Advertiser Disclosure

American Airlines plane parked at the gate

How to Find & Book the Best American AAdvantage Miles Deals

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. For more information check out our Advertising Disclosure.

Looking for deals to redeem your American AAdvantage miles? You're in luck – and you're in the right place.

Whether you fly them frequently or not, American's AAdvantage mileage program is incredibly valuable thanks largely to its amazing array of partner airlines like Qatar Airways, Japan Airlines, and more. But even if you're just looking to book flights on American itself with those miles, there's still plenty of value out there to destinations near and far.

Unlike other U.S. airlines, American still publishes an award chart – a cheat sheet for how many miles it will cost to fly from point A to point B – so it's a bit easier to work out what's a good deal and what's not. But it's more of a formality: Award rates are all over the place these days – while you might see high award prices on some flights, you're just as likely to find extremely cheap ones, too.

Luckily, American makes it fairly easy to find the best deals using AA miles. Here's what you need to know.


Step 1: Start an Award Search on Desktop with American

Whether you're starting a search from scratch or received this Thrifty Traveler Premium alert about an American AAdvantage miles sale with flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America as low as 10,000 AA miles roundtrip, the process works much the same.

Thrifty Traveler Premium deal for AA miles flash sale to Mexico and the Caribbean 

Want to get alerts to use your AA miles? Sign up for Thrifty Traveler Premium!

Say you want to find those low award rates flying from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to the new Tulum airport (TQO) for a warm weather getaway. Start by searching on aa.com, and select “Redeem Miles,” then enter your desired dates and destination.

American Airlines award search 

You can also use the “Advanced” search option. This is especially useful if you're looking for flights to Europe and want to avoid seeing flights on partner airlines like British Airways, which have high taxes and fees.

American Airlines advanced search 

To only get results for American Airlines flights, select “American Airlines” under “Options” before you start your search.

American Airlines advanced award search 

If you're redeeming miles for an American-operated flight, it's best to search for roundtrip flights – AA sometimes has cheaper rates for its own flights when booking roundtrip.

Looking for award availability (flights you can actually book with miles) on partner airlines like Japan Airlines or Qatar Airways? It's best to search for one-way flights separately to confirm the flights you want are available to book at the lowest rates. You can select one-way flights on either the main search page or using the Advanced search option.


AA award search business class flights

How to Search for Premium Cabins

Want to redeem your AA miles to fly in first class closer to home… or even lie-flat business class overseas? Follow the same steps above but before you hit “search,” navigate to the “Advanced” search page.

American Airlines advanced search 

Scroll to the bottom of the screen. Under “Options,” select “Business/first” from the dropdown menu. Then, hit search.

AA award search premium cabins 

Looking to fly Premium Economy? Follow the same steps for an economy flight as detailed above and if the aircraft includes that cabin, you'll see those rates included in your search results.

American Airlines premium economy award search


Step 2: Pull Up the Calendar to Find the Cheapest Rates

The real power of American Airlines' site is its award calendar. It's key to finding the best deals, and it's incredibly simple to use.

After searching, click on the “Calendar” tab to maximize the viewable dates.

American Airlines award search calendar 

Look for dates with the award rates highlighted in green, as those will be the cheapest rates. Keep in mind that even if you're searching for a roundtrip deal, the price you see here in miles will be broken out separately each way – if you're aiming to book roundtrip, the price will likely double.

You can click the tab on the top to see what rates are available in the reverse direction if you're searching roundtrip.


American Airlines award search calendar view
You can also filter for nonstop or single-connection flights in the calendar view. That's another critical advantage of searching with American.

We always recommend first searching for availability on the nonstop, long-haul flight first. For example, if you're hoping to get to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) in Japan Airlines business class from your home in Minneapolis, it's best to look first on nonstop flights from cities Japan Airlines flies to like Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA), and more. Once you find a date that works, you can go back and start your search from your home airport on that exact date to see if it's possible to book a connection on one single ticket.

The calendar view is also useful for finding only premium economy or first class fares. You can't select those options during your initial search, but you can choose to single out these cabins in the calendar view.

AA award search calendar filters

Step 3: Sort & Filter to Narrow in on the Best Flights

Odds are, your search will yield more than one ticket you can book. Now it's time to find the flights you really want.

Use the filters and sorting tools on the main search results page to zero in on the flights you want. You can filter for the number of stops and by airline. This can be a great way to exclude certain airlines like British Airways, which have higher taxes and fees.

American Airlines award search filters 

When choosing flights, you can sort the results by price by clicking on the “Main” or “Business” column – or whichever cabin you're looking to book.

But keep in mind that if your trip involves a connection, some of the itineraries may have long layovers. To find the best options with quick connections, sort by “Duration” and scroll down the list until you find a flight that works for you.

This can take a bit of trial and error choosing different dates and sorting to find flights with both good connections and a good award rate. You can also filter for flights by the number of connections, eliminating any results with more than one stop.

sorting when choosing flights on AA search 

Click “Details” under the flight to find more information like layover times.

AA award flight details Minneapolis (MSP) to Tulum (TQO)  

Note: You'll always be on the hook for any taxes and fees, even when redeeming American miles for American-operated flights. Taxes and fees vary from around $11 for most domestic roundtrip flights to $200 or more for some international destinations.


Step 4: Select Your Flights & Book!

Choose the AA miles fare that works for you and click through to book.

American Airlines award flight from Minneapolis (MSP) to Tulum (TQO) 

The beauty of booking with AA miles is that you always get a main cabin fare – no stingy American basic economy here. This means you'll always get free seat selection when booking with AA miles and you'll also get a free checked bag on long-haul international flights.

Plus, every ticket booked with American AAdvantage miles can be canceled for free. That means you can lock in a flight for later this year using your American miles right now, then cancel it if your plans change and get your miles back.

Simply cancel your flight online and AA will redeposit your miles in your account … typically instantly! If you've booked a flight with a partner airline, it might require a phone call to American to cancel and get your miles back.


Try Out American's Award Map Tools!

American Airlines has a pair of unique tools that might be able to help you find an even better deal.

For starters, there's the American Airlines Award Map. Think of it like a Google Flights Explore map for your AAdvantage miles.

Enter your departure airport and travel dates, and select your destination: whether it's the continental U.S. or Hawaii, Europe, or even Asia Pacific. You can set the map to only pull in results that cost a certain amount of miles – and if you're logged in, that number will default to exactly how many AAdvantage miles you've got.

american airlines award map 

If you see a deal you like, you can pull it up and book with just a few clicks.

It's a pretty neat setup … but the standard search tool we covered above can be much more powerful thanks largely to its award calendar, which allows you to find the best deal by scrolling month to month – not just specific dates.

That's where an even newer tool comes in: the AAdvantage Miles Finder Map. Unlike its predecessor, this one can pull up flights from almost any date to help you find the best deal. And rather than selecting specific regions you want to fly to, you can simply scroll around the map, zooming in and out until you see something you like.

So while the other map could only find you a 72,000-mile roundtrip fare from New York City (JFK) to Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) for those specific dates in June, this one unearths something better: a trip a few weeks early for just 54,000 AAdvantage miles!

aadvantage miles finder map 

Neither tool is perfect, but they can both help unearth great deals you otherwise might not find in your route-by-route searches.


Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are some of the most valuable airline miles you can earn – especially if you're looking to book flights on partner airlines. But they've got plenty of value if you're redeeming them for flights on American, too.

Whether you've got a few thousand or more than 100,000 AAdvantage miles in your account, use this guide to find the cheapest fares for your next trip.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *