Over the past couple of years, low-level award seats on American Airlines flights have become rarer. Domestically, MileSAAver awards have become somewhat of a joke among frequent flyers, since they are almost never available. Internationally, they haven’t been much better.
The best uses of American Airlines miles have typically been flying on either Asian carriers or South American carriers. If you want to fly on an actual American Airlines flight, you would have to pay AAnytime rates, which are double the MileSAAver rates for a given itinerary. Many people have all but given up on the AAdvantage program.
Well, today American Airlines surprised us all. In an unexpected move, they have released a ton of availability for awards on their own metal. Not just for this week, not just for next month…but many flights have multiple seats of award availability off and on throughout the entire next year.
Actual Award Availability
Let’s take a look at some award calendars to see what’s available. For full disclosure, these searches were all done the evening of August 10, 2017. To show a bit of the availability we are seeing, let’s look at one example each for coach and business class. First class seats are still a bit tougher to find, but they are out there in limited quantities.
To find the exact flights and timing you are looking for, you can search on the American Airlines website. What we are showing is by no means the extent of the availability; some flights on certain routes even have up to 6 seats available in business class.
Remember that although we are showing availability on the American Airlines site, these flights will be bookable with miles from any of their partners as well, and sometimes for fewer miles. We will mention other options if they are lower in price than the AAdvantage awards shown.
This is a direct American Airlines flight and a long way to go in coach—but for those of us who like to stretch our miles as far as possible, this availability can’t be beaten. As you can see, these flights are bookable for 40,000 AAdvantage miles per person, but they are also bookable for 35,000 British Airways Avios per person.
Again, this is a direct flight operated by American Airlines. It is a bit shorter than the previous example, but would also be more comfortable in business class. These flights can be booked for the 57,500 American miles as shown, but a better deal would be to book them with either 45,000 Cathay Pacific Asia miles, or 50,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
We have yet to see if this was a mistake, a one-time occurrence, or something we can come to expect from American in the future.
It would be absolutely amazing if American Airlines has listened to all of the complaints from their AAdvantage program members and this is what we continue to see. Increased availability like we are seeing today would be a huge step in a customer-friendly direction for what was once one of the top frequent flier programs. American Airlines miles would instantly become a more valuable mileage currency ,and people would be doing anything they can to earn as many AAdvantage miles as possible.
Unfortunately, the skeptic in me doesn’t think this will last. Whether it was a fluke or they just wanted some publicity, this is not the direction we have seen the American AAdvantage program take over the past couple years.
I would love to be wrong, but for now, my recommendation is to book any awards you want as quickly as you can. Lots of people with AA miles are booking away, and we could very well wake up in the morning and see that all available seats have disappeared.
If you’ve missed out on this, check out our advice on the best standard redemptions with 100K AAdvantage Miles.
Good luck in your search, and let us know what fun trips you book!