American Airlines has added the ability to search Finnair and airberlin award space on aa.com! If you follow thepointsguy, View From the Wing, or One Mile at a Time, they all beat me to the story, so I’ll try to add some valuable information if you want to book one of these airlines.
It’s always great news when an airline adds the functionality to its award-booking engine. American Airlines has made big strides this year, so you can now book American, Alaska, Hawaiian, British, Qantas, Finnair, and airberlin online with your AA miles. It’s not as comprehensive as united.com is for the Star Alliance, but aa.com is moving in the right direction.
Let me show you how to search aa.com for Finnair and airberlin space, and I’ll tell you about their patterns of availability. If you want to search segment-by-segment as you often have to on difficult awards, it’s important to know Finnair and airblerin’s flights to the US.
New York (JFK) <-> Helsinki (HEL)
New York (JFK) <-> Berlin (TXL)
New York (JFK) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
Chicago (ORD) <-> Berlin (TXL)
Los Angeles (LAX) <-> Berlin (TXL)
Los Angeles (LAX) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
San Francisco (SFO) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
Miami (MIA) <-> Berlin (TXL)
Miami (MIA) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
Fort Myers (RSW) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
Las Vegas (LAS) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
To search for airberlin and Finnair space, type your desired route into the search box on the top left of aa.com. Be sure to check the box that says Redeem AAdvantage Miles.
That will bring up a week-long search calendar and some more options. To have the calendar update, so that it only shows the direct flight of interest to us, select Non-Stop Only from the dropdown box. Also select Show Full Calendar to see a month-long view.
Following those steps shows the following availability for Chicago to Berlin next summer in economy class!
The flight operates five days a week and has space on every possible flight even during the summer. It looks like an easy way to get across the pond for people who prefer stretching their miles in economy class, but what about surcharges? AA does not charge surcharges on airberlin flights!
What about business class availability on airberlin? That’s much harder to find, especially during next summer.
That’s only one day out of twenty-nine with space on the Chicago to Berlin route. Other routes are broadly in line. JFK to Berlin and Fort Myers to Dusseldorf each had two days with business class space over the same time frame.
Don’t worry that airberlin isn’t releasing much business class space. You don’t want to fly their product anyway, which is a standard recliner seat. The leg room is ample, over a foot more than domestic first class, but it’s hardly a product up to international standards or worth a 20k premium over coach per direction. Seatguru summary of the product:
Finnair shows a very different pattern of availability on its JFK-HEL flight. Go through the same steps outlined above to isolate the Finnair flight in your aa.com search. Here’s the May/June calendar of economy availability from New York to Helsinki.
This is clearly not a route with a lot of economy award seats, at least not during the summer. Business class space is another story completely though. Look at all the Carolina blue, which represents a day with business class availability!
What about surcharges? Putting together a roundtrip business class itinerary from JFK to Helsinki, the price is 100k AA miles and $37. Not only are there no surcharges, but Finland charges unusually low taxes for Europe. Germany’s taxes are quite a bit higher. (The UK’s are the worst.)
The plane operating between New York and Helsinki is an A330 with a pretty nice looking–and fully flat bed–business class product in an unusual configuration.
Finnair and airberlin have conveniently aligned their flights with AA hubs and cities with major AA presences, so getting to the Finnair and airberlin flights should be no problem especially since AA has fantastic domestic availability.
Once in Europe, Finnair and airberlin have extensive route networks, and intra-Europe space is almost never a problem.
Free Oneways or Stopovers
All awards using AA miles must comply with the Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards. If you live at one of the cities served by one of these flights, you are looking at the possibility of two free oneways, one to your city before the European trip and one from your city after the European trip. See my post about Free Oneways on AA Awards for how to book free oneways to Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, the continental US and elsewhere.
Of course, your free oneway choices must have published fares between those cities and your destination in Europe–that’s another of the Five Cardinal Rules. I check for published fares on Expert Flyer. See Free First Class Next Month: Using ExpertFlyer.com.
Finnair and airberlin are now searchable and bookable at aa.com. That’s great news because aa.com has an easy-to-use calendar search that will let you hone in on individual segments to make your award booking much easier.
For next summer, airberlin has near perfect economy availability with almost no business class availability in a bad product. Finnair is the mirror opposite–bad economy availability, great business availability, great business product.
Search around, and enjoy your new options for booking online. Keep in mind all the generally applicable AA rules, and happy travels!