If there is one thing I stress to people searching for award space it is this: “Don’t take no for an answer”
You have American miles, you check aa.com for award space, they don’t show any, so you’re screwed – right? Wrong!
For some reason, American Airlines rarely displays Alaska Airlines partner flights when searching for cross-country award space. Here is how you can increase your chances of finding award space when aa.com says zero.
Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are partners. They aren’t in an alliance but they have reciprocity when it comes to status, mileage earning, and award space, etc. Unless you were told or you follow travel blogs, you probably wouldn’t know that you can fly Alaska Airlines when using your AA miles. They sure don’t make it super obvious on aa.com.
Let’s say you want to travel from Eugene to New York City, one-way. If you search American Airlines they show only TWO results in all of November at the 12,500 “sAAver” level award. For being six months in advance, that is truly pathetic, but what else would you expect from AA at this point?
What does American offer?
That doesn’t leave you with a ton of options does it? Fortunately, you can fly on Alaska Airlines metal when redeeming your AA miles, even though they don’t display them as an option!
AS on AA miles
Head over to Alaskaair.com and click the checkbox, “use miles”. Once you’ve entered your cities and date(s), click “find flights”. What you want to look for is “low-level” awards, meaning 12,500 miles one-way to the East Coast or vice versa. At the moment, Virgin and Alaska have not completed their integration so you must find routing with Alaska segments ONLY. Additionally, American Airlines’ rules state that domestic awards cannot have a layover longer than 4 hours, so keep that in mind when you are shopping awards.
Once you’ve found your flight combination, you will need to call American Airlines award booking department: 800-433-7300. Make sure to say “new reservation” “use miles” and “domestic”. That should get you through to a human pretty quickly. I also recommend calling early or late in the day to speed-up your hold times.
American normally charges a phone booking fee but that will be waived since you can’t book this reservation on aa.com. Also, American imposes a $75 “close in” award booking fee for reservations made within 21 days of travel.
Note: Generally speaking, redeeming miles for domestic economy fares is not so great. Take into consideration the cash price for your ticket and shoot for at least 1.5 cents per point. If you are redeeming 10,000 points, you’d want the cash price for that ticket to be $150 or greater (in an ideal world).