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).
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:
- Only the published locations are eligible at a reduced mileage level.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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