

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Award Space

You can search award space for Qatar flights on ba.com. (Here’s how.) Any Qatar award space on ba.com can be booked with American Airlines miles by calling American Airlines.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 5.55.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-03 at 5.55.59 PM

Click the flight number to get a pop up that confirms the operating aircraft.

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Here’s a look at award space this week on the three routes in both directions. The most last minute award space appears from Paris to Doha. (Images from Award Nexus searching ba.com.)
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You don’t want to go to Doha in August though. Here’s what award space looks like in February. You can see there is award space in both directions on the Paris and Bangkok routes, but no London award space in either direction.Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.35.52 PM

Getting the Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. Meeting the minimum spending requirement would give you more than enough miles for a roundtrip in Qatar First Class between Europe and the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent.

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit. This is why the card has a $450 annual fee; new membership in the Admirals Club usually costs $500.

Booking the Award

Note the date, cabin, and flight number on ba.com. Call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 and feed the agent that information.

You will pay 40,000 or 45,000 miles one way plus taxes. There are no fuel surcharges on the award, and no phone fee.

Pay the taxes with your Citi Prestige® Card.

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

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Bottom Line

There is award space on the super-fancy Qatar A380 in First Class on its routes from London, Paris, and Bangkok to Doha. Awards start at 40,000 miles one way.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

————————————————————————————————————
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 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Australia and New Zealand. American Airlines miles have access to incredible economy award space to Australia and New Zealand and to some of the best First Class space in the world that flies down under.

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

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

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

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Australia and New Zealand

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

  • Australia
  • Easter Island
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Republic of Tonga
  • Republic of Vanuatu
  • American Samoa
  • Samoa

The Partners for Australia and New Zealand Awards

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

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

  • American Airlines (starting December 17, 2015)
  • Qantas
  • Hawaiian

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

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Fiji Airways

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

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

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

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

Pricing

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

  • 37,500 miles one way in economy
  • 62,500 miles one way in Business Class
  • 72,500 miles one way in First Class

Compared to competitors, American charges much cheaper prices!

United charges 40k/70k/80k on its own planes and much more if you use partners. Delta charges 50k/80k/(First Class not bookable with Delta miles) for Australia.

Routes & Award Space

American will fly from:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney (starting December 17, 2015)

Qantas flies from:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne
  • Dallas to Sydney
  • San Francisco to Sydney (starting December 20, 2015)
  • Honolulu to Sydney
  • New York-JFK to Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne

Hawaiian flies from:

  • Honolulu to Auckland, Sydney, and Brisbane

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Award Space on Hawaiian

The Hawaiian Airlines routes have uniformly excellent availability in economy for two passengers. You can connect to Honolulu with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, US Airways, or Hawaiian Airlines flights for zero extra miles.

Hawaiian has two-cabin planes with economy and First Class. American prices Hawaiian First Class at the Business Class price, which is fair since it is just a large recliner seat with a lot of legroom, not any sort of bed. I flew in Hawaiian First Class from Honolulu to Los Angeles. Here is the trip report.

Honolulu to Auckland runs three days a week. There is space almost every flights for two passengers in economy.

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Honolulu to Brisbane runs four days a week. There is economy space for two almost every flight.

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Honolulu to Sydney runs daily and award space is excellent for two passengers in economy.

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Business Class space is almost non-existent on all three routes.

Award Space on Qantas

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

Los Angeles to Melbourne typifies the excellent award space on Qantas flights in economy for two passengers.

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

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

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It is a shame because Qantas First Class looks awesome!

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Award Space on American

There is literally zero MileSAAver award space in any cabin in either direction on the new Los Angeles to Sydney flight from American Airlines. I expect this to change, but I don’t expect to see much Business or First Class space on the route.

Another American Airlines Option to Australia

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

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For only 60,000 American Airlines miles, you can get about 14 hours in the world’s nicest First Class. Getting to Abu Dhabi would require a different award.

Read my full write up in Amazing Award Space for Two on Nicest First Class in the World? 14 Hours in Etihad A380 First Class for 60,000 Miles.

Bottom Line

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

(The best miles to Australia and New Zealand in Business Class nonstop are Delta miles flying Virgin Australia. There is award space for five people in Business Class on Virgin Australia flights even at peak times.)

Awards to Australia are cheap, especially in Business and First Class if you can snag those rare seats.

Right now, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

————————————————————————————————————
Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

9

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Loyal reader Drew sent along an amazing targeted offer he received to continue spending on his Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard (which is what US Airways cards turned into after the US Airways/American Airlines merger.)

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If he spends $500 per month on his card in August, September, and October, he’ll get 15,000 bonus miles!

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That means for a total of $1,500 in spending, he will earn 16,500 miles, which is 11 American Airlines miles per dollar!

The email came to Drew with the subject “Earn 15,000 bonus miles with your card!” Check your email for a similar offer if you have a Barclaycard American Airlines card.

Barclaycard seems to recognize that fact that its US Airways card (now American Airlines card) is not great for ongoing spending and offers frequent promotions to encourage us to get in the habit of regular spending on the card. These offers are targeted, but it seems like everyone eventually gets targeted for one or more:

Is This a Good Promo?

Yes, Drew should definitely take advantage of earning 15,000 bonus American Airlines miles for spending $500 per month for three months. It works out to 11 miles per dollar, which is on par with meeting the minimum spending requirements on some of the best sign up bonuses.

These aren’t just any old miles either. American Airlines miles are my favorite miles because they are great for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

Similar Promos on Other Barclaycards

Barclaycard also puts out similar targeted and frequent bonus offers on its other cards like the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® (up to 7x on certain categories for a few months) and Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® (15,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $750 in three consecutive months.)

How Can You Get Targeted?

I asked Drew some follow up questions to see what might have triggered his targeting.

He told me that he got his US Airways card in August 2013 and didn’t really use it after his first purchase.

He was offered this promotion in 2014 right when his annual fee was due in August, and now he’s being offered it again right when his annual fee is due in August 2015. I see a pattern!

Don’t cancel your card early. Hold it until just before the annual fee is due to see if you’re targeted.

Recap

The AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard has a targeted offer for 15,000 bonus miles after spending $500 per month in the next three months. If you’ve been targeted, take advantage.

If you haven’t, keep checking for the frequent targeted bonus mile offers this card offers for ongoing spending.

If you don’t have the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard, you can NEVER get it. It is a vestige of Barclaycard’s relationship with US Airways and the US Airways/American Airlines merger. You can, however, get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, which offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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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 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

0

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. American Airlines miles are the best for super-cheap economy redemptions and ultra-luxury redemptions.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit. This is why the card has a $450 annual fee; new membership in the Admirals Club usually costs $500.

What is less known about the card is that it offers the ability to earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year.

  • What are Elite Qualifying Miles?
  • When do the EQMs post?
  • What are 10,000 EQMs worth?
  • Should You Try to Earn the EQMs Bonus?
  • How Can You Spend $40,000 in the next five months?

What are Elite Qualifying Miles?

Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) are one way to earn American Airlines status. (The other two are Elite Qualifying Points and Segments.) You basically earn one EQM per mile flown on paid tickets in economy and 1.5 per mile flown on paid tickets in First Class. Click here for full information from American Airlines.

EQMs are just a counter toward status and cannot be redeemed for anything. You need to earn in a calendar year:

  • 25,000 EQMs for Gold Status
  • 50,000 EQMs for Platinum Status
  • 100,000 EQMs for Executive Platinum Status.

Those statuses come with perks like free upgrades, free checked bags, waived fees, and faster mileage earning on paid tickets.

Check out this chart of the benefits of each level of status.

What Is This Offer?

Spend $40,000 on your Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® that posts on your January through December statements (slightly different than a calendar year), and you earn 10,000 EQMs.

The EQMs are in addition to the normal AAdvantage award miles earned on the spending, which would be at least 40,000 miles for the spending, plus probably the 75,000 bonus miles for signing up, plus any bonus miles for making American Airlines/US Airways purchases.

When Do EQMs Post?

Within a few days of your Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® statement closing that shows you’ve spent more than $40,000 in the calendar year, your EQMs post according to the experience of FlyerTalkers.

That means if you hit $40,000 in spending by the December statement, you should get the EQMs this calendar year.

What are 10,000 EQMs Worth?

I cannot answer this fully for you. I can give some guidance.

If the 10,000 EQMs don’t bump you to the next status level, they are worth $0. For instance, if you have never flown American Airlines or its partners, 10,000 EQMs are worth nothing. Or if you’ll have 55,000 EQMs at the end of the year, 10,000 more EQMs are worth nothing because the next threshold is 100,000 EQMs.

If the 10,000 EQMs do bump you to the next status level, you need to figure out how much extra the next level of American Airlines elite status is worth to you.

Here are, in my opinion, reasonable valuations for moving from one status level to the next:

  • No status to Gold (assuming you fly 15,000 miles per year): $500
  • Gold to Platinum (assuming you fly 40,000 miles per year): $800
  • Platinum to Executive Platinum (assuming you fly 90,000 miles per year): $4,200 because of the eight systemwide upgrades you earn

The 10,000 EQMs are not worth those amounts; those are just the maximum they can be worth. If you can get 10,000 EQMs for cheaper than $4,200, it would be unfair to value 10,000 EQMs at $4,200.

Your best bet to get EQMs is flying cheap economy fares, and you can often find flights for around 5 cents per mile, meaning that 10,000 EQMs would be $500 worth of flights. Add to that the value of your time for flying flights to nowhere but subtract the value of the award miles earned from the flights to get the lowest cost alternative way to get 10,000 EQMs.

Your personal value of 10,000 EQMs should be the lesser of the alternative price to earn them from flying and the value of moving up a status level.

For most people, this will be in the $300 to $1,000 range depending on the value of their time, which is the biggest variable in determining whether flying to nowhere (mileage running) is worth it for you.

Should You Try to Earn the EQMs Bonus?

If you can’t spend $40,000 in year, no.

If you can, maybe.

Spending $40,000 on one card to earn 40,000 American Airlines miles plus 10,000 EQMs needs to be compared to spending $40,000 on another card or cards.

For instance, spending $40,000 on the SPG card would earn 40,000 Starpoints. Those can transfer to 50,000 American Airlines miles normally and 60,000 at the moment. You have to decide whether you want 10,000 or 20,000 extra American Airlines miles by spending on the SPG card or 10,000 extra EQMs by spending on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®.

Or spending $40,000 could unlock 10 new credit card sign up bonuses, which would be a haul of around half a million points and miles. Would you rather have that or 10,000 EQMs?

How Can You Spend $40,000 in the Next Five Months?

To get 10,000 EQMs, you need to $40,000 in spending by the close of your December statement, which is 4-5 months away. (In 2016, of course, you’d have the full 12 months.) That’s a lot of money to spend.

If your normal spending on credit cards doesn’t get you to $40,000, you may want to consider alternatives like paying taxes with a credit card, paying your mortgage or rent with a credit card, or paying tuition or student loans with a credit card. All of these have 2-3% fees, so subtract that from the value of the EQMs you’ll earn.

Bottom Line

In addition to the 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months and Admirals Club lounge membership, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 on your January through December statements.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

If those 10,000 EQM bump you to the next status level, they are probably worth $300 to $1,000 to you.

12

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

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

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

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

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

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Middle East and Indian Subcontinent

The Middle East and Indian Subcontinent is one very large region on the American Airlines award chart. It contains:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lebanon
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • the United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan

The Partners for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent must fly directly from North America to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent or can transit Europe. They cannot transit East Asia even though trips from the West Coast to India might be as convenient or more convenient via Asia.

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

  • Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi)
  • Qatar Airways (Doha)
  • Jet Airways (Mumbai)

Other American Airlines partners with hubs in the region:

  • Gulf Air (Bahrain)
  • Royal Jordanian (Amman)

Plus any partner that flies between the United States and Europe or Europe and the Middle East can be potentially useful, so don’t forget about:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pricing

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

  • 45,000 miles one way in economy
  • 67,500 miles one way in Business Class
  • 90,000 miles one way in First Class

Compared to competitors, American charges fair prices. Compared to the rest of American’s outstandingly cheap award chart, these prices are unfortunately more expensive than I’d like. Ultimately though I have paid 90,000 miles for one way in Etihad First Class from Chennai, India to Los Angeles.

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

Booking the Awards

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

Routes

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 6.57.44 PM

Etihad flights feature First, Business, and economy class.

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

Qatar flies from seven American cities to Doha and from there throughout the region including 12 Indian cities.Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 7.00.44 PM

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

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

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

Bonus

Europe to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives costs only 30,000 American Airlines miles one way in Business Class and 40,000 in First Class. There are some awesome products you can fly for those prices:

Bottom Line

American Airlines has amazing partners to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, topped by Etihad and Qatar.

Awards are pricier than most places on the American Airlines award chart at 45,000/67,500/90,000 miles one way in economy/Business/First. Awards must fly directly from North America to the region or connect in Europe. They cannot go via East Asia.

Right now, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

————————————————————————————————————
Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to East and Southeast Asia. Awards to East and Southeast Asia are some of the best value awards with American Airlines miles.

IMG_1568
Hiking the Great Wall of China outside Beijing in September

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

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

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Asia 1 and Asia 2

This post deals with American Airlines awards to what it calls “Asia 1″ and “Asia 2.”

Asia 1 is Korea, Japan, and Mongolia.

Asia 2 is:

  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Guam
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • the Philippines
  • Saipan
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

The Indian Subcontinent is part of the Middle East region, which I cover here.

The Partners for East and Southeast Asia Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to Asia 1 and Asia 2 must fly directly from North America to East Asia. They cannot transit Europe, the Middle East, India, or any other continent. That means I’ll focus just on airlines with direct flights to East Asia and within East Asia.

To East Asia, American Airlines miles can be redeemed on:

  • American Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Malaysia Airlines (does not fly to North America)
  • Japan Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines (does not fly to North America)
  • any combination of the six

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

Award space on Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Japan Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Pricing

To Asia 1 (Korea, Japan, Mongolia), American Airlines charges:

  • 25,000 miles one way in economy from October to April
  • 32,500 miles one way in economy from May to September
  • 50,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 62,500 miles one way in First Class

To Asia 2, American Airlines charges:

  • 35,000 miles one way in economy
  • 55,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 67,500 miles one way in First Class

The off peak awards to Korea and Japan are a steal. The premium cabin awards year round are outrageously cheap. Consider that you can fly Cathay Pacific First Class to China or Southeast Asia for only 67,500 miles one way.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 1.42.22 AM
All Smiles in the Huge Bed in Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class is one of the nicest First Class products in the world (read my review), and for inferior products, Delta and United charge more miles.

  • Delta charges 70,000 miles one way to Southeast Asia in Business Class. Delta miles cannot be used to book international First Class.
  • United charges 80,000 miles one way to Southeast Asia in partner Business Class and 130,000 miles in partner First Class.

American’s under-pricing of awards to Asia relative to its competitors is one of the main reasons that American miles are the best miles to Asia.

Booking the Awards

To book an American Airlines award to Asia that features only American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines flights, you can book right on aa.com.

If you want to include even a single segment on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, or SriLankan Airlines, you need to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book. There is no phone fee to book awards that can’t be booked online. I recommend searching award space on ba.com before calling and feeding the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight with award space instead of relying on the agent’s searching skill.

Routes and Award Space

To Asia 1 (Korea, Japan, Mongolia), the possible routes are on Japan Airlines, American Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines.

You cannot fly Cathay Pacific to Asia 1 because you cannot transit Asia 2 en route to Asia 1. (For instance, Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Seoul would price as Los Angeles to Hong Kong plus Hong Kong to Seoul. Read the award routing rules post.)

American flies:

  • Dallas to Tokyo-Narita
  • Chicago to Tokyo-Narita
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita
  • Dallas to Seoul

Japan Airlines flies:

  • Boston to Tokyo-Narita
  • New York to Tokyo-Narita
  • Chicago to Tokyo-Narita
  • Honolulu to Tokyo-Narita
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita
  • San Diego to Tokyo-Narita
  • Vancouver to Tokyo-Narita
  • San Francisco to Tokyo-Haneda
  • Honolulu to Tokyo-Haneda
  • Los Angeles to Osaka-Kansai
  • Honolulu to Osaka-Kansai
  • Honolulu to Nagoya-Cetrair

Hawaiian Airlines flies:

  • Honolulu to Seoul
  • Honolulu to Tokyo-Haneda
  • Honolulu to Osaka-Kansai
  • Honolulu to Sapporo-Chitose (Japan)
  • Honolulu to Sendai (Japan)

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 11.28.18 PM

The American Airlines flights to Asia 1 have good economy award space, especially during the off peak window, and terrible Business and First Class space.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 5.37.22 PM

I used to find some Business and First Class Saver award space in the last few days before departure, but now even that is very rare.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 5.41.33 PM

The Japan Airlines flights show more Business Class than First Class award space. The best route is probably San Francisco to Tokyo-Haneda, which has award space two days in First Class the first week of March and one day in Business Class. I found award space on every route I searched, though, so with flexibility, you can fly Japan Airlines Business Class or First Class with American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 6.03.11 PM
First Class Award Space San Francisco to Tokyo on Award Nexus (Searching BA.com)
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 6.03.18 PM
Business Class Award Space San Francisco to Tokyo on Award Nexus (Searching BA.com)

To Asia 2, you can route via Asia 1. That means you can fly any of the transpacific flights above and connect on intra-Asia flights to Southeast Asia. Or you can fly directly to Asia 2 on American, Hawaiian, and Cathay Pacific.

I’m going to focus on Cathay Pacific’s award space “rules” because it has one of the nicest Business and First Class products in the world and the most consistent award space.

Cathay Pacific Routes

Cathay Pacific has eight current North American destinations. All routes offer First Class except Newark and Toronto, which top out at Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.35.03 AM

 

Cathay Pacific Business Class Award Space Rule

Cathay Pacific opens up 2 Business Class award seats on a ton of flights when the schedule opens 11 months in advance. I ran a search 11 months from now on the following routes:

  • Boston, New York, and San Francisco to Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong to Los Angeles and Chicago

Over the seven day period I searched (June 12-18, 2016), all the routes had multiple flights with 2 Business Class award seats except San Francisco to Hong Kong, which had one.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.21.36 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.21.45 PM

Many days had multiple flights with award space.

To get Cathay Pacific Business Class award space, try to book 11 months in advance. Space gets worse from that point, though it does reappear in the last few days before departure.

Cathay Pacific First Class Award Space Rule

Some Cathay Pacific First Class award space is available throughout the schedule but not a ton.

Within 36 hours of departure though, Cathay Pacific releases all but one unsold First Class seat on every flight. This usually translates to 1-4 more seats on almost every flight.

The following screen shots come from November. The snow storm on the East Coast today is messing up Cathay Pacific First Class award space.

Here are tomorrow’s flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. The far right column shows that the flights have 0, 4, 1, and 0 First Class seats respectively.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.27.18 PM Here are tomorrow’s flights from New York to Hong Kong with 0, 0, 2, and 0 First Class award seats respectively.Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.29.28 PM

 

 

Seven of the eight flights shown have at least 2 Business Class award seats.

 

If you can wait until the last 48 hours, your chance of booking Cathay Pacific’s mind-boggling First Class is very good, and if you can’t, you can probably book Business. Review of Cathay Pacific First Class.

Just because you want Cathay Pacific First Class doesn’t mean you want the stress of not having any flights booked until 48 hours before departure. That’s not what I’m recommending.

American Airlines does not charge a change fee to “upgrade” an award reservation, so a great strategy is to book two Business Class seats on Cathay Pacific when the schedule opens and then change the award to First Class in the last two days. This would cost 55,000 miles each way per person when first booked and 12,500 more miles per person at the time of the change. And if the plan fails, your consolation prize is Cathay Pacific Business Class–hardly a loss.

Beyond Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific and its affiliate Dragonair–both bookable with AA miles, both searchable on ba.com–offer excellent award space from Hong Kong throughout China and Southeast Asia.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are by far the strongest miles to East and Southeast Asia. First, American charges way fewer miles than its competitors–as low as 25,000 miles one way to Japan and Korea and only 67,500 miles in First Class to Southeast Asia. Second, American partners with very nice products on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.

Cathay Pacific award space, which is useful to China and south, is widely available in Business Class 11 months out and First Class 36 hours out.

Japan Airlines Business Class award space is available on all its routes if you have date flexibility.

Hawaiian Airlines Business Class is widely available if you don’t mind routing through Hawaii.

American’s own flights have good economy award space, but Business and First Class are rarely available.

To fly to Asia 1 (Japan, Korea, Mongolia) on a single award, you must fly directly there from North America without connecting in any other region. To fly to Asia 2 (China and Southeast Asia) on a single award, you must fly directly there or connect in Asia 1. You cannot connect in Europe or the Middle East on a single American Airlines award to East or Southeast Asia from the United States.

Right now, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

————————————————————————————————————
Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

11

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Hawaii.

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.15.24 PM
View of Waikiki Beach from Hilton Hawaiian Village, December 2012

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement–more than enough for two roundtrips to Hawaii.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

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

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

The Partners for Hawaii Awards

To Hawaii, American Airlines miles can be redeemed on:

Award space on all four airlines is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Pricing

Between the mainland and Hawaii, American charges:

  • 17,500 miles each way in economy from Jan. 12 – Mar. 8 and Aug. 22 – Dec. 15
  • 22,500 miles each way in economy the rest of the year
  • 37,500 miles each way in First Class
  • 47,500 miles each way in First Class if you fly a three-cabin First Class flight on the mainland as part of the award. There is no three-cabin First Class to Hawaii itself.

All the prices mentioned above are for partner awards or MileSAAver awards on American Airlines flights. MileSAAver awards are highly capacity controlled and not available on all or even most flights. When not available, AAnytime awards, which are much more expensive, are available.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 4.13.31 PMScreen Shot 2015-01-23 at 4.13.20 PM

Hidden-City Trick on AA/Hawaii Awards

From the above screenshot, you might get excited that it’s zero extra miles to fly between Hawaii and Peru compared to just flying Hawaii to Los Angeles. The above chart is actually wrong.

It’s actually often fewer miles to fly between Central America/Northern South America and Hawaii than between Hawaii and the mainland. For example:

Honolulu to Dallas is 17,500 miles (or 22,500 during peak dates):

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 4.20.14 PM

Honolulu to Dallas to Lima is cheaper at only 15,000 miles (or only 17,500 miles during peak dates)!

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 4.19.40 PM

In Business/First Class the difference is even larger. Instead of 37,500 miles from Hawaii to the mainland, you can pay only 30,000 miles from Hawaii to Northern South America via the mainland.

You can take advantage of this pricing anomaly is two ways:

  1. Book yourself a vacation that goes to Hawaii, then Central or South America, then home.
  2. Book yourself a return home from Hawaii that transits your home airport but continues to Central America for a cheaper award. Get off at your home airport and save from the hidden-city trick.

There are always dangers to hidden-city ticketing:

  • Your checked bag will be checked to the destination. (Don’t check a bag!)
  • A mis-connection could cause a re-routing that doesn’t transit your home airport anymore.
  • You might raise the ire of an airline. (Hidden city ticketing doesn’t break any laws.)

Who Should Never Redeem American Airlines Miles to Hawaii

If you live in one of 10 western cities with direct flights on American, US Airways, or Alaska to Hawaii, you are better off redeeming 12,500 British Airways Avios each way to Hawaii. Full article on the 12,500 Avios routes to Hawaii and how to book them.

British Airways shares American, US Airways, and Alaska as partners, but it doesn’t partner with Hawaiian Airlines.

The cities/routes with 12,500 Avios awards:

  • AA = American Airlines
  • US = US Airways
  • AS = Alaska Airlines

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.11.09 PM

Footnotes:

  • 1: Seasonal flight
  • 2: Began March 5, 2015

Award Space

Award space to Hawaii is highly seasonal on all airlines, and it lines up really well with American’s off peak dates.

Award space is usually fairly abundant from mid-January through mid-March and during the Fall. It is non-existent over Christmas and New Year’s and sparse in the Summer and Spring. If you want to visit Hawaii over those sparse times, use ThankYou Points.

American and its partners serve Hawaii from over a dozen cities, most of them on the west coast, though American also flies from Dallas to Honolulu and Kahului, and Hawaiian flies from JFK to Honolulu.

The best award availability is via the west coast during off peak times and in the last month before departure.

I’m going to show award space as a series of calendars. All calendars show availability on direct flights for two passengers. Most people reading this post won’t live in any of the cities shown on the calendars. That’s OK. You can connect via these cities to Hawaii. The award space to these cities shouldn’t be much of a problem and will not add any miles to the award price.

Los Angeles to Honolulu, next 28 days in economy

Award space is solid for the next month from Los Angeles to Honolulu in economy on American and Hawaiian flights, especially considering it is peak season. Of course, if you live in LA, you want to book these direct American flights with Avios. If you live elsewhere, you’ll want to use AA miles and connect here.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.52.18 PM

 

Los Angeles to Honolulu, next 28 days in First

There is a lot of First Class award space in the next month from LA to Honolulu.

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.52.22 PM

Los Angeles to Lihue, next 28 days in economy

It’s not just Oahu that shows this pattern. American’s daily flights from Los Angeles to Kona, Kauai, and Maui also show more award space during off peak times and in the last month before departure.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.53.34 PM

Dallas to Honolulu, next 28 days in economy

For many folks, their most convenient itinerary would be from their home airport to Dallas to Hawaii. Unfortunately award space isn’t quite as good on the Dallas flights. It’s still pretty good over the next month.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.53.07 PM

Los Angeles to Honolulu, January and February in economy

There is great award space during the low season of January and February, when it is still 80 degrees at the beach.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.55.31 PM

But if you need to plan farther out, book your Hawaii trip with different miles (United often has better award space) or ThankYou Points, which have access to every flight to Hawaii with no blackouts.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles have good access to award space to Hawaii during low season (mid-January to mid-March and fall), which exactly coincides with the off peak dates to Hawaii when awards are just 17,500 miles one way.

Economy award space is way more plentiful than First Class space, and the best space is available within a month or even a week of departure.

For me, it’s just as well that American Airlines miles are just OK to Hawaii when you understand the limitations. I never want to use them to Hawaii anyway because there are cheaper awards to Hawaii (like with Singapore miles) and because I save my American Airlines miles for international off peak awards and luxurious Business and First Class awards on partner airlines.

————————————————————————————————————
Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

 

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

The Qantas San Francisco to Sydney flight that begins in mid-December is now searchable and bookable on aa.com. This is really bad news for Business Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.15.14 PM

Last week I wrote that there was plenty of Business Class award space on the flight, searchable on Expert Flyer and bookable by calling American Airlines. The flight wasn’t yet searchable or bookable on aa.com.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.15.48 PM

Now the flight is searchable and bookable on aa.com and award space is wide open in economy in both directions for at least six people per flight at a cost of 37,500 American Airlines miles each way. Award space in Business Class for even one person per flight is rare, though there is some, especially from Sydney to San Francisco.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.24.22 PM

Product

I flew Qantas Business Class on its A380 two years ago from Melbourne to Los Angeles. I understand that the 747 has the same seat/bed as the A380.

If you check out my review, you’ll see that I was not blown away by the product. My top two complaints are the 2-2-2 layout meaning that if you have a window you have to climb over your seatmate, and the fact that the bed is not totally parallel to the floor.


In bed mode

I think I would have slept fine on a westbound flight that takes off at 10 PM, but the schedule from Australia to the United States (on all airlines) are terrible for sleep, so I had trouble.

While I’d slightly prefer United Business Class and greatly prefer Qantas First Class, premium awards between the United States and Australia are hard to come by.

Award Space

San Francisco to Sydney

Award space is not available for the first month of the flight, encompassing Christmas and New Year.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.26.07 PM

Then award space quickly becomes available almost every day in economy.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.26.15 PM

Through the end of the schedule (late June 2016), award space is available nearly every Sunday through Friday in economy.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.24.40 PM

Almost all the flights with economy award space have space for 6+ passengers in economy.

Business Class space is far rarer. From San Francisco to Sydney, I only see two days with award space in Business Class, each for only one passenger.Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.24.45 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.26.46 PM

Sydney to San Francisco

Sydney to San Francisco has the same award space patterns, but more dates with Business Class award space.

Economy has no award space until January 10, 2016, then picks up to six-day-a-week award space quickly.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.33.29 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.33.45 PM

There are a handful of days in May and June with one Business Class award seat.Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.35.11 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.35.26 PM

Award Cost

Between the United States and Australia one way, American Airlines charges:

  • 37,500 miles in economy
  • 62,500 miles in Business Class
  • 72,500 miles in First Class (not available on this route)

This is ridiculously cheap. United and Delta charge 40,000 and 50,000 miles one way in economy and 70,000 and 80,000 miles one way in Business Class.

There are no fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights flying Qantas, so you just pay taxes of $108 for a roundtrip.

I priced out an award with one way in economy and one way in Business Class. It cost 100,000 American Airlines miles + $108.

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Connections

You can connect to San Francisco on American Airlines, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines flights for zero extra miles. If you have a Business Class award, these connections can be in First Class.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 1.34.49 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-16 at 1.34.39 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-16 at 1.34.29 PM

In Sydney, you can connect throughout Australia and New Zealand for zero extra miles.

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Getting American Airlines Miles

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® now offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That’s the biggest bonus of any card right now.

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Until August 7, 20,000 SPG Starpoints transfer to 30,000 American Airlines miles.

Bottom Line

Award space for Qantas’ new San Francisco to Sydney route is now online. Award space is great in economy, even for entire families. In Business Class, award space is rare.

The sign up bonus on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is big enough for a roundtrip to Australia in economy.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

In May, I booked myself an award in an Etihad A380 First Class Apartment for January 2016. I am looking forward to flying the spacious suite with a couch/bed and separate seat from Abu Dhabi to New York. This post explains how I booked that award.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

Etihad is a partner of American Airlines, and you can book First Class between the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent and North America for 90,000 American Airlines miles one way. For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement, almost enough for the trip I booked.

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Since American counts all of the Middle East, Egypt, Maldives, and Indian Subcontinent as one region, I decided to start the award in Chennai, India. I’ve never been to India, and Chennai is conveniently close to Sri Lanka, which is in American’s Southeast Asia region (Asia 2). I’ll use that fact to fly cheaply to Sri Lanka on an American Airlines award, hang out there for a few days, then book a cheap cash or Avios flight from Sri Lanka to Chennai.

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Since American charges the same number of miles no matter where I end in North America, I added New York to Los Angeles for zero extra miles. It will give me a chance to fly American’s three cabin First Class on the route.

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Award Searching

This award is centered on flying Etihad’s A380 in First Class to luxuriate in the onboard suite and to take a shower seven miles above land. For that reason, and because I always suggest starting your award search with the longest segment, I first searched for Etihad A380 First Class award space.

As I explained in Where to Search All 24 American Airlines’ Partners’ Award Space, you search Etihad award space on etihad.com. You need to find award space in the GuestSeat column to be able to book the flight with American Airlines miles. Right now I don’t see any First Class award space on the Etihad A380 between New York and Abu Dhabi in either direction that is bookable with American Airlines miles. (I do see plenty of space on the 777 that operates on the route.)

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.14.26 PM

We have seen award space in First Class on the route come and go quickly and dramatically a few times. I booked in May when award space was wide open, even though it had been non-existent the week before. You can be sure I’ll cover when award space opens back up between JFK and Abu Dhabi in First Class on the Etihad A380.

Once I had my First Class space, I worked backward to get the space from Chennai to Abu Dhabi. This is classic segment-by-segment searching. On shorter regional routes, the top cabin is Business Class, so that’s what I searched.

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Award space is fantastic in Business Class on Etihad regional flights. I selected the 10 PM departure, which gives me a two hour layover in Abu Dhabi. I noted the date, cabin, and flight number. I ignored the price listed on etihad.com because I was using American Airlines miles, which means paying the American Airlines price.

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Last I searched for award space from New York to Los Angeles in First Class. As I explained yesterday in my post about booking domestic awards with American Airlines miles, award space is wide open in First Class from New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Remember that you need to find MileSAAver (not AAnytime) award space on American Airlines flights to hook them onto partner flights, and still pay the lowest mileage price.Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.18.34 PM

I picked an 11 AM departure to give me another two-hour layover.
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You can confirm that every New York to Los Angeles flight has American’s newest First Class product by clicking “View Seats” and seeing this 1-1 configuration.Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.19.25 PM

Award Booking

Next I called American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book. I fed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of the three flights I wanted to book.

She pieced it together easily and quoted me a price of 90,000 American Airlines miles and $79.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 5.22.36 PM

That sounded pretty good, but I asked her if she had waived the $40 phone fee, since I couldn’t book the award online. That’s American’s new policy.

She hadn’t. Once she removed the phone fee, I paid only $38.55 in taxes plus 90,000 miles for a trip that will fly from Chennai to Los Angeles in two super fancy First Classes, and a solid Business Class.Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 5.22.44 PM

Getting the Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement, almost enough for the trip I booked.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

The card comes with Admirals Club membership (free access for you plus two guests OR your spouse and all kids), a free checked bag on American Airlines/US Airways flights, and a $100 credit toward Global Entry. It has a $450 annual fee.

Bottom Line

I booked myself an incredible award from India to Los Angeles that will let me finally see the world’s second most populous country and finally fly the second commercial First Class with an onboard shower. It is a perfect mix of destination and aspirational products, and it cost me 90,000 American Airlines miles + $39.

You can get 82,500 American Airlines miles by opening the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® and spending $7,500 in the first three months.

Unfortunately award space in Etihad First Class on the A380 comes and goes, and right now there is none. But if history is a guide, that is likely to change soon, and I will cover when award space opens back up.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

7

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for domestic flights including its flagship service between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco, which includes fully flat beds in Business Class and First Class. (This post doesn’t cover awards to Hawaii. That’s a separate post.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 4.39.10 PM
AA First Class between New York and California for 32.5k miles

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

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

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

The Partners for Domestic Awards

Domestically, American Airlines miles can be redeemed on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights. Award space on all three airlines is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

American miles can book all the exact same award space that Alaska opens up to its own members at the Saver level.

Pricing

Awards within the continental United States, Alaska, and Canada price at:

  • 12,500 miles each way in economy
  • 25,000 miles each way in First Class on two-cabin aircraft (almost all aircraft) and in Business Class on three-cabin aircraft
  • 32,500 miles each way in First Class on three-cabin aircraft (only operated by American Airlines on certain flagship routes)

The American Airlines A321T only flies between New York and Los Angeles and New York and San Francisco and features flat beds in Business Class (25,000 miles) and First Class (32,500 miles.)

American Airlines occasionally also flies three-cabin 777s between Los Angeles and Miami. These have fully flat First Class (32,500) and angled lie flat Business Class (25,000), though the 777s are being refurbished to have flat bed Business Class and no First Class.

All other planes, including all Alaska and US Airways planes feature only two cabins. The forward cabin is called First Class, features regular seats, and costs 25,000 miles each way.

So far, every price listed is the MileSAAver or partner award price. All Alaska space available to American Airlines miles prices out at these prices.

Not all American Airlines flights are available at the MileSAAver level. Some price out at much more expensive AAnytime levels that you should avoid.

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Award Space

In general, I find worsening award space on most domestic routes with American Airlines miles. This could be because of a stronger economy leaves fewer empty seats or because US Airways management is taking over, and US Airways always offered less award space than American. I wish I could be more specific about award space, but there are tons of routes, so instead of generalizing, just go search the routes that interest you.

Make sure to search them for times of the year you like to fly and also for award space in the next few days and weeks to get a sense of whether award space is opened up–and in what cabin–at the last minute. (Here’s how to search for just award space on direct flights.)

How about the premium transcontinental flights with flat beds?

Premium Transcontinental Award Space

Right now, there isn’t much Business Class space on American Airlines’ A321T service between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco. But First Class space is wide open.

First Class features 10 seats in a 1-1 configuration and looks like one of the nicest ways to pass a 5-6 hour flights out there.

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In all four directions, I see ample First Class award space from September 2015 on.

New York -> San Fran, May 2016

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San Fran -> New York, March 2016

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Los Angeles -> New York, December 2015/January 2016

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New York -> Los Angeles, September/October 2015

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Two Reasons You Will Not Want to Book Many Domestic Awards with American Airlines Miles

You can forget most of this post. You will rarely want to book domestic awards with American Airlines miles for two reasons:

  1. You’re likely not to get a very good value for your miles. The cheapest roundtrip award is 25,000 miles. Unless the ticket costs around $500, you are getting less than 2 cents per mile, and you can often get 2 cents per mile or more of value on international awards–especially off peak awards and premium-cabin awards.
  2. British Airways Avios have the exact same access to the Saver award flights on American, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines. Avios awards start at 4,500 Avios each way, so it will often be cheaper to book an Avios award than an American Airlines award. Avios does charge 3x or 4x the economy price for “First Class” awards (even for those recliner seats on two-cabin planes), but I wouldn’t book those with American Airlines miles or Avios very often because they aren’t worth the premium over economy to me.

Bottom Line

I can’t imagine too many times I would book a domestic award with American Airlines miles.

Transcontinental First Class is one option because British Airways would charge 50,000 Avios and American charges only 32,500 miles, which is a very good deal for 5+ hours in luxury. Transcontinental First Class award space is wide open from September 2015 to May 2016 at the moment.

Another option would be if you found award space to Alaska or somewhere in Canada that normally had very expensive fares, so 12,500 miles one way was a great deal.

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

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

9

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Let’s talk about the out-of-pocket cash costs associated with American Airlines awards: the taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges. How much are taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on American Airlines awards? This is part five in a series that will allow you to master redeeming American Airlines miles.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

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

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Taxes

All award tickets, using all types of miles, require you to pay the government taxes associated with your ticket. These are $5.60 per one way on domestic tickets and a lot more on international tickets, ranging from $50 to $300 roundtrip. (Also see List of Award Taxes from Major Cities in Europe.)

Premium cabin awards that originate in the United Kingdom are the most expensive. Avoid those, and you’ll usually book roundtrip awards with taxes around $100.

If the award search is not possible on aa.com, and you will book by phone, the easiest way to estimate the taxes you’ll pay on an American Airlines award is to search a similar award on united.com. International taxes are determined by the countries and airports you use, so whatever united.com says the taxes would be on a similar award is what you’ll pay in taxes on your American Airlines award.

Fuel Surcharges

American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on award flights operated by British Airways and Iberia.

British Airways’ fuel surcharges are outrageous. From New York to London on British Airways flights, American Airlines collects fuel surcharges of $229 one way in economy and $414 one way in Business or First Class. These are in addition to the taxes on the award. Fuel surcharges are actually a lot lower heading from London to New York at $225.60 one way in Business Class, but taxes are so high leaving London in a premium cabin (see above) that you still pay over $500 out of pocket for a one way award.

American Airlines does not collect fuel surcharges on British Airways intra-Europe flights.

On British Airways flights to other regions, fuel surcharges vary. You can look them up on aa.com, since aa.com displays British Airways award space and breaks down the cash component of awards between taxes and “carrier-imposed fees,” a euphemism for fuel surcharges.

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The fuel surcharges that AA collects on Iberia are much smaller. I priced out roundtrips in economy and Business Class from New York to Madrid on Iberia with American Airlines miles.

  • Economy had combined taxes plus fuel surcharges of $190 roundtrip.
  • Business had combined taxes plus fuel surcharges of $214 roundtrip.

Taxes on a roundtrip award of direct flights between New York and Madrid are $56 on united.com. That means fuel surcharges are $134 roundtrip in economy and $158 roundtrip in Business Class on Iberia between the United States and Europe.

American Airlines doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on any other airline for award tickets.

Fees

In addition to taxes and fuel surcharges, you may be subjected to fees.

  • $40 to book an award by phone if it can be booked online. This is WAIVED when you cannot book the award online, but make sure the agent remembers to waive it. This is also waived for Executive Platinum elites.
  • $75 to book an award within 21 days of departure. Waived for elites.
  • $75 to change departure date to a date less than 21 days away. Waived for elites.
  • No fee to change the date of an award more than 21 days in advance.
  • No fee to “upgrade” an award to a better cabin than the one in which you initially booked the award more than 21 days in advance.
  • $150 to cancel an award, to change the type of award (e.g. AAnytime to MileSAAver or AA-only to partner), or to change the origin or destination of the award. For additional awards changed/canceled at the same time, you pay only $25 per award, so a couple canceling their award would pay only $175 total. Waived for Executive Platinum elites.

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Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

LAN Airlines, the flag carrier of Chile, has daily flights from Santiago to Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui and Isla de Pascua. That route makes sense to connect Easter Island to its capital city.

What makes far less sense is the weekly flight from Easter Island another five hours west to Tahiti. There’s also usually a summer seasonal (our winter) route from Lima to Easter Island, though it hasn’t been announced for 2015/2016.

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LAN is a member of a oneworld, so you can use American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios to book the flights. These flights can be a creative use of either type of miles. For instance, with American Airlines miles, you could take a trip like this to South America, Easter Island, Tahiti, and Hawaii.

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The Routes

Santiago to Easter Island is daily.

Easter Island to Tahiti operates on Mondays with the return flight on Tuesdays. It doesn’t appear to operate every Monday, but I don’t discern a seasonal pattern. You can check LAN’s timetable one week at a time to see when the flight operates.

Lima to Easter Island has been seasonal during our winter (their summer.) It is not yet on the schedule for our 2015/2016 winter, but I also don’t see any announcements that the route has been discontinued, so I think it will appear.

Award Price

Different miles, different price.

American Airlines Miles

American Airlines considers Tahiti and Easter Island to both be part of the South Pacific.

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That makes tickets from Lima or Santiago to Easter Island outrageously expensive with American Airlines miles.

Between Santiago (or anywhere else in Southern South America) and Easter Island one way:

  • 37,500 AA miles in economy
  • 50,000 AA miles in Business
  • LAN doesn’t have First Class

Between Lima (or anywhere else in Northern South America) and Easter Island one way:

  • 40,000 AA miles in economy
  • 65,000 AA miles in Business
  • LAN doesn’t have First Class

Easter Island and Tahiti are in the same region, so award prices are much more reasonable one way:

  • 20,000 AA miles in economy
  • 30,000 AA miles in Business
  • LAN doesn’t have First Class
BA Avios

Avios awards are distance-based, and all three segments discussed in this post are between 2,000 and 3,000 miles flown, which means they cost one way:

  • 12,500 Avios in economy
  • 37,500 Avios in Business
Other Interesting Routes

Tahiti to Bora Bora:

  • Miles cannot be used on the route. Purchase with cash or points that can be used like cash for airline tickets–like Arrival miles or ThankYou Points.

Tahiti to Honolulu:

  • 27.5k/47.5k Hawaiian Miles one way in Hawaiian economy/First.
  • 37.5k/62.5k American Airlines miles one way in Hawaiian economy/First
Bottom Line on Which Miles to Use

There are no fuel surcharges on any of these routes, and taxes and fees are the same no matter which miles you use.

  • Use Avios between South America and Easter Island. Also use Avios in economy between Easter Island and Tahiti
  • Use American Airlines miles to fly LAN Business between Easter Island and Tahiti.
  • Use Hawaiian miles between Tahiti and Hawaii.

Award Space on LAN

You can search LAN award space on ba.com. Since you basically have to search one day at a time, make sure a flight is operating before you bother searching that day for award space. Here is how to search ba.com.

I found decent award space for one passenger between Santiago and Easter Island. Business Class costs 37,500 Avios + $11.
Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.06.37 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.06.42 AM

Some days have as many as seven award seats in each cabin.Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.07.26 AM Some days also have “First Class” award space listed. There is no LAN First Class, and if you try to select that space, you get an error.

Economy awards from Santiago to Easter Island cost 12,500 Avios + $11 or 4,000 Avios + $87, which is a better deal and ridiculously cheap. (Learn more about Cash & Avios awards.)Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.07.43 AMWhen Easter Island to Tahiti is operating, award space is good in economy.
Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.10.26 AM

It prices slightly higher because of taxes, but you can still book one of the most interesting routes in the world for an astounding 4,000 Avios + $106. (Why my BA account is in euros.)Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.19.20 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.19.24 AM

 

Getting Avios, American Airlines Miles, and Hawaiian Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

The British Airways Visa offers 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months. You can also transfer Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards 1:1 to Avios.

The Hawaiian Airlines MasterCard offers 35,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. You can also transfer Membership Rewards 1:1 to Hawaiian Miles.

Bottom Line

LAN flies some interesting routes in the South Pacific from Easter Island to Tahiti, Santiago, and Lima. Award space is searchable on ba.com and bookable with Avios and American Airlines miles.

Hawaiian Airlines flies Tahiti to Honolulu if you don’t want to backtrack.

All the necessary miles are easy to get with credit card bonuses from 35,000 to 75,000 miles.

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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 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

12

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

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

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Which Airlines Can You Book with American Airlines Miles?

American Airlines is a member of oneworld, so its miles can be used on all 16 oneworld partners.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 10.47.45 AM

American also has partnerships outside its alliance. AA miles can also be used on all these eight airlines.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 12.39.09 PM

Subject to other rules that I cover here, you can freely combine as many partners as you want onto a single award.

Where to Search Award Space on All American Airlines Partners

You have to search award space on American Airlines partners on a combination of aa.com, ba.com, other airline websites, or simply by calling AAdvantage reservations. The fact that there are so many places to look is one of the main reasons many people prefer to have my Award Booking Service book their American Airlines awards.

It is important to note that you should completely ignore the number of miles quoted for an award ticket during your search on ba.com, alaskaair.com, or etihad.com. Since you are booking with American Airlines miles, you are subject to American Airlines’ very different and very awesome award chart. How many miles will your award cost? I cover that in Part 4 of this series.

Searchable on aa.com
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • airberlin
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian
  • US Airways

Here’s how to search aa.com.

In general, aa.com is pretty good at finding all possible connections for the airlines it is searching. However, your searching can always be improved by segment-by-segment searching.

Searchable on ba.com
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LAN Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines
  • TAM Airlines

Here’s how to search ba.com.

BA.com is fantastic if you want to search direct flights, but ba.com does a terrible job of finding connections. To search ba.com for award space when connecting itineraries are possible, you must master the very simple concept of segment-by-segment searching. Any award space for the preceding airlines found on ba.com is bookable by calling American Airlines.

Searchable Other Places
  • Air Tahiti Nui and Gulf Air are searchable on Expert Flyer.

Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Note that American Airlines cannot book Air Tahiti–a separate airlines from Air Tahiti Nui–or Air Tahiti Nui First Class. Any award space found on Expert Flyer for Air Tahiti Nui or Gulf Air is bookable by calling American Airlines.

Expert Flyer is a paid service that offers a free trial. If you don’t want to search there, you can search search by calling American Airlines.

  • Etihad Airways award space is searchable on etihad.com.

Here’s how to search etihad.com. American Airlines miles can be used to book any space labeled as “GuestSeat.”

Here’s how to search alaskaair.com. Any Fiji Airways award space on alaskaair.com is bookable with American Airlines miles.

  • Jet Airways and Seaborne are only searchable by calling American Airlines.

Note that no one in this FlyerTalk thread seems to have ever been able to book an award on Seaborne because of lack of award space even though it should be theoretically possible.

Booking the Awards

If your award is entirely searchable on aa.com, you can book there also or put the award on a five-day courtesy hold after selecting your flights.

If you cannot search on aa.com, note the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you find before calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880 and feeding the agent the flights one at a time. Make sure to remind the phone agent to waive the phone fee, since you couldn’t book online.

Once your award is constructed, you can ticket it or put it on a five-day courtesy hold by phone.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles can be used to book 24 airlines. Only nine of those airlines’ award space is searchable on aa.com. The other 15 need to be searched on a combination of other websites or by calling American Airlines.

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® with 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement. I’ll give you six ways to spend those miles on ultra-luxurious First Class redemptions you could never afford with cash.

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When I got the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® last year, the lounge access was a nice perk, but I got it for the huge miles. American Airlines miles are currently the most valuable airline miles for ultra-luxury awards because Delta and United devalued their award charts in 2014, but American’s has been the same for several years. For example, a roundtrip in First Class to Southeast Asia costs:

  • 135,000 American Airlines miles
  • 260,000 United miles on United partners
  • Delta miles cannot book First Class (160,000 Delta miles in Business Class)

That means you and a companion can travel to Bali or Bangkok in First Class with almost the same number of American Airlines miles (270,000) as one person using United miles would need (260,000).

What are six great ways to use the 82,500 American Airlines miles you’d have after meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® for ultra-luxurious First Class?

1. Cathay Pacific First Class for 67,500 miles

Trip Report: New York to Hong Kong

You can book Cathay Pacific First Class one way for 67,500 American Airlines miles between the United States and Southeast Asia.

Cathay Pacific First Class is a throne…

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…that turns into a large and comfortable bed.

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Cathay Pacific First Class comes with some of the best food, fanciest wines and liquors, and most attentive service in the sky.

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And best of all, award space is widely available from the United States to Hong Kong and from there to the rest of Asia.

2. Etihad First Class for 40,000 miles

Etihad First Class costs only 40,000 American Airlines miles between Europe and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives. From the United States to those destinations is 90,000 miles.

Etihad First Class on its newest A380 has a couch that seats several people and a separate bed.

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Etihad’s fully enclosed suites are the most spacious in the sky, and there’s a shower onboard that you can use in flight.

Award space is widely available on the A380 between London and Abu Dhabi and Sydney and Abu Dhabi. First Class award space between the United States and the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent on Etihad’s A380 goes in and out. I booked Abu Dhabi to New York for January 2016.

3. Qantas First Class for 40,000 miles

Qantas First Class costs only 40,000 American Airlines miles between London and Dubai. From the United States to Australia, the cost is only 72,500 miles on flights of over 14 hours!

Qantas First Class features an open suite that converts into a bed…

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…or a table for two.

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Qantas First Class is widely available between London and Dubai, Dubai and Sydney, and London and Sydney for low mileage prices. It is not widely available between the United States and Australia, but there is some availability if you can plan your trip one year in advance.

4. Malaysia Airlines First Class for 70,000 miles

Trip Report: Paris to Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia Airlines First Class on its A380 costs 70,000 miles between Kuala Lumpur and London.

Malaysia Airlines is a very large and comfortable seat that converts into an extremely long and wide bed.

The all-you-can-eat satay cart was the best food I’ve ever had in the sky.

And the attentive service–that included kneeling down to seat level for interactions–was way better than you’d ever get from a US-based airline.

Malaysia Airlines First Class is widely available between Kuala Lumpur and Europe.

5. Japan Airlines First Class for 62,500 miles

Japan Airlines First Class is among the best in the world.

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It combines a mostly enclosed suite with a wide, fully flat bed and impeccable service and food.Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 2.37.30 PM

Japan Airlines First Class between the United States and Japan costs 62,500 American Airlines miles one way.

6. British Airways First Class for 40,000 miles

British Airways First Class on the A380 from London to South Africa is only 50,000 miles. Between the United States and Europe, the price is only 62,500 miles. The A380 flies to Los Angeles and Washington-Dulles.

British Airways First Class is a partially enclosed seat that turns into a fully flat bed.

There are fuel surcharges when you use American Airlines miles to book British Airways–the only fuel surcharges for any bookings in this post–but if the schedule is convenient, they may be worth paying. British Airways First Class is moderately available between the United States and Europe and between London and the rest of the world.

Also check out First Class on the British Airways 787-9 from 40,000 miles one way on a ten hour flight.

Bottom Line

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement. You can use those miles for ultra-luxurious First Class awards, starting at 40,000 miles one way.

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

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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 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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