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The Complete Guide to American Airlines Partners

July 6, 2020
Loyalty Programs, Travel
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As a founding member of the Oneworld alliance, American Airlines continues to grow its reach around the planet through its own flights as well as those of its partners. As is the case with many domestic airlines, travelers often find a better experience when traveling on foreign carriers. If you know where to look, you just might be able to earn and redeem more miles that way as well. Here’s everything you need to know about American Airlines partners.

» Learn more: American Airlines AAdvantage program: The complete guide

Oneworld

AAdvantage members can earn miles by flying the following Oneworld carriers and other partners:

  • British Airways.
  • Cathay Pacific.
  • Finnair.
  • Iberia.
  • Japan Airlines.
  • LATAM Airlines.
  • Malaysia Airlines.
  • Qantas.
  • Qatar Airways.
  • Royal Air Maroc.
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines.
  • S7 Airlines.
  • SriLankan Airlines.

Other airline partners

  • Air Tahiti Nui.
  • Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air.
  • Cape Air.
  • China Southern Airlines.
  • Etihad Airways.
  • Fiji Airways.
  • GOL Airlines.
  • Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Interjet.
  • Seaborne Virgin Islands.

Redeeming miles

The list of other airlines on which you can redeem your American Airlines miles is a bit different, though there is some overlap:

  • Air Tahiti Nui.
  • Alaska Airlines.
  • British Airways.
  • Cape Air.
  • Cathay Pacific.
  • Fiji Airways.
  • Finnair.
  • Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Iberia.
  • Japan Airlines.
  • Malaysia Airlines.
  • Qantas Airways.
  • Qatar Airways.
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines.
  • S7 Airlines.
  • Seaborne Virgin Islands.
  • SriLankan Airlines.

Earning miles with partners

On most American flights, passengers earn miles based on how much they spend on the ticket, though there are a few exceptions (tickets purchased through some travel agents or cruise lines, for example).

For partner airline flights, redeemable miles and Elite Qualifying Miles are determined by a combination of distance flown and fare class. This varies by airline.

EQMs are used to determine progress toward elite status for the coming year. Travelers can also earn Elite Qualifying Dollars, which are another part of the elite status earning equation. When flying with American, EQDs are calculated based on how much you spend on the ticket. When flying with American partners, EQDs are based on a combination of fare class paid and distance flown.

Can partner flights be more rewarding than American flights?

Sometimes partner flights can be more rewarding than American’s own flights. For those chasing elite status, flying with partners on inexpensive, long-haul flights can be a lucrative way to earn more EQDs than actually flying on American. The higher the fare class, the more EQDs you can earn (depending on the airline).

For example, someone flying business class on an “I” fare between New York and Bangkok on Finnair would earn EQDs based on 25% of the distance flown, as shown here.

Let’s say that ticket cost you $3,078. If this were an American Airlines ticket, EQDs would be based strictly on the fare price. But since this is a Finnair-issued ticket in “I” class, travelers earn 25% of distance flown as EQDs. In this case, that would be about $4,507 (25% of the itinerary miles you’ll see below).

That’s nearly 50% more EQDs than on an American ticket. When long-haul, premium-cabin partner fares are low, you can earn a significant number of EQDs toward status. (Note that in the above example, we’re using approximate numbers — technically, taxes on the above ticket would not count when calculating the extra percentage of MQDs.)

When it comes to airline partners, each one has its own earning chart, and travelers should always consult this chart before purchasing a ticket. If the fare class of the ticket you are booking is not listed, no miles are earned.

In addition, elite members may earn a fare class bonus with some airlines, like British Airways or Finnair.

Since American Airlines has different charts for each partner, the same principle might not work in your favor with other airlines if you’re looking for EQDs when flying between other countries.

For example, the below fare on Qatar Airways would earn 20% of distance flown in EQDs, which would be just $1,318 (despite the fare being significantly higher).

Redeeming miles

When it comes to redeeming AAdvantage miles, things can change quickly. While American still offers award charts for its own flights and those of partners, it also participates in a form of dynamic pricing. This gives travelers a baseline of how much they’ll need to spend when following the chart, but flexibility is required to find dates for travel based upon those guidelines.

American refers to its lowest-priced awards as MileSAAver awards, and those priced at higher levels are called AAnytime awards (available on American Airlines-operated flights).

In this example of economy-class redemptions between New York and London, it is easy to see the variance in pricing depending upon the date. American offers good availability in economy class on flight redemptions (as seen here), but award flights are more limited when it comes to premium cabin awards, which you can see in the second screenshot.

When it comes to business-class redemptions on the same route, the pricing spans an even greater number of miles, from 42,000 miles to 169,000 miles for a one-way ticket.

Another example of a one-way AAnytime award in American’s business class shows some dates even going for a whopping 480,000 miles per person.

» Learn More: The complete guide to redeeming American Airlines miles

American’s website can be finicky. It’s important to play around with it when looking for award availability since results can appear differently depending upon how you sort them on the page. As seen above, searching by number of stops is one option.

Also, beware one caveat when booking British Airways awards through American AAdvantage: Taxes and surcharges on these awards are through the roof. The example below shows American’s 57,500-mile one-way business class award pricing (straight from the award chart) — but when it comes with nearly $700 in fees, the value changes significantly.

American also offers Web Special awards, which come with much lower mileage prices. However, these also come with certain restrictions, like not being able to make any changes to a flight itinerary once booked. One perk of having American’s Executive Platinum status is that these awards can be canceled and refunded (other travelers do not have this privilege).

With this mix of dynamic pricing and award chart standards, it can be hard to gauge how many miles will be needed for an award flight. Still, American deserves accolades for not deleting its award charts entirely. American publishes “region definitions” at the bottom of this page if you are unsure of how the airline categorizes each country.

Understand how to use AA.com

Since American’s website does not provide every possible route, a phone reservation agent might be able to search for more options. All Oneworld airlines appear in AA.com search results, but airline partners may not always appear. For airlines like Fiji Airways, AAdvantage members should call American to redeem their miles.

To book flights, use the search tool from the home page or select flights from the “Plan Travel” dropdown at the top of aa.com.

This will take you to a page where you can enter your travel information with the option to select “All Airlines” at the bottom of the page.

For the best results, use the calendar search. Another trick is to search for award space segment-by-segment using the form above.

Let’s say you are flying between New York and Helsinki. Try searching New York to a Oneworld hub like London or Madrid first. If you find space, then search for flights from that hub to Helsinki. Once you find both, try to see if you can price the entire itinerary together as one award. Sometimes, longer connections that don’t appear in the initial search might prove fruitful.

American is generous in that it allows travelers to hold award tickets, giving you more time to search for a better option or other parts of your trip. This means you can call American and have a specific award ticket set aside for you (without paying for it) while you finalize plans or search other options. The allowable length of hold times varies based on when the award flight is scheduled for departure and can last as long as five days. Not all award tickets are eligible for holds, so it’s best to call the airline.

Once you purchase the award, changes or cancellations result in a fee for award tickets, which varies based on where the reservation was made.

Elite benefits

One of the perks of achieving elite status is enjoying benefits when flying partner airlines. AAdvantage Gold members earn Ruby status within Oneworld, while Platinum and Platinum Pro members earn Oneworld Sapphire status. Executive Platinum members are awarded top Oneworld Emerald status.

Elite perks for Sapphire and Emerald members include complimentary lounge access when flying alliance partners internationally, priority check-in and boarding lines and higher checked baggage limits. These perks can make international travel much more pleasant.

How to maximize your rewards

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