When I’m searching for American Airlines and OneWorld Alliance award availability, I head over to AA.com as my go-to option for finding award seats. I find AA.com to be very user-friendly and their calendar option allows you to see a month at a glace, which is quite helpful.
I also use AA.com when I’m looking to find award availability for my favorite ‘sweet spot’ redemptions using British Airways miles, so understanding how to find award seats at AA.com is really essential.
The below video and transcript will give you all the tools you need to search for award flights at AA.com.
Video: Searching for American and OneWorld Alliance Availability at AA.com
Hi. This is Brad Barrett from TravelMiles101.com. In this video, I want to show you how to search for award availability at American Airlines’ website. It’s just AA.com. I do spend a lot of time searching for award flights here.
We’ll talk about this in a future video, but you can actually get a lot of value on American Airlines and some of their OneWorld alliance partners by using British Airways miles actually. That is a topic for another video certainly, but it’s important to know how to search at AA’s website because it will serve you well not only for when you have American Airlines miles, but often when you have British Airways and other partner airlines (miles). It’s a very user-friendly website.
Let’s just walk through a couple scenarios. We’re just at AA.com. You slide down here to the main search box. Why don’t we do New York to Los Angeles? I guess we’ll say the fall. These dates look okay. Now I had already clicked this. Normally this would be unchecked. You’ll just check Redeem Miles. That just denotes that you’re using your frequent flyer miles.
Now it is very important to remember that the cash price of these flights do not matter at all. It’s just based on the award chart. I will definitely link to that below in the transcript, but it’s very important to remember. You have to go by the award chart (click here for American Airlines award chart).
American Airlines’ website says it is 25,000 AA miles to fly round-trip in the continental United States. That’s regardless of whether you’re flying across the country or taking a short little hop from New York City to Boston. We’ll game that out real quick also. You just to need to know those rules. It’s just the rules of the game. You need to understand them. That is definitely an essential background, just knowing it’s the award chart and it’s based on the availability for the SAAver level tickets. At AA, it’s called Economy MileSAAver, and we’ll see that in a second. We’ll just click Search and let’s see what kind of options AA’s site gives us.
It just thinks for a couple seconds and then it will give us a nice little search box. You have some options here and if this looks kind of overwhelming at first, but the first thing I do is I click Show Full Calendar just to see what I’m looking at. Up here you have all these different options. You’ll see the MileSAAver. There’s the SAAver level ticket in economy, business, and first class. That’s important to remember. A lot of people get confused. They hear SAAver level or MileSAAver and they think, “Oh, it’s just economy.” That’s not true. That’s the cabin, so the cabin on the airplane. It’s either the economy, the business, or the first class cabin. That’s separate.
There are what’s known as the SAAver level tickets and then there are kind of the standard. United calls them standard. Here they call them AAnytime, just kind of a cute little nickname. It generally costs twice the amount (of the SAAver), though here it’s a little less. At United, it’s twice the amount. Here it goes from 12,500 to 20,000, so a 7,500 mile increase on the MileSAAver. Now if you’re in a pinch and you needed to book an award flight and there weren’t SAAver level tickets where you wanted on the date you wanted, then you consider doing the AAnytime flights or the standard level flights. That’s up to you. I always try to book the MileSAAver or the Saver level ticket.
One thing we can do here is do number of stops. We’ll do Non-stop only. Now you see that changes things dramatically. That went from every day to it looks like about 10 days here. That certainly changes things. Again, if you were in a pinch and your day mattered precisely, then you would do No Preference and you’d have to kind of see where it fell. If you could book in advance and you had some flexibility, then you would probably go for only the direct flights. We’ll just arbitrarily pick the 14th and do the same. We’ll do Show Full Calendar and we’ll do Non-stop only, and let’s say we’ll stay for a week so we’ll do the 14th to the 21st. Then you just hit Continue.
Now if we had 25,000 miles, we would be able to book this flight. We’ll see what options we have. This gives you some information. Okay, the only nonstop here is at 6am out of JFK. That would not be terribly appealing to me frankly. That looks like the only non-stop on this day. Then you can just mess around. You could go back to the calendar and see here there are no direct flights, but maybe one of these appeal to you a little bit more.
They also give you a lot more information in that they tell you what airline this is flying on. US will always denote US Airways. AS is Alaska Airlines. You can see that here. American, they’ll give you their nice little symbol here. Okay, so that just gives you a sense. You could easily book these flights. You could just mess around with the dates and see what works for you.
That’s why I always say, the more flexible you can be, the better. It might even mean by being flexible with, “Can I stop?” Okay, that adds some flexibility. What about if I didn’t want to stop? Can I go on different dates? Those kind of things help.
Just to quickly show you, we’ll just run through it since I mention it, the New York to Boston. This is a very short flight, obviously. We’ll see. We’ll still on Redeem Miles. We’ll click Search. Now, where I alluded to the British Airways system before, that you can get a ton of value on these actually American Airlines and US Airways flights (and Alaska Airlines) in the United States, because it’s based on distance. That is a program that I like to really focus on. That’s actually why I showed you this, because I think it gives us some information that we otherwise wouldn’t have.
Again, the New York to Boston using AA miles would be 25,000, just like how we saw it would be New York all the way across the country to LA. If you had British Airways miles, you could actually book these exact flights on US Airways and American using those British Airways miles, so it would only cost 9,000 BA miles for the round-trip. You’re getting, in that case, 60% off, just by knowing that little trick. It’s still the same airplane. That again is something I will focus on significantly at the website, but it’s just important to give you a flavor for that here.
Okay, so we proved that out. Now, just one last thing. Why don’t we just see … We’ll do New York to Paris. This is actually … We got Redeem Miles. Now this will show you a couple things. This will show you some of their partner flights across the ocean and will also show you what is one of the really great things about the American Airlines award chart, which is their off-peak award chart. I’ll again have the award chart linked here, but you’ll see it in the Level 1 column. It’s at the bottom in the key, they call it off-peak.
I think that’s what most people refer to it as, but what’s cool, and you can actually see it here, is that on October 15th, that’s when the off-peak time starts from the US to Europe. It goes from 60,000 miles round-trip or 30,000 one-way, down to 40,000 round-trip or 20,000 one-way. You can see it very clearly here. If you decided to go from the 7th to the 14th, it would cost you 60,000. If you decided to go from the 15th to the 22nd, it would cost you only 40,000. That’s a huge difference certainly.
Just for fun, let’s see, non-stop, let’s see how many days. Wow, there’s every single day. If you had these miles, you’d be able to book every single day from New York to Paris. We’ll click Continue. I mentioned that I wanted to show you the different carriers. Now we should expect to see BA or British Airways here. Yeah, OpenSkies, BA European, but that is a British Airways flight. What’s important to note is actually, and you can probably see the words British Airways here, so yeah, British Airways, BA 180, you see it goes through London Heathrow.
When you’re flying to Europe with American Airlines miles, and because it is so attractive with that off-peak time, and that’s 7 months of the year which is amazing. This is not some tiny little window. This is a huge 7 months of the year they consider off-peak. Now you need to really avoid British Airways. As nice of an airline as it is, and as convenient as it can be, they charge you these crazy fees they call fuel surcharges, but in my opinion, they’re just these junk fees that they add on to the price of an award flight.
Literally if you book this flight at 9:30pm into Paris, this would probably cost you about $600 in fees. If you book this one at 9:15 on American Airlines, it would cost you probably $100 of unavoidable taxes. That is a humongous difference. It might even be less than that (less than $100), honestly. It depends on the country you’re flying into and such. You need to be really aware of that. You absolutely cannot book British Airways flights. That’s essential to remember. If you go through this, you book or you’re getting ready to book, and you see some huge fee amount with your flight, just start over, realize that, depending on the airline you’re flying, it will make a difference. This just shows you that you can book on some of their Oneworld alliance partners.
We’ll just page through. There are a lot of British Airways flights you’ll see. Some are mixed with American and British Airways, which is interesting. You always just play with it. That gives you a pretty good background on how to search the American Airlines website. I think this is really valuable knowledge, just so you know how to use it for your travel rewards strategy going forward. Thank you for watching.