American Airlines Mileage Program


Sep 22nd, 2006, 10:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 246
American Airlines Mileage Program

Well, I finally got on board (so to speak) and signed up for the American Airlines mileage program. I have a few flights to my credit and got the AA Citibank card as well, which I use for everything I can and pay off weekly (so no interest). I now have about 50,000 miles to my credit in less than 3 months.

Now the question - (boy do I feel stupid-I have an MBA but can't figure out how this stuff works!).

I have read over the literature they sent me about how to redeem the miles but I am still confused. I am unsure about how to use the miles if I book online - and how to know if I am even allowed to use the miles. When I signed up for the program (knowing nothing) I was naive enough to think that my miles could be used to get me a ticket on any flight, but now I think I understand that the seats available to mileage users are limited to certain flights (based on posts I have seen here) - and that there are a finite number of seats available to purchase with miles - once they are gone, they are gone??

I would appreciate a simple "how to" on the following:

1. While searching flights on the AA internet site, how do I know if there are any seats available on the flight to use my mileage on?

2. Is there some "trick" to getting available mileage seats before they are gone - some webpage I can look at that would tell me what seats are available for what flights as soon as they are announced?

3. Am I better off to just call AA and have them explain it to me rather than trying to figure it out (ie-Is it too complicated a process for you to explain it to me?)

Thanks for your help.

dbaker is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 22nd, 2006, 10:45 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 19,690
We need AAfrequent flyer for this one, but I'll take a stab at it.

For international flights I always call--I don't think it's possible yet to make those reservations on line, either for free tickets or for upgrades. I like the assurance of knowing that the upgrades are actually available before I buy.

The main thing to know is that you need to try to get seats as far in advance as possible. Last year I made reservations in November for a trip next month and still had trouble finding upgrades on dates that would work for us. There were no free seats available 11 months in advance.
Underhill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 22nd, 2006, 11:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3,286
Christmas and other holidays are often blocked out to many markets. Hawaii for Christmas--don't even try. Try playing around with it on their website. If you don't find what you are looking for, call them. The operators can help you use other airlines that American is a partner with. There is a small fee if you book the flight.
wally34949 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 22nd, 2006, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
To the rescue

There are many ways you can spend your miles.

1. Just a straight AA awards.
You can check availibility on This will only check availibility on AA metal.

2. Mileage Upgrades from one class of service to the next one. For this you have to call and also be careful, some cheap economy fares are not upgradable and with mileage upgrades to Asia, South America and Europe there is also a $250 co-pay.

3. All Partner Awards - For this you have to call. This award is pretty straight forward, R/T but 1 stopover is allowed. There are more rules but for now let's just say this is your best chance to get from point A to point B to just about anywhere in the world.

4. AA OneWorld award. You have to call. My favorite, but also somewhat complicated. Once you figure out the rules and under certain circumstance, this is the most rewarding. For about the same mileage cost of an All Partner first class award from US to Europe 1 R/T, I have 3 seperate trips booked in business class to South America, Europe and finally San Francisco. Love this award and hope AA doesn't pull it.

I would suggest reading the AAdvantage Program Details on Then read as much as possible on the AA and OneWorld forums on Finally if you still have specific questions, post here, but you would get more precise answers on the AA forum.

Good luck!

I'll try my best but you really need to spend some time researching the program and ask some specific questions. The program is so rewarding with many different options, it would require a 20 page post to explain most of it and I would still miss 1/2 of it....

All awards are capacity controlled. That is a fact. Airlines and their partners have different rules as to when and to whom they release award seats, but the basic is that some seats may but not necessarly all the time be released when the flights are put into the schedule and once the seats are gone then the revenue departments decide when and if they will release more. This is all based on sophisticated software that the airlines run to maximize sale of the seats without giving them away. So if there are no award seats available to Rome in July, there is a good reason for it, but it doesn't mean that maybe a month before there won't be any, but there is no guarantee there will be.

OTOH, if you want an award seat to London in mid-January, it's pretty much available all the time.....

that's the game. Learn it. It does have it's rewards.

Here is my AA OneWorld award Itn:

TAMPA-LIMA(stop)-MIAMI - October 2006

Flying first class and business class for 130K miles. This is not for everybody but it works great for me when I interline with other trips. I just wanted to show you what's possible.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 23rd, 2006, 01:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,730
You can, of course, get a ticket today for travel at Christmas time (12/22-29) from the US mainland (LAX) to Honolulu using mileage at Would cost 70,000 miles (twice the "saver" award mileage requirement) and $5 but it can be done.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 23rd, 2006, 01:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 23,654
It's a lot easier to redeem award seats on domestic flights than international flights (or to Hawaii).

When you go to, go to reservations, then click on "AAdvantage Award". It'll automatically show you which flights have available seats for your itin.

If there are no award seats available on the date you want to travel, it'll show you the next date with available seats, or you can use extra miles for AAnytime Awards (instead of the regular miles for MileSaaver Awards).

FYI, I have redeemed 4 domestic r/t tickets this year on AA. Able to use the basic # miles and able to get the exact dates I wanted to fly.
yk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 23rd, 2006, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 19,690
FYI, that $250 co-pay on upgrades is ONE WAY ONLY.
Underhill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 23rd, 2006, 02:17 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,700
"some cheap economy fares are not upgradable"

Can you tell me which economy fare classes are not upgradeable with miles for domestic travel (incl HI)? Thanks.
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 23rd, 2006, 02:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
Fares booked in I or O, or fares booked in Q between North America and Asia, Europe, India or South America are not upgradable
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 28th, 2006, 10:49 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,190
dbaker - we've had very good luck utilizing AAdvantage miles for our trips. We don't really fly that often, yet with the other programs (credit cards, Tom Thumb grocery store, dining program, eshopping, etc.), we amass enough miles to fly one to two times a year to Europe with business class seats.

We plan ahead (330 days to be exact), and have learned to navigate their website. I "pretend" shop frequently, which gives me patterns of tickets available. Start playing with the'll get the drift quickly. Type in destinations & dates on the AAdvantage award category & you'll see what I mean. I also cross check with the purchase category. For example, let's say I want to fly from DFW to Rome (which I frequently do) on an award ticket. I not only type it in as an award ticket, I type it in as though I were purchasing it. That way I'd know who the other carriers & routes are that might be choicing. I hope I'm making some sense...and am helpful.
dorkforcemom is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 28th, 2006, 10:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885

If you are only checking, you are limiting yourself to AA metal only for award tickets. Call AAdvantage res to get all the possibilities.....
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 28th, 2006, 11:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
apologies for the boldness

should have previewed the post before actually posting.....
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 28th, 2006, 11:43 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,190
AAFF - that's why I check the website as if I were purchasing a ticket...
I check the "oneworld" option, pretend as though I'm going to buy, which in turn will give me the alternative airlines. I understand you weren't "screaming" with your boldness...I agree that calling ensures all the possibilities. I was just trying to help the poster learn how the website can garner more info. Fortunately, we've always had pretty straight-forward itineraries from DFW that don't require complicated routings.
dorkforcemom is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:51 AM.