Yesterday I highlighted a premium economy deal from Los Angeles to Amsterdam. While the price isn’t necessarily unique – there are many PE fares from LAX to Europe that cost less than $1000 – the deal is good because it’s only about $250 more than buying main cabin on the same route. But you can make the deal even better by earning American Airlines miles and using them for domestic travel. For this to work you need:
- A PE deal to Europe on British Airways or Iberia
- An American Airlines frequent flyer account
- AA’s “web special” fares
Step 1: Buy a Premium Economy Flight with British Airways or Iberia
The LAX_AMS fares are for early week departure, and good virtually every week from October until March (prices are $20 higher than yesterday).
Book the fare, but only book through British Airways or Iberia. This is because to maximize your mileage earning, you want to use AA’s partner award charts. These book into fare class T on BA or Iberia; AA awards 100% of mileage flown with these flights.
Using Great Circle Mapper, a typical routing of this fare is just over 11,800 miles, and that’s how many award miles you’d get booking with AA’s partners.
In contrast, if you book with American, you earn 5x the base fare and fees (but not taxes). In this case that’s 5 x $850, or a dismal 4,250 miles.
L.A. to Madrid or Copenhagen (both around $800) are also usually priced $250 above main cabin, and net 11,000+ AA miles. So you are not limited to this route.
Step 2: Redeem AA Web Specials
Now how do those 11,800 AA miles turn into a free domestic flight for you? Currently, American Airlines is testing their dynamic pricing model with “web specials.” These are award fares at prices as low as 5K one-way. For example, let’s use Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale, a popular AA route.
Let’s say you book a round trip from February 29th through the 26th. Both dates include direct flights from as few as 5.5K miles each way. They also happen to be comfortably timed departures (10:30 am DFW, 5:30 pm FLL), avoiding early morning rushes to the airport. This round trip redemption will only cost you 11,000 AA miles + $11.20 in fees.
What does a DFW-FLL round trip in main economy cost? These exact same AA flights on those date are $435, meaning the miles save you about $423, a whopping of 3.8 cents per mile (cpm) redemption. Similarly timed flights on Delta or United cost the same or more, so this isn’t abnormal, though you could save maybe $100 with very early morning flights. That’s like earning more than 40% in rewards on your premium economy flight to Europe!
This is an extreme example but there are plenty of other web specials available. A favorite of mine is L.A. to Phoenix for 5,000 miles, which generally redeems miles for about 1.8 cpm or $200 savings. AA has expanded the web specials program to several dozen city pairs. Dallas to Seattle is a recent addition, Philadelphia to Los Angeles is included, and many more are available. Reddit’s r/churning has some good resources for tracking, including a spreadsheet of routes.
The Oneworld premium economy deals from LAX to Europe are already a good deal from a comfort standpoint, as they often run only $250 or so more than main cabin prices. But by tactically booking with American’s partners and crediting the miles to AA’s frequent flyer program, you can use web specials to add a domestic round trip for just the $5.60 in fees each way. Generally, earning enough miles for a “free” economy round trip only happens with business class fares, but this opportunity with PE fares will remain possible until AA’s partner charts and/or dynamic pricing change.
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