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AA award travel has NO off-peak availability in a year? Really?

AA award travel has NO off-peak availability in a year? Really?

Apr 28th, 2010, 08:24 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,134
AA award travel has NO off-peak availability in a year? Really?

I'm trying to book award travel on American Airlines -- hoping to fly into and out of Rome. Checking availability, every single departure and return appears to cost the $60 K highest "anytime" award. Month after month, including the months that are supposed to be "off-peak", no "off-peak" availability is offered. Rather than go city by city in Europe, month after month, I thought I'd ask the smart people on this forum: Are there cities for which AA essentially does not offer lower, off-peak award travel at all, even during off-peak times (in Europe, October 15-May 15)? Or are there so few offered they really are snapped up in the first minutes of their opening up?

And is there any way to know when they "open up"? Long ago it was by the calendar, but I think it's more random now. Any advice on finding off-peak award travel to Europe (or anywhere else!) on American?
bakerstreet is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3,291
Most U.S. airlines are really cutting back on awards--especially AA. Have you tried Milan? That is a newer AA destination.
wally34949 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 09:11 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Lot less flights, therefore less chance of award seats. And I wouldn't expect award seats to be offered more than a few months in advance as otherwise it could block a seat that could have been sold for real money
alanRow is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,799
We did AA to Milan last year and didn't have a problem, but maybe not so this year with the overall decrease in number of seats. Award seats are offered about 300+ days out (forget the exact number of days). Then they will open up seats as time passes and it gets closer to the departure date. I do think popular destinations get snapped up within hours of seats opening up. Sometimes only a couple seats are opened up initially. Sometimes if you call the airlines at an off hour -- late a night, agents can be really helpful with bookings. Also look at AA partners and see if u can work something out using a partner. The timeframe for when partner flights can be booked does vary. Good luck!
yestravel is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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If you can travel via New York and Madrid, the new JFK-MAD has many discounted award seats available. International connections in T4S in Madrid are also very easy.
Jeff801 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 123
yea AA is 330 days. so if youre really looking a year out that is why.
jt7dreamz is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 123
oh im sorry i misread- we did milan too with no problem. i think rome prob doesnt have that many seats?
jt7dreamz is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 11:31 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,110
I just went thru that booking 2 seats to Fiji from ORD. Tried numerous dates in October and told no availability, or not even a flight that day. Finally for one set of dates, an agent told me that just the ORD to LAX was the problem, no availability. So I went online myself and just tried booking the domestic portion of the flight using miles and the website actually showed seats available, only connecting thru St. Louis. I called back and again was told no availability, but I told her what I had found online, and she checked and told me oh, yes, I can book those and so now we have our tickets.

I don't know what you've tried or how you searched, but maybe that is one of the problems? Maybe only certain legs of the trip are sold out, but the system tells you nothing is available? (I am in no way an expert on using miles like some here, but thought I would throw in my experience.)

Good luck.
cruisin_tigger is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 12:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,054
Well, I dunno. I just dialed in ORD-FCO-ORD outbound in mid-November and returning in early December, and got several dates immediately for 20K each way.

Remember, too, that the online tool on AA.com ONLY shows flights on AA metal, not flights on partner airlines that you might connect to in, say, London or Madrid. AA has very few flights into Rome on its own aircraft, and even fewer during the off-peak (Oct - May) period when 20K is the "price." Getting connecting seats from LHR to FCO will not be an issue; BA makes plenty of them available. Ditto Madrid-FCO with Iberia.

However you can't see award inventory on partners online at aa.com. To book those flights you have to phone AA. But for the record I just checked ORD-LHR-ORD for arbitrary weeks in November, and there are available 20K award seats every day I looked - lots of 'em.
Gardyloo is online now  
Apr 28th, 2010, 02:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,584
Gardy took the words out of my mouth, you might be able to get a freebie through a partner such as BA or Iberia. Call 1-800-882-8880 and ask.
P_M is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 06:41 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 5,648
I would call AA and talk to someone there. We always do that when trying to use FF tickets, particularly since we are trying to get to Italy from CA. It is much harder to fly into Rome or Milan on AA, but by using BA we usually fly to London (non-stop) and then onto either Milan or Rome. Last trip when we called later than the 330 days out, they routed us on AA to Toronto, then BA to London, then BA to Rome. Yes, it took a little longer, but we were able to use our FF miles for Business class seats. Call them, you can't see all those variations online.
socaltraveler is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 02:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,995
American certainly has some quirks in their availability, but in general I'd rate AA as having much better availability that the other big 2 US carriers (UA/DL). Also, with the exception of JL (and maybe LAN, about which I know nothing), AA's partners have above-average availability.

It's time-consuming, but you would really do well to do all the groundwork yourself to check for availability. For most partners (including Iberia), you can check availability for award travel by joining their frequent flyer program.
DonTopaz is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 01:57 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,238
I had a similar issue trying to find Biz class seats into Buenos Aires last year.

I solved it by looking at the BA Airport Arrivals and finding out what cities AA flew into BA. You have to keep looking as seats open and close almost on a daily basis.

I always do this before I call AA, even though I'm a lifetime Gold member.

I finally found seats from JFK and had no problem booking them.

Wherever I travel, I always check this method out, and use all of AA's Partners, if possible

Two years ago, I found good seats through MAD into Marseilles using this methodology.

Another trick is that you can't fly BA across the pond for miles from the U.S., but you can from Canada, so routing your trip through Toronto works just fine.
Rastaguytoday is offline  

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