What’s The Best Program To Book AA Award Flights?

by joeheg

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post like this, so forgive me if I’m a bit rusty.

I just finished booking flights for a trip at the end of the summer.

IKR? Of course, things might change and we may need to cancel the trip but right now I’m more optimistic than I’ve been over the past year. With the vaccine rollout doing better than expected in the US, I’m not the only one booking travel and I wanted to get this trip on the books before things get really expensive.

I plugged my dates into Google Flights and found a non-stop flight between Orlando and Austin on American, the times were good and it was decently priced. Southwest also had non-stop flights with better times but the price was almost double. Spirit and Frontier also offer non-stop flights on this route but since I found AA flights, I followed this trail to see where it would lead.

Since the price for a roundtrip ticket was $179, I’d usually pay cash instead of using miles. Instead, I checked to see if award seats were available. Before COVID-19, I’d never been able to snag a domestic award ticket on AA without leaving at 6 AM and having an 18-hour connection in Charlotte.

American AAdvantage

Lo and behold, the same non-stop flights were available for 10,000 points + $5.60 taxes each way.

I almost booked it but I remembered that I have some Alaska Airlines miles in my account that I needed to use. You can search for AA flights on the Alaska website.

Alaska Mileage Plan

If I booked using my Alaska miles, it would cost 25,000 miles for the same flight plus $36.20. That’s because Alaska adds a $25 fee to book partner award tickets. I could also book a first-class ticket for 25,000 miles each way.

This charge is pre-integration with Oneworld, so we’ll have to see if Alaska keeps charging the fee with alliance member airline bookings.

British Airways Avios

While I wasn’t thrilled with the Alaska redemption cost, I knew if they showed the seats, I should find them on the BA website. The prices on these examples are for 2 tickets because I was booking the flights at the time.

The cost of a ticket with Avios was 9,000 miles each way plus $5.60. That’s 1,000 miles less per flight. I booked these flights because of the lower cost and because my Avios were expiring and this redemption extends my account for an additional three years.

If I wanted to book those seats in first class, I could have done that with my Avios for 16,500 points each.

Final Thoughts

I was happy to book these flights with British Airways and use my Avios. We don’t currently have any status with American, so there’s nothing lost with having my BA number on the booking.

If anything happens and I want to cancel the flight, the max I’m going to be out is $22.40. British Airways used to charge a fee to redeposit Avios but they never keep more than you paid for the ticket, which is great for American flights where all you pay is $5.60 per segment.

Paying 18,000 Avios and $5.60 for a flight that would only cost $178.81 might not seem to be the best redemption value. However, I’ve been trying to use these British Airways miles for years. I earned them years ago from the co-brand card from Chase and right after that American stopped offering saver award space on almost every non-stop flight from Orlando. I jumped at the chance to redeem them for a non-stop flight under 1,000 miles.

You might have a different opinion if you have a large stash of American miles or don’t have frequent flyer miles to burn. For me, now I have to find a hotel and rental car for our stay.

I never knew how much I missed travel planning. 🙂

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Dennis singh April 6, 2021 - 6:12 pm

What about using Etihad miles?

joeheg April 6, 2021 - 11:30 pm

I’ll have to look into using Etihad. I knew about Qantas but everywhere I looked on their website, the links to redeem for partner flights are broken.


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