The New Workaround to Use the Old American Airlines AAdvantage Award Search

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Slowly but surely, American Airlines continues its transition toward its refreshed award search tool. Many travelers—myself included—much prefer the legacy search tool for the options it offers those searching for award availability. While it may now require more steps, a workaround remains available for those who prefer the old award search tool.

Old and New Award Search Tools

If you have searched for award space on the American Airlines website with any regularity in the past, you know that American revamped its primary award search tool. Previously award searches displayed organized, color-coordinated, and easy to interpret results:

While it's convenient for finding Economy Web Specials, the “new” award search undoes quite a bit of the neatness and order of the “old” search. It's also much slower.

Award searchers used to be able to access the old tool by clicking to do an advanced search on AA's website. However, as an American Airlines spokesperson told AwardWallet: “To create a more consistent experience for customers using aa.com, we’ve updated how flight results display when using the Advanced Search function or Award Map. Customers will now be directed to the new award booking path, which shows all available award options.”

The updated award search tool does show business- and first-class Web Specials, as well as premium economy awards—all of which the old award search tool does not. If you want to book one of these types of awards, the new award search tool should be the only way you search.

However, for those not seeking these award types, consider what is effectively “traded” for expanded award categories:

  • Color-coded results
  • Quick response time navigating between award types
  • Easily identified MileSAAver availability

Why Does This Matter?

Besides functionality, the reason I prefer American's old award search tool boils down to the final bullet point from above: easily identified MileSAAver award space. For instance, on short- and medium-haul trips within the United States, booking awards with an American Airlines partner can save you points and miles. In order to book these awards through an alternative frequent flier program, saver award space must exist.

Examine the route from Philadelphia to Chicago from above as an example. An economy class MileSAAver award through American Airlines costs travelers 12,500 miles each way. Currently, you can book that route for 10,000 miles through an Economy Web Special. But, even better than that, you can book the same award flight via British Airways for only 9,000 Avios each way:

British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards as well. So, not only will you pay fewer points, but the points are easier to come by as well.

Old Award Search Tool Access

Luckily, the old award search tool remains available, though it certainly takes a few extra clicks. Start out by selecting “Advanced/Multi-city search” from the main page of the American Airlines website:

It used to be the case that this was the only step needed to access the old award search tool. Now, you need to take a second step. From the resulting Advanced/Multi-city search screen, select “Multi city” at the top. Make sure to also check the box to “Redeem miles”.

In this case, award searchers must include a second leg of the journey to proceed. I typically search the return leg of a would-be round trip itinerary, regardless of travel plans. If my travel plans only include one direction, I focus on the outbound results. If not, then I avoid having to search twice, a win-win!

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of reasons why prospective travelers would want to use American Airlines' updated award search tool. It is the only way to find premium economy awards or premium cabin Web Specials, and it concisely visualizes the lowest award price options on the calendar.

However, for finding American Airlines MileSAAver award space, American's old award search tool remains king. Not only does it color-code by cabin, but the tool itself is much more responsive as well. More importantly, the old tool allows the explicit option for MileSAAver awards only, the biggest draw of all.

Identifying MileSAAver award space allows travelers to book award flights through partner programs—like British Airways—that may charge fewer points and miles for the same flights. It also makes it easier to find award space for Reduced Mileage Awards—which also requires finding MileSAAver award space.

Anyone looking to stretch their points and miles as far as possible should consider all booking options before actually doing so. Being able to identify saver space makes that a possibility.

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Comments

  • Avatar

    Hi, this adavnced and multi-cities search is not working anymore in order to search thru the old calendar.
    Any new idea please?

    Thanks

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    I really do prefer the old site. It’s a shame when AA have gone to the trouble of developing the new search tool that it hasn’t made the process as easy as they had hoped.

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    Like some others, I want the Saver Award. I really prefer the old site. Maybe I’m just not yet used to things, and I’m not really getting practice now, since I’m not booking during the pandemic.

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    carl austin says:

    Hello.. as I now also have a ton of AVIOS miles – is there any link in the AA site to look for AVIOS alternatives on AA routes?

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    To sum up we have a new award search tool less powerful than the old award search tool even though now there are a lot more airlines available to book online.
    I hope American will improve the new award search tool?
    Anyway, the trick to use the old tool is very nice to know!

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    Thanks for this – finally I know how to reliably get to that search. I usually just randomly clicked around until I somehow ended up on it, and then I would just remain on the old search – now there’s a repeatable way to do it. Great!

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    How can I select the old or new AA award search tool in the AA web site? I couldn´t do it… Kind Regards!

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    Sho'nuff says:

    Thanks for this explanation. Not sure why it has to be difficult to use a good tool.

  • Avatar
    Marlina Mustapha says:

    I like the old search much better!

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    Jie Liang says:

    It took me a while to get used to the new tool. But once I get used to it, I like it better because the “number of stop” choice in the new tool has more options.

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    The old award search tool is/was much better and easier to use.

  • Avatar
    Kmik Karnasuta says:

    Great! now it will be a lot easier to find web specials!

  • Avatar
    Dario Weinstein says:

    Hope they include the benefits of the old award search in the new one. Upgrades should be better in all variables…

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    It would be great if the functionality of the old tool was incorporated into the new.

  • Avatar
    Lilian Chavez says:

    Now everything will be much easier, thanks for the information.

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    Great post, I wish AA would just scrap the new website, it is just terrible.

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    The only thing I don’t like about the old tool is the inability to see the Web Specials.

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    Saren Johnson says:

    This post was very helpful in pointing out ways to better use both systems. It is great to have options since, depending on what your goal is for the flight, one system may get you to the best flight more quickly than the other. Thanks for listening to those who requested to keep the old system too. That’s service!

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    dharmesh says:

    the search is alot better and the deals are great. im gonna book my next flight and use some points. great post

  • Avatar

    steering us from the saver awards! Those are my first preference in booking aa

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    I wonder how long this work-around will last. Navigating the maze that is award search and redemptions is just getting more and more difficult.

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    Thanks for the workaround! it’s much appreciated!

  • Avatar

    I believe that the new tool to search for flights and redeem miles makes the task easier when choosing a flight.