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

British Airways is launching a new route from San Jose to London on May 4, 2016.

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The new route will be flown by a 787-9 Dreamliner with flat beds in Business and First Classes. I wrote about the British Airways Dreamliner product and award space on its first four announced routes here.

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The new route has excellent Business Class award space at the moment (not quite as good as a few days ago), and this is extra relevant because 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’s more than enough for a roundtrip to Europe with one way in Business Class.

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You’re probably thinking, ‘Yeah, but what about the fuel surcharges?” They’re not nearly as bad as you think. Frankly most people look at British Airways award space wrong. For instance, this post by The Points Guy shows the price of a roundtrip in British Airways Business Class from San Jose to London costs 100,000 American Airlines miles + $1,258.

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That’s true, but that’s also literally the worst way to book this award space. British Airways award flights have fuel surcharges when booked with all types of miles, but there are ways to greatly minimize these fuel surcharges.

For instance, just booking that exact same roundtrip as two one way awards will drop the fuel surcharges a couple hundred bucks.

The outbound one way is $480.Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 3.12.12 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-31 at 3.12.16 PM

The return one way is $565.

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That’s $1,045 roundtrip, which is $213 cheaper than booking a roundtrip.

But even better than that, just book a one way from Europe to the United States and start it from a low-tax, low-surcharge city.

How to Save a Ton on British Airways Fuel Surcharges

There is no way to save on fuel surcharges when departing from the United States to Europe on British Airways flights, so don’t fly those flights. Use United miles or another type with no fuel surcharges to get to Europe.

There is a way to save a lot on fuel surcharges and taxes when flying home from Europe though.

Taxes vary greatly by city of departure in Europe, and so do fuel surcharges, which British Airways changes based on competition in the market and other factors that have nothing to do with the price of fuel.

Book yourself a one way award home from Europe on British Airways flights, but don’t start in London. London has the highest departure taxes. Return from a lower tax country, which might also have lower surcharges.

Remember that just London to San Jose cost $565.

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Berlin to London to San Jose is $148 cheaper. Taxes drop $170 though the fuel surcharges actually rises.
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Oslo to London to San Jose is $308 cheaper than starting in London. Taxes are $228 cheaper and fuel surcharges are $80 less too.
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If you want to go to multiple cities in Europe on one trip, play around to see how much money you can save by returning from the city with the lowest taxes and fuel surcharges.

I would gladly pay 50,000 American Airlines miles plus $257 for a one way award from Oslo to San Jose. United wants 70,000 miles for a comparable Business Class product, and Delta wants 62,500 miles. Saving all those miles for only about $200 more than the taxes on United and Delta awards would be is a fair trade off.

Award Space London to San Jose

Having said that the way to book British Airways award space is to book the return from Europe only, let’s look at award space from London to San Jose next Spring and Summer on the new direct flight. Remember that you will not start in London, but in another European city. Award space intra-Europe is excellent.

Award space from London to San Jose is widely available from May 4 until June 30. Then it abruptly ends, with no award space in July.

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Contrast that with San Jose to London space (which you probably don’t want to book because there is no way to lower the fuel surcharges dramatically), which is most available in July 2016.Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.43.10 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.43.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.43.56 PMEconomy award space is also widely available, though I cannot justify the fuel surcharges since United and Delta charge the same price as American for economy awards to Europe. First Class space is almost non-existent, though I did spot one day.
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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’s more than enough for a roundtrip to Europe with one way in Business Class.

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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.

Bottom Line

Award space is widely available on British Airways’ new San Jose <-> London flight that launches May 4, 2016 on a 787-9 Dreamliner.

Here’s how to save a grand: Instead of paying 100,000 miles + $1,257 for a roundtrip in Business Class on the direct flights, pay 50,000 miles + $257 for a one way return from Oslo to London to San Jose, and book a one way to Europe for just $6 in taxes with another type of miles.

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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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8

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Update 8/30/15: This offer ends Monday August 31, 2015.

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Until August 31, 2015, you can transfer 20,000 SPG Starpoints to 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. This is a repeat of an awesome promo we saw July 2014.

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

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

Here’s what American Airlines says:

From July 1 through August 31, 2015, convert your Starpoints® to AAdvantage miles and earn a 20% bonus on the amount of AAdvantage miles you receive from the conversion.

As always, for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred within the same transaction, SPG® will automatically add another 5,000 Starpoints.

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

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

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

How Many Starpoints Can You Transfer?

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

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

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

Speculative Transfers

I value Starpoints at 2.5 cents each and AAdvantage miles at 1.8 cents each, so I’d rather have 30,000 American Airlines miles than 20,000 Starpoints. However, I am not going to rush off and convert all my Starpoints to American Airlines miles for two reasons:

  1. Transferring kills the option value of holding transferable points. What if for my next award Asiana or Singapore or British Airways or Delta miles are better than American Airlines miles? I’d rue my transfer.
  2. I expect an American Airlines award chart devaluation announcement in the next few months that kicks in around the beginning of 2016. Here’s a post where I asked several miles experts to predict the next American Airlines devlauation’s size and timing.

For that reason, I’ll only transfer Starpoints to American Airlines miles that I reasonably expect to burn by the end of 2015 for travel through late 2016.

Getting Starpoints

You can’t get Starpoints by August 31 by opening a new credit card, but this promotion highlights one of the many reasons you’d want to get a new Starwood Preferred Guest personal or business card.

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

Get More American Airlines Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 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.

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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.

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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.

Update August 30, 2015: You must book your Hawaiian Airlines awards between the United States mainland and Hawaii by Monday August 31 if you want to use American Airlines miles.

Starting September 1, 2015, you can no longer use your American Airlines miles to book Hawaiian Airlines flights between the mainland United States and Hawaii.

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You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly inter-island flights on Hawaiian and to fly to Hawaiian’s destinations in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly to Hawaii on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights.

How Big of a Loss for AAdvantage Miles is Losing Hawaiian Flights to Hawaii?

I’d categorize this as a minor loss. Hawaiian has a nice route network to the west coast, but so do Alaska, American, and US Airways. All this cities will still have direct flights to Honolulu that you can book with American Airlines miles after September 1. (Of course, if you only want the direct flight, book it with Avios not American Airlines miles to save 5k to 10k miles each way.)

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The big losses are Hawaiian’s flights from Las Vegas and New York-JFK to Honolulu. If you live in Las Vegas, substitute with cheap cash fares on Allegiant and consider upgrading to its First-Class-sized Giant Seat. If you live in New York, you can fly United’s direct flight from Newark to Honolulu, which features a flat bed in First Class (trip report), and costs only 30,000 Singapore miles one way.

It’s not like Hawaiian offers great award space from New York to Honolulu any way. There’s a smattering of days with economy award space for two on the route, but no days with First Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.34.17 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.44.45 PMHawaiian First Class is a little bit nicer than American, US Airways, or Alaska First Class on their mainland routes (Trip Report: Hawaiian Airlines First Class from Honolulu to Las Vegas), but losing the ability to book it on mainland flights isn’t huge.

If you want to book Hawaiian Airlines award space between the mainland and Hawaii with your American Airlines miles, you can do that through August 31, 2015 at which point flights will be bookable through July 2016. American charges:

  • 17.5k miles each way in economy during off peak dates
  • 22.5k miles each way in economy during peak dates
  • 37.5k miles each way in First Class

Even after September 1, American miles will remain a valuable currency to Hawaii for the award space on American, Alaska, and US Airways flights.

Flights You Can Still Book with American Airlines Miles After September 1

Interisland

Hawaiian Airlines and subsidiary Ohana have an extensive intra-Hawaii route network that you can book for 5,000 miles one way.

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Generally I pay for interisland flights with cash as they’re often about $80, which I think is a better deal than 5,000 American Airlines miles + $5.60, but if flights are expensive when you want to travel, this can be a good deal.

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Hawaii to Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

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Hawaiian flies from Honolulu to:

  • Japan: Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka-Kansai, Sapporo, Sendai (ends 9/30)
  • China: Beijing
  • Australia: Sydney, Brisbane
  • New Zealand: Auckland
  • South Korea: Seoul
  • Tahiti: Papeete
  • American Samoa: Pago Pago

Australia and New Zealand could be useful destinations with American Airlines miles. Sometimes the only premium cabin awards to Australia and New Zealand are bookable in Hawaiian First Class for 62,500 miles one way because Qantas releases very little space on its American flights in Business and First Class.

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Bottom Line

If you want to book Hawaiian Airlines flights to Hawaii with American Airlines miles, do it now.

  • Starting September 1, 2015, you can no longer use your American Airlines miles to book Hawaiian Airlines flights between the mainland United States and Hawaii.
  • You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly inter-island flights on Hawaiian and to fly to Hawaiian’s destinations in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly to Hawaii on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights.
  • You can also book Hawaiian Airlines flights with Hawaiian miles, a transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints

Hat Tip The Forward Cabin

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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.

Malaysia Airlines has an incredible First Class product on its A380, on par with the best in the world. I flew Malaysia First Class from Paris to Kuala Lumpur in 2013 and loved the service, luxury touches, and satay cart.

You can fly the same product between London and Kuala Lumpur for 70,000 American Airlines miles with great award availability.  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 one way to between Southeast Asia and Europe in Malaysia First Class.

Unfortunately Malaysia Airlines is in terrible financial shape after losing two planes last year, so it is completely revamping its company and dumping some A380s. It has cut the A380 from its Paris <-> Kuala Lumpur route, but the plane remains on twice daily services between London and Kuala Lumpur.

Product

I love Malaysia Airlines First Class. It is reminiscent of Cathay Pacific First Class to me. A super wide throne that makes for a very comfortable bed.

The only quibble I ever have with flat beds on airplanes is when they aren’t very wide, making me feel a little claustrophobic. There are no such issues in Malaysia First Class. The 26.1″ wide, 7’3″ long bed was plenty big.

The Malaysia A380 has eight First Class seats arranged 1-2-1.

Dom Perignon and caviar are served onboard.

The service on my flight blew me away, especially all the small touches like multiple flight attendants introducing themselves and thanking me for flying Malaysia Airlines to the flight attendants kneeling down to seat level when interacting.

Award Price and Where You Can Fly

The only route with Malaysia Airlines First Class on the A380 is London <-> Kuala Lumpur. You can connect anywhere in Europe and anywhere in Asia 2 (Southeast Asia plus China) for the same 70,000 American Airlines miles one way.

There are no fuel surcharges on the flight; you just pay government taxes. Departing London, those taxes are about $300 one way, so if you want to start in Europe, you’ll save a lot of money by starting NOT in London and just connecting there on a British Airways or other oneworld flight.

I’d recommend starting in Kuala Lumpur to save hundreds of dollars on taxes and get an extra hour (13.5 hours) in flight.

Award Space

Award space is excellent in First Class for one passenger and in Business Class for one passenger per flight. I searched this week and the first weeks of November, January, March, May, and July for First Class award space to see how it varies by season and time.

On every Malaysia Airlines flight, I found either zero or one First Class award seat, never a second. If you have a companion, either book two Business Class seats, one First and one Business, or one First and hope for a second to open up later.

London to Kuala Lumpur
  • This week: 2/7 days have First Class space
  • November: 6/7 days  (one day had one First Class seat on each flight)
  • January: 3/7 days
  • March: 7/7 days
  • May: 0/7 days (but all 14 flights had 1 Business Class award seat)
  • July: 7/7 days (all 14 flights had 1 First Class award seat)
Kuala Lumpur to London
  • This week: 0/7 days
  • November 5/7 days
  • January: 3/7 days
  • March 7/7 days
  • May: 0/7 days (but all 14 flights had 1 Business Class award seat)
  • July: 0/7 days (but all 14 flights had 1 Business Class award seat)

The main patterns I discern are that:

  • First Class award space is generally excellent for one passenger but more so within 2-7 months of departure as both directions had zero First Class award space in the first week of May.
  • During periods of zero First Class award space, there were plenty of flights with Business Class award space
  • Award space is a bit better from London to Kuala Lumpur in First Class than vice versa.

Searching and Booking

Search on ba.com. Here’s how. Note the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you find. You can double check the A380 operates the route by clicking the flight number.

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I prefer the redeye MH1 timing going east. Heading west, I’d probably take the MH4 flight times.

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You can book any Malaysia Airlines award space you find on ba.com with American Airlines miles. To book, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. Give the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found. Confirm that the agent is NOT charging you a $40 phone fee, since the award cannot be booked online with American Airlines miles.

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.

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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.

Bottom Line

Flying Malaysia Airlines First Class was one of the best flights of my life. You can fly it for only 70,000 American Airlines miles one way, and award space is excellent in both directions.

Search on ba.com, and book by calling American Airlines.

Use the flight as part of a round-the-world trip. Nowadays, RTW awards are poor values, so you need to construct them out of a series of cheap, one way awards like this one.

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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.

American Airlines is releasing a ton of First Class award space from Miami and Dallas to Madrid for May through July, 2016.

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This award space is easy to connect to from anywhere in the United States, and you can get anywhere in Europe with an Iberia flight from Madrid. These connecting flights do not add to the First Class mileage price of 62,500 American Airlines miles each way. United and Delta both charge at least that much for a Business Class award.

Madrid gets scorching hot in the summer, so May and early June are an ideal time to visit. I stayed in Madrid from May 11 to June 10 this year, and I enjoyed the food scene, nightlife, bike share program, weak euro, and weather immensely.

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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 one way to Europe in First Class with enough left over (20,000) for a one way economy off peak award to Europe.

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Product

Both the Miami and Dallas to Madrid flights fly older 777s that feature fully flat beds in First Class.

I reviewed this product on a 2013 flight to Buenos Aires. It is far from the newest product, and you don’t get much in the way of privacy or service, but the bed is plenty comfortable to sleep, and I actually really liked the food.

 

If you compare the product to Emirates First Class, you’ll be disappointed. If you compare it to economy, you’ll be ecstatic.

Award Space

Award space is really great from Miami to Madrid from May to July 2016. Right now you can book through July 22, 2016, and you can book one day later every day.

These calendars are only for one award seat.

Madrid to Miami: First Class Award Space 37/83 days

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Miami to Madrid: First Class Award Space 44/82 days

First Class space is even a bit better on the return. Unfortunately there is no First Class space returning on Sundays, but you could take a Friday-till-the-next-Monday trip to minimize vacation days needed.

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Dallas to Madrid: First Class Award Space 21/83 days

Dallas definitely less space than Miami to Madrid, but it is still pretty good.

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Madrid to Dallas: First Class Award Space 34/83 days

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Connections

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

If you don’t want to go to Madrid, or you want to fly an open jaw award, this space is still perfect. Iberia flies to dozens of European cities for Madrid.

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You can search economy and Business Class Iberia award space at ba.com (here’s how), and tack it onto these awards for zero extra miles.

For instance, the Miami flight lands in Madrid at 9:15 AM. You can connect to this 11:15 AM Iberia flight to Paris if that’s where you want to go.

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The Miami flight leaves Madrid at 11:15 AM. You can start your return in Sevilla for no extra miles on this 6:55 AM Iberia flight.

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Booking the Award

If your award contains only partners that are searchable at aa.com, you can book right on aa.com.

If your award contains Iberia flights, you must call 800-882-8880 to book the award. The phone fee should be waived, since you couldn’t book online, and make sure that it is.

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A roundtrip to Europe in First Class costs 125,000 American Airlines miles. A roundtrip to Madrid has $60 in taxes.
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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 11 types of airline miles or used like cash toward the purchase of any ticket.

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.

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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.

Bottom Line

Book your early summer 2016 trip to Madrid or anywhere else in Europe with fantastic award space in American Airlines First Class.

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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.

2

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

This year I’ve written the Complete Guide to Redeeming American Airlines miles. It is spread across 14 parts. The first five parts talk generally about the rules and partners of American Airlines awards, and the last nine parts explain the partners, routes, and award space situation when redeeming American Airlines miles to a specific region.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Main Takeaways

If I could sum up the 14 parts in just a few ideas, I’d say:

  • Right now American Airlines awards are very cheap compared to United and Delta awards. United and Delta increased award prices in 2014, but American was too busy merging with US Airways. That merger is nearly finished, so expect an American Airlines devaluation soon.
  • American Airlines awards are particularly cheap in Business and First Class, and there are several partners with very luxurious premium cabins like Etihad, Malaysia, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines. Try to book those soon. American Airlines is releasing almost no Business and First Class space on its own flights, so you really need to use partners.
  • Or go the other direction and book economy awards during off peak dates to Europe, South America, Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean for huge discounts. Most of the off peak windows cover more than half the year, so there are great dates included.
  • Broadly speaking, American Airlines miles are better for East Asia, Middle East, South Asia, Latin America, Australia (economy only), and South Pacific Islands. American Airlines miles are worse for Europe, Australia (premium cabins), and Africa.
  • American Airlines miles have unique routing rules that you must understand.

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 to Europe, three roundtrips to the Caribbean, or one way in Cathay Pacific First Class.

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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 found 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 allowed me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

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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.

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5

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

Every October 15 to May 15, you can fly to Europe for 20,000 American Airlines miles each way in economy. This off peak pricing extends to American Airlines and its partners. The off peak award season starts in just 55 days, so book your trip to Europe this Fall right now for only 40,000 American Airlines miles roundtrip.

While I wouldn’t want to be in Europe for most of the off peak season, the end of October and beginning of May should still have pretty good weather, far smaller crowds, and much lower prices.

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 to Europe.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

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

  • American/US Airways
  • British Airways
  • Iberia
  • airberlin
  • Finnair

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

 

Award space at the moment is excellent on all the routes I’ve searched. There’s just one thing to keep in mind:

Avoid transatlantic British Airways award space. The fuel surcharges are in the hundreds of dollars. (Connecting on British Airways in Europe has fuel surcharges in the tens of dollars.)

With that in mind, let’s look at the award space on some selected routes.

Los Angeles to London

There is award space at the Saver level every day on the route. Note the 10,000 mile drop in price on October 15.

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.28.29 AM

A lot of the award space uses British Airways flights, so you have to hunt for the space on American Airlines flights.
Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.29.26 AM

The American Airlines flights, whether direct or connecting, cost 20,000 miles + $6.
Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.30.04 AM Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.30.09 AM

The British Airways flights cost 20,000 miles + $257.Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.30.56 AM Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.31.01 AM

Miami to Paris

Again we see space every day in October at the economy Saver level from Miami to Paris.
Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.32.35 AM

Look for space on American Airlines direct or connecting flights. You can isolate direct flights on the calendar by changing “Number of Stops” just to the left of the calendar.

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.32.23 AM

Chicago to Madrid

This route also has economy Saver award space every day.
Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.33.19 AM Here’s an airberlin routing for 20,000 miles + $24.Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.34.30 AM Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.34.36 AM

You might also want to search ba.com for Iberia flights if you are heading to Spain.

Dallas to Italy Open Jaw Roundtrip

Finally I pieced together Dallas to Milan, returning Rome to Dallas.

In one direction, I relied on a British Airways intra-Europe flight.

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.41.05 AM

This award is a great time to visit Italy when the crowds are diminished but the weather is still good, and yet it costs only 40,000 miles + $181, of which $32 is fuel surcharges on the British Airways flight.

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.41.10 AMBottom Line

The 2015/2016 off peak season to Europe begins for American Airlines miles in less than eight weeks. Book the beginning of that season now for only 20,000 miles one way to enjoy smaller crowds and still good weather (at least in Southern Europe.)

Award space is excellent on almost every route, just avoid British Airways transatlantic flights.

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. The 82,500 American Airlines miles you’d have from completing the minimum spending requirement is more than enough for two roundtrips to Europe at off peak prices.

————————————————————————————————————
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

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

From February 1, 2016, Emirates will fly daily between Dubai and Panama City, which will be the longest scheduled commercial flight at over 8,500 miles. The flight is blocked for 17:35 heading west. Hopefully the flight will be bookable with Alaska miles, and it will definitely be bookable with Japan Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.35.20 PM

I have a special interest in long flights because when I am flying an ultra-luxurious First Class, I don’t want the flight to end. Eight hours–a typical transatlantic flight–are not enough. I want 12 hours, maybe 16 hours.

Right now the top ten longest flights include five that are bookable with American Airlines miles. That’s important because American has the cheapest award chart, and 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. One of these flights costs only 67,500 miles in First Class.

  • #1: Dallas to Sydney on Qantas: 8,578 miles and 16:55
  • #3: Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles on Etihad: 8,390 miles and 16:30
  • #7: Abu Dhabi to San Francisco on Etihad: 8,168 miles and 16:15
  • #8: Dallas to Hong Kong on American: 8,123 miles and 17:05
  • #10: New York to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific: 8,067 miles and 16:15 (my trip report)

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.34.50 PM

What’s the Award Space on These Ultra-Longhauls?

#1: Dallas to Sydney

The longest current flight in the world is operated by a Qantas A380. “That’s awesome!” you might be thinking since the Qantas A380 has a fantastic First Class product.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.25.48 AM

Yes, but Qantas releases almost no First Class award space on its A380 routes to America.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.33.16 PM

Right now there is decent economy award space in both directions on the route. And there are exactly two days with a Business Class award seat from Dallas to Sydney in the next 11 months. (Here’s my review of Qantas Business Class on the A380.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.25.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.26.07 PM

When First Class space does appear, it is usually 8-11 months out and a single seat. It costs only 72,500 American Airlines miles one way.

#3 and #7: Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles and San Francisco

Award space in First Class is pretty good (and sometimes great) on Etihad’s flights to California. You can search on etihad.com as described here. All Guest Seat award space can be booked by calling American Airlines.

The Los Angeles flight is operated by a 777-200LR (trip report here).

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.00.12 PM

Award space is mainly available this week and next Spring, though award space is scattered throughout the calendar. Look for days that say “Miles 144,024.” You will not pay that price because American charges only 90,000 miles one way in First Class between the United States and the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.00.05 PM

San Francisco is operated by a leased Jet Airways plane (trip report here).

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 6.58.33 PM

Award space is very available on this route–this week next Winter, and next Spring.Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 6.59.07 PM
Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 6.59.42 PMNearly every day has award space in Etihad First Class on the San Francisco route.

#8 Dallas to Hong Kong

American Airlines has released zero Business and First Class on the route for the next 11 months. It is being very stingy with longhaul premium cabin award space on its own flights at the moment. Thank god for partners.

The award would cost 67,500 American Airlines miles one way.

#10 New York to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific releases tons of Business and First Class award space on its several daily fights from New York to Hong Kong.

The best times to look are in the few days before departure and 11 months out on ba.com. Then book by calling American Airlines.

Tomorrow, unfortunately, there is no First Class space on the route, though one flight has six Business Class seats.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.02.43 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.02.50 PMLooking 11 months out, we see a pretty predictable pattern. Most flights have 1-5 Business Class seats, and some flights have 1-2 First Class seats.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.02.43 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.04.10 PMAmerican charges 55,000 miles one way in Business Class and 67,500 miles in First Class on the route.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.02.43 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.04.36 PM

I flew this exact route and loved it. I slept for eight hours early on and enjoyed the service and entertainment for about eight hours. (See my trip report.)

IMG_0051

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles can book five of the world’s 10 longest flights, each 16 hours or longer. If you can snag one of these flights in Business or First Class, you are in heaven. You’ll enjoy a full night sleep, two full meals, and plenty of time to take advantage of the entertainment options.

Award space varies on the route from zero (AA’s DFW-HKG flight) to very little (Qantas’ DFW-SYD flight) to tons (Etihad’s California routes and Cathay Pacific’s JFK route.)

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. That’s enough miles to book several of these routes one way.

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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.

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

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 a roundtrip to Fiji or Tahiti.

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 Pacific Islands Awards

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

  • Fiji Airways
  • Air Tahiti Nui

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

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

Pricing

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

  • 37,500 miles one way in economy
  • 62,500 miles one way in Business Class
  • There are no First Class options to these islands

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

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

Routes & Award Space

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.04.50 PM

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

Award Space on Fiji Flights

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.18.46 PM

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

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

Los Angeles to Fiji

Here are economy results throughout the next 10 months.

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.17.44 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.17.56 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.18.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.18.28 PM

Business Class space is super rare, but it does exist for a day here and there.

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.18.33 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.18.41 PM

Fiji to Los Angeles

Here are the calendars for return flights, which look pretty similar.Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.19.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.19.49 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.19.57 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.20.11 PM

Again Business Class award space just really isn’t there.

Award Space on Air Tahiti Nui Flights

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.20.51 PM

A strong tendency I notice with Air Tahiti Nui award space is that the most Business Class space is available 11 months in advance. Space deteriorates as the departure date approaches, and space is also worse from November to April.

For instance, next week, there is only one flight with Business Class award space–TN7 on August 20.
Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.21.10 PMIn October, we see a similar pattern. A typical flight will have two economy award seats, but none in Business Class.Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.22.05 PMIn January, again we see lots of economy award space and no Business Class space.Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.22.34 PMIn March, there is mostly economy award space, but we start to see Business Class space on some flights.Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.22.57 PM

In June, 10 months out, we start to see Business Class space for two people on most days.Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.23.22 PM

Air Tahiti is Not Air Tahiti Nui

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.51.04 PM

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

These Air Tahiti flights are expensive. For instance, a roundtrip from Tahiti to Bora Bora this February would be 39,243 CFP francs, about $365 at current exchange rates.
Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 11.36.50 PM

Just because you can’t use American Airlines miles on Air Tahiti flights doesn’t mean you have to pay cash though.

  1. You can use the $250 Air Travel Credit on your Citi Prestige® Card.
  2. You can pay with Arrival miles at a net rate of 1.075 cents off the ticket for each Arrival mile redeemed.
  3. You can pay with ThankYou Points earned from the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which can be used like cash toward the purchase of any airline ticket. Points earned on the Prestige are worth 1.33 cents toward the purchase of any flight (or 1.6 cents toward the purchase of American Airlines/US Airways tickets), so the roundtrip from Tahiti to Bora Bora would be 27,593 ThankYou Points.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.37.26 PM

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

Booking the Award

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are good for getting to Fiji and Tahiti in economy, but offer much less award space in Business Class.

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.

13

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

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

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 a roundtrip to Africa.

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 Africa Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pricing

From North America to Africa, American Airlines charges:

  • 37,500 miles one way in economy
  • 75,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 100,000 miles one way in First Class

These miles prices are steep, about in line with the devalued United and Delta charts, which is surprising because most of American Airlines’ current award chart is cheaper than United and Delta awards.

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 7.38.08 PMFuel surcharges are $1,430 in addition to the $207 in taxes.Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 7.38.17 PM

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

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

Routes & Award Space

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 7.30.13 PM
Los Angeles begins 1/1/16. Boston begins 3/16/16. Atlanta begins 6/1/16.

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

Award Space on Qatar Flights

Qatar economy and Business Class space is excellent. I used Award Nexus to search all eight American routes that are flying to Doha from March 1 to March 7. I found award space for two people on almost every flight in that time period. Each city pair, like “JFK-DOH” represents a flight with two Business Class award seats.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 8.58.37 PM

There’s so much space that it doesn’t fit on the calendar. For instance, on March 2, there is award space on all eight routes for two people in Business Class, and award space on two New York flights.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 8.58.49 PM

 

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

Booking the Award

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

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.

0

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

Last month American Airlines announced it would fly from Los Angeles to Sydney beginning December 17, 2015. Even after it starting selling tickets and AAnytime (expensive) award space, it hadn’t released a single MileSAAver award seat in any cabin in either direction as of a few weeks ago.

American Airlines is now releasing good economy award space on the route, especially from Los Angeles to Sydney. It still has released no Business Class or First Class award space.

Economy MileSAAver award space between North America and Australia/New Zealand is 37,500 American Airlines miles one way. Award space begins February 1, and you can find it on most days heading west in February.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 4.24.25 AM

In our Spring, their Fall, award space gets a little less frequent.
Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 4.24.39 AM

In our Summer, their Winter, it becomes rare.
Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 4.24.58 AM

Heading from Sydney to Los Angeles, award space is much less available. I only found it on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 4.26.49 AM Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 4.27.18 AMRemember that you can connect to this award space in the United States on American, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines MileSAAver award space for zero extra miles. You can also connect throughout Australia and New Zealand on Qantas flights for zero extra miles.

For instance, Phoenix to Perth is 37,500 American Airlines miles and $34 one way.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 12.11.40 AM Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 12.11.44 AM

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. That’s enough miles for a roundtrip to Australia or New Zealand in economy (75,000 miles.)

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.

Bonus

The full announcement was that American Airlines would take over one of Qantas’ daily flights from Los Angeles to Sydney, and that Qantas would simultaneously restart San Francisco to Sydney service. That route has finally released its first Business Class award seat. (Literally one seat on one day in one direction.) Don’t expect much Business Class space on this route ever.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 11.47.47 PM

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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

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.33.09 PM
Me at Trakai Castle in Lithuania

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 to Europe.

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 Europe Awards

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

  • American/US Airways
  • British Airways
  • Iberia
  • airberlin
  • Finnair

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

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

Pricing

From North America to Europe, American Airlines charges:

  • 20,000 miles one way in economy from October 15 to May 15
  • 30,000 miles one way in economy from May 16 to October 14
  • 50,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 62,500 miles one way in First Class

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

These prices are significantly less than United and Delta charge for the same awards.

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

Washington to London in British Airways First Class is 62,500 American Airlines miles + $442.
Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.05.59 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.06.05 PM

Washington to Madrid roundtrip in British Airways First Class is 125,000 American Airlines miles + $1,026.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.08.21 PM

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

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

Routes & Award Space

American Airlines has a decent route network to Europe from New York and Philadelphia.
Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 2.51.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-12 at 2.54.28 PM

American also flies transatlantic flights from Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, and Raleigh.

Award Space on AA Flights

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 2.56.41 PM

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

New York to London has award space in economy daily outside of peak travel times.
Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 2.58.43 PM

And it also has Business Class award space on Mondays through Wednesdays.
Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 2.58.48 PM

New York to Paris has less of a pattern of Business Class award space, but it is available if you are flexible.Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 2.59.22 PM

Oddly I often see more premium cabin award space on longer American Airlines flights. For instance, Dallas to London has more First Class award space than New York to London.Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.03.08 PM

Chicago to London has pretty regular First Class award space.Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.04.38 PM

Your secret weapon for Business and First Class award space to Europe will be American Airlines flights to Madrid (and from there to anywhere else in Europe on connecting Iberia flights.) There is great Business Class and First Class space from Madrid to Miami.
Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.09.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.09.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.10.16 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.01.19 PM

Iberia, Finnair, and airberlin Award Space

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 2.47.25 PM

Finnair

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

airberlin

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

For instance, Dusseldorf to New York has a lot of Business Class award space in March 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.29.05 PM

Award space in Business Class is not nearly as good from New York to Dusseldorf in May or June, but there is still some.Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.29.33 PM

Instead check out New York to Berlin, which has great economy and good Business Class space in June 2016.Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.32.35 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.32.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.32.48 PM

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

Iberia

Iberia has great economy award space and OK Business Class award space as long as you book in advance. For instance, here are the days with Iberia Business Class awards in the first week of May 2016 from New York, Miami, and Chicago to Madrid.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.25.49 PM Here is the economy space the same week on the same routes.Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.26.00 PM

What about last minute award space? Here is the economy award space this week on the same three routes. There is no Business Class award space this week on Iberia flights on the three routes.Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.26.28 PM

 

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

Booking the Award

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

American Airlines are not very good to Europe. There are some American Airlines, some Iberia, and some airberlin routes with decent award space if you know what to search and can be flexible. But I’d rather use my American Airlines miles to Asia and South America and book Europe with United, Delta, Flying Blue, or Virgin Atlantic miles.

If you find space though, awards to Europe with American Airlines miles are cheap.

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.

13

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

American Airlines miles can get you a last second seat in economy, flat bed Business Class, or super-luxurious First Class to Asia. Partners Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines both offer phenomenal products, routes to tons of destinations, and great award space near departure.

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 (75k-82.5k) for a roundtrip from the United States to Japan with one direction in Business Class.

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.

Award Prices

American Airlines awards to Asia are way under-priced compared to United and Delta awards. For one way awards, American charges:

  • 25,000 miles in economy to Japan, Korea, and Mongolia from October to April each year
  • 32,500 miles in economy to Japan, Korea, and Mongolia the rest of the year
  • 35,000 miles in economy to the rest of East and Southeast Asia
  • 50,000 miles in Business Class to Japan, Korea, and Mongolia
  • 55,000 miles in Business Class to the rest of East and Southeast Asia
  • 62,500 miles in First Class to Japan, Korea, and Mongolia
  • 67,500 miles in First Class to the rest of East and Southeast Asia

Taxes to East Asian countries are low, mostly in the $50 to $100 roundtrip range. There are no fuel surcharges on any American Airlines awards from the United States to Asia. There is no phone fee for booking Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights by phone. There is a $75 fee for ticketing an American Airlines award within 21 days of departure, which is what this post focuses on.

The Products

Japan Airlines First Class on its 777-300ER is a world class flat bed enclosed in a suite.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 5.29.48 AM

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

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 5.29.36 AM

Here’s a tour of the plane.

Cathay Pacific First Class is an extremely wide seat/bed with amazing food and personalized service.

IMG_0051

Here’s my review of Cathay Pacific First Class.

Award Space

Where They Fly

Japan Airlines flies from seven American cities to three Japanese cities with connections throughout Asia.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.46.37 AM
Source: gcmap.com

Cathay Pacific flies from seven North American cities to Hong Kong with connections throughout Asia. Cathay Pacific, and its subsidiary Dragonair (also bookable with American Airlines miles), serve many more Asian destinations than Japan Airlines if you want to fly into smaller cities like Chiang Mai, Thailand or Da Nang, Vietnam.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.51.59 AM
Source: gcmap.com
Last Minute Award Space

Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines both have incredible award space in the last few days before departure. You can search both airlines’ award space on ba.com. Any award space you see there can be booked with American Airlines miles.

Today’s flights from New York to Hong Kong have 9 total First Class award seats and 19+ total Business Class award seats. (I reviewed First Class on the route here.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.19.02 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.19.08 AM

Cathay Pacific is famous for releasing Business Class award seats 11 months before departure and then tons of Business and First Class seats in the days before departure.

Japan Airlines similarly offers fantastic award space for the next four days in First Class on its San Francisco to Tokyo-Haneda flight.
Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.19.02 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.33.26 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.33.47 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.34.08 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.34.50 AM

And it offers some Business and First Class space on its Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita flights for the next two days.Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.19.02 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.36.29 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.37.03 AMFour Japan Airlines flights from Honolulu to Tokyo have award space today in Business Class (the highest cabin on the route.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.42.35 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.42.42 AM

Practical Application

In January, I will travel through Southeast Asia for a few weeks, probably starting my journey in Thailand. I don’t have my outbound ticket booked (though I have my return from Chennai, India in Etihad A380 First Class booked), and I am not worried at all.

I have 67,500 American Airlines miles ready to book me a First Class award in the days before departure. My date flexibility–I can leave any time between late December and mid-January–plus my cabin flexibility–I want First Class but will fly Business or economy if I have too–means I am almost guaranteed a great award.

I might leave from Honolulu or Los Angeles, so I checked award space today from those cities to Bangkok as a kind of test run to see what award space I might find in January for a January flight.

Out of Honolulu I saw several award options. The shortest duration was this one with a 75 minute layover in Tokyo on my Japan Airlines Business Class itinerary to Bangkok.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.50.30 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.50.55 AM

Out of Los Angeles, I see Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific award space today to Bangkok. These are the two shortest itineraries. The Japan Airlines itinerary has Business or First Class space. The Cathay Pacific itinerary only has Business Class space.Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.53.20 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.53.37 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.53.44 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.53.56 AM

This dry run has me very confident that my American Airlines miles will get me to Southeast Asia in comfort in January.

Booking the Award

To book Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific award space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. Give the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each segment you found on ba.com plus the same information for any American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines award space you need to fly to connect to the international award.

Make sure the agent is NOT charging you a phone booking fee.

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

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

Bottom Line

The best mile to East and Southeast Asia are American Airlines miles, and one of the best times to book the awards is in the last few days before departure when partners Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific open up tons of award space. Both have fantastically luxurious First Class products.

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 (75k-82.5k) for a roundtrip from the United States to Japan with one direction in Business Class.

————————————————————————————————————
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

2

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

Womp womp! This is phantom award space–award space that shows up on a search engine but cannot be booked.

Check out this calendar instead that I made on Award Nexus. It shows award space from New York to Helsinki in April 2016 in Business Class, while excluding British Airways flights and their nasty fuel surcharges. Note that there is zero direct space on the JFK-HEL or HEL-JFK Finnair flights. All the space is on American Airlines across the pond, connecting to Finnair space intra-Europe.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 3.32.33 AM

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There is fantastic flat bed Business Class award space for two passengers in Spring 2016 on transatlantic Finnair flights. You can book the space for 50,000 American Airlines miles per person per direction.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.38.48 PM

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 (80k) for a roundtrip from the United States to Europe with one direction in Business Class.

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.

Finnair Product

Finnair’s transatlantic flights feature fully flat beds.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.38.13 PM

The cabin layout has staggered seats, so your feet go in a cubby under the armrest of the seat in front of you.Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.38.20 PM

I’ve flown a similar product on Austrian Airlines (review), and it is NOT my favorite Business Class product, but it is definitely good enough to get a great sleep.

Finnair Routes and Connections

Finnair has three routes to the United States from Helsinki.

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Source: gcmap.com

Notice that all three American cities served are American Airlines hubs. Almost no matter where you live, you can connect to Miami, Chicago, or New York with one flight. Here are American’s flights to/from JFK:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.50.49 PM

Finnair has an extensive European route network, so even if you want to skip Helsinki, the award space in this post can be very useful for visiting anywhere in Europe. Finnair’s flights to/from Helsinki:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.50.24 PM

The award space in this post is for March through May 2016. I was in Helsinki in June 2015, and it was not very warm, so I can imagine March through May is cooler still.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.20.49 PM
Suomenlinna Island, June 2016: Cold, gray, rainy, but beautiful

Overall I definitely recommend a trip to Helsinki and its neighboring islands, which are just short ferry rides away. It’s a lovely and fun city with an interesting blend of Swedish and Russian influences.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.21.14 PM
Midsummer Festival at Seurasaari, June 2016

If you’re going to Helsinki or the Baltics, check out this post about Ferry and Bus Information for Baltic Europe.

Award Space and Booking

I found amazing award space in Business Class for two passengers from New York to Helsinki and vice versa in March through May 2016. I also found good award space from Miami to Helsinki and vice versa in March 2016. Those calendars are shown below. If you don’t live in those cities, hook up award space to those cities through segment-by-segment searching.

New York

All the days in light blue have Business Class award space for two people. Check out JFK-HEL in March 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.14.42 PM

Return space is just as good.Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.14.48 PM

Even May 2016 has great Business Class space in both directions that abruptly ends May 25.Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.15.11 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.15.35 PM

 

There is also ample economy award space on the New York to Helsinki flight in both directions. Don’t forget that October 15 to May 15 each year, the American Airlines off peak economy award price is 20,000 miles each way. May 16 to October 14, the price is 30,000 miles each way.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.22.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.22.24 PM

 

Miami

Miami is a winter seasonal route. Its award space is great in March 2016, and ends March 26 in both directions.Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.19.26 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.20.01 PM

You can book this award right on aa.com.

Purchase your ticket with your Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the award taxes on this ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy this fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement: a completely free ticket!

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

Bottom Line

Jump on the great economy and flat Bed Business Class award space between the United States and Europe on Finnair flights with your 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. That’s enough miles (70k or 80k) for a roundtrip from the United States to Europe with one direction in Business Class.

 

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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

18

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!

IMG_0870
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.

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

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 1.04.46 PM
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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 1.07.07 PM
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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 1.51.58 PM

 

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

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 1.51.48 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 1.57.26 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 1.57.32 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 1.59.57 PM

 

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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 2.19.18 PM

 

 

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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 2.20.31 PM

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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