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Up to 30% bonus when you buy American Airlines miles (and AA’s ‘sweet spots’)

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American Airlines is again offering a bonus of up to 30% when you buy miles. The deal is valid until 15th November.

It is worth saying up front that this deal is nowhere near as good as the 50% bonus offer that we saw earlier in the year.

Full details are here (click on the AA logo).

American promotion

The best value comes when you buy 50,000 miles to receive 15,000 for free. That is 65,000 miles for $1,410 including the fee, or 1.34p each.

It probably isn’t worth buying all the miles you need for a redemption at this price – although some of the Etihad deals are tempting. It is an OK price if you need to top-off an account, though – possibly to top-off the 35,000 AA miles you received from the AA credit card deal earlier in the year.

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 under £200 in taxes for Heathrow to Abu Dhabi in Business or First (about £250 less than BA) and the onboard product is meant to be excellent. It is only a short drive from Abu Dhabi airport to Dubai as well (70 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!

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 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.

Comments (20)

  • darrenf says:

    Australia is a sweet spot too! 160k return in F on AA vs 300k Avios. I have a one way AA redemption in 2014 from SYD-LHR in QF F, 80k AA and just £45 on top. I could have extended it to anywhere in Europe for only a few extra pounds too. This contrasts with 109k avios and £303 for SYD-MEL-LHR in J!

    • djsteve says:

      I absolutely agree! If you look at random dates for a WLG-SYD-LHR-SYD-WLG the best semi-flexi price (so less flexibility than a reward) is around the £7200 mark. At 160k miles that is around 4.5p/mile value so something in the order of 3x the cost of them (ignoring the fact you cant buy that many in one calendar year).
      Also notwithstanding availability!
      A J redemption at 120k on a Promo J fare is around 4.2p/miles…
      Ok so these figures haven’t added the taxes ontop, but really very very good value!

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    I know it is an Avios blog…..

    But even the BA 241 pales compared to AA when you look at SYD etc. BA’s YQ and Gordon Brown APD just kill it compared to AA.

    I now use Avios for IB flights; long haul BA there are better alternatives (cabin often better too!) and RFS is a little pointless from the regions when you can fly direct with lo-cos and avoid the LHR chaos.

    • Rob says:

      What I don’t know, and can’t easily check as its not bookable online, is what taxes AA is adding to Malaysian and Qatar flights compared to BA. That would make a huge difference on something like a Sydney return.

      • James67 says:

        My upcoming J on MH from Phuket to GLA via KUL and LHR came in about £95 IIRC.

  • David says:

    Another ‘sweet spot’ is UK-Hawaii, which strangely (but attractively) costs the same amount of AAdvantage miles as their East Coast destinations such as New York or Miami. A Business return costs 100k miles and about £300 in taxes. A stopover is permitted each way at no extra charge at one of their US gateways cities (New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami or Raleigh/Durham. A domestic BA connection to LHR can also be added for about £20 extra in tax (though the remainder of the itinerary MUST be on AA’s own aircraft).

    • David says:

      Sorry, should have clarified in the last sentence above that the reason it MUST be on AA aircraft is only to avoid the £200-£300 extra in fuel surcharges BA flights charge (flights on BA metal UK-US are available through AAdvantage, but cost!). Also with AAdvantage, the US gateway stopover isn’t permitted on UK-US flights operated by BA, this is only possible on AA’s own flights across the pond.

      • xcalx says:

        You can get a US gateway stopover with BA AB and IB. This statement shows at the top of the page
        “” This international award allows a stopover at Miami – MIA for no additional miles. Mileage required for both flights is displayed on the Award Legend for the international flight””

        This refers to a AB TXL-MIA 23/11/13 S/O AA MIA-HNL 14/05/14

  • Elena says:

    Can you upgrade an AA flight?
    I have MR and im planning trip to US so wanted to upgrade to business, with BA is 900£ per person and 25K avios.

    • Rob says:

      Good question, not sure I’m afraid …. the AA programme is not one I know well apart from direct flight redemptions

  • Phil says:

    The cost for 50,000 (+ 15,0000 free) is actually $1515.13 once you click through and get some random tax added. So more like 1.43p per mile.

    And don’t forget to factor in whatever credit card foreign transcation loading you are being gouged for.

  • Boi says:

    Is it better then to collect via AA instead of BA? We are flying to Orlando with AA but have registered my BAEC to collect with for the flights. It’s for a family of 5. We collect a lot of points via MR. We tend to fly to USA, trinidad and South Africa if that makes a difference.

    • Rob says:

      MR does not convert to AA and you can’t get a 241 redemption voucher like the BA Amex offers, so probably a worse deal overall. You also can’t pick up miles via Tesco etc.

      If you earn 100 per cent of your miles from flying, and get so many that the BA Amex 241 means nothing to you, then AA is more useful as a main programme. Otherwise probably not, unless you only redeem for US flights and so could use AA miles for tax-free AA redemptions.

  • James67 says:

    EThry have in the past offered 50% bonud just days after a 30% deal expired so if anybody is tempted but not in desperate need of the miles then it might be worth the risk holding on. Im guessing we will see a 50% deal whereby we get 90k for buying 60k, at year end

  • Lady London says:

    I’m just wondering why anyone who flies regularly to the US would stay in Avios then, rather than switching their loyalty to AA? Both accrual and spend seem to be better on AA…

    • Brendan says:

      I agree. Especially with the free stopover. I just checked there and for example I could book:

      American Airlines
      Dublin (DUB)
      February 19, 2014 08:55 AM
      Travel Time : 7 h 55 m
      Cabin Class : Economy
      New York (JFK)
      February 19, 2014 11:50 AM
      Booking Code : T
      Plane Type : 757
      American Airlines

      New York (JFK)
      February 26, 2014 10:30 AM
      Travel Time : 6 h 25 m
      Cabin Class : Economy
      San Francisco (SFO)
      February 26, 2014 01:55 PM
      Booking Code : T
      Plane Type : 762

      For a grand total of:
      Your Trip Cost:
      20,000 miles

      Thats just amazing value! (Im based in N. Ireland which is why I’m pricing Dublin)

    • Rob says:

      Only the 241 voucher may swing it