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American Airlines’ AAdvantage frequent flyer program is the best overall U.S. frequent flyer program when it comes to redemptions on partner airlines – AA has by far the best award redemption rates and some incredible partner airlines. Delta’s partner airlines are boring and they also charge regularly over 300k+ miles for a one-way Business Class ticket to Europe, United has a ton of partner airlines but their recent devaluation yet again increased how much an award costs, and Alaska has some great partner airlines but a limited mileage program as you can’t redeem miles on all routes operated by partner airlines.

American Airlines has the best frequent flyer program in the U.S. when it comes to redeeming miles on partner airlines as AA is a member of oneworld and also has a number of cool airline partners like Etihad Airways, for example. There have recently been some updates to AAdvantage Awards that are important to note.

AAdvantage has no Change or Cancel Fees

There are no change or cancel fees for any AA award ticket – you can cancel up to a few hours prior to departure or make changes for free. While you can cancel online, you might not get the miles or taxes back until you call AAdvantage – this is especially true if your award was on a partner airline.

Cannot Change Awards with AA Flights Only

If you have booked an award ticket through AAdvantage that only contains American Airlines flights, you cannot change the ticket – you can only cancel it. This is because AA has now introduced dynamic pricing as a default and eliminated award charts for AA flights only – there are no changes to partner awards for now.

Previously, if you booked a saver award with AA flights only, you could call to drop or add a segment (as long as you followed all the rules and didn’t touch married segments) – now you cannot add or drop a flight, you have to cancel the whole thing and rebook. Technically you can “change” a booking, but all it will do is replace all of your flights with different ones at a different cost while keeping your booking reference the same.

there are minor changes to AAdvantage awards

there are minor changes to AAdvantage awards

Partner Awards with an AA Flight

If you have booked a partner award with an AA connecting flight (like Seattle – LAX on American and LAX – Doha on Qatar), you may be able to change the AA segments on an award – there are mixed reports and it seems like it depends on the agent you get. There are no changes to partner awards without any AA flights – so you can change those and add/drop flights as you wish while keeping other flights on the booking.

The new rule may apply if you have an AA flight on your booking plus a partner flight – if you go to change the AA flight you may be told you cannot. No one at this point is really sure of the rules and it seems like it really comes down to the agent you talk to.. hang up and call again is your friend.

No Changes to AAdvantage Routing Rules

There have been no changes to routing rules, maximum permitted mileage, max number of segments, or anything else.

The award chart for partner airlines remains the same as of now – and hopefully it will for a long time.

Best Feature: Your Own Custom Itinerary

If you are booking an award on partner flights, you can create a custom itinerary and it will price as one award if you follow all of the rules. A custom itinerary is a booking you put together by searching for availability flight by flight and then booking it over the phone with an agent by providing them each flight separately.

If you understand how AA awards work, then all of your flights should price out as one award. For example, both of the following would price the same (70k miles one-way in Business):

  • Seattle – Doha – Dubai
  • Seattle – Los Angeles – New York – Doha – Dubai

The second option probably won’t come up if you search online because it contains a lot of segments. You can have a layover of up to 23h59m between flights and it will still price the same, assuming you follow all of the other rules.

All in All

American Airlines still publishes award charts for travel on partner airlines and their redemption rates are phenomenal – you can fly multiple partner airlines on one ticket and create custom itineraries and later change or cancel them for free. Keep in mind that if your award booking contains only AA flights and you want to make a change, you have to rebook the whole thing and the itinerary would reprice at the current rates.

AA still allows you to place an award on hold while you buy miles or transfer them in from Marriott.. or simply make up your mind if you want to book or not – no other program has a generous hold policy like AAdvantage. The program truly does stand out in the U.S..

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