I have been a frequent flyer on American Airlines (USAirways) since I was six months old. To me, AAdvantage miles offer the best bang for your buck of the three major US airlines especially when it comes to being a top-level elite status flyer. I almost never fly United because of multiple bad experiences and the lack of convenient hubs where I tend to travel most often. I do fly Delta when they have a much better deal than American or if I’m stranded because of an American delay or cancellation. This happened enough times last year for me to earn silver medallion with 30 segments and 30,000 miles.
When it comes to travel partners, you will be hard-pressed to find a better alliance than the Oneworld alliance, which American Airlines is part of. Oneworld includes carriers such as Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, and Qantas meaning you can get pretty much anywhere in the world and have a great experience from a major hub like LAX or JFK.
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The best part about American being partners with all of these great airlines is that you can use your AAdvantage miles to book award travel with any partner. When Mallory and I traveled from the Maldives to Hong Kong, we booked Cathay Pacific Business Class for just 30,000 miles each. The flight would have cost almost $3000 if we were to have booked revenue tickets. My flight next month in Etihad First Class would be more than $10,000 one-way if I were to pay for it. Instead, I used 90,000 AAdvantage miles and paid taxes and fees of about $80. That is some serious bang for your buck!!
Now there are multiple ways to search for award availability using your AAdvantage miles. American Airlines website is not bad for booking travel on American, British Airways, or Finnair operated flights.
British Airways website is much better for finding Oneworld availability. To search BA award availability, you must create a free account with the airline, but then just select “executive club” then “spend your Avios” and book an award flight.
Since Etihad isn’t part of any airline alliance, you must use their website to search for available awards. Goto plan and book, then book flights with miles. To be able to use AAdvantage miles to book a trip on Etihad Guest award must be available. To book you must call American Airlines since Etihad award can’t be booked on American’s website. There is no booking fee because the travel can’t be booked online. Sometimes the American agents cannot see the same award availability, but if you call the call centers for Australia or Great Britain they usually have no problem seeing the same availability, in fact, I had to do this when I booked my Etihad award. Other airlines that are not part of the Oneworld alliance that you can redeem your AAdvantage miles for travel include Hawaiian Airlines, Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, and Fiji Airlines.
My tips above relate to what in my opinion is the best way to use your AAdvantage miles. Of course, you can use your AAdvantage miles to book domestic flights on American Airlines website. If you are looking for domestic awards, make sure you are looking for “saver” awards because these awards offer the best value.
Please let me know if you have any questions about award redemption, or if you need help or advice planning award travel either in the comments or through the contact me page.