Ultimate Guide: How to Use American Airlines Miles [Updated August 21 With Qantas Award Search]

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It’s time for a refresh!  We’re updating our old series on American Airlines and making one guide with everything you’ll need to know!  Check back often as we add new sections to this post!

American Airlines are one of the best mileage currencies to earn because there are a large number of great ways to use them!  American Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance, which means that you can redeem your American Airlines miles for flights on any other oneworld alliance member and American Airlines’ other partners that aren’t part of oneworld!

American Airlines miles aren’t always the easiest to redeem anymore, but do offer incredible value especially for fancy flights like Cathay Pacific or Etihad First Class.  Of course, you can also redeem for reasonable award prices in other classes of service when there are available award seats.

What a Way to Fly to Asia! Japan Airlines First Class Is One of Our Favorites.  And You Can Book It With American Airlines Miles!

In this guide, we’ll show you how to use American Airlines miles for nearly free flights and travel all over the world!

Introduction:   How to Use American Airlines Miles

You can book one-way awards which gives you terrific flexibility.  For example, you can fly to Europe using American Airlines miles and fly back using United Airlines miles.  And you can redeem American Airlines miles, but fly on American Airlines’ partner airlines.

Redeeming miles for flights with American Airlines’ partners is one of the best ways to access ultra-premium First Class seats with airlines like Etihad and Japan Airlines.

In our experience, American Airlines has some of the best telephone booking agents and some of the most available award seats for both domestic and international destinations, at least when you consider partner flight options.  Lately, it’s been a bit tough to find low-level SAAver award seats for travel on American Airlines planes, but if you’re flexible with your travel dates and / or destination you shouldn’t have too much trouble.

oneworld and Other Airline Partners

As mentioned above, you can redeem your American Airlines miles for travel not only on American Airlines (this is very important!), but ALSO on oneworld partner airlines and other (non-oneworld) partner airlines which have partnered with American Airlines.

American Airlines Has Many Partners, so You Have Quite a Few Flight Redemption Options! Note That You Cannot Redeem Miles for All Other Airlines Partners

The oneworld alliance is a group of 13 full member airlines (American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7, and Sri Lankan Airlines) which together fly to over 1,000 destinations in 150+ countries.

American Airlines has also partnered with other airlines (outside of the oneworld alliance) including Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air, Etihad Airways, Fiji Airways, and Hawaiian Airlines.  You can also redeem your American Airlines miles for travel on these other partner airlines!

This is a BIG deal (no, it is a huge deal!), because between oneworld and other partner airlines you can use your American Airlines miles to fly to places where American Airlines doesn’t fly themselves.

Some airline award tickets can be booked on AA.com including:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines (including American Eagle)
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian

Unfortunately, to book all other partners you have to call American Airlines (NOT the partner airline) to book the award.  We’ll cover how to find available award seats on partner airlines later on so that you don’t have to rely on the phone agent to find the seats you want.

Where Can American Airlines Miles Take Me?

Short answer:  Almost anywhere in the world!

There Are a Lot of Places You Can Fly With American Airlines Miles!

Your American Airlines miles can take you to places where:

1)  American Airlines fly themselves

2)  American Airlines’ oneworld partners fly

3)  American Airlines’ other partner airlines fly

The easiest way to see where American Airlines and their oneworld partners fly to is to use the oneworld online tool.

A more time consuming, but more thorough way, is to individually visit the oneworld partner and other partner airlines’ websites and see where they fly.

Use Miles to Fly Where American Airlines Doesn’t

Let’s take 3 out of many possible examples of how to use American Airlines miles:

1.  Bangkok, Thailand.   You can redeem American Airlines miles for travel on Cathay Pacific from the US to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to Bangkok.

American Airlines doesn’t fly its own planes (sometimes referred to as “AA metal”) from the US to Thailand, but you CAN redeem American Airline miles to fly on Cathay Pacific (a oneworld partner) from the US to Hong Kong, and then connect to another Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok.

Cathay Pacific Offers a Wonderful Business Class With Destinations All Over Asia!

You won’t be able to search for Cathay Pacific award seats online at AA.com, because you can only search for flights on American Airlines and the partners listed earlier in this post online.

Currently, you have to call American Airlines (NOT the partner airline) to book awards on partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific.  Alternatively, you can look for Cathay Pacific award seats online at BritishAirways.com.  You will need a British Airways account in order to search for flights, but it’s free and easy to sign-up! 

Just remember, if you find award seats for flights that you want, you will still need to call American Airlines to book (NOT British Airways OR the partner airline).

This might sound a little complicated, but don’t worry!  We’ll show you in detail how to find available award seats on many of American Airlines’ partners before you call later on in this post and we’ll walk through how to call American Airlines and get the agent to book your $15,000 First Class seat using miles and only a few hundred dollars in taxes & fees.

2.   Anchorage, Alaska.   American Airlines has limited service on its own flights to Alaska.  But because Alaska Airlines is an American Airlines partner airline, you can use your American Airlines miles to fly on Alaska Airlines routes to Alaska.

For example, American Airlines doesn’t fly from Seattle to Anchorage directly.  You would normally have to fly from Seattle to Dallas and then from Dallas to Anchorage during the months when American Airlines flies from Dallas to Anchorage.  And that’s a lot of extra flying!

But because Alaska Airlines (an American Airlines partner) flies from Seattle to Anchorage, you can redeem your American Airlines miles, but fly on an Alaska Airlines plane from Seattle to Anchorage.

As an added bonus, you can easily book Alaska Airlines flights online with American Airlines miles.  There’s no need to call in!

3.  Cairo, Egypt.  American Airlines not only doesn’t offer any service to Cairo, but does not offer a single flight to any country in the Middle East.  But since Qatar Airways is a member of the oneworld alliance, you can use your American Airlines miles to fly Qatar to Cairo, with a quick layover in Doha.  (Note:   This routing isn’t currently possible due to issues in the Middle East between Qatar and other nations – thanks Million Mile Secrets reader Dennybob for pointing that out!)

Enjoy the Massive Pyramids After You Fly to Egypt With Your American Airlines Miles!

Another option would be to use American Airlines partner (that is NOT in oneworld), Etihad.  With a quick layover in Abu Dhabi, you can also redeem miles to travel to Cairo.

You have to book both airlines over the phone and not on AA.com.  But these are still great options for booking travel to the Middle East.

Award Types & Charts

American Airlines has 2 different award charts for redeeming miles and 2 award charts for upgrades. Here are some tips we have for reading and understanding the American Airlines award charts.

American Airlines Travel Award Chart

The American Airlines travel award chart is for travel only on American Airlines and American Eagle.

You’ll be able to find rates as low as 7,500 miles each way plus taxes and carrier imposed fees for flights within the US. If you’re traveling internationally on American Airlines only, this award chart also applies.

If you’re traveling on airlines other than American Airlines, you’ll have to check out their other award chart.

New Offer 50000 American Airlines Miles 200 In Credits
With 60,000 American Airlines Miles, You Could Book a Round-Trip Coach Flight to Paris

oneworld and Other Airline Award Chart

Thw oneworld and other airlines award chart shows prices using American Airlines miles for award travel on oneworld and partner airlines.

You can book awards with the following airlines:

a) American Airlines
b) oneworld partner airlines including:

c) Other American Airline partner airlines which include:

You Can Redeem American Airlines Miles for Business Class Award Flights on Japan Airlines and Enjoy a Delicious Traditional Meal

While you can book all of American Airlines’ flights with miles on AA.com, many of their other partners can NOT be seen online.

For example, if you search for flights from Chicago to Bangkok on AA.com, you’ll only see options for American Airlines (and maybe some partners like Royal Jordanian’s unusual flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok). But you can also fly on Cathay Pacific (oneworld partner airline) to Hong Kong and then connect to Bangkok.

In some cases, you may have to do some digging to find out which oneworld airlines fly between cities. An easy way to do so is using the oneworld Interactive Network Map.

You can book some oneworld and partner award flights on AA.com, including:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines (except flights between Mainland US and Hawaii)
  • Iberia
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian

However, other airline awards can only be booked by calling 800-882-8880. This may seem like extra work, but it’s totally worth it because of the vastly increased flight options.

If you want to try to check for available partner awards before you call into American Airlines, you can check sites like British Airways or Qantas. If you can find your desired flights, you can simply provide that to the American Airlines booking agent who answers your phone call at the number listed above.

Upgrades

American Airlines Upgrades

This chart lists the co-pay and miles required to upgrade flights on flights operated by American Airlines and American Eagle.

Upgrades are only possible to the next higher class of service, so you can’t upgrade from coach to First Class, but you can upgrade from coach to Business Class or from Business Class to First Class. Upgrading from coach to Premium Economy isn’t currently possible, but you can upgrade from Premium Economy to Business Class. You may not want to do so, however, because upgrading from Premium Economy to Business Class costs the same as upgrading from coach to Business Class.

We’re not big fans of using miles to upgrade flights because it is usually a poor value when upgrading from the cheapest discount coach ticket.

You Can Upgrade Yourself to Business Class With Your American Airlines Miles, but We Wouldn’t Recommend It

For example, it costs 25,000 miles PLUS a $350 co-pay to upgrade a one-way discount coach ticket to Europe from coach to Business Class.

So if you were to book a discounted coach ticket to Europe for $750 and wanted to upgrade to Business Class, this would cost an additional 25,000 American Airlines miles and a co-pay of $350!

However, it costs only 57,500 American Airlines miles for a Business Class ticket to Europe.

That said, using miles to upgrade could make sense if your company has purchased your ticket for you, you regularly purchase Business Class tickets, or if you just want to save your American Airlines miles.

Upgrades on British Airways and Iberia

This chart lists the amount of miles required to upgrade flights on British Airways and Iberia.

However, this is a pretty meaningless option, because your ticket has to be booked in full fare coach, Premium Economy, or Business Class. More often than not, coach tickets are at the discounted rate.

Since these full fares are almost always higher than the discounted fares, this is usually not a great value unless you are forced to buy a ticket at full fare or your company buys the ticket for you.

Now we’ll go into more depth about the different types of awards American Airlines has and how much you can expect to spend on your award redemption.

American Airlines Has a Couple of Different Award Types and How Much You Pay Will Depend on What Award Type You Book!

American Airlines has 4 different types of award rates, but most folks will use either the off-peak or the MileSAAver rate.

Types of Awards

1.   Off-Peak MileSAAver Awards

These awards let you travel for less than the regular (MileSAAver) number of miles to certain destinations.  The catch is that you have to travel during “off” or low season.  Off-peak awards only apply to coach bookings.

Here are the off-peak award costs.

DestinationTo Destination Off Peak Period1-Way Off Peak Award (Miles Required in Coach)1-Way MileSAAver Award (Miles Required in Coach)1-Way Off Peak Savings (in Coach)
HawaiiTo Hawaii: 12/29 - 3/12, 8/11 - 11/18, 11/24 - 12/10
From Hawaii: 1/7 - 3/19, 8/18 - 11/27, 12/3 - 12/25
20,00022,5002,500
Caribbean, Mexico and Central America 9/7 - 11/14, 4/27 - 5/2012,50015,0002,500
Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Manaus (Brazil)1/16 - 6/14, 9/7 - 11/1417,50020,0002,500
Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela1/10 - 3/14, 11/1 - 12/1422,50030,0007,500
Europe1/10 - 3/14, 11/1 - 12/14 22,50030,0007,500
Japan and South KoreaTo Japan/Korea: 1/1 - 4/30, 7/1 - 11/30
From Japan: 1/16 - 4/19, 5/2 - 5/31, 9/1 - 12/31
From Korea: 1/16 - 5/31, 9/1 - 12/31
To Korea: January 1 to April 30, July 1 to November 30
32,50035,0002,500
China and Hong KongAsia Region 2 To China/Hong Kong: 1/1 - 4/30, 7/1 - 9/30, 10/11 - 11/30
From China/Hong Kong: 2/1 - 5/31, 9/1 - 9/19, 10/2 - 12/31
32,50035,0002,500

Key points about off-peak awards:

  • Off-peak awards are valid only in coach
  • You can’t use off-peak awards on partner airlines with the exception of flights to Europe.  If you have a partner flight, you’ll automatically be subject to the higher award price, except on flights to Europe
  • Off-peak awards can’t be used to fly within the US and Canada (except Hawaii)
Sailing Around Greece Would Be the Trip of a Lifetime! For More Than 3 Months of the Year, You Can Visit for Even Fewer Miles With American’s Off-Peak Prices!

Off-peak awards are still a good value because you’ll save miles when traveling to certain regions.  Europe has 3 and a half months of off-peak awards at 45,000 American Airlines miles round-trip, and you’re still allowed to fly on partner airlines!

However, if there are no available off-peak award seats, the next level of awards in coach are not the regularly priced MileSAAver awards, but the more expensive AAnytime awards.

Before paying double price (AAnytime awards) for coach awards, you should always search for Business Class MileSAAver awards because they may be cheaper than a AAnytime award in coach.  Before we get into that, let’s talk about MileSAAver awards a little more.

2.   MileSAAver Awards

These are regular priced awards, but are capacity controlled.  This means that it may be extremely challenging to get awards during peak times and for more than 2 people, and may even be somewhat difficult at non-peak times.

You can book MileSAAver awards with both the American Airlines Travel Award Chart (for travel only on American Airlines and American Eagle) and with the oneworld and Other Airline Award Chart.  For more details, check out our post on American Airlines’ different award charts.

However, if you’re flexible (can leave early or later, or stay overnight in a hub airport, or break up your large travel group), you should be able to find awards to your destination.  Just remember to check for available partner airline award seats as well (which we’ll cover later on in this post).

If you are traveling on a oneworld partner (like British Airways) or other partner airline (like Etihad), you have to book your award using either the MileSAAver rate (unless you’re booking an off-peak flight to Europe). You can’t book partner flights with the more expensive, and also more available AAnytime rate.  This means that there must be low-level award seats available on the partner airline in order to book it.

Every airline has a different name for these low-level seats.  Etihad calls these low-level awards “GuestSeats”, while British Airways would show up as the MileSAAver price on AA.com.

3.   AAnytime Awards

These awards give you the most flexibility and if a seat is available on the flight, you can book it.  AAnytime awards can be used with ONLY the American Airlines Travel Award Chart (for travel only on American Airlines or American Eagle).

However, they cost significantly more than a regular MileSAAver Award. There are 2 types of AAnytime awards – Level 1 and Level 2.

The rules aren’t specific to show which award goes in which level, but generally awards booked in advance and during non-peak travel times (not during major holidays like Christmas and New Years) are Level 1, while seats that aren’t will be Level 2 awards.

For example, it costs 110,000 miles on a Level 1, one-way AAnytime award to London in Business Class instead of 57,500 miles if you used a regular MileSAAver award.  If you book too close to departure or around a holiday and have to book the Level 2 rate, it’s even more expensive at 135,000 miles one-way!

Pricing Varies Significantly Between MileSAAver, AAnytime Level 1, and AAnytime Level 2!

Tip:   Before paying the AAnytime rate for a coach or Business Class award, check the MileSAAver availability for the next highest class of service (Business or First Class).

For example, before paying 65,000 miles for an AAnytime award to London in coach, check to see if there are MileSAAver (regular) awards for 57,500 miles in Business Class.

Sometimes, you will find a MileSAAver award in the next class of service which would cost the same (or less) amount of miles as the AAnytime award, so you’ll get to save miles and flight a higher class of service!

Note that AAnytime awards are ONLY for flights on American Airlines.  You can NOT book oneworld and other partner airlines at the AAnytime rate.

So if your flight involves partner airlines (say, British Airways from London to Dubai), you won’t be able to pay more miles and get last seat availability.

4.   American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards

American Airlines AAdvantage credit card holders have access to reduced mileage awards which save you either 5,000 or 7,500 miles for round-trip flights within the US and Canada.  The exact amount varies based on which type of American Airlines card you have.

On round-trip flights, you’ll receive a 7,500 mile discount if you have one of the cards below and your flight is more than 500 miles.  If you book a short flight 500 miles or less, you’ll receive only a 2,000 mile discount:

If you don’t have any of the cards above, you can still receive a 5,000 mile discount with one of the cards below (but if your flight is 500 miles or less, you’ll receive only a 1,000 mile discount):

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite Mastercard
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite Visa
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite American Express
  • Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator™ Blue Mastercard

If you’re booking a one-way flight, you’ll get half the discount.

However, the catch is that you have to call American Airlines reservations (800-882-8880) to book this deal.

The list changes monthly, and these awards must also be used on flights operated by American Airlines themselves.  This means that you can search for available award seats online at AA.com (which will show you American Airlines options) and then call to book the award.

There Are Many Great Destinations to Visit Within the US and Canada for Even Fewer Miles with American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards!

These awards are subject to the same capacity restrictions as MileSAAver awards.  In other words, if you find a MileSAAver award online to a destination on the quarterly reduced mileage award list, you can call American Airlines reservations, give them the award code from the Reduced Mile Award page, and book your award for fewer miles.

The reduced mile awards to Canada are an especially good deal because tickets to Canada can be quite expensive.

The American Airlines website states that reduced mileage awards are only eligible if you are traveling to the listed destination cities.  There were reports in the past from folks who were able to have the discount applied on flights both to and from the listed airports, but that may no longer be possible as the most recent report we could find of this happening was in 2017.  Your mileage my vary if you are trying to fly from one of the cities listed on the reduced mileage awards list.

You can find out more details through our post on American’s Reduced Mileage Awards.

Award Fees

1.   Telephone Booking Fee. American Airlines charges a $30 telephone booking fee for domestic award flights which includes the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii, and a $40 telephone booking fee for international flights, which are waived only for Executive Platinum members. This fee does not apply to awards that can’t be booked online, such as oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways.

However, if a flight can be booked online and you choose to book over the phone, such as a seat on British Airways, you will have to pay the $40 fee, unless you are an Executive Platinum member.

2.  Close-In Ticketing Fee. American Airlines charges a $75 fee if you book your ticket within 21 days. This fee is waived for Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum members.

3.  Cancellation / Redeposit Fee. There is no fee to cancel your award, but you have to pay a $150 fee to have the miles redeposited into your account (waived only for Executive Platinum elites). However, the fee is only $25 for additional awards after the 1st if you redeposit the miles at the same time. Therefore, it may be worth it (if possible) to book award travel from the same account so that you pay lower fees if you have to cancel and redeposit the award.

4.  Taxes and Fees. You will have to pay taxes and fees on your award ticket. These fees are usually pretty reasonable, except if you travel on British Airways or travel to / from countries (think UK & France) with higher than usual fees. These fees will be even higher if you choose to fly in Business Class or First Class. That’s why it’s often best to consider flying other partners instead.

For a One-Way Flight From New York JFK to Paris on British Airways in Coach, You’ll Pay 22,500 American Airlines Miles (Off-Peak) Plus ~$208 in Taxes and Fees! That’s Pretty Steep for a One-Way Flight

American Airlines collects fuel surcharges when you use your American Airlines miles on British Airways flights, so it’s best to stay away from redeeming miles on British Airways when you can.  However, there are often lots of award seats available on British Airways and there are often even 4 seats in First or Business Class!  If flying Business or First Class is the way you want to go and you aren’t flexible with your dates or destination, British Airways may be your best bet, even with the fuel surcharges.

One-Way Awards, Open Jaws, and Stopovers

One-way awards, open jaws, and stopovers, if used the right way, can help you better earn Big Travel with Small Money.  First, let’s go into more detail about what each one of these are and whether or not American Airlines allows them when booking award travel.

One-way Awards

American Airlines lets you book one-way award tickets.

This is great because it gives you a lot of options.  For example, you can book a one-way ticket to Rome using American Airlines miles, but book a return one-way return ticket using United Airlines miles.  One-way awards are great for when there are available award seats you want to book in one direction, but not in the other (and for when you only want to fly one-way, of course!).

Open Jaws

Open jaw a nerdy way of saying that you fly from your origin (City A) to your destination (City B), but then fly back from another city (City C) to your origin (City A).  An open jaw is basically kind of like booking 2 one-way awards.

For example, you could fly from Chicago (City A) to London (City B), but then fly back from Paris (City C) back to you origin in Chicago (City A).

In This Example, You Have an Open Jaw Between London and Paris

This scenario can be valuable if you are traveling to a lot of different destinations, such as a backpacking trip in Europe, and don’t want the hassle of having to get back to the city you first flew into.

Because American Airlines lets you book one-way awards, you can create open jaw itineraries very easily.  For example, it would be easy to book Chicago to London on one award.  Then book Paris back to Chicago as a second award.

Stopovers

A stopover is when you intentionally take a break in your journey while traveling from your origin to your destination for more than a specific amount of time.  A stopover is defined as any stop over 4 hours on a domestic trip or any stop over 24 hours on an international trip.

For example, say you were to fly from Chicago (origin) to Barcelona (destination) but stopped in London for 3 days.  In this case, London would be your stopover.

Likewise, if you are flying from Kansas City (origin) to London (destination) but make a 5-day stop in New York City, New York City would be your stopover.  Note that this still counts as an international trip because your origin and destination are in different countries.

Unfortunately, as of April 2014, American Airlines no longer allows stopovers on an award ticket.  So, if you fly from Dallas to Hong Kong to Singapore all on American Airlines’ oneworld partner Cathay Pacific, you would not be able to stop in Hong Kong for more than 24 hours unless you wanted to book 2 separate award tickets (which would cost quite a few more miles).

Even Though American Airlines Doesn’t Allow Stopovers on Award Tickets Anymore, You Can Still Visit a New City Like Hong Kong for Up to 24 Hours Without Paying More Miles

However, if you wanted to spend a day in Hong Kong, you could still stop for up to 24 hours.  For example, you could land in the morning and depart in the evening and spend a full day in Hong Kong.  This does not provide much time to explore cities, but can be taken advantage of if you hurry!

There are, however, several tricks that would still let you stopover in another country.

Tricks to Still Kind of Stopover

There are 2 general ways that you can still book what is effectively a stopover:

1.   Book 3 one-way awards.  Say you want to go from San Francisco to London, stop for a few days in London, and then fly back to San Francisco from Berlin.  You’ll have to book 3 separate one-way awards:

  • One award from your origin to your stopover city (San Francisco to London)
  • Another from your stopover city to your destination (London to Berlin)
  • And the third from your destination city back to your origin, assuming you want to return to your origin (Berlin to San Francisco)

This will cost many more miles than it used to cost to book a one-way award with a stopover.  However, if you don’t mind spending the miles and don’t want to pay more cash, this method could still be a good option.

2.   Book an award ticket, and then buy a one-way ticket.  You can always book an award ticket from your origin to your stopover city and then buy a cheap plane or train ticket from your stopover city to your destination.

Say you want to go from Dallas to London, stop for a few days in London, and then fly back to Dallas from Barcelona.

You would book a one-way award ticket from the Dallas to London.  Next you would buy a cheap plane or train ticket from London to Barcelona.  And finally you would book a one-way award ticket from Barcelona back to Dallas.

This option is my personal favorite, especially because flights in Asia and Europe can be very cheap if you’re willing to fly budget airlines.

Cash Prices Can Be Incredibly Cheap, Even After You Consider Extra Fees Required to Fly With Low Cost Carriers. Not Including Extra Fees, A Flight From London to Barcelona Could Cost Only $35!

American Airlines North American Awards

Booking travel within North America using American Airlines miles is very easy to do (if there are award seats available) and can be completed on AA.com.  You won’t even have to get on the phone!

According to American Airlines, North America refers to the US (including Hawaii and Alaska), Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.  That said, award prices are different depending on where in North America you’re traveling!

For flights within North America, you can use your American Airlines miles for award flights on:

You can search for award seats on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines on AA.com as well as put the tickets on hold.

You can hold your award for 5 days if booked between 331 and 15 days prior to departure, 1 day if booked within 14 days of departure, and for 2 hours if booked within 24 hours of departure.  There is NO charge for holding an award.

General Rules

  • You can book a maximum of 4 one-way awards on a single ticket
  • The award booking window opens 331 days prior to the flight’s departure
  • Changes to award tickets (both MileSAAver & AAnytime) are free as long as the origin and destination remain the same. If you’re changing your origin or destination, a $150 fee applies (waived for Executive Platinum members only)
  • $150 fee to cancel and redeposit the miles into your account ($25 for additional tickets from the same account) waived only for top tier Executive Platinum members
  • All travel must be completed within 1 year (365 days) of making the booking
  • No stopovers are allowed
  • You have to connect to another flight within 4 hours (regardless of available award seats) unless the next scheduled flight is more than 4 hours away (but less than 24 hours)
  • Even though you can no longer book award seats between Hawaii and the mainland US on Hawaiian Airlines, you can still book inter-island flights on Hawaiian Airlines on AA.com.  We will go into more details later.

Booking Awards on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines

Booking awards on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines within North America is extremely easy to do online at AA.com.

That’s because American Airlines has a great online booking tool for domestic awards which will let you:

  • See available award seats for both low level (MileSAAver) and high-level (AAnytime) awards
  • Show you a 30-day calendar view of available award seats at a time
  • Sort availability by class of service

You don’t even need to be an AAdvantage member to see available award seats!

Award Booking Tips for Domestic Awards

1.   Book Early

We’ve noticed that there are the most available award seats once the schedule is loaded 331 days from the day of departure.  Of course, airlines continually add or remove award seats, but if you know that you visit Florida every year during the 3rd week of August, it is probably best to book your seats earlier rather than later.

This is especially the case for those wanting to travel between the US and Hawaii in any class of service.

Looking Only a Month in Advance, There Are Only a Handful of Days With Award Seats Available From New York to Hawaii in Coach at the Saver Level

There does however seem to be a trend of more award seats being available from the West Coast, especially from Seattle and Los Angeles.

More Options Are Available in Coach From Seattle to Honolulu Only a Month in Advance
2.   Be Flexible

It will be very hard to get your family of 4 on the same flight unless you are flexible and / or book early.  And even then it may not be possible.

Try to break up your family of 4 into say, 1 adult & 1 child and look for separate flights to and from your destination if you are having trouble.  Or look for flexibility around your travel dates.  Or try to get 2 Business Class and 2 coach seats on the same flight.  Or choose a destination based on available award seats.

3.  Consider Business Class SAAver Awards

Before spending nearly twice the amount of miles for a coach AAnytime seat (which guarantees you can have any seat available for sale), look for Business Class SAAver awards.  Very often there are Business Class seats available for the same price or less than coach awards!

4.   Dummy Searches

Do test searches using the American Airlines award tool to see available award seats.  It is just like searching for a flight and you’ll see what your options are.  You’ll also get more familiar with the tool which will help you as you book more awards.

5.   Be Patient

Booking awards can sometimes be frustrating.  But if you’re patient and flexible, you’ll usually get the award you’re looking for.

6.   One Seat at a Time

Instead of searching for 4 seats, start by searching for 1 seat and increase the number of seats with each search.  You’ll get a better sense of how many tickets are available.

Using American Airlines Award Booking Tool for American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines

Here are a few screenshots to help get started with searches on AA.com.  Remember, you can follow these same steps for booking awards on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines (except flights from Hawaii to Mainland US).

Step 1.   Go to the American Airlines Website

Navigate to AA.comYou do NOT have to sign into your account to do an award search.

Step 2.   Enter Your Flight Details

Enter in your flight information and select “Redeem Miles.

Make Sure to Select That You Want to “Redeem Miles” Before You Click Search

You can see available award seats in 30 day blocks and can search for award seats based on MileSAAver (regular) or AAnytime (double-priced) awards.

Hawaiian Airlines Award Bookings

You can use your American Airlines miles for flights to Hawaii, which can include an American Airlines flight to a main island followed by a Hawaiian Airlines flight to a neighbor island that American Airlines doesn’t serve.

Hawaiian Airlines Serves Several Destinations That American Airlines Doesn’t

Search for inter-island flights on AA.com as you would any other North American route.  These could include:

  • Hilo (Big Island)
  • Kahului (Maui)
  • Kailua-Kona (Big Island)
  • Lanai
  • Lihue (Kauai)
  • Molokai

Flights between the mainland US and Hawaii are priced at 40,000 American Airlines miles round-trip during off-peak times (available on American Airlines flights only) and 45,000 miles round-trip at the MileSAAver level.  However, if you need to add an inter-island flight on Hawaiian Airlines, you’ll pay an additional 7,500 American Airlines miles each way.

For example, a round-trip award flight booked between Los Angeles and Lanai would include:

  • American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu
  • Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu to Lanai
  • Hawaiian Airlines flight from Lanai to Honolulu
  • American Airlines flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles

Hawaiian Airlines Flights to Asia

While you can no longer use American Airlines miles to fly Hawaiian Airlines between Hawaii and the mainland US, you can use American Airlines miles to fly between Hawaii and Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific.

You can redeem American Airlines miles for travel on Hawaiian Airlines flights between Hawaii and:

  • American Samoa
  • Australia
  • China
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • New Zealand
  • Tahiti

Note:   If your trip begins in the mainland US, this award booking would require 2 one-way flights.  We would NOT recommend this as it is much more expensive booking this way compared with using other airlines that allow a single booking.  However, if you live in Hawaii, this would be a round-trip flight from Honolulu to your destination.

Currently, Hawaiian Airlines serves the following destinations in Asia, the South Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand:

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Beijing, China
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Papeete, Tahiti
  • Pago Pago, American Samoa
  • Sapporo, Japan
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Tokyo, Japan

This is great news for American Airlines travelers in Hawaii.  Because you can take a flight directly from Hawaii to these destinations.  This would be the same price as if you connected through a city in the mainland US such as Los Angeles.

American Airlines International Awards

American Airlines, through its oneworld and other partner airlines, offers a lot of choices when booking international awards.

Unfortunately, you can’t book all of American Airlines’ partners online.  Currently, you can only book partner seats online for Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas, and Royal Jordanian.

To book other partner award flights, like Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, or Etihad, you must call American Airlines at 800-433-7300.  While this may seem like an extra step in the process, it is more than worth the effort because it opens up many more possibilities for booking award tickets!

But instead of calling and relying on the agent to find you available award seats from, say, Kansas City to Venice, it is much better to know which partner airlines could get you to your destination.