Where other frequent flyer miles program fail, American Airlines delivers.
Though far from perfect, there’s a lot to love about the AAdvantage program. The miles are relatively easy to earn, and the rates American charges to get from point A to point B are generally reasonable. That’s a strong combination and a big part of the reason why they’re worth collecting.
So we’ll break down some of the best ways to use AAdvantage miles. Thanks to some outstanding airline partners through the Oneworld Alliance, many of these flights won’t actually be on American itself. Consider that just another bonus of using AAdvantage miles.
Domestic Flights from 5,000 Miles Each Way
The first entry to this list is a recent addition. But that doesn’t make it any less valuable.
American Airlines recently started selling domestic flights for as low as 5,000 miles each way – down from a previous norm of 7,500 miles or even 12,500 miles. The airline calls them Economy Web Specials.
It can be a bit tricky to find these fares, as American doesn’t publish a list of which routes qualify for discounted pricing. It will require some trial and error.
Short-haul flights under 1,000 miles from American hubs like Phoenix (PHX), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), and Philadelphia (PHL) seem to be the best bets. But even then, it can be unpredictable, with drastic swings in prices day by day.
And if you’re lucky, you might even be able to find an international route for a steal.
American isn’t alone in offering these cheap rates for short domestic hops – Delta has been doing it for ages, and United recently started offering the same sales. Still, it can be a great use of your AAdvantage miles when you find them.
Fly to Europe in the Off-Season
American Airlines’ award chart specifically carves out cheaper rates for traveling during the off-peak.
So if Europe is on your mind, that means you can get there and back for 45,000 AAdvantage miles round-trip in economy – down from the norm of 60,000 miles.
The off-peak definitions change year by year. For 2019, Jan. 1 through March 14 and Nov. 1 through Dec. 14 qualify for the cheaper pricing. And for hotspots scattered across Europe, these off-peak times are a great time to visit.
It’s important to note that this cheaper pricing only applies to flights on American itself. Flights on partners like British Airways or Iberia do not qualify for off-peak rates.
And one of the beauties of using AA miles is that you can generally tack on a connecting domestic flight for 0 miles. So if you’re not already in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), for example, you can simply start your search from your home airport and book the one-stop itinerary for free.
… Or in Business Class
With some luck, American Airlines can be a jackpot if you’re looking to fly business class to Europe.
For starters, many planes flying to Europe have a great reverse herringbone seat, with more space and privacy than you’ll find on the older planes United and Delta typically fly overseas.
But these business class flights are also bookable with just 57,500 AAdvantage miles each way. Most airlines charge at least 70,000 for a business class seat across the Atlantic.
The trick is finding the award space – aka a seat in business class that’s actually bookable with miles. American is notoriously stingy when it comes to booking its own business class with miles.
It can take a lot of patience to find the flights you need. You might need to wait until the last few weeks before departure to book. Flights into London-Heathrow (LHR) and Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) seem to be the most reliable bets. And married segment logic can complicate things – where the nonstop flight from New York City-JFK (JFK) to LHR isn’t available, but starting in Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and connecting through JFK opens up the flights.
Get to the Caribbean or Mexico for Less
How does a trip to the beach for 25,000 miles round-trip sound?
With AAdvantage miles, it’s easy to get to Mexico or an island in the Caribbean for cheap. Thanks to low rates and plenty of flights, there’s no better way to book a trip south than with AAdvantage miles.
Much like with Europe, American has flights at cheaper rates during the off-peak season. In this case, you can unlock those rates between Sept. 7 to Nov. 14 and April 27 to May 20. That means you can get to incredible islands like St. Martin (SXM), St. Lucia (UVF), and Aruba (AUA) for as low as 25,000 miles round-trip. Even at 30,000 miles for a normal round-trip, it can be a steal.
Fly in Style to Japan
When you’re flying 13-plus hours to Asia, it’s worth some extra miles to fly in comfort. How about a SkySuite?
Japan Airlines has one of the world’s best business class products called SkySuites. In the right seat, it’s both spacious and insanely private. Some of the best food you’ll find in the sky doesn’t hurt either.
The best part? This incredible flight – which normally costs $5,000 or more – is just 60,000 AAdvantage miles each way. After our recent sterling review of Japan Airlines Business Class, we’re convinced it’s one of the best ways to use your AA miles.
American Airlines doesn’t exactly make it easy to book these flights. You can’t book them online through AA.com – the flights simply don’t show up when you search. But that just means it can be easier to find the flight you want. And we’ve got you covered: Read our full guide on how to book Japan Airlines flights with AA miles.
Living the QSuite Life
If Japan Airlines is one of the best business class seats, the top prize surely goes to Qatar Airways QSuites. And good news: You can book them with AA miles, too.
You’ll need 70,000 AAdvantage milesto book the one-way flight from the U.S. to Qatar’s hub in Doha (DOH), or vice versa. You’ll get some incredible meals and service, and easily the best seat you can fly in business class.
And unlike Japan Airlines, you can now book these awards online!
On the flipside, it’s gotten harder in recent months to find the award space to actually book a flight in a QSuite to and from the U.S. Our friends at God Save the Points recently found a good chunk of seats available in the spring of 2020.
But there are other great options across the globe to hop in Qatar business class. Among them: It costs just 42,500 AAdvantage miles to fly from Europe to the Middle East. Want to fly from an Asian city like Bangkok (BKK) to Doha? It’s just 40,000 AAdvantage miles!
The Etihad Apartment
Sure a suite is nice. But what about a whole apartment?
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad calls its first class on board the massive Airbus A380 “The Apartment,” and it lives up to the name. The space and comfort may rival a New York City studio (we’re only exaggerating a little bit). It’s easily one of the most luxurious ways to fly, and you can book it with AA miles.
If you’re flying from the U.S., the only option is to head from New York City (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) for 115,000 AAdvantage miles. These flights are now bookable online, though it can still be tough to find a seat.
If you want a taste of luxury while spending time abroad, take the flight from London-Heathrow (LHR) or Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to the Middle East, instead. You’ll have seven hours in The Apartment for just 62,500 miles. And it’s pretty easy to find these flights online at AA.com.
Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
Part of the allure of American Airlines is how easy these miles can be to earn.
For starters, few credit cards offer a better, more lucrative welcome offer bonus than the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. Just for opening the card, making a single purchase, and paying the $99 annual fee, you can earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. These are some of the easiest miles you will ever earn.
Click Here to apply for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard (this is not an affiliate link)
Additionally, American Airlines is unique in the fact that they have co-branded credit card relationships with both Citi and Barclays thanks to the merger of American and U.S. Airways a few years ago.
So you can also apply for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card, which is currently offering 50,000 AAdvantage Miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months. The card’s $99 annual fee is waived in the first year.
This is significant because you can earn the welcome offer bonus on each card, netting you 110,000 American Airlines miles after paying one annual fee (the Barclays AAdvantage Red Aviator Card) and spending $3,000 on the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card in the first three months of card membership.
The combination of the ease of earning American AAdvantage Miles with some of these redemptions can be dynamite. This list is far from comprehensive, but these ways to use AAdvantage miles can unlock some amazing travel.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.