Sweet Spots with American Airlines AAdvantage Awards

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American Airlines miles have been a favorite of mine for some time, and not just because my home airport is an American Airlines hub. The AAdvantage program utilizes a mostly-region-based award chart to determine award costs, both for travel on its own metal and with its global airline partners. This article will highlight some of the standout possibilities AAdvantage members have when redeeming miles.

American 737

Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

Travelers looking to take advantage of all of these sweet spots will want a healthy stash of AAdvantage miles. Luckily, American offers many ways to earn miles.

One of the best opportunities at the moment is the offer for 65,000 bonus miles with the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®. Here's our review of the current offer and why it stands out.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
Annual Fee$99, waived for first 12 months
Welcome Offer Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
The AA Business Card is a great card to hold for any business owner that travels at least a few times per year with American Airlines. Get a free checked bag on domestic itineraries, priority boarding and a 25% discount on in-flight purchases. Even better, this card gives you access to Reduced Mileage Awards, which can save you up to 30% on the miles required for domestic awards. With these perks, it's easy to justify the annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months.
  • Free checked bags for you and up to 4 companions on domestic itineraries
  • Priority boarding to help you win the race for overhead bin space
  • A 25% discount on inflight food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases
  • Reduced Mileage Awards can save you 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver Awards
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on cable and satellite providers
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at gas stations
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on select telecommunications merchants
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on car rentals
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases

In addition to the bonus on the AA Business Card, AAdvantage members can earn miles on purchases through the AAdvantage eShopping portal or by paying with one of the other Citi or Barclay co-branded credit cards. You can also earn miles on flights, with hotel and car rental partners, and even by eating at your favorite restaurant through the AAdvantage Dining program.

If you find yourself a bit short of the miles you need for a redemption, don't forget that Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1 rate to American Airlines. Converting at least 60,000 Bonvoy points at once triggers a 5,000-mile bonus too. That means you can turn 60,000 Marriott points into 25,000 American miles.

Unfortunately, no other transferable points currencies offer a direct way to convert to American miles. However, Marriott co-branded credit card offerings can boost your stash of AAdvantage miles even further.

You can find more details in our post on all the ways to earn American miles.

Web Specials (5K and up)

An entire article could be written about the various American Airlines Web Specials available to travelers. We covered especially great deals in November, December, April and September, but American's Web Specials are available year-round.

Domestic trips might be the most widely offered Web Specials, but international journeys are included too. My favorite way to explore Web Special possibilities is to utilize American Airlines’ Award Map Tool. To find Web Specials between my origin and desired region or destination type, I choose my travel dates and make sure to specify I have fewer miles to use than a standard MileSAAver award would cost.

For example, a one-way flight between the United States and Europe in business class costs 57,500 American miles. By searching one-way business-class fares and specifying an available mileage balance below the standard 57,500, my search returns business-class Web Specials starting at 55,000 miles.

Reduced Mileage Awards (6.5K and up)

In the same vein as Web Specials, Reduced Mileage Awards offer co-brand cardholders the opportunity to fly to a collection of destinations at lower than typical award prices. Depending on which of the 14 eligible American Airlines credit cards you have, Reduced Mileage Awards will save you between 1,000 and 3,750 miles each way on domestic flights.

You can take advantage of the promotion if either your destination or origin airport is on the Reduced Mileage Award list for the month of travel. These awards require a phone call and a discount code, as well as saver award space. Refer to this post for detailed instructions on how to book Reduced Mileage Awards.

United States to Manaus, Brazil (20K/30K Economy/Business)

The American award chart wouldn't be a good cheat sheet for your next geography test. American Airlines recently moved Morocco from Africa to Europe. They also place Manaus, Brazil's largest city in the Amazon, in “South America 1” while the rest of Brazil is in “South America 2”. Travelers should be very happy about that, as it saves anyone headed from the United States to Manaus a bundle of miles. One-way awards cost 10,000 fewer miles in economy and 27,500 fewer miles business class per person! American operates six flights per week from Miami (MIA) and their newest partner, GOL Airlines, offers a once-weekly route to Orlando (MCO).

Even better, you can continue your journey within Brazil with flights starting at just 7,500 points. American Airlines' partnership with GOL makes flying around Brazil a breeze. Domestic one-way flights within Brazil can be inexpensive to buy, so be sure to check prices before booking with miles.

United States to Middle East/Indian Subcontinent (70K Business)

Is there a better international business class product than Qatar Airways' QSuite? Almost all U.S. gateways to Doha now offer QSuites, and the final two cities with “normal” business class (which is still great on Qatar) are set to begin QSuites service soon. You can fly between the U.S. and Doha, Qatar in business class for just 70,000 miles each way.

Even better, for the same amount of miles, travelers can continue on from Doha to other destinations in the Middle East or into the Indian Subcontinent. Whether you’re seeking some R&R in the tropical sun of the Maldives, or trekking into the mountains of Nepal, just 70,000 American miles each way allow you to make the journey in award-winning comfort and style.

United States to Africa (75K Business)

What could be better than one long QSuites flight? Two long QSuites flights! Getting to the Middle East in business class for 70,000 miles already represents a great deal. Using an extra 5,000 miles to continue on to anywhere in Africa is absolutely fantastic.

If your journey begins somewhere like Los Angeles, connecting through Doha on your way to Cape Town, 75,000 American miles buys you over 24 hours in QSuite! American Airlines and its partners do not offer any direct flights to Africa (by its less-than-geographically-accurate region definitions), but even if they did I would choose to extend the journey to experience QSuites for as long as possible.

Los Angeles to Cape Town via Doha offers over 24 hours of Qsuites flying time!

United States to Asia 1 (80K First Class)

Not every American Airlines sweet spot relies on QSuites routes. Other partner airlines, such as Japan Airlines, offer fantastic hard and soft products and operate routes that represent great value for the miles.

One-way flights between the United States and “Asia 1”—which consists of Japan and South Korea—costs only 35,000 miles in economy or 60,000 in business class. Both of these options might look tempting, but bumping up to first class for 80,000 miles potentially unlocks even more value.

Compare the 80,000 miles cost for a journey between the U.S. and Asia 1 against other first-class mileage costs for global regions. A first-class flight to Japan or South Korea costs fewer miles than a first-class flight to Europe! That’s right: seven hours in first class between New York City and London requires 5,000 more miles than a flight more than twice as long between New York City and Tokyo.

Europe to Middle East/Indian Subcontinent (42.5K Business Class)

Another way to experience Qatar Airways business class at a huge discount is to fly between Europe and the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent. A business class award will set you back just 42,500 miles each way:

That means you can fly from London to the Maldives in business class for just 42,500 miles one-way.

Asia 1 to Middle East/Indian Subcontinent (50K First Class)

One of the most luxurious and exclusive commercial airline experiences is to shower in the sky. Fortunately, American Airlines miles make this a possibility. Etihad Airways—a non-alliance partner of American—offers showers for first-class passengers on their A380 planes.

First class between JFK and Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub costs 115,000 miles. While that's going to be the easiest route for most of us to take, there's a much cheaper way to fly this incredible product. You can fly in first class on Etihad’s A380 between Abu Dhabi and Seoul for just 50,000 miles each way! For ten hours of first class flying, that comes out to just 5,000 miles per hour for one of the most luxurious commercial flying experiences available.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, each traveler has their own idea of the “best” redemption. Above are just some of the many examples of great award flight opportunities available through the AAdvantage program. Ultimately, the sweetest redemptions are the ones that allow you to achieve your travel goals, regardless of origin and destination. To meet those travel goals, make sure to explore the various co-branded credit cards available. Credit cards like the AA Business Card allow travelers to build up a mileage balance quickly via its sign-up bonus and continue to earn miles by spending on the card.

For Marriott-loyal travelers, consider investigating transfers from the Marriott Bonvoy program as well. Recall that Marriott Bonvoy permits points transfer to other members of your household at no cost. Pooling points can be a great option when redeeming miles with travel companions.

If you have a favorite AAdvantage redemption not included above, let us know in the comments!

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Comments

  • BOYD WILLIS says:

    There is no mention of southern hemisphere sweet spots. Award flights within Australia using AA miles are mostly not good value, but a round trip between east coast Australia and Perth flying with Qantas can be redeemed for just 20,000 miles. For example the trip between Brisbane and Perth is 3606 km (2241 miles) in each direction.

    • Flights from Ayers Rock, Longreach, and quite a few more once-in-a-life-time tourist destinations to Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth yield excellent value too.

  • Thanks for this information! Looking forward to returning to the skies this summer.
    As a member of AAdvantage, this was very helpful. I want to use some of these deals for my upcoming travel plans.
    Thanks again!

  • Luciano Amorim says:

    Very good. As a brazilian with some AA points it will be very helpfull. Tanks!

  • Great Summary! Thanks for this article. Hope we can travel soon to take advantage of these opportunities

  • Now my head is spinning…

  • Last I checked pre COVID-19, Business class flight redemptions between Australian state capitals were pretty reasonable too with plenty of availability.

  • I can’t wait to make good use out of the web specials!

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    Reduced mileage requirements would certainly be a welcome adjustment. I always seem to be just short on points for paying for a flight. Maybe this will help not that the phobia is receding.

  • I appreciate the summary, but personally I just don’t find the value in first-class redemptions, so I could never consider those to be sweet spots. If I’m asleep, it doesn’t matter to me whether they’re serving champagne or champipple. 😂

  • Hopefully, these affordable awards / sweet spots will remain for a few more years.

  • Not a bad list, although us Europeans would rather the 42.5K in J / 62.5K in F reward to Maldives wasn’t highlighted so much. 😉

  • A great summary article. Wish everything can go back to normal so that we can travel again! I

  • Shirley J says:

    Always useful, even if I have no current need for it (until this is sufficiently over).

  • Mercedes says:

    Wishing to go back to normal so we can use our AA miles to travel the world

  • I’m not a huge fan of AA’s international partner awards with the recent devaluation, but I still find them useful for domestic awards. There are even good award rates to some smaller cities where AA is one of the only options. As long as that continues to be the case I’ll be fan of booking AAdvantage awards.

  • I did not know Barclay offered co-branded credit cards. I thought it was Citibank only. But this is good to know as well. As for AA to Europe, they partner with British Airway and BA charges a high fee on its flight. Nothing we can do as travelers in the meantime, but not fly BA to Europe.

  • Robert Lymburner says:

    Excellent summary, I’m always trying to find the best way to maximize and save points.

    Thank you for putting this list together.

  • Megan Semjanovs says:

    Thanks for putting this summary together! I’ve found it hard in the past trying to find good information.

  • A sweet spot I found for AA miles was a round-trip from the midwest to Alaska. At the right time of year I found options for 25k miles. It worked well for celebrating our special anniversary. All of the flights were booked on Alaska Airlines, which opened up many options in Alaska.

  • Fabricio Machado says:

    In the past I already had a Citi AA credit card. It’s really a good credit card and increase the potential to receive extra miles.
    I Recommend this card.

  • Any chance we could get an updated version of this article? As a EU resident with AA miles, curious if any new bargains have shown up.

    • Hey Jeremy, we’ll certainly make an effort to add new AA opportunities. The biggest news recently is the ability to book Etihad tickets that connect in Abu Dhabi as a single award ticket. We’ll definitely be writing more about that. Let us know if there are any specific sweet spots we missed!

    • Jeremy, just responding on the off chance that ur signed up to be alerted to replies to your post… because ur wish has been granted a couple times over with several updates being done to this article.

  • A very useful summary of some good redemptions.