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American Airlines Eliminates Flight-Redemption Guidelines: What It Means

The development isn’t necessarily bad news for customers

by JT Genter

August 21, 2023

American Airlines / Photo: Courtesy of American Airlines

American Airlines’ AAdvantage is one of the earliest airline loyalty programs globally, starting in 1981. From the platform’s inception, American Airlines has disclosed the number of miles required to obtain a free flight, although these redemption rates have been modified over time.

American Airlines began transitioning to a dynamic award-pricing model in 2018 through its Web Special awards. In addition to fixed-price MileSAAver and AAnytime awards, American Airlines would price Web Special awards at any mileage level depending on the demand for the flight.

Now, after more than four decades of publishing fixed flight-redemption charts, the airline finally removed them in April. Instead, the carrier publishes “starting values” for award redemption rates based on the region of your destination.

This development isn’t necessarily bad news. American Airlines flyers can still get plenty of value out of AAdvantage miles. In fact, you can currently pay as little as 6,000 miles one way for a domestic award—less than half of the previously published 12,500-mile rate for domestic awards.

However, travelers have lost predictability. Rather than knowing how much an award costs and being able to work toward that goal, they now have a constantly changing target of how many miles they need for a trip.

How to Get Value from AAdvantage Awards

Domestic one-way awards on American Airlines are the least expensive you can book, starting at just 6,000 AAdvantage miles each way. And these can also be the best value. On some routes, you can find flights costing hundreds of dollars that you can book for 6,000 miles.

American Airlines recently implemented a mileage discount for round-trip awards to regions such as Europe. Instead of paying 25,000 miles each way, you can now book round-trip awards for 42,000 miles—even on sought-after nonstop flights like Charlotte to Munich. Although the airline removed fixed-value award charts for its flights, it still publishes a chart for partner awards, setting it apart from Delta and United, which have devalued partner-award rates since removing published charts.

If you have AAdvantage miles, you can get the most value by using them for partner premium-cabin awards. American Airlines has partnered with the top airlines for luxurious travel. If you can find available awards, you can book redemptions like these:

• Cathay Pacific Business Class to Asia from 70,000 AAdvantage miles each way

Etihad Airways Business to the Middle East or Indian subcontinent for 70,000 AAdvantage miles each way

• Japan Airlines Business Class to Japan for 60,000 AAdvantage miles each way

Qatar Airways Qsuite Business Class to South Africa for 75,000 AAdvantage miles