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Yesterday I wrote about a discovery that shocked me: American Airlines is releasing consistent MileSAAver award space on its flagship and newest plane–the 777-300ER–in Business Class and First Class between Los Angeles and London. Today I’ll take a look at the award space on the other routes that American flies with the 777-300ER.

Check out yesterday’s post for a description and images of the fully flat beds, all with direct aisle access, in both cabins.

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First Class on the AA 777-300ER

The other routes being served by the plane:

  • New York to London
  • New York to Sao Paulo
  • Miami to Sao Paulo
  • Miami to London
  • Dallas to Sao Paulo
  • Dallas to Hong Kong

Award space is best on the New York to London route. I found First Class and Business Class space on the 777-300ER between New York and London in both directions all summer long. I found award space on several of the other routes also, but nothing approached the New York to London space, which even exceeded the award space available between Los Angeles and London.

Right now, earning American Airlines miles is super easy.

Getting both would be enough miles for a roundtrip in Business Class to Europe and South America and almost enough for SE Asia (110k.)

New York to London

Here’s the money shot. London to New York has award space four days a week in First Class for most of the year–including the middle of summer.

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Many days have award space on more than one flight. (Remember from yesterday that 77W is AA’s code for the 777-300ER.)
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Business Class award space also exists in both directions for much of the year. Unfortunately from London to New York, there is usually only one Business Class seat available on flights with availability.
Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.32.11 PM From New York to London, there is often availability for two people in Business Class.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.34.10 PM Seriously, I’m pretty amazed that American Airlines is making its best First and Business Class widely available for summer trips to London for 100,000 (Business) to 125,000 (First) miles roundtrip plus taxes.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.35.13 PM

Of course, the taxes are quite high, but you can lower them by returning from anywhere else in Europe via London instead of beginning the return in London.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.35.23 PM

New York, Miami, and Dallas to Sao Paulo

All of American Airlines’ daily flights to Sao Paulo-Guarulhos (GRU) from Miami, Dallas, and New York are operated by the 777-300ER. Beware though. If you search Miami or New York to Sao Paulo–even if you search to GRU–your results might return American’s flights from those airports to Viracopos (VCP). If you think that GRU is annoyingly far from the city center, VCP is a 70 mile drive away from the city center.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.24.41 AM

Those Viracopos flights complicate showing the calendars of Business Class award space because most (all?) of the Business Class space shown on the calendars is to Viracopos on an inferior 767. The 767 doesn’t have First Class, so all the First Class space is on the 777-300ER to GRU.

Here’s the First Class space:

  • Every day this week from Sao Paulo to Miami. This continues the trend we often see of the flights to the United States having better award space than flights from the United States. This also fits with American’s pattern of releasing unsold First and Business Class seats at the last minute.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 2.24.57 PM
  • Today from Sao Paulo to New York
  • Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 11.22.14 AMThree days this week from Sao Paulo to Dallas
    Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 11.33.31 AM

The only Dallas flight is on a 777-300ER, so its Business Class award calendar is reliable. It has Business Class space today from Sao Paulo to Dallas.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 11.28.37 AM

The Sao Paulo flights show award space in Business and First Class only in the last week before departure, and only on the flights to the United States. It’s better than nothing, but it would be nice to be able to lock the space in further in advance.

Dallas to Hong Kong

Nada. Zilch. Squat in Business and First Class in both directions. The good news is that you don’t want to use American Airlines miles to fly American Airlines to Hong Kong. For the same number of miles, you can fly Cathay Pacific Business and First Class, which are even better. Cathay Pacific has great Business and First Class award space.

You Don’t Live in Dallas, Miami, or New York or Don’t Want to Visit London, Sao Paulo, or Hong Kong

It is zero extra miles to add domestic First Class on American, Alaska, or US Airways flights to these segments to connect them to your home airport. It is zero extra miles to add Business Class on British Airways, TAM, or Cathay Pacific to these segments to connect them to your dream destination.

Search for the space on aa.com and ba.com as necessary and book on aa.com or by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880 as necessary.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

We also know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time by June 2015. That means that the chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase on this card will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles, and American Airlines has committed to not devaluing its award chart at the time of combination. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value. Getting all three cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by June.
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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

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This blog became famous because I was the first to articulate how to book free one ways on United and US Airways awards.

A free one way is a one way trip to or from your home airport that is tacked onto another award for no extra miles. Free one ways cut your flight bill in half for a second trip without adding to the price of the first trip!

American Airlines killed free one ways on its awards in April 2014 by nixing all free stopovers because free one ways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport. Delta killed its free one ways on January 1, 2015 with the elimination of free stopovers on its awards (though in return, we do now get to book one way Delta awards.)

What’s the current state of free one ways with major frequent flyer programs?

If you get confused during this post, please read my Introduction to Free One Ways.

Alaska Airlines

Free one ways are possible on one way Alaska Airlines awards. That means you can book two free one ways per roundtrip awards.

Alaska has an amazing group of partners:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Horizon Air
  • AeroMexico
  • Air France
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways (fuel surcharges)
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Fiji
  • KLM
  • Korean
  • Qantas
  • Ravn Alaska (flights within Alaska)
  • PenAir (flights within Alaska)

Unfortunately you must book only one partner each one way award (you may add Alaska Airlines flights as well.) And unfortunately most Alaska Airlines awards need to either start or end in the United States.

Abide by those rules, though, and enjoy some amazing free one way opportunities.

For full details, see Free One Ways on Alaska Airlines Awards.

American Airlines

Free one ways are impossible on awards booked with American Airlines miles. Free one ways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport, and American has eliminated the chance to take any free stopovers on awards.

British Airways

Free one ways are impossible on awards booked with Avios. Every flight on an Avios award has a mileage cost (determined exclusively by its distance and the cabin you book.) If every flight has a cost, there’s no way to get one for free as a free one way.

Delta Airlines

Free one ways are impossible on Delta awards since stopovers were eliminated on January 1, 2015.

United Airlines

Free one ways are possible on both international United awards and awards between the mainland and Hawaii. Free one ways are not possible on awards wholly within the mainland United States and Canada.

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Roundtrip award from Los Angeles to Honolulu with a later free oneway to Newark

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You can either have a free one way BEFORE your main roundtrip award TO your home airport or AFTER your main roundtrip award FROM your home airport.

United’s routing rules are pretty lenient for free one ways. You can do some amazing backtracking. You can also do “cheap one ways” where you fly the extra leg to a distant land and pay far fewer miles than you “should.”

You will get a lot of errors trying to book free one ways on united.com because united.com’s multi-city search tool is broken. Don’t despair. Find all the space you need with one way searches, then call in to book.

For full details, see Master Thread: Free One Ways on United Awards.

US Airways

Free one ways are possible only on international US Airways awards.

US Airways only allows one stopover OR one open jaw on awards, and you ordinarily need both on a free oneway. Because of this limitation, free one ways are only possible on US Airways awards:

  • before your main roundtrip award
  • to your home airport
  • with a corresponding dummy leg(s) to where the free oneway began
  • after the main award
  • within 24 hours of landing at your home airport

That might sound a little more complicated than it is. Check out Master Thread: Free Oneways on US Airways Awards for an easy explanation.

While American and Delta killed its free one ways recently, and free one ways have never been possible with Avios, free one ways are still possible on awards booked with United, Alaska, and US Airways miles.

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American Airlines has released a ton of Business and First Class award space on its 777-300ER from Los Angeles to London this summer, fall, and winter.

This is fantastic and surprising news because American Airlines 777-300ER has world-class Business and First Class flat beds, American hadn’t been releasing any space at all on its flagship plane, and American Airlines offers the cheapest Business and First Class awards to Europe.

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 7.15.52 PM
Business Class Bed

Maybe with the 787 being loaded onto American Airlines’ schedule, American Airlines feels less need to protect the 777-300ER’s premium cabins. Whatever the reason for the award space appearing suddenly, I love the fact that there are some days with five Business Class seats from the West Coast to Europe for 50,000 miles each.

Right now, earning American Airlines miles is super easy.

Getting both would be enough miles for a roundtrip in Business Class to Europe.

  • How nice are the premium cabins on the American Airlines 777-300ER?
  • What is the award space picture from Los Angeles to London and London to Los Angeles?
  • How can you get the miles?

The Product

Take the virtual tour of the AA 777-300ER.

American’s 777-300ER has eight First Class beds laid out in two rows of 1-2-1.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 6.00.39 PM

The bed’s are 6’6″ long and look to be very comfortable.Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 6.00.57 PM

Business Class 52 fully flat beds also in a 1-2-1 configuration. That means all the 6’3″ Business Class beds have direct aisle access, which is a nice plus in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 6.09.08 PM

How to Search for the 777-300ER Award Space

Go to the American Airlines award search page. Search for a direct flight on a route served by the 777-300ER. Here’s a map of all such routes put up a few days ago with commentary from Great Circle Mapper.

When performing the search, if the destination is London, make sure to also choose “American Airlines and American Eagle” at the bottom before searching. That will exclude British Airways flights from the results.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.43.11 PM

Now on the first search calendar, one the left side, select “Non-stop only” from the dropdown menu next to “Number of Stops.” Congrats, you’ve isolated American Airlines 777-300ER award space!

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.02.41 PM

Award Space Picture

Both First Class and Business Class award space are available from Los Angeles to London and vice versa. I only saw one First Class MileSAAver award seat per flight, but there were up to five Business Class seats at the MileSAAver level. Remember the MileSAAver award prices that American Airlines charges:

  • 50,000 miles one way in Business Class between North America and Europe
  • 62,500 miles one way in First Class between North America and Europe

The first First Class award space I see is June 7 from Los Angeles to London.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.06.06 PM

This space is on the earlier departure. Note that the 777-300ER’s code is 77W.
Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.06.37 PM

In mid-August, First Class award space starts to pick up to two days a week, and stays like this through September.Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.07.27 PM

In late October, First Class award space is predictably available every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. This pattern continues through the end of the schedule (mid-January) including around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.08.57 PM

Business Class award space from Los Angeles to London doesn’t appear until late September.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.08.02 PM

It quickly picks up and is widely available on Mondays, Tuesday, and Wendesdays also from late October on.Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.09.33 PM

So far all the calendars have been for one passenger in each cabin. There is only one First Class seat available on these days, but on most days with Business Class award space, there are 2+ seats available. Here is a calendar for five Business Class award seats.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.18.06 PM

There is a lot of overlap on days with Business Class and First Class seats. Why not treat your honey and put her in First Class while you slum it in Business Class?
Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.11.08 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.11.13 PMFrom London to Los Angeles, the award space pattern is highly similar except that there is even more award space.

The First Class award space from London to Los Angeles begins May 19. There is some award space in May, June, July, and August.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.44.55 PM

By mid-October, the First Class award space begins to pick up to nearly every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday through the end of the schedule.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.46.37 PM

Business Class award space begins August 26.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.46.03 PM

Business Class award space in widely available Monday through Friday in the fall and winter.Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.47.02 PM

You Don’t Live in LA or Want to Visit London

It is zero extra miles to add domestic First Class on American, Alaska, or US Airways flights to Los Angeles to the beginning and end of this award. It is zero extra miles to add Business Class on British Airways or any other oneworld partner from London to somewhere else in Europe.

Connecting on a oneworld partner–including British Airways–will actually make the award cheaper because you’ll avoid the approximately $300 in tax on a premium cabin award that originates in the UK and flies to the US.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

We also know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time by June 2015. That means that the chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase on this card will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles, and American Airlines has committed to not devaluing its award chart at the time of combination. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value. Getting all three cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by June.
————————————————————————————————————
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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

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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

This is the tenth post in one comprehensive guide that tells you everything you need to know about American Airlines miles. Now is the time to write this guide because now is a special time to earn American Airlines miles.

American Airlines and US Airways have merged legally, but they maintain separate frequent flyer programs. The two programs will combine some time between April and June 2015, and your balances in the two programs will be combined as American Airlines miles.

Getting the American Airlines personal card, American Airlines business card, and US Airways personal card now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by mid-2015.

This guide will explain the rules, quirks, tricks, and options for redeeming those 156,000 American Airlines miles all in one place. It might just put my Award Booking Service out of business when it comes to redeeming American Airlines miles.

If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the credit cards that earn them, please use my links. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Central and South America

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

Central America / South America Zone 1 is:

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

South America Zone 2 is the rest of the continent:

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

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

The Partners for Central and South America Awards

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

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

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

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

Pricing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Routes & Award Space

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

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image from gcmap.com

 

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

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

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 excellent economy award space and poor Business and First Class award space that doesn’t appear until the last few weeks before departure. I also notice that there is often better premium cabin award space from South America to the United States than from the United States to South America.

For instance, here is Buenos Aires to Miami. There are six days in the next two weeks with two First Class seats on the same flight.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.26.19 PM

Here is Miami to Santiago. There are three days this week with two Business Class seats.Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.27.09 PM

But from Santiago to Miami, there is much more Business Class award space–eight days out of the next two weeks.Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.27.21 PM

But as I said, economy award space is often wide open. Here is award space for two from Miami to Bogota.Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.31.10 PM

Here is economy award space for two from Dallas to Buenos Aires this summer (Argentina winter.)Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.32.06 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 seven Business Class award seats from Miami to Sao Paulo on TAM. (The same day has three American Airlines flights with economy award space, but no Business Class space.)

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.19.05 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.19.17 PM

However 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 2015-02-17 at 5.19.53 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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.21.53 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.23.39 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.23.48 PM

TAM has great award space within Brazil. Here is award space from Sao Paulo to Manaus. There must be 8+ seats, since there isn’t a warning that there are “Only X reward seat(s) left.”

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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 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 personal and business American Airlines cards are each offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

 

 

 

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American Airlines is the king of off peak awards. It offers economy off peak awards to most regions of the world. To some regions, you can get the off peak price by flying any of American Airlines’ partners. To other regions, until now, you have needed to fly American Airlines metal to get the discount. Now to those regions where you had needed to fly American Airlines to get the off peak price, you can also fly US Airways and get the off peak price.

Below is a chart that shows the one way off peak price for an economy award in thousands of American Airlines miles. Pay attention to the last column, “Own Metal?”. “Y” means you have to fly American Airlines–and now US Airways–planes to get the discount. “N” means you can fly any partner.

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.21.03 PM

Plus if you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, which comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, you always get a 10% rebate on American Airlines awards on the first 100,000 miles you redeem each year.

With that rebate, the effective price of a trip to Europe in early May is 18,000 miles one way. American’s off peak dates are often extremely generous, encompassing more than half the year and many prime dates to some locations.

The Change

As the chart above notes, to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador, you needed to fly American Airlines planes to get the off peak price:

  • 12,500 miles one way to Mexico and the Caribbean
  • 15,000 miles one way to Central America and Northern South America

That’s not the case anymore. Now you can fly American Airlines or US Airways planes during the off peak dates and get those prices. This isn’t a huge change because American Airlines has a far better route network to these places than US Airways, but it is welcome.

This is the award calendar from Charlotte to Nassau, Bahaams in October and November for the direct flight. There are a few days at the off peak price of 12,500 miles one way.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.19.10 PM

Clicking on a date, you see that the US Airways flight is pricing at the off peak price. US Airways flights to the Caribbean did not used to price at the off peak price.Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.19.44 PM

The Non-Change

The other regions have always allowed flying on American Airlines or any of its partners to get the discount:

  • Europe and Southern South America for 20,000 miles each way
  • Japan, Korea, and Mongolia for 25,000 miles each way
  • Hawaii for 17,500 miles each way

Here’s the award calendar for Charlotte to London in October. As you can see, on October 15, the price drops from 30,000 to 20,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 1.43.14 PM

As you can see from selecting October 15, this price applies to direct US Airways flights, American Airlines flights, and combinations of these airlines with other partners.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 1.43.38 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 1.43.59 PM

Bottom Line

American Airlines has the best off peak award chart in the world, and it just got slightly better. The few regions that required you to fly American Airlines to get the discount now allow flying US Airways flights also.

Right now the personal and business American Airlines cards are each offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The personal card also offers a 10% rebate on all American Airlines awards up to 100,000 miles redeemed per calendar year. That rebate applies to off peak awards as well, so the Caribbean is 11,250 miles one way and Europe is 18,000 miles one way!

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

 

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I don’t think there’s a single MileSAAver award seat available in Business Class on the brand new American Airlines Dreamliner. (There is no First Class on the plane.)

American Airlines announced its first three routes this week for the plane:

  • Dallas to Chicago, beginning May 7, 2015
  • Dallas to Beijing, beginning June 2, 2015
  • Dallas to Buenos Aires, beginning June 4, 2015

In Award Space on American Airlines New 787 Dreamliner Routes, I noted that Dallas to Beijing and Dallas to Buenos Aires had no Business Class MileSAAver award space from June through the end of the schedule in either direction. I didn’t expect that to improve.

However I expected that we would see good award space from Dallas to Chicago in both directions when the space became bookable yesterday.

I was wrong.

Award space on the 787 is now loaded onto aa.com, but it is all at the AAnytime (much more expensive) price levels–even on the Dallas to Chicago route.

Award Space Picture

I scanned Dallas to Buenos Aires and Beijing in both directions from June until the end of the schedule. No MileSAAver Business Class award space, though plenty of economy.

Then I moved on to Dallas to Chicago.

There is plenty of MileSAAver First Class award space on the route (this is how the Dreamliner’s Business Class cabin will be sold domestically.) The question is: is any of it on the Dreamliner?

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 1.56.52 PM

The way to check is to select a date. For each flight, you have to manually click the + next to “Flight Details.” That lists the aircraft. This flight below is operated by an MD-80.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.06.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.06.25 PM

The 787, listed as 788 because it is the 787-8 version, shows up on the schedule May 7 as promised. It appears to operate at a different flight time each day.
Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 1.57.51 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.01.44 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.02.20 PMI checked the first several days in both directions for MileSAAver award space and found none. Then I checked scattered dates–still none. I did not check award space every day for the space because of the time-consuming nature of the search, so I can’t say with 100% confidence that there is no MileSAAver award space in the forward cabin of the American Airlines Dreamliner. But I don’t think there is space.

If you find any, let us know in the comments.

Bottom Line

I’m surprised and disappointed. I grudgingly accept that on a lot of routes with their newest planes, American Airlines isn’t releasing longhaul international award space in flat beds at the MileSAAver level. But the 787 has a ton of Business Class seats, way more than all the other planes on the Dallas to Chicago route. I assumed American would release some of these seats for 25,000 miles one way–which would also make them bookable for 22,500 Avios. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

The cheapest way to fly American’s Dreamliner seems to be to 45,000 American Airlines miles for an AAnytime award ticket. For a 2.5 hour flight, that doesn’t interest me.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

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We’ve been getting bad news in the miles world lately, so let me state unequivocally: miles still offer unmatched value to travel the world more, better, and cheaper.

Here’s a round-the-world (RTW) trip you can take with miles that took me me about 10 minutes to find the award space for.

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There’s nothing particularly important about the cities or even the regions where this trip stops. It just shows an easy RTW award using one way awards. (This is the way to construct RTW awards now that American and Delta eliminated their true RTW awards in 2014.)

The Award

  • Virgin Australia flat bed Business Class from Los Angeles to Sydney: 80,000 Delta miles
  • Etihad First Class on its A380 from Sydney to Abu Dhabi: 60,000 American Airlines miles
  • airberlin flat bed Business Class from Abu Dhabi to Berlin: 25,000 British Airways Avios
  • airberlin and US Airways economy from Berlin to Los Angeles: 20,000 American Airlines miles

That’s 185,000 miles for an award that features mostly flat beds.  One person could get the necessary miles from four credit cards.

There’s nothing crucial about choosing the three cities I chose for stops. You can choose other cities–or see many cities in each region.

The Search

The searching took me about 10 minutes. I chose a November/December time frame for the search to maximize the weather in Sydney and Abu Dhabi and because many people get some free vacation days around Thanksgiving.

I did not search sequentially. I started my search by looking for Etihad First Class award space, which is the second part of the trip. This follows the basic principle to always search the hardest leg of a trip first. Not that Etihad First Class award space on its A380 from Sydney to Abu Dhabi is hard to find, but it is harder to find than the other awards on this trip, which are all gimmes.

Sydney to Abu Dhabi Search
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A seat plus a couch/bed in First on the Etihad A380

First Class award space from Sydney to Abu Dhabi is excellent in November. All those days below that say “Miles 121597″ have award space you can book for 60,000 American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.37.40 AM

But note that there are two daily flights, and only the evening one is on the A380.

For full details on searching etihad.com, the A380 First Class Service, and award space on the route, see Amazing Award Space for 2 on Nicest First Class in the World? 14 Hours in Etihad A380 First Class for 60,000 Miles.

Los Angeles to Sydney Search

After picking November 22 from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, I circled back to the beginning and searched from Los Angeles to Sydney. There is award space nearly every day in Business Class on Virgin Australia on the route. It costs 80,000 Delta miles per person and is searchable on delta.com.Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.38.14 AM

I picked November 12 for the Los Angeles-to-Sydney leg. Look at the award space that day:Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.39.32 AM

  • Delta’s nonstop bed is 175,000 miles.
  • Connecting in Korea is 80,000 miles but adds 10 hours.
  • Virgin Australia’s nonstop bed is 80,000 miles.

Easy choice with the Virgin Australia bed.

For more info on the search, product, and award space, see Award Space for 12 to Australia over Christmas and New Year.

Abu Dhabi to Berlin Search

airberlin, the oneworld member, has daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Berlin. airblerin flights do not have fuel surcharges, so they are a great way to use Avios.

Award space is exellent on the flights in economy and flat bed Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.42.04 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.42.13 AM

The award costs 12,500 Avios in economy and 25,000 Avios in Business Class plus nominal taxes.Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.43.20 AM

This award will go up to 37,500 Avios in Business Class with the April 28, 2015 devaluation of Avios.

Here’s how to search on ba.com.

Berlin to Los Angeles Flight

For the last award, I wanted to book economy. Early December is part of American Airlines’ off peak season for economy awards between the United States and Europe (October 15 to May 15 every year.) These awards cost only 20,000 American Airlines miles.

Since we’re looking at daytime flights, economy seems bearable.

I found the following award for 20,000 AA miles + taxes.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.52.04 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.52.08 AMairberlin space is excellent to the United States this winter.

The full trip looks like this.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.54.14 AM

 

  • November 12: Los Angeles to Sydney in Virgin Australia Business Class
  • November 22: Sydney to Abu Dhabi in Etihad First Class
  • November 25: Abu Dhabi to Berlin in airberlin Business Class
  • December 2: Berlin to Chicago to Phoenix to Los Angeles in airberlin/US Airways economy

The total cost is 80,000 Delta miles, 80,000 American miles, and 25,000 British Airways Avios plus about $190 in taxes, no fees or fuel surcharges.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards, and that would earn more than the 80,000 American Airlines miles needed.

The third card you’d want is the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-BenzThe Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card has a $475 annual fee in the first year. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, and hotel status. For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card.

The last card is the next Membership Rewards or Delta co-branded card that offers a 50,000 point/mile bonus. These offers are frequent, but I don’t know of any others right now besides the Mercedes-Benz Platinum card above.

With these four cards, you’d have 106,000 American Airlines miles and either 100,000+ Membership Rewards or 50,000+ Delta miles and 50,000+ Membership Rewards. Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Delta miles and British Airways Avios, so you can spread them around to have 80,000 Delta miles and 25,000 Avios.

Bottom Line

It’s really easy to put together a dream RTW trip with miles because miles still offer an incredible value. There’s nothing special about living in Los Angeles or visiting Sydney, Abu Dhabi, and Berlin as in my example. No matter where you live and want to go, these great deals exist. (I felt sad not including this flight in my example.)

What is your favorite string of one way awards that creates a RTW award?

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American Airlines has taken delivery of its 787 Dreamliners. It is the second US-based airline to do this–behind United.

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Today on Twitter, American announced the first three routes for its Dreamliner.

To familiarize the crew with the plane, American will put it on a domestic route for a month before debuting it on two international routes:

  • Dallas to Chicago, beginning May 7, 2015
  • Dallas to Beijing, beginning June 2, 2015
  • Dallas to Buenos Aires, beginning June 4, 2015

The Dreamliner won’t be loaded onto the schedule until February 14, but I wanted to take a look at award space now on the routes. The international routes only operate once daily, so if you book Business Class award space on them now for travel in June or later, your flight will be operated by the Dreamliner.

Award Space

The American Airlines Dreamliner only features two cabins: economy and Business.

There is literally no MileSAAver Business Class award space between Dallas and Beijing or Buenos Aires from June 2015 to January 2016 in either direction. None.

That means my plan of booking Business Class award space now and having the plane change over to a Dreamliner with my reservation intact wouldn’t work.

I also took a look at the next few weeks on each route to see if award space opens up close to departure. If it does, maybe we can book the Business Class space later in the year when the routes are actually operating.

Dallas to Buenos Aires is showing no Business Class Saver space in either direction for the next few weeks.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3.04.13 PM

Dallas to Beijing doesn’t begin as a route until May 7, so I can’t check last-minute award space.

I should note that both the Buenos Aires and, especially, the Beijing route do have good economy award space. But I’m not particularly interested in an economy award on such long flights.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 2.59.58 PM

Great Award Space Dallas <-> Chicago

Chicago to Dallas has great domestic First Class (Dreamliner Business Class) award space in May when the Dreamliner will ply the route.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3.06.21 PM

The space is wide open in both directions.Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3.06.31 PMUnfortunately there are many frequencies on the Dallas to Chicago route, and we won’t know until Saturday which one(s) will be flown by the Dreamliner. I expect award space to be great on this route, maybe even available for the inaugural flight, because the Dreamliner has a higher percentage of premium seats than the normal domestic aircraft that usually fly the route.

The Product

Business Class on the Dreamliner features aisle access from every 6’5″ long flat bed.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3.35.57 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3.36.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3.36.17 PMI would fly this Business Class in a heartbeat.

Let’s hope we get the chance with more award availability. We’ll definitely have the chance on the domestic route in May, I think, but so far we aren’t being given a chance on the real prize–the flights to Beijing and Buenos Aires.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get, and will be useful when Saver space opens up on these routes.

  • Dallas to Chicago will cost 25,000 miles one way in First Class
  • Dallas to Beijing will cost 55,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • Dallas to Buenos Aires will cost 50,000 miles one way in Business Class

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

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I’m sitting on around 100,000 US Airways miles, and I can always get more by transferring in SPG Starpoints at a rate of 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 US Airways miles.

If I do nothing more, my US Airways miles will be transferred 1:1 to my American Airlines account some time between April and June. I already took a minute to link my accounts to ensure a smooth transfer. You should too.

But, before then, I can redeem US Airways miles on the US Airways chart, which is often cheaper than the American Airlines chart.

  • Should I redeem my US Airways miles on the US Airways chart?
  • What are the best US Airways award redemptions I can make before the US Airways and American Airlines programs combine? From the United States and from abroad.

The US Airways Award Chart from the United States

Here is the full US Airways chart.

Below I’ve placed it alongside the American Airlines chart, so you can see where one is cheaper than the other.

Keep in mind while looking at the charts that American Airlines has more partners than US Airways does–like non-alliance partners Etihad and Alaska. On the other hand, US Airways has more generous routing rules. You can fly west to India on a US Airways award for instance. Finally remember that while AA awards can be booked one way for half price, US Airways awards cannot be.

All charts show the roundtrip price for awards in thousands of miles.

Economy

Where American has off peak awards, it is always cheaper to use those than a US Airways award. (The off peak domestic award is only available to AA cardholders.) Otherwise, the US Airways chart is generally cheaper.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.10.36 PM

Business

Here are some big differences.

  • US Airways is way cheaper to Africa, though that isn’t super useful since oneworld has terrible options to Africa.
  • US Airways is also notably cheaper to the Middle East, India, and Australia.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.11.08 PM

First

For First Class awards, US Airways miles generally offer the cheaper price. The exception is to Southeast Asia in Cathay Pacific First Class–American Airlines miles are your best bet there.
Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.11.31 PM

My Other Four Favorite Sweetspots on the US Airways Chart

The first one is complicated, but very rewarding. You start your award in the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America and fly home. (Obviously you got to the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America on a separate or award or cash ticket.) You stopover at home and fly a true roundtrip (no open jaws) to Southeast Asia in First Class. Onto your return home, you add dummy legs that you don’t intend to fly that take you back to where the award started in the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America. The dummy legs have to start within 24 hours of getting back home.

This entire award–1.5 vacations–and a trip to Southeast Asia in First Class is 120,000 US Airways miles or 90,000 miles in Business Class. It might sound complicated, but it isn’t too tough to plan. Check out Anatomy of an Award: Southeast Asian and Mexican Vacations in Business Class for 90k US Airways Miles, 30k Arrival Miles, and Zero Cash for a full breakdown.

The other three awards are all under-priced awards that also take advantage of US Airways’ expansive regions:

  • Intra-South America: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 30,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class
  • Intra-North Asia: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 30,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class
  • Intra-South & Central Asia: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 30,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class

When planning these awards, keep in mind that you only get one open jaw or one stopover. If you use dummy legs, though, you can be more creative. For instance, you could book:

  • Bogota to Lima in LAN Business Class (stopover)
  • Lima to Buenos Aires in flat bed LAN Business Class (destination)
  • Buenos Aires to Santiago to Bogota in flat bed LAN Business Class (return to origin)

This would cost 30,000 miles total. You could fly the whole thing or get off in Santiago to see four different cities on the award. Similar tricks would be available in each region.

Bottom Line

I haven’t decided whether I’ll book any awards with my US Airways miles or just let them roll over into American Airlines miles. You can book US Airways awards up to 11 months in advance, so right now you can lock in the cheap US Airways awards through January 2016.

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Both cards offer other benefits too. One benefit that I had overlooked in the past, but is actually fantastic: both offer a gigantic list of domestic award destinations for 8,750 miles one way!

American Airlines offers discounted MileSAAver awards within the United States and Canada to select cardholders. Both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are on the list of cards that offer a 7,500 mile discount roundtrip.

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Every two months, American Airlines publishes a list of new destinations in the United States and Canada eligible for discounted awards. The current list covers awards that must be booked by March 31, 2015 for travel by May 31, 2015.

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Award travel must originate somewhere in the continental United States or Canada and must go to a city on the very long destination list. Awards can be booked one way for 8,750 miles in economy or 21,250 miles in First Class. Roundtrip awards are double those prices.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.57.17 PM

You have to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book the discounted awards. Luckily American Airlines just eliminated the phone booking fee for awards that can’t be booked online!

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Here is the full list of discounted destinations for February through May. Not all destinations are discounted each month. For instance, Houston is only discounted in February, March, and April while Greensboro is discounted all four months.
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.58.40 PM

Major cities are on the list–Montreal!–as well as competitors’ hubs like Houston, Atlanta, and Newark.Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.59.05 PM

How Good Are These Awards?

Let’s say you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.

You decide to go from Los Angeles to Atlanta with your miles. You find ample award space with a search on aa.com (which is what you’ll find for pretty much every domestic route over the next few months.)

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You pick out your American Airlines-operated flights with MileSAAver space, even finding award space on the new, direct flights.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.51.06 PM

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

You book the roundtrip for 17,500 miles and $11.20. You use about 1/3 of the 50,000 mile bonus you got from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.

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

Bottom Line

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

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

Key Links

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Meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Arrival Plus give you about $500 worth of free flights on any airline with no blackouts.

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I gathered several estimates for the timing and extent of the next American Airlines devaluation from miles and points experts. I’ve averaged the guesses to produce a wisdom-of-the-crowd estimate that I hope is as close as possible to predicting the future as we can get.

Background

Last year, United gutted and bifurcated its award chart for Business and First Class redemptions. Now awards on partner airlines cost a lot more than they used to. For instance, one way in Partner First Class to the Middle East is 140,000 miles.

Delta released a few new award charts last year. The one that went into effect January 1 is quite a bit worse for Business Class redemptions than the 2013 chart.

American Airlines and US Airways didn’t devalue, probably because they are in the middle of merging with each other and prefer integration before innovation. Some time between April 1 and June 30, American Airlines’ loyalty program will swallow US Airways’. And some time after that–whether in 2015 or 2025–American will release a new award chart that is worse than the current chart. That’s just how miles work. They get less valuable over time.

The Set Up

I asked some of my favorite bloggers seven questions about the next American Airlines devaluation and to guess all of the award prices for awards originating in the continental United States on the next chart. I promised them that the point was just to average the guesses, not to call anyone out now or ever for being wrong.

The Guessers

The Questions and Answers

1. Exact date of new AA award chart announcement:
  • Average: September 3, 2015
  • My guess: November 1, 2015
2. Exact date new AA award chart takes effect:
  • Average: December 9, 2015
  • My guess: February 1, 2016
  • All guessers believe a new American Airlines award chart will be in place by February 1, 2016 at the latest. All but one guesser believes the new chart takes effect in early 2016, with one guesser in late 2015.
3. United’s new chart took effect for bookings after a certain date. One of Delta’s charts was for travel after a certain date. Will the new AA chart be for bookings made after a certain date or travel after a certain date?
  • 100% of respondents said that the new chart will be for bookings–not travel–after a certain date.
4. What percent chance is there that off peak economy award bookings will be eliminated?
  • Average: 11%
  • My guess: 20%
  • One guesser thought the chances of off peak awards being eliminated were very low, but thought we’d see tightening of the very generous off peak date ranges.
5. What percent chance is there that American makes booking partners more expensive than booking its own flights (a la United)?
  • Average: 16%
  • My guess: 5%
6. What percent chance is there that routing rules will be changed at the same time as a new chart is introduced?
  • Average: 31%
  • My guess: 5%
  • Answers ranged from 0 to 100%. I think I worded the question poorly because I think there will probably be at least one new rule, but I was trying to get at major rule changes.
6b. If you answered other than 0% for 6, what rule is most likely to be changed?
  • My guess (remember I think only a 5% chance): Stopovers may be re-introduced.
  • Other interesting ones: More exceptions will be added to the list of third regions you can transit. The MPM allowance may be lowered.
7. Any other predictions that the questions or chart fail to get out of you?
  • “Changes and timing of announcements are predicated on the IT integration of Dividend Miles with AAdvantage. If it turns into a cluster, as it did for United, then they’ll wait until later this year. They’re making so much money right now that they can afford to postpone changes until any IT problems are worked out.”
  • “AA holds out for 2016 but finally goes revenue-based on the earning side in 2017 with a system similar to Delta and United. Announcement is made in June 2016″

The Chart Predictions

Here is the average of our predictions. This chart shows the price of a one way award beginning in North America in thousands of American Airlines miles. I’ve noted in red the awards we think will go up by more than 5,000 miles one way on the next chart.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 1.54.19 PM

The biggest jumps are in Asia, Australia, and Europe, which are the most under-priced currently compared to competitors. The only awards that none of us saw increasing in price are Business and First Class to Africa, which are already quite expensive.

Here’s my guess, for reference.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 3.33.39 PM

I am much more pessimistic than average. I am the only one forecasting a jump in the price to the Middle East in First Class. I predict huge 17.5k-22.5k increases in First Class to Asia 1 and Asia 2. We’ll see if my pessimism is unfounded or–unfortunately–on the money. On the plus side, the only economy increases I see are tiny ones to Africa and Australia.

Context

Let’s look at the current United and Delta charts next to our projected next American Airlines chart, marked with an asterisk on the charts below.

The overall takeaway is that American Airlines’ award chart is currently way, way better than Delta’s and United’s. We’re predicting that the next chart will still be better on average, but more in line with the competitors. I’ve marked in red where American Airlines is still projected to be the cheapest.

Economy

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 3.45.45 PM

Those off peak awards, which we see only an 11% chance of being eliminated are mind-bogglingly cheap. The rest of the projected AA chart is basically in line with United and Delta, but cheaper in a few spots.

Business

American is currently a steal to Asia. We see American still being cheaper to Asia than Delta and United on the next chart, but the gap narrows considerably.

Slashes on the United chart indicate United-metal price/partner price. Slashes on the Delta chart indicate First/Business Elite.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 3.46.09 PM

First 

For First Class, American awards are predicted to be in line with United-metal awards, which would make them way cheaper than booking United partners with United miles. Remember we see only a 16% chance of American charging more to book partners than its own flights on the next chart.

Delta miles can’t be redeemed for three-cabin First Class. Slashes on the United chart indicate United-metal price/partner price.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 3.46.25 PM

Bottom Line

I don’t think anyone knows when we’ll see an American Airlines devaluation or what exactly it will look like. But by bringing together six experts, hopefully the average of our guesses provides a useful guide.

We see a new chart announced in the third quarter that takes effect around the New Year. Since American Airlines awards can be booked 11 months in advance, that would mean that you should be able to travel at current prices for most of 2016. We don’t see a bloodbath. American will retain its popular off peak awards and raise prices in line with or slightly below competitors.

Right now, I am totally focused on earning and redeeming American Airlines miles. The earning side is easy, and the redeeming side is the best in the world to many destinations. Hopefully our predictions can give you some guidance in your approach to earning and burning American Airlines miles. I’m not saying we’re right, but I am saying that this post represents the best guess out there for how the next devaluation plays out.

Hopefully you had as much fun reading the data as I had compiling it, and a special thanks to the bloggers who gave their guesses.

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Through March 15, 2015, most transfers of hotel points to American Airlines miles earn a 25% bonus. Is this a good deal?

Well, there are a lot of ways to earn American Airlines miles right now.

You can even get the US Airways card, knowing that some time between April and June, your US Airways and American Airlines miles will be combined into your AA account. (Link your two accounts now to facilitate this.)

  • The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate. The card offers 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase and payment of an $89 annual fee.

Or you can buy American Airlines and US Airways miles. Right now there is a 40% bonus and 10% discount on purchased miles that gets you up to 210,000 miles for 2.07 cents each.

So not only does this hotel points conversion deal need to be good, it needs to be better than those deals.

The Hotel Points Deal

Unfortunately, I don’t this deal is very good at all because the two “good” hotel-points-to-airline-miles deals are both excluded from a further 25% bonus.

SPG points are not included in the deal. Twenty thousand Starpoints always convert to 25,000 American Airlines miles, which is kind of a built in 25% bonus. In a previous, similar promotion, SPG points transfers were bonused a further 25%, so 20k Starpoints equaled 31,250 Avios. Not this time.

*Point conversions from Starwood Preferred Guest®, Melia Hotels International & Resorts, La Quinta Inns & Suites® and Langham Hospitality Group OUIDA program are not eligible for the 25% bonus offer.

The other great hotel-points-to-airline-miles transfer is the Marriott Hotel and Air Package. You redeem a certain number of Marriott points and get seven nights in a Marriott hotel plus up to 132,000 airline miles with the airline of your choice. The best American Airlines Hotel and Air package is 270,000 Marriott points for seven nights in a Category 5 hotel plus 120,000 American Airlines miles. Unfortunately this conversion would also not get the 25% bonus.

Conversions for hotel and air packages from eligible AAdvantage hotel participants are excluded from this offer.

So what conversions do count?

Participating Hotels*

Best Western International Convert Now
5,000 Best Western Rewards® points = 1,000 AAdvantage miles

Choice Hotels® Convert Now
5,000 Choice Privileges® points = 1,000 AAdvantage miles

Hilton Portfolio of hotels Convert Now
10,000 Hilton HHonorsTM Points = 1,500 AAdvantage miles

Hyatt® Convert Now
5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points = 2,000 AAdvantage miles

InterContinental Hotels Group Convert Now
10,000 IHG® Rewards Club points = 2,000 AAdvantage miles

Marriott® Convert Now
10,000 Marriott Reward points = 2,000 AAdvantage miles
20,000 Marriott Reward points = 5,000 AAdvantage miles
30,000 Marriott Reward points = 10,000 AAdvantage miles
70,000 Marriott Reward points = 25,000 AAdvantage miles
140,000 Marriott Reward points = 50,000 AAdvantage miles

Carlson Rezidor Hotels Convert Now
2,000 Club Carlson Gold Points = 200 AAdvantage miles
10,000 Club Carlson Gold Points = 1,000 AAdvantage miles
50,000 Club Carlson Gold Points = 5,000 AAdvantage miles
100,000 Club Carlson Gold Points = 10,000 AAdvantage miles

Wyndham Hotel Group Convert Now
6,000 Wyndham Rewards® points = 1,200 AAdvantage miles
16,000 Wyndham Rewards points = 3,200 AAdvantage miles
30,000 Wyndham Rewards points = 6,000 AAdvantage miles

Looking at the redemption options, I see a lot of 5:1 and 10:1 ratios. If we assume AA miles are worth 1.8 cents, that means we’d have to have spectacularly low values for our hotel points to make these transfers.

Superficially the best deal is probably 140,000 Marriott points to 50,000 American Airlines miles, which would be 62,500 after the 25% bonus. But if you have 140,000 Marriott points, you’re getting close to the 270,000 points needed for the better value Hotel and Air redemption.

Bottom Line

Many hotel-points-to-American-Airlines-miles transfers can be done with a 25% bonus through March 15, but not the two best: SPG transfers and Marriott Hotel and Air Packages.

Because of those restrictions, I will not be participating in the deal.

Key Links:

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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

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American has charged $25 per domestic ticket and $35 per international ticket to book award tickets by phone. That meant a lot of paying $35 for me, since only 9 of the 24 airlines you can book with American Airlines miles are bookable on aa.com. (Where to search all AA partners’ award space.)

If I added even a single segment on a carrier like LAN or Etihad to my award, I had to call in to book, and there was no way to avoid that $35 fee by pointing out the award is not bookable online.

Effective yesterday, the fee is being removed if you cannot book the award online. From the AA award fee page:

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 11.01.52 AM

 

Effective February 16, if you can book online and you don’t, the phone fee is going up $5.

That’s a fantastic trade for me because I assure you I do not call airline phone agents unless absolutely necessary.

Right now the personal and business American Airlines cards are each offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This makes those bonus miles just a tiny bit more valuable.

What had amounted to a de facto partner booking fee is gone. Good work, American!

Hat Tip Gary Leff

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

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

What You’re Reading

This is the ninth post in one comprehensive guide that tells you everything you need to know about American Airlines miles. Now is the time to write this guide because now is a special time to earn American Airlines miles.

American Airlines and US Airways have merged legally, but they maintain separate frequent flyer programs. The two programs will combine some time between April and June 2015, and your balances in the two programs will be combined as American Airlines miles.

Getting the American Airlines personal card, American Airlines business card, and US Airways personal card now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by mid-2015.

This guide will explain the rules, quirks, tricks, and options for redeeming those 156,000 American Airlines miles all in one place. It might just put my Award Booking Service out of business when it comes to redeeming American Airlines miles.

If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the credit cards that earn them, please use my links. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Australia and New Zealand

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

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

The Partners for Australia and New Zealand Awards

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

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

  • Qantas
  • Hawaiian

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

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Fiji Airways

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

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

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

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

Pricing

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

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

Compared to competitors, American charges much cheaper prices!

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

Routes & Award Space

Qantas flies from:

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

Hawaiian flies from:

  • Honolulu to Auckland, Sydney, and Brisbane
Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.02.42 PM
AA partner routes to Aus/NZ. Source: gcmap.com

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.05.27 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.05.34 PM

Honolulu to Brisbane runs four days a week. There is economy space for two almost every flight. Again, Business Class space is far rarer.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.06.07 PM

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Honolulu to Sydney runs daily and award space is excellent for two passengers in economy.Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.06.38 PM

Business Class space is also most common on the Honolulu to Sydney route.Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.07.02 PM

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.21.25 AM

It has award space nearly every day until it has multi-week periods with no award space like June 26 to July 20 on the Los Angeles to Sydney flight.Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.35.07 AM

First Class award space is super rare. Here are two seats–one per day–on October 11 and 18 from Dallas to Sydney.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.37.44 AM

Jump on the space because Qantas First Class looks awesome!

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Another American Airlines Option to Australia

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

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

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

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

Bottom Line

American Airlines are fantastic to get to Australia and New Zealand in economy. There is some premium cabin award space–but not much–if you are flying alone or don’t mind connecting in Hawaii.

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

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

Right now the personal and business American Airlines cards are each offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

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Update February 3: I first wrote about this deal on January 18. At that time, it lasted less than 48 hours. The space came back over the weekend, and I didn’t write about because it disappeared in a few hours before I could.

It came back today, and it disappeared within 10 minutes of Gary Leff writing about it. Let’s say it lasted one hour. I can’t say why the space keeps coming back for ever briefer times, but if you can use Saver Business Class space to Europe this summer for 50,000 miles roundtrip and no fuel surcharges, keep checking aa.com and keep checking my updates on twitter. I will try to get the next emergence of space up quicker.

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Hurry! A glitch is causing US Airways flights to have a ton of Business Class award space to Europe. This will not last. In fact, it has been corrected substantially, but lots of space remains.

You can search the space on aa.com or usairways.com. American Airlines charges 50,000 miles one way in Business Class to Europe and US Airways charges 100,000 miles roundtrip.

Sample Space

Blue dates have space for four people on the direct US Airways flight in Business Class.

Philly to Munich has a ton of award space. Some other routes have just a litte award space for 4+ people, but that is still unheard of on US Airways transatlantic flights.

Philadelphia to Munich

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 12.10.32 AM

Charlotte to LondonScreen Shot 2015-01-19 at 12.12.23 AM

Philadelphia to MadridScreen Shot 2015-01-19 at 12.13.07 AM

Philadelphia to RomeScreen Shot 2015-01-19 at 12.13.42 AM

US Airways Business Class is fully flat, and all seats feature direct aisle access on the A330s that fly most of the transatlantic flights.

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Getting the Miles

You’re definitely too late to get miles for this glitch. The award space will be gone very soon.

But in general, American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

We know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time in the second quarter of 2015. That means that the chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles, and American Airlines has committed to not devaluing its award chart at the time of combination. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value. Getting all three cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles in early 2015.

Hat Tip Gary Leff

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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!

Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

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