5 Reasons You Should Be Collecting American Airlines Miles
I’m a loyal Delta flyer but I’m always thinking of new ways to collect more American Airlines miles. Yes, you read that correctly.
AA has a number of advantages over the other domestic airline programs that make AAdvantage miles too valuable to ignore. With a handful of current credit cards offering larger sign-up bonuses, now is a great time to start collecting AAdvantage miles or build up your balance. These card offers can be found on our Top Credit Cards page.
Off-Peak Travel with American AAdvantage Miles
A surefire way to score a good flight deal is being willing to travel at less-popular times when fares are cheaper. AA is unique in that it offers fliers the same chance when booking with miles. AA is the only major domestic airline that has an “off-peak” award chart. And the savings with American Airlines Miles can be substantial.
Fly at the right time and you can book a round trip to Europe for just 45,000 miles – down from the norm of 60,000. You can save 5,000 miles on a round trip to Mexico, the Caribbean, and northern South America. These off-peak awards give AAdvantage miles an extra layer of value and flexibility. And in the world of miles and points, that’s huge.
Deals on Domestic Flights
No frequent flyer program is consistently better when it comes to scoring cheap domestic flights than American Airlines. That’s due in large part to the airline’s Reduced Mileage Awards, available only to AAdvantage Platinum Select cardholders. This novel offering allows you to reduce the cost of a domestic trip from 25,000 miles round trip down to 17,500.
AA puts out a list of which airports qualify for these discounted flights every month. The good news is that as long as either your origin or destination airport is listed, you should qualify for the discount. Unfortunately, you can’t simply book these flights online – it requires a phone call to AA. But given the savings here, it’s worth the extra effort.
You’ll first need to find a saver-level award for the seat on AA.com, as these are the only tickets that qualify for the additional savings. Once you’ve found the award space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 and feed them the flight information. You’ll also need to provide the corresponding Reduced Mileage award code from the AA site. It may sound complicated, but it’s not; and seeing as you can save 30% of your miles, it’s worth it.
Best Business Class
The shiny new Delta One Suite on the Airbus A350 is a winner. The same is true of United’s new Polaris business class seat. However, both new seats make up just a fraction of the airlines’ long-haul fleet. That gives American Airlines a serious edge among U.S. carriers.
The vast majority of the planes AA flies overseas are equipped with reverse herringbone business class seats in a 1-2-1 layout. Whether you’re flying a 777-300ER or 787-9s, you can count on a comfortable ride with direct aisle access.
Read Mr. TT’s review of his short flight on AA’s 787 business class from a few years ago. He and Mrs. TT also loved their business class flight from Chicago to Dusseldorf on the 767.
The bulk of United’s business class cabins have some pretty plain seats in a 2-2-2 arrangement. And some of their planes still have an ancient seat with 8 seats across, laid out 2-4-2. Meanwhile, most of Delta’s business class cabins are a hodgepodge of some outdated but comfortable A330s, 777s laid out with seats that face the aisle and some cramped 767s.
To be clear, we’ll never crown AA the world’s best business class. But among the major domestic airlines, it’s the clear winner.
Sweet Spots to Europe, Asia in Business Class
AA makes its business class flights both more comfortable and cheaper than the competition. A one-way flight to Europe would run you 60,000 United MileagePlus miles, and at least 70,000 Delta SkyMiles. If you’re heading to Japan or Korea, expect to pay 70,000 on United and 80,000 with Delta.
American charges 57,500 for a saver-level award in business class to Europe. The savings are bigger if you’re heading to Asia: 60,000 American Airlines miles to Japan or Korea.
Not all points and miles are created equally, but there’s no doubt that this gives AAdvantage miles another boost. It’s just another reason that makes them worth collecting.
The catch here is that award space on American Airlines flights can be tough to find. You’ll want to start searching far ahead to lock in a good saver-level price to get the most out of your miles. Luckily, a handful of Oneworld alliance carriers and other partner airlines are much easier to book.
Want to fly in a Qatar Qsuite? Or how about your own apartment? From airlines in the Oneworld alliance to AA’s one-off partnerships, few airlines have better partnerships that allow you to fly some of the best first and business class products with miles.
AA is unique among the major domestic airlines in that it doesn’t charge more for a partner redemption. Both United and Delta started doing so last year, with a premium of 10,000 miles or more each way when you fly a partner airline. In our mind, this advantage alone makes American Airlines miles worth collecting. So what can you fly?
Etihad’s First Class – dubbed The Apartment on its A380s – is bookable with AA miles, and it lives up to the hype. You can fly this incredible first class cabin between London-Heathrow (LHR) or Paris-Charles De Gaulle (CDG) and Abu Dhabi (AUH) for just 62,500 AAdvantage miles.
Another partner airline is Qatar Airways, which has one of the world’s best business class products. Qatar flies its newest planes equipped with QSuites to Doha (DOH) from New York-JFK, Washington-Dulles (IAD) and Chicago-O’Hare (ORD). These flights cost 70,000 AA miles one way.
Read our guide on booking Qatar tickets with American Airlines miles here. Oneworld partner airlines Japan Airlines (JAL) and Cathay Pacific offer two of the best ways to fly business or first class to Asia. For example, a flight to Tokyo in one of JAL’s private SkySuites would cost just 60,000 AAdvantage miles.
Unfortunately, AA doesn’t always show its partner award availability through its own website. Your best bet is to locate the flights you want through British Airways, write down the flight number and information and call up American at 1-800-882-8880 to make the reservation. If BA shows the flight is available, you should be able to book it with your AA miles.
How to Get AAdvantage Miles
You know the reasons why AAdvantage miles are worth collecting. And now’s a great time to start piling them up. That’s because Citi is out with increased sign-up offers on its AAdvantage cards, offering up to 70,000 bonus miles.
The personal card, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, will net you 60,000 AA miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months. And the Citibusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard gets you 70,000 miles after spending $4,000 in 3 months. These card offers can be found on our Top Credit Cards page.
There are some limitations to keep in mind with these cards. You can only apply for one Citi card every 8 days, and you can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days.
If you’ve already held this card, check your calendar. You will not be eligible for the bonus on any Citi card if you have opened or closed the same card in the past 24 months.
There is no hard limit on the amount of open Citi credit cards you can have, but these rules are always enforced. Unfortunately, it looks like Citi is ending the ability to get a 10% mileage rebate on AA redemptions. But there’s still plenty of value here that makes these cards worth opening.
If you’ll pardon the pun, AAdvantage miles have some serious AAdvantages. Between the current credit card offers, sweet spots in the award chart and novel ways to use your miles, collecting AA miles is worth your time. And that’s true regardless of whether you consider yourself an AA flyer.
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.