aadvantage miles

Dec 30th, 2015, 05:54 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 55
aadvantage miles

Well. I've saved up for years and now have enough miles to take my daughter to Florence and Paris. Yeah, try to book that on AA online. IF you can find transport (ORD to Pisa, CDG to Ord) in less than 4 flights, they want to charge $1300 fees. So much for free flights. I know $1000 of that is for flying business class but I'm told going though Heathrow causes BA to slap charges on top. I could fly in the back of the plane, but that would just make me mad after saving up all these miles. Any suggestions???
alienor is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 06:01 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,739
Don't go through LHR, change in the US if necessary. Don't fly BA. Change your dates. You will probably do better to fly into Rome and take the train to Florence. Take the train or a cheap flight to Paris.

This really belongs on the Air Travel board, you may get more help there.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 06:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,503
no, I'd suggest you save your miles for something more useful or not fly business class, that's all. You aren't flying AA, I gather, but BA and that's what they do but you also want to fly business class. So I guess I don't really think $1300 for all those flights in business is that bad compared to what you'd pay for the ticket.

Bottom line, is it worth it or not to you? I don't quite understand being mad that you have to fly couch if that's what your miles buy.

I just used my AA miles for RT to Mexico (from Washington DC) and that was very reasonable, I think I only had to use about 60K miles and I got business/premium economy or whatever they call it the entire trip. I was going to Mexico City and flying home from Puebla. And that was during the Thanksgiving holiday period.
Christina is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 07:05 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Also consider flying business going east and coach coming home. It's more important for the night flight and AA lets you book them separately.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 07:37 AM
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 167
When are you traveling? If you have enough time and are flexible, you should be able to do much better with both price and schedule. Are you going in the summer? Travel before May 15 or after October 15 is usually less miles. We have used AA for many, many trips to Europe and So Pacific and NEVER have paid $1000 or had trouble finding seats. And that's from Reno, which isn't a large airport like ORD!!)YES, using BA or going through Heathrow is more money (BA has hefty taxes, as does Heathrow). Still, are you looking at the calendar that shows what dates are available at what mileage level? We do usually fly coach, but last year (April)we flew business class roundtrip, into Amsterdam (connecting in Heathrow with BA from there to Amsterdam) and home from Munich and for roundtrip used 80,000 miles and paid $160 in taxes each. Granted, I had booked the tickets almost a year in advance, but I did have lots of choices for schedules. Flying business class is wonderful, but this next trip we don't have enough miles so we are using total of 60,000 miles to Barcelona and home from Madrid, cost of $100 each. Try flying into Rome and out of Paris...try changing dates...unless you are going soon and most seats are gone, you should be able to find a much better arrangement!!!
dodi66 is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
First: the award flights are NOT free - you spent money and time to accumulate AA miles and AA is up front about the passenger's duty to pay fees and taxes.

Here's the key: you're flying out of O'Hare so you should have a ton of options on American because it has a significant hub there.

The crucial option is STAY AWAY FROM BA.

Unlike other airlines, BA charges a FUEL fee separate from the integrated price of your ticket. With AA, an $1100 flight could be $800 for the seat and $300 in fees and taxes. With BA, that same flight will be $250 for the seat, $550 for a fuel FEE, and $300 for the normal fees and taxes you'd have to cough up on AA.

There is no good option for avoiding high "fees" if you fly BA to Heathrow and then go on from there. BA screws the frequent fliers by separating fuel and seat "charges" and foisting the price of fuel onto the flier as a fee.
BigRuss is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 10:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,190
BA has stopped calling them "fuel surcharges" after being sued in US federal court; now they're "airline imposed fees," which is just another word for profit.

There are some workarounds to the BA fee conundrum. First (counter intuitive, I know) sign up for BA's frequent flyer program, BAEC and look for award trips on Iberia Airlines through Madrid. Iberia flies into Florence, not Pisa, but they're very close to one another. The reason to sign up for the BAEC is that BA shows Iberia flights on its website while AA doesn't; you need to phone AA to make a mileage booking on Iberia. So if you see space on flights that work using the BA site, make a note of the flight details and phone AA; they will be able to book the flights. Iberia flights will incur a (former fuel) surcharge but much less than BA flights.

Second, look on AA's website for flights into Dusseldorf, Germany. Airberlin, another AA partner and Oneworld member, flies from DUS to Florence, and again, fees will be much less.

Third, look for flights on Finnair from Chicago to Helsinki. Finnair doesn't fly to Pisa or Florence, but you could get there through Dusseldorf or else fly into Milan or Rome and take the train or car.

Or of course, take AA to Rome or Milan and do the same, or back from Paris. If you're forced into transiting London, try to use BA only from London to Pisa or back from Paris, and not transatlantic. Also try not to stay over in London in either direction as British departure taxes will add even more hundreds of dollars to the fees chart.
Gardyloo is online now  
Dec 30th, 2015, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 982
You might want to check with a company like PointsPros.com

They, and companies like them, specialize in helping you actually *use* your miles to get award flights, something that's become harder and harder to do.

... and I agree with you about flying business class. Once you've been up front, it's hard to go to the cramped quarter in the back of the plane, especially for long flights.
travelhorizons is offline  
Dec 30th, 2015, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 1,322
The simple answer is don't fly through London. We were able to use FF miles on AA in October to fly direct from DFW to Paris CDG. The fees were $5.60 per person.

Here's the workaround: If you can't find any direct flights to Paris (or any other European city--train tickets are really cheap), then go ahead and book through London, but keep searching for better deals. When you find them, you can call AA FF rep and change your tickets. There is no charge and they will refund the extra that you have paid. We had to do that on our trip, but I started the booking process in January, knowing that I would have plenty of time to rebook. Just keep rechecking the AA FF website--every few days, if possible.

I actually rebooked twice. The first was through London, then I found a better deal going DFW to Charlotte to Paris, and the third time I found direct DFW to Paris. The number of FF seats changes daily, depending on their load predictions.

If you are using several different FF accounts, be sure to have the FF rep link all of the accounts so that you can always stay together. It takes them awhile to do it but it's really important to get that done. Not all reps seem to know how to do it so stay on it until it's done.

Also, when you do the new searches, be sure to put in the total number of seats you want, not just the one from your account. When you find X number of seats, call immediately.
happytourist is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 03:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,873
Check the flights on the Alaska Airlines website. They are in the same group and the fees are more clearly stated. Also the fees coming back from Europe are higher than going.
bigtyke is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 04:26 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 611
So much good advice here! I hope the OP finds the right flights.
pavot is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 06:59 AM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 522
I've been looking at AA FF flights to Rome as I hope to go there at the end of March 2016.

It looks like unless I want to use 65K miles one way for a direct flight -- all other flights go through London as well.

Was hoping to fly 4 of us on the 20K one-way trips, but those take something like 17 hours with all the stop overs.

I really miss USAir -- American Airlines is a rip off. I've worked really hard to get the 200K miles I have in my account - lots of extra stops in the USA-based business trips I've taken to get the extra mileage -- and now I see that I won't be able to book the trip I want.
Judy_Rosa is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 07:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,739
Funny, I have always had good luck using my FF miles, but I am flexible about dates and routings. It is true that the really good deal - RTW in business on a One World award - is no more. But last year I flew to Europe and back using miles without a lot of angst.

Boston to Berlin via LHR in business class was 50,000 miles and $400+. Expensive maybe, but worth it to me for lie-flat seats. And that was in July, high season.

Coming back I had intended to fly Icelandair out of Madrid with a stop off in Reykavik, but discovered they didn't fly that route in late October. Air fares were ridiculously high, and the award routings out of Madrid weren't enticing, so I flew home from Barcelona via Philly in economy - 20,000 miles plus a minor amount of USD.

Looking in December for flights in March might well present problems - what airport are you flying out of? Connecting in the US may improve your options.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 07:55 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,870
We use AA miles frequently for business and first from LAX to Europe. The trick is booking the long leg from a less popular US airport. We live in LA and often book from Phoenix or Vegas. But 100% of the time I've been able to switch to LAX a day or two before the flight. Also, you should enlist the aid of an agent rather than book online.
crosscheck is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 08:01 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,870
And...There are award booking services you can hire to help you spend your miles. We haven't used one, but several friends have. The points guy has a some recs. You might also post your dilemma on flyertalk.com

crosscheck is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 522
I just found a round trip direct flight for 4 of us Philly to Venice. 40K FF miles round trip each and it's a direct flight.

I might book that and avoid London all together even if that means hopping on a train from Venice to Rome....still better than paying extra fees on British Airways.

I'm usually very flexible on dates, however, my DS and his GF have limited time. Wish I could squeeze in a few extra days for their flights, but the FF miles are outrageous on the more frequented routes.

DH and I are staying a few extra days so our return is more flexible than theirs.
Judy_Rosa is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 09:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 90
Just went through the same exercise. I discovered that American will only release one business class seat (using Milesavers and flying on American) at a time, except for flights to Zurich or London. So I snagged two seats on non stop flights from JFK to Zurich for 100,000 miles each plus $60 per seat. I also paid $40 each to do it through an Advantage rep who was extremely helpful. Good luck.
cilburke is offline  
Dec 31st, 2015, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 90
Should have clarified, they were two round trip flights JFK to Zurich.
cilburke is offline  

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