How to Fly on American Airlines Using Points and Miles

American Airlines is the largest airline in the world in terms of passengers carried. Its extensive network flies over 6,000 daily flights to 350 destinations in 50 countries, which means your ideal flight schedule may involve a flight operated by American.

We’ll discuss how you can fly on American Airlines using credit card points or airline miles — including a few options which may have not even crossed your mind.

American Airlines AAdvantage

The obvious solution is to use American Airlines AAdvantage program to book AA flights. This will give you the most options as it is the airline’s own program. American introduced dynamic pricing on award tickets in 2019, which allows you to book nearly any flight operated by American with miles as long as you’re willing to pay a premium when its Saver level awards sell out.

This means American still has a general award chart for certain redemption levels on AA operated flights, but the listed values should only be used as a guide as prices are highly variable if MileSAAver seats are not available for your flights.

  • Web Specials (variable)
  • MileSAAver Off Peak
  • MileSAAver
  • AAnytime Level 1 (variable)
  • AAnytime Level 2 (variable)
American Airlines award chart from Continental U.S. on AA flights
American Airlines Award chart for AA flights from the U.S. in Business Class

The lowest level MileSAAver Off Peak awards are only offered for Main Cabin tickets in specific markets, but there are some great redemption opportunities at the regular MileSAAver level for First or Business Class seats around the world. A few examples when traveling from the continental U.S. on AA operated flights include:

  • 57,500 miles one-way in Business Class to South America Region 2 (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, etc.)
  • 57,500 miles one-way in Business Class to Europe
  • 60,000 miles one-way in Business Class to Japan or Korea
  • 85,000 miles one-way in First Class to Europe

Price levels increase at the AAnytime levels and when dynamic pricing comes into play, flight redemptions can be lower or (usually) higher than what is listed on the award chart. The advantage of using AAdvantage miles is that, if SAAver space is available, these rates stay the same even when there are connecting flights or long-distance flights.

Transfer Partners

  • Marriott Bonvoy Points (3:1)

Unfortunately, American Airlines AAdvantage program is not a partner with any of the major transferable credit card points currencies. This means you’ll likely only be able to use the program to redeem for AA flights if you already have a decent balance of AAdvantage miles. You can transfer Marriott points to top up a balance for redemption. Otherwise, you can build up some AAdvantage miles by flying on Oneworld carriers or getting an American Airlines branded credit card.

Related: Booking Award Travel on the Major US Airlines

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Another popular way to book flights on American Airlines is to use the mileage program of the newest Oneworld member, Alaska Airlines. Alaska still has a fixed-price award chart for flights on partner airlines and you can see how many miles would be required by choosing your departure and arrival regions.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan rates for AA flights are the same as AAdvantage SAAver rates

The redemption rates mostly mirror American’s SAAver level awards and will only be bookable with Alaska Airlines miles if SAAver space is available. If you’re looking to book with Alaska miles, you can search directly on the Alaska Airlines site, though you may find it easier to seek out SAAver space using American’s website first and then double checking the same dates on Alaska Airlines.

Transfer Partners

  • Marriott Bonvoy Points (3:1) 

Like American’s AAdvantage program, Alaska Airlines doesn’t partner with any of the major banks for points transfers. But if you have Alaska miles and don’t have American miles, this can be a great way to book AA flights with your miles. And you can also top up your miles by transferring Marriott Bonvoy points in a pinch.

Related: How to Use Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

British Airways Executive Club

American’s most notable partner is the U.K. flag carrier, British Airways. If you don’t have AAdvantage miles, using British Airways Executive Club is one of the most popular ways to redeem points for flights operated by American. And it offers some great redemption rates. The best opportunities are for shorter, nonstop flights.

British Airways has a distance-based award chart and has separate award redemption levels for each of its partners. For American Airlines flights, you can find the table here. It’s important to note that British Airways prices its award rates per segment, so you’ll often only want to use BA miles for nonstop flights. If you have a connecting flight, you’ll need to add together the cost in miles for each flight leg separately.

Some of the best deals for AA flights using British Airways miles include:

  • Nonstop flights from West Coast to Hawaii from 38,750 miles one-way in Business Class
  • Nonstop flights from the East Coast to the Caribbean 15,000 – 22,000 miles one-way in Business Class
  • Nonstop flights to Mexico 15,000 – 22,000 miles one-way in Business Class

Long-distance flights can generally be found for fewer points with other programs, but if your only option is to transfer to British Airways miles, it could be something to consider if the AA flights are nonstop.

dock in Dominican Republic with palm trees, blue sky, and Caribbean water view.
British Airways Executive Club miles are a great way to book AA flights to the Caribbean

Transfer Partners

  • American Express Membership Rewards (1:1)
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1)
  • Capital One Venture Rewards (2.5:1)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Points (3:1)

The reason British Airways is a popular way to redeem points for AA flights is due to the fact that you can transfer points from the two most popular credit card programs to British Airways miles at an even exchange. So, if you have Amex or Chase points, remember that you can book American Airlines flights with points even though the AAdvantage program isn’t a transfer partner.

Related: 7 Best Ways to Spend 250k Chase Points on Flights

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

American’s major Oneworld partner in Asia, Cathay Pacific, is another great way to redeem points for AA flights. The advantage to using Asia miles to book American Airlines flights is that its distance-based award chart (unofficial) allows you to include connecting flights without charging per segment. The price in miles will still depend on the total distance traveled for all flight legs, but you’ll only need to pay the redemption level for the entire trip rather than per segment.

For instance, you could fly on a connecting flight from Columbus to London via New York for 61,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles one-way in Business Class. The distance flown, and, therefore, the cost in miles, will vary depending on the specific routing, but you’ll generally find better redemption levels for connecting flights on American through Cathay Pacific Asia Miles than other partner programs that charge per segment. Plus, it’s a great way to piece together an award ticket when flying multiple Oneworld carriers.

Finding available flights is a bit of a process as the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program doesn’t allow American Airlines flights to be booked online with miles. You can search for potential availability by finding SAAver space on American’s website and then double checking with a Cathay Pacific agent either by chat or phone call to see if the seats are bookable using Asia miles.

Telephone booth in London, England
Use Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to book connecting AA flights to London or around the world

Transfer Partners

  • American Express Membership Rewards (1:1)
  • Citibank ThankYou Points (1:1)
  • Capital One Venture Rewards (1:1)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Points (3:1) 

You can transfer Amex, Citibank, and Capital One points to Asia Miles at an even exchange, which makes this a great option for those that have transferrable credit card points instead of AAdvantage miles.

Related: Redeeming Miles with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: A Complete Guide

Etihad Guest

One program you may not have considered for booking flights on American Airlines is Etihad Guest. Although the airline is not a member of the Oneworld alliance, it has a special partnership with American Airlines, which means you can redeem Etihad Guest miles for flights operated by American. And it has some fantastic award redemptions rates that are often even better than what you can redeem through American’s own AAdvantage program.

Etihad Guest has great redemption rates for nonstop AA flights

Similar to British Airways Executive Club, Etihad Guest redemptions are based on a per segment basis. This means it will likely only make sense to use Etihad Guest miles to book nonstop flights operated by American Airlines. The award chart for AA flights has some great opportunities, including:

  • 37,500 points one-way to Hawaii in Business Class
  • 50,000 points one-way to Europe or Japan in Business Class
  • 50,000 points one-way to South America Zone 2 (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, etc.) in Business Class
  • 62,500 points one-way to Europe in First Class
  • 62,500 points one-way to South Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, etc.) in Business Class

These rates resemble what American used to charge with its own program and are now the cheapest way to redeem points for certain American Airlines flights. You’ll need to call Etihad to book AA flights with Etihad Guest miles. The available space generally mirrors what you can find available when searching for SAAver space on American’s website, but there could be a few discrepancies.

Transfer Partners

  • American Express Membership Rewards (1:1)
  • Citibank ThankYou Points (1:1)
  • Capital One Venture Rewards (1:1)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Points (3:1)

Etihad has the same transfer partners as Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, so you if you’re looking to book only American Airlines operated nonstop flights, you’ll likely find better pricing with Etihad Guest miles.

Related: How to Transfer Amex Points to Airline Partners

Napali coast in Kauai, Hawaii
Fly on American Airlines to Hawaii by booking flights with partner miles

Other Programs

There are a few other programs you can use to book American Airlines flights. You’ll usually find better redemption levels or easier ways to redeem with the programs mentioned above, but if you happen to have miles or the ability to transfer points to other Oneworld airline loyalty programs, you can also redeem them for flights on American Airlines.

Some other programs include:

  • Finnair Plus (Transfer Capital One points)
  • Iberia Plus (Transfer Amex or Chase points)
  • Japan Airlines Mileage Bank (Transfer Marriott points)
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich (Transfer Citibank points)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer (Transfer Amex, Citibank, or Capital One points)

Looking to fly on American Airlines flights with points and miles? Open up the Chatflights app and chat with one of our award travel specialists to help you decide which program would be best to use for your particular trip.

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