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One of the most-popular “tricks” is that of using British Airways Avios on domestic US flights (since they are in the same airline alliance (OneWorld) as American Airlines and US Airways. Because British Airways has a distance-based award chart, if you’re doing a short flight (under 650 miles one-way), you can do it for only 4500 Avios!
From where I live in Cincinnati, I can get to Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Charlotte or Toronto for only 4500 miles. Dallas and Miami are only 7500 Avios. This is the “worst-kept secret” in travel blogging, which is good, because it shouldn’t really BE a secret! 🙂
Cheaper on American Airlines?
With a tip o’ the hat to The Miles Professor, who posted about this the other day, American Airlines periodically releases what they call Citi® / AAdvantage® Reduced Mileage Awards. If you have one of the Citi AAdvantage credi cards (and if you don’t, why not?!?), you are eligible for up to 7500 miles off a round-trip ticket.
They release the list every other month, and the list is good for 4 months of travel. So the list was just released for bookings in August and September, and you can travel in August, September, October or November.
There is a list of destinations, and some are available all the months, and some only in certain months.
Booking the flight
Unfortunately, you do have to call in to the AAdvantage Customer Service call center at 1-800-882-8880 to book these flights. I would verify that there is Saver availability for the dates you want, make a note of the flights, and give them to the agent, along with the Reduced Mileage award promo code, which for a roundtrip in the main cabin is TD8X7B.
There is a $25 fee for booking a ticket over the phone, but most people have reported that you can ask nicely to get that waived, since these tickets are not bookable any other way.
Only on American metal
Note that these reduced mile awards only work if you’re flying on American metal (planes) – no codeshares. American Eagle and the other regional flights are okay, but you can’t codeshare on Alaska (or even US Airways)
Going in reverse
Giddy Points has pointed out that it also works in reverse. For example, I live in Cincinnati (CVG), which is on the list for all 4 months. So what happens if I try to book a roundtrip ticket from CVG-SEA?
I called up the reservation desk with the above flights for a roundtrip from CVG-SEA. CVG is on the list of destinations for October, but SEA is not (for any of the 4 months). After giving the agent the award code and my flights, she came back with the total of 17,500 AAdvantage miles.
Since the Citi AAdvantage card I have also gives a 10% rebate on miles redeemed, that actually works out to be only 15,750 miles (7875 one way).
Compare that to Avios (image courtesy of the Wandering Aramean Avios Calculator)
The reason that I think this works is that half of your roundtrip is going to CVG, and the computer sees that SEA-CVG is on the list of destinations, so it works.
When to use this
Of course if your flight is in Category 1 of Avios travel (650 miles or less), you’ll want to use Avios since that would only be 9,000 miles vs the 17,500 with this. Even Category 2 (651-1151 miles) prices out slightly lower (15,000 miles roundtrip, though it’s close since with the 10% rebate this comes out at 15,875 miles and you don’t get the 10% on Avios redemptions). But anything longer than that, you’d be better booking it here through American.
So think cross country flights.
Taking it to the next level
Okay so the fine print says
But I’ve never been one to let what people SAY stop me. It’s all about the computer and what it prices, right? I mean Guam is in the United States, am I right or am I right or am I right? 😛
With visions of 10K one-way awards to Hawaii, I tried the following
Alas, after being on hold forever, my rep came back and told me that it did not work. It priced as 17,500 which is the regular price from the US to Hawaii. She said that it’s because October is already the off-peak season for Hawaii (normaly it’s 22,500 one-way) and you couldn’t “double-discount”.
I’m not convinced that’s the actual reason, but it obviously wasn’t worth fighting.
One thing you CAN do is go anywhere in Canada (that American flies). Places like Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal or Toronto should all work here. I think MIA-YVR at 2801 miles flown would be the longest distance that I could see that works.
What about you? Did you know about American reduced miles awards?