So you are ready to book your next vacation. You might be wondering what website to use to get the best deal. Of course you will probably check popular online travel agencies like Expedia, Hotwire, or Orbitz. But did you know you can book an entire vacation package through American Airlines?
I’ll take you through the process here to show you the benefits and drawbacks of booking a vacation through American Airlines Vacations.
Why Book With American Airlines?
There are so many places to book vacation packages these days; you might be wondering what makes American Airlines Vacations different. Let’s go over some of the key benefits that AAVacations offers.
Book Together and Save
Booking a vacation package is a pretty good way to save money. I have compared prices of lots of packages on many websites, and more often than not they do save a good chunk of cash.
American Airlines claims you will save money by gaining access to unpublished fares when booking a flight, hotel, and/or car together. (If you can’t wait, scroll down to Price Comparisons to see how the numbers really stack up!)
Earn Bonus AA Miles
We love earning miles here at Upgraded Points, and you will definitely earn AA miles when you book an AAVacations package.
- You will earn 1,000 AAdvantage award miles each time you book a vacation package
- Earn up to 30,000 bonus AAdvantage miles when you book a featured hotel
- You will also earn miles for the flight portion of any package as you normally would
Bonus miles will be awarded to the first traveler’s AAdvantage account. Be sure to include your AAdvantage member number at the time of booking.
Bottom Line: Every booking through American Airlines Vacations earns 1,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. Some packages include hotels that offer up to 30,000 bonus miles. However, you won’t earn miles on any package that is fully or partially paid for using AAdvantage miles.
Don’t forget to use an American Airlines credit card when making the booking, or a rewarding travel card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® to earn even more miles for each $1 that you spend on an AA vacation!
Book Now, Pay Monthly
American Airlines Vacations offers payment through Uplift, a monthly payment plan service. Uplift breaks your payments into 12 increments.
Don’t get too excited here. While it might be nice to pay for your trip over time, Uplift charges interest, so you end up paying more than you have to.
It’s best to save up ahead of time and book your trip when you can afford to pay for it upfront (then put it on a great travel rewards credit card to get the maximum benefit!)
Use Miles to Book
You can pay for any portion of your vacation package using AAdvantage miles! Every mile equals 1 cent when booking a vacation package.
All miles must come from 1 account, so unfortunately you can’t pool your points with your travel companions. You also will not earn AAdvantage miles on bookings you pay for with miles.
Once you are logged in to your AAdvantage account, you will see the option to pay for all or part of your vacation package using miles (however, taxes and carrier-imposed fees always have to be paid in cash.)
Use the slider to determine how many miles you want to use. If you choose to pay for part of your package with miles, you must use a minimum of 1,000 miles.
Bottom Line: When redeeming AAdvantage miles for a vacation package, you will get 1 cent per mile in value.
American Airlines Vacations Customer Service
American Airlines Vacations offers support while you are booking and during your trip.
For general customer service, try these AA Vacations phone numbers:
U.S and Canada: 800-321-2121
Outside the U.S. and Canada: 918-669-8977
Monday – Friday
7 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. (CT)
Saturday and Sunday
9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (CT)
For emergencies while traveling:
Mexico: 1-877-809-2766 or 1-800-891-3818
American Airlines Vacations
Now that you know some of the benefits of booking a vacation through American Airlines, you need to know where to find them.
From the American Airlines homepage, click on Plan Travel in the main search bar. Then click on Vacations in the drop-down menu. Or you can go directly to aavacations.com.
Vacation packages can be booked over the phone, but they could include a fee of $35 per person.
How to Search for a Vacation Package
From the American Airlines Vacations homepage, you will notice a search box in the middle of the page. Here you can search for a vacation package using any combination of flight, hotel, and/or car rental.
After you input your destination and dates of travel, click on Search. Your search results will be front and center with basic filtering options to the left.
The first thing you might notice is that there are a few different prices listed.
- The first price is the price per person
- The second price is the total for everyone in your party, including taxes and fees but excluding any resort charges
- The third price is the monthly payment if you choose to finance your purchase with Uplift (scroll down for more information on this)
- The last price is the amount you are saving by booking a package (This number never seems to quite match up to the actual savings — I would ignore this and calculate the savings yourself)
Under the hotel information, you will be able to see additional information like any resort fees or extra discounts being offered.
The price you see is for a base level package. If you choose a different room, flight, or car type your price could increase.
Each time you have multiple options, you will be able to see if the price is higher for each selection. If a price says +$0.00, then that option is included in your quote.
Once you choose the first part of your package (hotel, flight, or car), you will be guided through to select the other parts.
Don’t forget to pay attention to the price. See how these 2 flights have different package prices: the first flight is included in the base package price, but the second flight increases the cost of the package.
Right before completing your purchase, you will have the opportunity to add something you missed, like a car rental or activities for your trip.
If you scroll down just a bit when you get to your trip summary page, you will see a list of available activities for your destination. Scroll through the activities or use the filter options on the left side of the screen.
Most activities are priced per person, and some will have a minimum number of people required to book.
Once you have all portions of your vacation package to your liking, click on the blue Continue button to proceed to the payment section.
The price you are paying will include taxes and fees, but will not include things like resort fees, checked baggage fees, or hotel parking fees.
If you have an American Airlines Vacations promo code, enter it on this payment page.
You will also be asked if you would like to add insurance to your package cost.
If you are using a credit card that has an insurance benefit, there might not be any need for extra insurance. I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card for all of my travel purchases for its great points-earning potential, plus the insurance that comes with the card.
Hot Tip: Purchasing extra vacation insurance might not be necessary if you are using a good travel rewards credit card. Look for one that offers various kinds of insurance, such as trip delay, lost baggage, and travel accident. Check out our guide to credit card insurance to find the card that works best for you.
You can purchase an American Airlines Vacation package using any of the following payment methods:
- Credit card
- American Airlines travel voucher — can be used toward the flight portion of your trip only. To redeem a travel voucher, call 1-800-489-4810 (be sure to request that the phone booking fee be waived)
- American Airlines gift certificate
- AAdvantage miles (must be logged in to see this option)
- Uplift (monthly payment plan)
Do you want to get away but aren’t sure where to go? Then head to the Destinations section of aavacations.com for some inspiration.
You will see some featured locations, as well as a clickable list of all regions toward the bottom of the page.
Click on any destination to see some sample prices as well as prices from your home airport. Just input your origin city in the search box.
Remember that the prices you see will be per person. You will then be able to continue through your search as you normally would.
American Airlines Vacations Deals and Promo Codes
If you are looking for a great deal, check out the Deals tab in the main menu. This is where you will find packages offering lots of extra miles or discounts, and sometimes even promo codes. There are also other sites that publish promo codes.
If you scroll down a little bit on the Deals page, you will see a section titled Bonus Miles. This is where you want to look for those amazing deals offering lots and lots of bonus American Airlines miles!
Of course, it helps to have some flexibility since these deals have specific terms — but if one of these deals works for you, jump on it. Who wouldn’t love earning an extra 10,000 or more bonus miles just for going on vacation!
Here are a few important things to remember when booking a package offering bonus miles:
- If you want to earn these bonus miles, do not use any AAdvantage miles to pay for your trip. Bonus miles will NOT be awarded on any package where miles were used toward the purchase of the trip.
- Bonus miles are awarded to the account of the first traveler on the reservation.
- Pay attention to the offer’s dates and details. You will have to book and complete your trip by a specified date to earn bonus miles.
Hot Tip: If your package comes with a significant amount of bonus miles, do not pay for any portion of the package with miles. You must pay for the entire amount of your package using cash/credit card in order to earn bonus miles.
Right under the Bonus Miles section you will find some additional hotel specials being offered. These offers can be anything from a free round of golf, a free night, or an extra percentage off the price.
If you click on the “Book By” link, you will be able to see all the terms of the offer.
Once you are on the offer details page, be sure to pay attention to the terms and booking requirements. There will also be a link to book your reservation. Be careful though, because there might be links to book other hotels as well.
For example, this offer is for up to 57% off at the Iberostar Cancun Star Prestige. However, when you scroll down to book, ALL of the Iberostar hotels are listed — not just the one offering the discount.
If you click on Hotels in the main menu, you’ll be taken to a page that lets you search by hotel brand.
There are some featured brands at the top of the page, but if you scroll down you can see all the brands (plus a few individual hotels you can search for).
You will find popular hotels and brands like:
You can click on any of the hotel links, then search for availability on your travel dates. Continue to book as you normally would.
Hot Tip: If you are booking a chain hotel that offers a loyalty program like Hyatt, Marriott, or Hilton, keep in mind that you might not earn loyalty points when booking through American Airlines. Also, any elite status you have might not be recognized. If you are loyal to a brand and concerned about your hotel loyalty points and status, it’s usually best to book directly.
The Vacation Types section of the website is designed to help you choose a vacation based on the type of trip you are looking for:
- Adults only
- Elevated amenities
This can be a helpful section when you know what kind of trip you’re interested in but aren’t sure about a location or specific hotel.
After selecting a vacation type, you will have a short list of results. Once you have made your choice, you can click on the hotel link for more information and to check availability for your travel dates. You only need to input your departure city and dates, and the correct airport will be automatically added.
How to Change or Cancel an American Airlines Vacation
If you need to cancel your American Airlines vacation package, call 1-800-489-4810. Unfortunately, there will be fees associated with this, and some or all of your trip costs may be nonrefundable.
Purchase a Waiver
If you are in a situation where there is a greater chance you would need to cancel your trip, you might consider purchasing a waiver to help out with the fees.
Here’s where it gets complicated. I found 2 types of waivers on the AAVacations site: Cancellation and Change Waiver and the Pre-Departure Protection Waiver. However, you only have the opportunity to purchase the Pre-Departure waiver.
I called American Airlines Vacations to clarify, and they couldn’t. The representative I spoke to told me they were the same thing, even though they differ online.
Cancellation and Change Waiver
The Cancellation and Change Waiver is an insurance policy you can purchase to cover your trip in the following situations:
- Cancellation for any reason up until your scheduled departure time
- Revision fees associated with changing your itinerary
Unfortunately, some hotels and airfares remain non-refundable even when this waiver has been purchased. Any activities you have booked with your package are also nonrefundable.
Another thing to note is that if 1 person buys a Cancellation and Change Waiver policy, every traveler on the same reference number will need to purchase one as well.
Pre-Departure Protection Waiver
This type of insurance offers fee waivers if your trip is changed prior to departure, or if name changes are made to a package at least 15 days prior to departure.
However, there could still be other fees associated with changing your package — and again, some portions will remain non-changeable even if this waiver is purchased.
The Pre-Departure and Protection Waiver cost varies, but most plans I saw were $69-$89 per person.
Bottom Line: Overall I am unimpressed with the insurance options offered by American Airlines Vacations. The policies don’t offer much protection and come with lots of limitations. While some situations might make extra insurance a good option, most travelers will be just fine with the insurance that comes with their credit card.
So, let’s get to the good stuff — can American Airlines Vacation packages save you money?
For my first example, I priced out a week-long stay at The Buccaneer in St. Croix and round-trip airfare from Atlanta for 2 people. All prices are for the same room category, flights, and dates.
As you can see, booking the package from American Airlines saves $168.14 over booking the flight and hotel separately, and even more over booking the same package through the hotel or Expedia.
|Package Price Booked Through American Airlines Vacations||Total Cost for Flight and Hotel Booked Separately||Package Price Booked Through Hotel’s Website||Package Price Booked Through Expedia|
Expedia did offer a package that included the same hotel with a different flight for $4,185.98. However, the flights were terrible with multiple stops.
Any packages from Expedia with flights that were comparable were more expensive. So, I would consider this a win for American Airlines Vacations.
Here’s another one. For this example I priced out a week-long stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Hawaii and round-trip airfare from Seattle for 2 people. Again, the prices are for the same room category, flights, and dates.
|Package Price Booked Through American Airlines Vacations||Total Cost for Flight and Hotel Booked Separately||Package Price Booked Through Expedia||Package Price Booked Through Expedia (Different Flights)|
American Airlines Vacations is the winner again in this example. Booking through American saves $386.82 over booking the hotel and flights separately. It even saves money over booking a similar itinerary via Expedia with cheaper flights.
I always suggest pricing out a vacation package to make sure you are actually saving money. However, it appears to be a good bet that you will get a deal with an American Airlines vacation package.
In addition to flights, you can book an entire vacation package through American Airlines consisting of flights, hotel, rental car and even activities.
American Airlines Vacations offers an easy-to-use website and low prices on packages. In everything I priced out, the package deal always saved money over booking a flight and hotel separately.
So the next time you are ready to book a vacation, consider checking out American Airlines Vacations — you might be able to get a great deal!