You’ve signed up for a card, earned the bonus, and now you’re wondering how to redeem your newfound points. This is often the biggest hangup for many members of the points and miles community. It is easy to earn the points, but it isn’t always as easy to redeem them.

Today, we’re sharing our first hybrid piece in a series that not only explains how to book a flight with miles, but walks you through an example on video. Sometimes, it is easier to see it in action than read how to do it.

For our inaugural example, I’m going to be showing you – on paper and quite literally on video – how to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles.

American Airlines Aadvantage miles have a lot of value. They’re often overlooked, but for those of you past 5/24 you can open some cards to build your balance fast. Whether you’re looking to fly to the Caribbean or to experience the amazing Qatar Q-Suites, it is important to know how to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Understanding American Airlines AAdvantage Award Chart

The first thing you need to do before booking a flight with any mileage program is to familiarize yourself with the airline’s award chart.

This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, as not every airline has a published award chart. Thankfully, when you’re trying to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles, there is an award chart you can reference.

American has two award charts out there, one for its own flights and one for its partners. The biggest difference is that American has different tiers for its own flights. When you book a flight with AA miles, it will price into one of three tiers:

  • Web Special
  • Saver Award Tickets
  • Anytime Award Tickets

Web Specials

Web specials are the lowest priced American Airlines tickets. These are only available to be booked online, and can’t be changed. You can, however, cancel a web special award and reinstate your miles at no charge.

Web specials can vary in their pricing – we’ve seen first class for the price of business class but we’ve also seen some with just minor savings. Still, the ability to save more points when booking your American Airlines award flight is always nice.

Saver Award Tickets

Saver level award tickets are the lowest published priced tickets. When you look at the AAdvantage award chart, MileSAAver awards are the lowest priced. You can get a slight discount on some saver award tickets when you travel on off peak dates.

Off peak dates vary by destination and are subject to change.

An important key to saver level award tickets is that all partner airlines will price out at the saver level. The only flights that price out differently are flights operated by American.

AAnytime Flights

The final category you’ll come across when booking a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles are AAnytime flights. Although there are published rates, they don’t really mean much. American changed their flight pricing to dynamic on AAnytime flights, so don’t be surprised if you’d expect a flight to cost 100,000 miles but it actually costs two to three times as many points.

American Airlines AAdvantage Routing Rules

When trying to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles, there are some rules that you must follow.

American Airlines Regions

The first thing to know is that every country is categorized by a different region. American’s award chart is broken up into different regions. Flying from North America to Europe will cost a different amount of AAdvantage miles than flying from North America to Australia.

American has 11 different award regions.

Central AmericaBelize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
CaribbeanAnguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Trinidad/Tobago, Turks/Caicos, U.S. Virgin Islands
South America Region 1Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Manaus (Brazil), Peru
South America Region 2Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile, Falkland Islands, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela
EuropeAlbania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Middle East

Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
Indian Subcontinent

Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
AfricaAlgeria, Angola, Botswana, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Melilla, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Asia Region 1Japan, Korea
Asia Region 2Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
South PacificAmerican Samoa and Samoa, Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

The regions are the first major key to American Airlines AAdvantage rules.

You Can’t Route Through a Third Region

If you’re traveling from point A to point B, you cannot route through a third region barring a few exceptions. This is the biggest rule to consider when booking a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

For example, if you’re trying to fly from the U.S. to Australia, you can’t go through the Middle East. This would not be a permissible ticket to book.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. There aren’t many direct flights between North America and the Indian Subcontinent, so you can transit through a third region on an AAdvantage award ticket to reach the Indian subcontinent.

Since most travelers will be departing from the U.S., below are the allowed exceptions to the third region rule when booking an American Airlines AAdvantage ticket from or to the U.S.

  • North America to the Middle East via Europe
  • North America to the Indian Subcontinent via Asia (Hong Kong only on Cathay Pacific operated flights)
  • North America to the Indian Subcontinent via Europe
  • North America to the Indian Subcontinent via the Middle East
  • North America to Africa via Europe
  • North America to Africa via Doha (flying on Qatar Airways only)
  • North America to Asia 2 via Asia 1

Maximum Number of Segments

American limits the total number of segments that you can book on an AAdvantage miles ticket.

For domestic award tickets, you’re allowed a maximum of three segments each way. International tickets are allowed four segments.

A segment is an individual flight, so every time you stop at another airport and change planes is counted as a segment.

Your AAdvantage Miles Ticket Must Be Within 25% Of The Maximum Permitted Mileage

To understand this rule, you must first understand what the maximum permitted mileage is. The maximum permitted mileage on an award ticket is the total distance between two direct destinations. So if you’re flying from Chicago to Delhi, India, the maximum permitted mileage is the total mileage between these two cities.

Given you likely won’t be booking a non-stop ticket between these two destinations, there’s some flexibility. You can travel up to 25% over the maximum permitted mileage on an award ticket. Any further, and you won’t be allowed to book.

You Can Mix Partners On Award Tickets

American Airlines allows you to mix partner airlines on award tickets. You don’t have to stick with just one airline to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

If you need to fly American, British Airways and Iberia to get to your destination in Europe, this is fully permissible under the rules. So long as you’re in compliance with all of the other rules, your ticket is fully legal.

Married Segment Logic

American Airlines imposes what we call married segment logic on some of their own flights. Some flights are allowed to be booked only when joined with another flight. Let’s take a quick look at an example of how this works.

Let’s say you’re trying to book a flight from Little Rock Arkansas to London. You search each leg individually and you find a great flight from Dallas to London but nothing from Little Rock to Dallas.

However, when you search from Little Rock to London, you are able to book it all the way. The flight from Little Rock to Dallas is married to the entire booking. You can’t book it by itself, but when part of a larger award ticket it is possible.

This rule actually helps simplify the award booking process. Rather than try to find each flight individually, your best course of action is to actually search for the entire route from the start.

No Stopover Permitted

American Airlines does not allow a stopover on award tickets. A stopover is defined as a layover in a city that is greater than 24 hours. If you try to book a flight with a layover longer than 24 hours, it will be priced as two one-way award tickets rather than bundled all into one price.

The Process of Booking A Flight with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

Now that you are familiar with the rules, let’s go ove the process of booking a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

The first thing you should know is that the easiest way to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles is online. The vast majority of partner airlines can be booked online, but a select few will require you to call in.

You can book the following partner airlines online:

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cape Air
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Etihad Airways
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines
  • S7 Airlines
  • Seaborne Virgin Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

The following partners can not be booked online and you must call in to AAdvantage at 1-800-822-8880 to book.

  • China Southern Airlines
  • GOL Airlines

Start Your Search Online

Given the vast amount of partners that can be booked online, your best place to start is by simply searching online for a trip from your starting destination to your final destination.

AAmerican’s online booking system does a good job of filtering out for all the rules above. If you see it online, you know that it is in agreement with all of the booking rules. Given the married segment logic that might apply to your trip, this is all the more reason that you should start searching with the basic itinerary you want to book.

First, Go to the American Airlines Website And Start Your Search

To help illustrate the process, let’s walk through an example. We’re going to try to book an award ticket from Los Angeles (LAX) to Athens, Greece (ATH).

Starting off, we want to search online directly. This is the best and easiest way to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Navigate to American Airlines and on the homepage you’ll see the option to put in your travel search. In the “from” field, put in Los Angeles – if you’re not familiar with the airport code you can start by typing the city and it will populate some options to choose from. In the “to” field, put your destination. Select the number of passengers and your departure date.

Booking A Flight with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

Be sure that you check the box for “redeem miles.” If you click “search” and get prices in dollars, you likely forgot to check this box. Simply navigate back to the home page to start again.

Browse Flights Options

After you click “search” you’ll be taken to the award results. If for whatever reason there are no award results available on the day you selected, you’ll get an error message and be prompted to try your search again.

By default, American sorts by prioritizing their own flights first and priced lowest to highest in economy class. Remember to take a look at the award chart first to get an idea for how many points you should expect to be using. For our example, we would expect main cabin prices to cost 30,000 miles, premium economy to cost 40,000 miles and business class to cost 57,500 miles.

Booking A Flight with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles2

As you can see in our initial results, there are some main cabin options pricing at the sAAver award rate. If you wanted to book in the main cabin, you can go ahead and click the box that says “one way 30k +$5.60” to be taken to the booking screen.

If you want premium economy or business class, you can see the default options are not priced as expected. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to sort this out.

Sort By Pricing To See Available Options

If you want to book premium economy or business class, but the prices aren’t reflecting properly that may just be with how American defaults its display of award prices.

Sort By Pricing To See Available Options

Rather than sort by main cabin prices, you can sort by premium economy or business by clicking the arrows next to premium economy and business class. You can only sort by one at a time, so try one first if you aren’t certain of which class you want to book.

Sort By Pricing To See Available Options2

After sorting by Premium economy, notice that the arrow changes to a down facing arrow. This means the flights are now priced low to high. Click it again and it will price high to low with the arrow facing up. A third click will default back to the original results.

Sort By Pricing To See Available Options3

What we can see from this example is that there are no flights in premium economy pricing out at the sAAver level. However, when we sort by business, we do see sAAver level results.

Sort By Pricing To See Available Options4

For this option, you could book either the main cabin or business class at the sAAver level, but premium economy is costing more than what we expect.

Use the Calendar Tool for Flexible Dates

Maybe you had your heart set on Premium Economy, or maybe you just want to see what options are out there on other days. You can use the calendar tool to easily identify alternative travel dates that have sAAver level availability.

Use the Calendar Tool for Flexible Dates

Click “calendar” and you’ll be taken to the current month to see flight availability.

Use the Calendar Tool for Flexible Dates3

The calendar will show you every day’s lowest priced flight in the cabin you selected. The lowest priced dates will be highlighted in green. This does NOT mean that sAAver level flights are highlighted in green. If there is no sAAver level availability, the calendar will still highlight the lowest price flight for a given day.

Where the calendar says “show all classes” you can click to filter by different classes of flight.

Use the Calendar Tool for Flexible Dates4

Similarly, if you want to limit the number of stops on your trip you can select the drop-down menu under “any number of stops” to filter by the total number of stops needed for your trip.

Sort By Pricing To See Available Options5

Let’s see what happens when we search for “nonstop only” in our example from Los Angeles to Athens.

Sort By Pricing To See Available Options6

The calendar tells us there are no flights available. This is because neither American nor any of their partner airlines operate a direct flight between Los Angeles and Athens, Greece, so naturally, you can’t book a flight that doesn’t exist.

Let’s go back to searching for a sAAver level premium economy flight. Remember, there wasn’t sAAver level premium economy availability on our travel date of October 14th, but with the calendar tool, we can see if there are any for the entire month of October.

Use the Calendar Tool for Flexible Dates2

Thanks to the calendar tool and its filters, we can easily see plenty of dates that price out at our expected price of 40,000 points in premium economy. Simply select any date that you want to see available flights for and select “apply.”

Use the Calendar Tool for Flexible Dates6

After applying our changes, we see results for premium economy pricing out at the appropriate level of 40,000 points. Now you can select it and proceed to book.

Filter by Airlines

One common frustration in the points and miles world are airline surcharges. Unfortunately, when you are trying to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles, AA will pass on fuel surcharges of its partner airlines.

Maybe after Greece you want to head home from London. British Airways is a partner of American Airlines, and often has good award availability out of London. However, British Airways is also known for its high taxes and fees.

Filter by Airlines

$330 in taxes and fees for a flight in economy is a lot to pay, that may be more than just paying cash outright for the ticket!

When you know a partner of American Airlines has high taxes and fees, you can filter by airline to easily remove them from your search.

Filter by Airlines2

Simply click “airlines” where it says “filter by” and deselect British Airways. This will make sure that you won’t see any award availability that includes British Airways operated flights.


Next to some award options, you may see a warning in orange. The most common of these warnings are “The class of service you searched may not be available on one or more flights, “change terminals,” or “overnight flight or connection”.


When you see any of these warnings, click the “details” button. The “Details” button is the magic tool that will help us work through any and all warnings.


Change Terminals Warning

The change terminals warning is a good indication that you may struggle with a tight connection. This warning doesn’t take into account your layover time, but it does want you to be aware that you may face a tough connection.

Use your magic button to decipher more information about the flight.

Change Terminals Warning

When you get the “change terminals” warning, you’ll want to check the connection time between your flights. This can be seen under “Travel Info” on each flight page. If you have more than one flight, navigate at the top to see the details for each flight.

In this example, the connection is four hours and thirty minutes. For most travelers, barring a delay, this will likely be plenty of time to make your connection even if you have to change terminals.

It is prudent to check this warning and be sure you understand the challenges you might face.

Overnight Flight or Connection

The warning for an overnight flight or connection can be a tricky one to decipher. Again, we want to use the “details” button to decipher what we should be warned about.

Our first flight from London to Dallas is during the day, but notice in “travel info” the connection time is 15 hours and 35 minutes. Since the flight lands at 3:30PM, this means you will need to stay the night in Dallas if you pick this option.

Overnight Flight or Connection

Sure enough, the flight from Dallas to Los Angeles actually departs at 7:05AM the following morning.

This warning doesn’t always mean that you’ll have to stay overnight in a city on the way to your destination. Sometimes it just means that your flight departs at night and arrives at the destination the following morning. Be aware if your flight is an overnight flight or has an overnight connection. If you’re okay with getting some shut eye on a red-eye, you’ll still see this warning.

The class of service you searched may not be available on one or more flights

If you get the warning that the class of service may not be available, it is important that you check the class of service in each flight.

What you’re looking for is the class of service that you’ll get for your booking. At the bottom of the details page for each flight, you’ll see the titles for what you’re booking. However, in small text below, you’ll see “class.” Class tells you the class of service you’ll actually receive on that flight if you book in that class.

For your first flight from London to Dallas, if you booked in Business class the flight will actually be in business class.

business class

On the flight from Dallas to Los Angeles, there are some differences. If you book in premium economy, you’ll actually be flying economy from Dallas to Los Angeles. Similarly, if you book a business class ticket, your flight from Dallas to Los Angeles will actually be in first class.

This warning doesn’t always mean that you’ll be in a lower class of cabin. It comes up anytime the class of service is inconsistent with what you selected. In our example, if you booked business class, you would actually be flying first class on the second flight from Dallas to Los Angeles. This will still trigger the warning about differing classes of service.

Booking Your Award Flight

Once you’ve used the calendar and filter features to identify your perfect flight, simply click the box by the cabin you want to fly to proceed through with your booking.

Piecing Together An American Airlines AAdvantage Award Ticket

What if you search and nothing is available? Or you don’t really like the options that you’re seeing? Rather than rely on the online system you can piece together an American Airlines AAdvantage award ticket.

To do this, you’ll want to search each leg individually. Maybe you want to fly from Los Angeles to New York with a long layover (but not a stopover) and then from New York to Athens.

So long as your flight follows the rules, you can piece it together and call in to book. Be advised that calling in may incur a phone booking fee, but tell the agent that it wasn’t showing up online and they can waive it for you.

When piecing together an American Airlines AAdvantage award ticket, you’ll want to search each leg individually as a nonstop. This makes sure you avoid any flights that are only showing availability with married segment logic.

You’ll want to search Los Angeles to New York nonstop, and then New York to Athens nonstop. Be sure that there’s no layover longer than 24 hours, write down the flight numbers, and call in to American Airlines to book.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, that’s how you book flights with American Airlines AAdvantage miles. The best advice I can give you is to practice practice practice. Being proficient at performing an award search doesn’t come overnight. Thankfully, American Airlines makes it relatively easy by putting most available flights online for you to find and book.

By practicing, you’ll familiarize yourself with the rules, what to look for when you get warnings, and will become an expert at booking a flight with AAdvantage miles. This way, when you’re ready to book a real flight, you’ll already know what you’re doing.

If you’re still struggling to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles and need some extra help, don’t hesitate to reach out to our award booking service. We share everything we know here so that you won’t have to use our service, but sometimes it is just easier for someone else to do the job.

Whether you’re an AAdvantage novice or pro, I hope that you learned something new about how to book a flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.