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I wanted to share a few things that I have noticed recently when trying to book domestic flights to various places here in the United States. I have found that American Airlines (specifically using American AAdvantage miles) has been FAR AND AWAY the best way to book most of these flights. I’m talking prices that are half as much as some of the alternatives in many cases. Of course, deciding which airline is “the best” is going to vary a lot depending on how you travel. If you travel in a very different way, then you are going to have a different experience. Still, I thought this was an interesting phenomenon and one that was worth sharing.

My Travel Profile

I don’t travel a ton internationally, and when I do, I usually travel in a different way. I’m not prepared to say that I think American AAdvantage is the best loyalty program all around or for international flights. I am focusing mostly on domestic flights, because those are the ones I have been booking the most recently. I also am often booking for multiple people (the whole “crew” part of Points With a Crew) and I don’t have or really bother with airline elite status. Because of where I live (Cincinnati) and where I’m often traveling, I’m also usually booking a connecting flight as nonstop flights to where I’m headed are not always common or available.

Dismal Flight Options On Other Airlines

Here is one example of a recent trip that I was trying to book – flying my son home from college at Christmas. We were looking at

  • SLC-CVG around the end of December
  • CVG-SLC in the first week of January

Obviously these are not great times to get deals since they are popular times to travel. But let’s see what we have available

First, let’s check out Delta – here is a one way flight from CVG-SLC in January

a screenshot of a flight schedule

I would actually be willing to potentially pay more for Delta since they are the only airline with a direct flight, but this is a pretty huge premium. 28,000 Skymiles for a one-way domestic flight?!?

Now, how about Southwest? Getting better – tragically I was not able to take advantage of their recent Southwest 50% off sale as the dates didn’t line up

a screenshot of a calendar

Looking at the outbound flights, here is United charging a hefty premium for flights before Christmas (I get it – it makes sense). Still, 15,000 is the lowest that United goes.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Cash fares were similarly high across all airlines.

Booking A Recent Trip With AAdvantage

So what does that trip look like using American AAdvantage miles? First, here’s an example of what is available on the outbound leg

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Yes, there’s a price premium for travel close to Christmas, but nowhere near that of United (and Delta was even worse). Across the board, American is about 30-50% cheaper on each day.

And here’s the return – super cheap flights, a fraction of what the other airlines are charging.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

And these are not 2 connection or redeye flights either. These are “normal” one-stop flights that I might normally book.

The Bottom Line

This is not a one-time occurrence either. Pretty consistently, American is showing me decent (connecting) flights for under 10K miles one-way, something I pretty much can’t find with any other airline (sometimes Southwest is that low, especially if it’s a shorter flight). I almost don’t even bother checking Delta or United for these domestic flights anymore.

What about you? Is American AAdvantage the program you turn to for your domestic flights? Or do you have better luck with Delta, United or Southwest?

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