New American Airlines ‘buy miles’ offer and good ways to use them

American Airlines is running another ‘buy miles’ promotion until the end of the month.

The maximum bonus is 50% albeit you need to buy 70,000 for that to kick in.

American buy miles

American is offering a staggered bonus based on how many miles you buy:

  • 1,000 bonus when you buy 5,000 – 14,000
  • 5,000 bonus when you buy 15,000 – 24,000
  • 10,000 bonus when you buy 25,000 – 49,000
  • 22,500 bonus when you buy 50,000 – 69,000
  • 35,000 bonus when you buy 70,000 – 100,000

The latter is the best deal albeit at a scary $2,250 for 70,000 + 35,000.  This includes the 7.4% tax and $30 ‘processing fee’ which is not actually shown in the prices they quote.  That would work out at 2.1c per mile.

You cannot open a new account to take advantage of this deal as AA accounts must be 14 days old.  The deal ends on January 30th.

American Airlines ‘sweet spots’

I wrote the following in earlier posts on buying American Airlines miles, but it is worth repeating.

The ‘sweet spots’ for AA redemptions for a UK resident are the Middle East and India, where business class (flying on a BA plane) is 60,000 miles return vs 80,000 using Avios. First Class is 80,000 AA miles versus 120,000 Avios. You still pay the same taxes as BA would charge, though.

AA is also partners with Etihad which offers you an alternative route to the region via Abu Dhabi. You will pay just £200 in taxes for Heathrow to Abu Dhabi in Business or First (about £325 less than BA) and the onboard product is excellent. It is only a short drive from Abu Dhabi airport to Dubai (60 minutes) and you get a free transfer included in your Business or First Class ticket. (You will also get a free chauffeur to Heathrow.)

Australia is also an amazing bargain. You need 300,000 Avios to fly First Class to Australia via British Airways Executive Club. Using American Airlines miles, you only need 160,000 return for First or 120,000 return for Business.  You cannot use Etihad or Qatar, however, as American routing rules do not allow a transit in the Middle East when flying from Europe to Australia.

There are also great deals to Hawaii. AA treats this as part of America (which of course it is!) and so London to Hawaii in Business Class is only 100,000 AA miles.

Other decent deals are UK-US if you fly on an American or US Airways plane, as you won’t pay any fuel surcharges. (Unlike using Avios, where booking onto transatlantic AA flights requires the same taxes as an identical BA flight.)

Cape Town is also interesting since AA does not charge by segment, unlike BA. Flying to Cape Town on BA using Avios usually means flying to Johannesburg and using more Avios for a Jo’burg – Cape Town connection (30,000 return in Club Europe). Using AA miles, the Jo’burg – Cape Town connection is included for free.

Note that NO stopovers are allowed on American redemptions.

It is worth noting that there is a widespread belief that American will increase its reward prices when the merger with US Airways is fully complete.  It is now a lot cheaper than its US competitors for partner awards,

New Avios / Hilton promotion - earn up to 3,500 bonus Avios for 1-2 stays
Avios sale - 50% off economy flights to certain long-haul destinations
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Comments

  1. I was planning on doing Etihad First Class from the UK/Europe to Australia, but now see I can’t transit The Middle East without buying seperate tickets which adds milage and extended transit times without a through ticket. As AA are Oneworld does this mean I could use BA or any other Oneworld Carrier First Class for 160,000 miles return? Any ideas of more obsecure routings that are valid to get there on one though ticket?. Thanks

    • Qantas, presumably?

    • not in F, but in J I have MAD-LHR-HND/NRT-SYD-CHC booked as a through ticket for 60k AA miles. overnight in LHR, 12 daytime hours each in Tokyo and Sydney.

    • Dannyrado says:

      I have MAN-AUH-SYD-AKL ticked on EY-EY-QF, for 75k in J, one way. You can ticket it as one PNR, but you will need to pay for europe-mid East and Mid East to oceana.

      Also agent had a lot of trouble getting the QF leg in the correct bucket, but get there in the end.

  2. You can fly qantas for 160k. It stops in dubai –
    qf10 to melbourne with an overnight connect to sydney. Occasionally qf2 direct to sydney becomes available. As it’s a busier route less seats are made available to AA.

  3. Extremely questionable timing for such a post! Very much a “look at what you could have won!” post for the amateur points collector that relies solely on this blog!

    Perhaps worth bookmarking http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com for time appriopriate posts and learning more about the nuances of the AA scheme in particular (although admittedly from a U.S. centric view)

    • Many thanks for repsonses, I shall investigate further as I know the Far East carriers have an inferior Business Class product and generally no First onAsia/OZ hence ruling them out.

      • Who were you thinking of? Cathay is outstanding. Never flown Japan or Qantas so can’t comment.

        • I booked Cathay to Hong Kong using the AA miles, mostly funded by the bumper 35K miles MBNA credit card bonus, I think it was 2 years ago now but blimey that was brilliant for a free card.

    • really? would someone with no aa account want to buy miles?

      • It is a decent deal for Etihad. First Class is, what, 90k American? Business class is 60k return. Tax is under £200. Work out the cost of buying all the miles and it is a cheap ticket especially for First.

        • Not really, should be able to find Etihad Business Saver to Asia for a comparable cash outlay (as AA miles for $2,250)! Cash fares are eligible for one/two nights free hotel in Abu Dhabi (and a Jumeirah in Dubai). Plus a pile of Etihad miles (x2 for cash Business fare actually with current Etihad promotion).

    • Outside of a very small group of miles blogging pros we’re all amateurs, anyone who thinks otherwise is just overly full of themselves.

      As to onemileatatime being timely information, I’m not sure how I’m going to console myself with having risked missing ‘Free In-Room Hotel Coffee: A Right Or Privilege?’ the moment it went up.

    • It does say clearly at the bottom that the scheme is likely to change for the worst this year but I would NEVER recommend buying miles at over 0.75p in any scheme if you had no immediate plans to redeem.

      I am doing an Etihad First / business trip next week and after that readers may be more interested in ways of getting it cheaply, which means AA.

  4. Guesswho2000 says:

    AA do allow routing via the Middle East with QF, I booked an award on QF10 via DXB only a few weeks ago…

    Availability in Premium cabins was incredibly limited but I did manage to get two seats in F. Y availability was wide open though, and actually competitive taxes wise (as long as you avoid BA, of course).

  5. 2manyAvios says:

    whats the best way to search for AA reward availability on Etihad?…..considering a 1-way redemption (for 2 passengers) to AUH in F combined with Avios redemption on Qatar for the return (plenty availability on the latter). If my maths is right 80k AA miles is costing about £1100 add in the redemption £200 and you’re getting a Etihad F flight for about £700pp – seems like fairly good value, though would need booked before the rumoured deval occurs

    • Search on the Etihad website, if it show ‘Guest First’ availability AA can book it. A380 obviously preferred due to the new ‘apartment’.

      (EDIT: corrected this, wrote it on the fly and made a mistake)

  6. Yes, the elephant in the room is AAdvantage scheme revision after US Airways accounts get merged.

    Given that other major schemes (Delta/Skyteam and United/MP) are not nearly as generous, it’s quite clear where things are going with AAdvantage (devaluation of some kind).

  7. Chico Dusty says:

    Thanks – using my miles to book a reward flight starting from Phoenix with US Airways via Exec Club. As usual, there are 3 class types to book. However, US Airways only offers two classes, F & Y. If I book J, what service will I receive?