US Airways and American new ‘buy miles ‘ deals (and AA redemption ‘sweet spots’)

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Both US Airways and American Airlines are running ‘buy miles’ promotions at the moment.  I am mentioning both in one post because AA and US have now merged and the two frequent flyer programmes will be combined during Spring 2015.

You can access both of the ‘buy miles’ deals through the portal site – click here and scroll down to the American or US logos and click through.

AA buy miles

The American and US deal are identically priced and offer a staggered bonus based on how many miles you buy:

  • 3,000 bonus when you buy 10,000 – 19,000
  • 6,000 bonus when you buy 20,000 – 29,000
  • 10,000 bonus when you buy 30,000 – 39,000
  • 15,000 bonus when you buy 40,000 – 49,000
  • 20,000 bonus when you buy 50,000 – 59,000
  • 30,000 bonus when you buy 60,000 – 69,000
  • 35,000 bonus when you buy 70,000 – 79,000
  • 45,000 bonus when you buy 80,000

The latter is the best deal albeit at a scary $2,572.  That would work out at almost exactly 2c per mile.

You cannot open a new account to take advantage of this deal as AA accounts must be 14 days old and US accounts must be 12 days before you can buy.  Both deals end on November 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 meant to be 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.)

As a priced example, 60,000 AA miles would cost you $1,462 under this promotion.  Add on £200 of tax and you get an Etihad business class return to Abu Dhabi for £1,130.

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.

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.

It is worth noting that, once the AA and US frequent flyers schemes are merged, there may be some ‘adjustment’ of these prices.  Only buy miles if you feel that you can use them in the short term.

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  1. Cheers for this, been looking at what the hell to do with all these aa miles i am getting from mbna!

    India looks interesting.

    lots of flights to Abu Dhabi in Dec/Jan £698 each way in business available right now so not much of a saving.

  2. Paul Irving says:

    When flying to Hawaii in business. What seat would the domestic leg be in as it is 2 class.

  3. When I have been looking at flights either in the States or to or from the States, US are more expensive miles wise, so it will be interesting to see what the new points required are. Plus last year there were loads of internal flights with AA, now it’s mainly US ones that are offered.

    • When making an Avios booking, the number of miles required depends on the distance of each flight segment. It does not matter which carrier you use. On the other hand the amount of money required can vary dramatically depending on carrier!

  4. Do Etihad ever have more than two tickets in biz or first? Have 200k plus MR points and want to get three of us to the Middle East (one is only 2 so splitting not really an option – unless Etihad allow visitors to a higher class).

    • Don’t think so. I had a look last week so see if anything had changed (the A380’s have far more business class capacity) but it seems not.

      • Shame – any thoughts on how I could do it? Looking at two reward and one paid ticket at the moment. Or convincing the wife to split up on the flight.

        • goglobalnz says:

          Try from a different eu port. There were 4 to/from Munich in F in Feb 2014 when we went. Likewise from Geneva

  5. Presume any flights booked under AA miles have similar cancellation rules as BA ?

    • I think the fees are higher to redeposit, you should check. You definitely can cancel though.

    • I enquired about cancelling an AA booking. It’s fair to say AA cs is not the best. They were adamant that I had to go to an AA ticket desk to cancel because money was involved and would have to be refunded. I told them I didn’t even know where the nearest AA ticket desk is since (presume LHR?) I don’t live in the USA. When I told her the closest place was 400 miles away she said she would escalte and phone/e-mail me back. I knew for a fact that I would never hear back from them the lady I gave my details was hopeless and I knew she wasn’t really listening.

      I didn’t bother trying to follow up as it would have been too much hassle. Made the flight I booked work. Oh and when I asked can’t you just refund the cash portion back onto the credit card I made the booking with? “Of course not!” was the reply.

      • Sorry you had this experience, but try calling AA CS using their US number during US business hours and you will normally get quite a helpful US-based agent who can make quick work of simple requests like this one.

  6. Don’t forget Etihad also flies from Dublin. I am flying DUB-AUH-KUL this week.
    One way biz class cost me 60,000 AA miles and a tax of £9 and a booking fee of £5!!

    • Nice!

      I am off to Abu Dhabi in January to check out business class on the A380 and First on the 777. Not a freebie, I am using my own miles for this.

    • How can I work out how much the taxes should be for these redemptions? When looking at ITA matrix for DUB-AUH the EY YQ comes up at approx. €500. You got taxes of £9 from DUB, and Raffles says it’s approx. £200 from London, but where can I find how much these charges are?

      • I think you need to call AA if you are redeeming AA miles on etihad to determine the exact taxes. I was pleasantly surprised that the taxes were even much lower than redeeming etihad guest miles on their own FFP.
        Find available seats first on etihad website and then call AA for a dry run.
        0844 4997300 (5p/min) Mon-Fri 7am-7pm
        Sat/Sun 8.30-5pm
        I spoke to a very pleasant lady in Fiji fairly quickly.

  7. You mention (a) Etihad possibilities and (b) CPT via JNB as AAdvantage options. I guess Qatar is also possible, especially in the light of continuing poor availability with BA..

    When I looked at QR redemptions using Avios, it was well nigh impossible owing to higher Avios needed and poor availability. The current AAdvantage sale could make this interesting.

    • Erico1875 says:

      As Qatar have lower tax than BA. you can offset the extra miles reqd by part pay cash and avios. It could work out similar. It did in my case.

  8. Alaska Airlines also have a 40% bonus on right now which is valid to Dec 20th. They have great value on Cathay Pacific business redemptions to Hong Kong.

  9. Sorry but a bit of a newbie regarding AAdvantage although I do have an account ((zero balance). How can I search reward availability on Ethiad using AA miles? Can’t seem to find a way at

  10. I think you have to call them or search on Etihad’s own website.

  11. Worth noting that you can’t do Europe to Australia on a single AA award with Etihad. The routing rules mean you’d need to do Europe-Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi-Oz on separate tickets increasing the miles needed (50K Economy, 75K Business, 100K First total each way) . I think that rule also applies to Qatar as only transits in Asia seem to be allowed from Europe to South Paciifc on single award.

    • goglobalnz says:

      In some ways might be nice to have the break. Shame about the higher points requirement though. I could see myself doing this:
      Fly to AUH on EY, chauffeur ride and stay in Dubai a few days. Then pick up the QF A380 the rest of the way for variety’s sake

  12. The lack of stopovers can be annoying, but creative routings are possible. I booked MAD-LHR / overnight in London / LHR-HND / 0720-2030 in Tokyo / NRT-SYD / 0710-1845 in Sydney / SYD-CHC in J for 60k miles + £250.

    Coming back is CHC-SYD-MEL-LHR in J/F for 80k + just £17!

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