Greater Flexibility with AA Reduced Mileage Awards

While typically domestic award flights begin at 25,000 miles for economy class or 50,000 miles for business/first, American Airlines offers a changing selection of cities that AA credit card holders can book for just 17,500 miles in economy or 42,500 miles in first.  One Mile at a Time noticed a few changes with the release of this summer’s options, which I believe increase the value of these awards.

First, AA is now allowing one-way redemptions at the reduced amount (8,750 in coach / 21,250 miles in first).  I love these enhancement, since it offers a lot more opportunities other than simply traveling in one direction.

  • If you have an open-jaw trip with only one city on the reduced cost list, you’ll still be able to take advantage of the discount in one direction and pay full price for the other leg for a total cost of 21,250 miles in coach / 46,250 in first.
  • If availability is only available one-way, you can still get the discount on the available leg and book the other direction of travel separately, either through a different airline’s award or with cash.
  • If you live in one of the selected cities, you’ll now be able to get the discount irregardless of your destination.  For example, if Richmond, VA is your home airport and is on the reduced mileage list, it should be possible to book two one-ways RIC-XXX and XXX-RIC at the reduced cost and have it price at the reduced amount whereas before RIC-XXX-RIC would’ve priced at a standard amount (be aware two phone fees will likely apply).
The other change is that included cities are listed monthly, rather than quarterly.  The options for June, July, August, and September have been released and though there is some overlap, other times cities may only appear for one month and not the entire quarter.

This is definitely a perk of holding an AA credit card, although not a very consistent perk since locations are limited and may not line up with your travel needs!

With all good things come restrictions.  Among the most noteworthy are:

  1. Only the published locations are eligible at a reduced mileage level.
  2. Saver space must be available to get the discount.  With summer vacation in full swing, it may be near-impossible to find any remaining award space to popular destinations.
  3. All travel on these routes must be within the month listed.  For round-trip travel, that includes both directions of your flight to receive a full round-trip discount.
  4. All flights must be booked by calling 1-800-882-8880, which comes attached with a $25 phone booking fee per passenger.  Yes, it’s worth paying $25 to save 7,500 miles on round-trip travel.  I haven’t experimented yet to check on open-jaw costs, but would assume two one-ways would require two fees.  Is $50 worth saving 7,500 miles?  In my opinion, yes.
  5. Keep in mind last-minute award bookings require a $75 surcharge, so if you’re traveling in less than 21 days, I’d compare costs with programs that don’t add close-in ticketing charges, such as Avios or Skymiles.
I see many of the same destinations featured over and over, but some of my picks for summer travel would be Monterey, CA; Calgary, AB; and Charlottesville, VA.  Of course, if these destinations don’t interest you, you can see the full list here for more options.

Remember that cardholders are also entitled to a 10% refund on miles redeemed, up to a maximum of 10,000 miles per calendar year, so if you haven’t already claimed your 2013 refund, you’ll qualify for both the reduced discount and the rebate.

Where are you headed this summer?

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Becky

Editor and Lead Author at The Girl and Globe
Becky loves hiking and the outdoors, reading a good book on a rainy day, practicing yoga with friends, cooking with Sinatra in the background, relaxing with her husband and a good glass of wine, and above all: travel. Read more about Becky.

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Comments

  1. wise2u says

    dont like the fees: $25 per person for phone, so for 2 one way bookings for my wife and I it adds $100, I think it’s cheesy that even if you go to an office or ticket counter you still cant avoid fees. Add in the annual fee for the credit card that allows you to get these limited area/limited time point discounts and It’s almost not worth it…expecially if you have a ton of AA points.

    • says

      @DaninSTL, Thanks for sharing! Maybe I’ll get out your way sometime.

      @wise2u, I also don’t like the fees and wish they would set this up for online booking but in general I still value saving those 7,500 miles more than $50 in fees. It’s not ideal, but better than a kick in the head. I have been able to secure retention bonuses to at least make up for the credit card annual fee.

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