How to Book with AA Reduced Miles
I like to keep track of American Airlines reduced mileage awards because I have used them many times for US and Canadian flights and have found pretty good value. They are now out through May 2015. In order to take advantage of these reduced mileage awards, you must have the specified CitiAA credit cards listed below:
Having these cards can get you 7,500 miles off your roundtrip flight. You can even book one way awards. Thus a roundtrip economy flight will only cost you 17,500 AA miles and a one way will cost you 8,750 AA miles.
The website has a listing of city destinations in the US and some Canadian cities that these reduced mileage awards can be used for. Make sure to read my post on the AA reduced mileage award loophole. In addition, you have to make sure that there is MileSAAver availability for your trip by first going to the AA website.
So for example, say I wanted to go to Fort Lauderdale, FL which is on the list for March 2015. Only those dates in green for 12.5k each way will be available for reduced mileage awards in economy.
This also works for business class rewards and only those dates in blue for 25k will be eligible for reduced mileage.
In order to book these awards you must call this number 1-800-882-8880. After you tell the agent your flights, you then must give them the award code and you must pay with your AACiti card. Here are the award codes below:
Please note that it will cost $25 to book this award type, however, if you explain to the agent that you can’t book these online, they may waive the fees but YMMV. Update: Starting 2/3/15, there is no booking fee when booking this type of award.
Also if you book an award less that 21 days out, then they will charge you a $75 close-in booking fee.
The reduced mileage awards is valid only on American Airlines or American.Eagle flights. No codeshares are allowed. Since US airways has not fully merged with American Airlines, these are also not allowed since they are still considered a codeshare.
Also remember that having the AACiti card will also give you 10% mileage back up to 100k miles redeemed per year when you make award redemptions so this is even more in mileage savings.
When Should I Use Avios?
Since MilesSaver Awards can also be booked with British Airways Avios, then it really depends on the distance of your flight since BA is a distance based award program. The best tool to use is the Wandering Aramean Avios Redemption calculator. This will calculate how many avios you will need for your flight. So taking my example above on my flight from Houston to Ft. Lauderdale, it will cost 12k avios one way or 24k avios roundtrip. Depending how much I value AA miles vs BA miles or how many miles I have in my account, I could choose either way. In this case I would personally choose AA reduced mileage awards.
Let me use a more obvious example of when to use Avios. Say I wanted to go to Dallas from Houston which is a considerably shorter flight. Using the Avios calculator, it shows it would cost 4.5k Avios one way or 9k Avios roundtrip. This is considerable saving compared to reduced mileage awards which would cost 17.5k AA miles roundtrip. In this case I would definitely go with BA Avios.
US Airways Codeshare
As I mentioned above, since US Airways has not been fully merged with AA, these are still considered codeshare flights and thus you can’t use AA reduced mileage awards. US Airways flights will be integrated later in 2015 so you will be able to book these flights with reduced mileage awards then. These flights have “US” before the flight number.
However, since they are OneWorld Partners, you can use Avios to book these flights.
Alaska Airlines Codeshare
Here is another airline that has domestic flights that you can book with AA miles. The only problem is that AA reduced mileage rules specifically state that you can only book these awards on American Airlines metal. So if you see a flight with “AS” for Alaska Airlines, then you can’t use reduced mileage awards.
Alaska is not a OneWorld Partner but it is a partner airline, so you can book them with Avios. The only problem is that you can’t book it on the BA website. Instead you have to call BA to book it at 1-800-247-9297 between 7am and 11pm EST. There is a $25 booking fee but if you tell the agent that you can’t book it online, they can waive the fee but YMMV.
If there are any other rules or helpful tips that I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments.