How to Book an Award Flight on American Airlines Using AAdvantage Miles

Review the American Airlines award chart before booking your flight to ensure you get good value for your miles.
June Casagrande
By June Casagrande 
Updated
Edited by Meghan Coyle

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences 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.

American Airlines AAdvantage miles can take you around the world, but redeeming them can be tricky. A flight you thought would cost 25,000 miles round-trip might turn out to cost 60,000 miles. Fees you thought would be around $5 are instead in the hundreds.

Simply put, redemptions can be hard.

That said, the sooner you learn how to redeem your American Airlines AAdvantage miles efficiently, the better equipped you’ll be to get the most value out of them. Here’s your guide to booking an award ticket with American Airlines.

How to find AAdvantage award tickets

Log in to your account

If you’re reading this, you probably already have an American AAdvantage frequent flyer number and password. If not, you can become a member in minutes by signing up for free at AA.com.

If you have an account but can’t find your password, follow the prompts to have American Airlines reset it. Then, log in to your account and take note of your mileage balance.

Search for your award flight on the American Airlines website

On AA.com, select “Redeem Miles” and then enter your destination and dates. You’ll see results displayed as a grid, with different redemption types for different flights in different cabins. You can refine your search by the number of connections, the airline or other variables.

You can also choose a calendar view, which shows you available redemptions for a whole month. Look closely at each option you’re considering. Sometimes that nicely priced award seat may be for a not-so-nice itinerary, with multiple connections or overnight stays at connecting cities — or an itinerary that requires you to drive across town to another airport to make a connecting flight.

Rack up miles or enjoy lounge privileges with our favorite American Airlines cards
Check out our nerdy picks for the best American Airlines credit cards and find the right card for you.

Check seating charts

For AA-operated flights, you can see exactly which seats are available before you book. In the search results, click “Seats” to call up a map showing you which ones are already taken and which ones you can reserve.

It’s the best way to make sure you don’t get stuck in a middle seat 15 rows away from your travel companion.

Use the cancellation policy on your award ticket to your advantage

American Airlines offers a 24-hour cancellation policy. So, if you see a redemption you like, book the award ticket knowing that you can cancel it and get a full refund of your miles as long as you cancel within 24 hours.

Things to know before booking American Airlines award tickets

There are a few points to keep in mind before booking your award so that you can get the best value from your miles.

American now uses dynamic award pricing

One of the last holdouts among domestic carriers, American finally did away with its award chart in Spring 2023. The number of miles you need to book an American Airlines flight now varies based on the travel date and demand. If you are booking a flight on a partner airline, you can use that airline's award chart to figure out how many miles you'll need.

NerdWallet values American AAdvantage miles at about 1.7 cents each. When considering redeeming your miles for award tickets, aim to extract a cent-per-mile valuation that meets or exceeds that valuation.

You might have to pay hefty fees on international partner award flights

Your AAdvantage miles can be used to book flights on Oneworld airlines and American’s code-share partners; however, keep in mind that fees on these partner airlines, especially on British Airways, can be hefty.

For example, a flight from New York to London on American Airlines costs 30,000 AAdvantage miles + $5.60 in taxes.

But the same route flown on British Airways costs 30,000 AAdvantage miles + $229.20 in taxes.

Avoid these fees if you can help it by flying on AA partners that don't pass on taxes and fuel surcharges.

With some diligence and flexibility, you should be able to find enough good options to get you where you want to go on an award ticket.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Cards for American Airlines from our Partners
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
Citibank Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Credit Card

on Citibank's application

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
4.6
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x

Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.

Miles

Intro offer

70,000

Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Miles
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

75,000

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
See more cards
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.