American Airlines Web Special Awards Explained

Web Special awards offer a chance to fly economy, business and first class for less miles.
May 4, 2022

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

If you want to book award tickets on American Airlines for as low as 5,000 miles, then you need to know about Web Special awards. These awards are available on select dates to certain destinations, and Web Specials can be significantly cheaper than American’s standard awards.

These awards were introduced alongside dynamic award pricing, similar to Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. By shifting the focus away from award charts, airlines can align the price of award tickets with the cash cost. So when there’s more demand (e.g., December holidays), flights will be more expensive in miles and in money.

Here we'll explain Web Special awards, discuss how they differ from American’s published award chart and show you how to find them.

What are Web Special awards?

Web Special awards are discounted redemptions offered on certain dates and routes and can be as cheap as 5,000 miles. If they’re available, Web Specials will show up in the search results when you’re booking an award flight. You won’t find the Web Special rates published anywhere in American’s award chart.

Web Special awards come at a sweet discount, but they don’t allow changes. However, with American Airlines’ flexible change and cancellation policies, you can simply cancel your Web Special and reinstate your miles without a fee.

Web Specials vs. MileSAAVer vs. Anytime awards

Web Specials are different from American's more expensive reward options:

MileSAAver awards

These are American’s standard awards, but they usually sell out during busy periods (like holidays and weekends). When people refer to the American Airlines award chart, they are usually talking about MileSAAver awards. These start at 7,500 miles one-way.

AAnytime awards

Typically, AAnytime awards are much more expensive (starting at 20,000 miles), and we rarely find them worth the miles they cost. They are also published on American’s award chart and are available on any seat on any American Airlines or American Eagle flight.

How to find American Airlines Web Special awards

Go to aa.com and fill in your departure and arrival airports. Select the option to redeem miles, input your travel date and click Search. Do not use the advanced search option because that launches American’s old calendar, which does not display any Web Specials in business class.

The basics: economy Web Specials

As an example, a search for a nonstop, one-way award ticket from the Ontario airport in California to Dallas on Nov.  1, 2022, is 7,500 miles in economy and 45,000 in first class.

According to American’s MileSAAver award chart, flights over 500 miles in the contiguous U.S. cost 12,500 miles. Since this flight is only 7,500 miles, it's a Web Special. When you select the 7,500-mile award, you’ll see on the next page that American refers to this ticket as a Web Special. In addition, the more restrictive nature of the award ticket is outlined.

The Web Special award is 5,000 miles cheaper than the MileSAAver, but American clearly lets you know that the ticket comes with restrictions.

Next level: business Web Specials

You can really maximize your miles when you book a Web Special award in business class. The discount, of course, depends. Take, for example, a flight from Boston to Rio De Janeiro on Nov. 14, 2022.

When you select the business class award for 45,000 miles, you’ll be able to choose from two options — a Web Special Award (which doesn't allow changes) or a standard Business Award (which has a bit more flexibility).

The Web Special is 12,500 miles less expensive than the MileSAAver award at 57,500 miles. With the loosened change and cancellation policies, the Web Special is an excellent value.

Restrictions on Web Special awards

Web Special awards do not permit any changes to the origin, destination or airline. However, you can cancel the ticket and reinstate your miles for free.

The key difference is that MileSAAver and AAnytime awards allow you to make changes, but you’ll still have to pay the difference in miles if the new flight is more expensive.

Final thoughts on American Airlines Web Specials

Although American Airlines continues to publish an award chart, the increasing prevalence of Web Special awards illustrates that the airline is testing out dynamic pricing. Web Special awards can offer significant savings on standard MileSAAver tickets. Since you now have the ability to cancel your trip and reinstate your miles for free, Web Specials provide an excellent value.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.