A guide to American Airlines AAdvantage program benefits and features.
The AAdvantage frequent flyer program is designed to provide benefits to those who regularly fly with American Airlines or partner airlines. Unlike many of the frequent flyer programs in Australia, the AAdvantage program often has bonus points offers for certain flight routes which can be exploited by travellers.
How the AAdvantage program works
Depending on your flight, you'll earn both miles and qualifying points in this program. Miles are used to purchase upgrades, flights and other rewards, while qualifying points are used to get you into the higher elite tiers, which give you better benefits.
American's AAdvantage program is among the largest loyalty programs anywhere in the world. It's also one of the oldest. Miles can be earned by flying American Airlines or one of its participating airlines. Transactions with over 1,000 cooperating companies can also earn miles. These transactions can be either travel or non-travel related.
Miles can be redeemed for flights to many worldwide destinations or retail products and services. These include hotel stays, vacation packages, car rentals, and flight upgrades. Joining the AAdvantage program is easy and free.
American Airlines has three elite tiers which regular flyers can climb. To get to a higher tier you must earn the required number of qualifying points and to then keep your tier status each year you'll need to continue earning the set number of points.
|Platinum||In addition to the benefits received with a Gold membership, you'll also get the following premium advantages:|
|Executive Platinum||In addition to the benefits you receive as a Platinum member, if you're an Executive Platinum member you can make use of even better perks. These include:|
How to jump to a higher tier
As mentioned, you earn qualifying points on eligible flights. You'll earn the following qualifying points per mile when flying on American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection.
|Fare purchased||Booking class||Points per qualifying mile earned|
|First Class||A, F, P||1.50|
|Business Class||D, I, J,R||1.50|
|Full-Fare Economy Class||B, Y,W*||1.50|
|Discount Economy Class||H, K, M, L, W, V||1.00|
|Deep Discount Economy Class||G, Q, N, O, S||0.50|
Table courtesy of American Airlines
Below are the points requirements for each level.
|Elite status||Miles or points required||Segments required|
Table courtesy of American Airlines
You'll note that you can also advance to higher tiers by flying over the required number of segments each year.
How to earn AAdvantage miles
Points can be earned in a multitude of ways, although you should note that being an American-based airline means that not every option is available to Australians.
Airlines all over the world partner with AAdvantage to allow flyers the opportunity to earn mile-based rewards. You can fly one-way, multi-city, or round-trip award travel and earn miles. Airlines that earn miles include American Airlines, airberlin, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas, and Royal Jordanian Airlines.
Earning AAdvantage miles with a credit card
There's a diverse group of credit cards which can be used to earn AAdvantage miles that are redeemable by American Airlines and its travel partners. Participating credit card companies include Citi and AT&T Universal, with some offering bonus points after purchases of a qualifying amount.
There are currently no Australian credit cards that directly or indirectly earn AAdvantage miles. However, if you have a credit card that earns Qantas Points, you could be able to redeem your rewards with American Airlines, as both these carriers are oneworld alliance members.
Miles can be earned as you sleep when staying at some of the almost 100 hotels which are part of the program. Best Western, Comfort Inn, Hilton International, Sheraton and Westin hotels and resorts are among participants. Hotel accommodation from boutique to luxury suites can be booked.
Some hotels award one or two miles for each dollar spent. Others offer 200, 250, 500, or 1,000 miles per day. Fairfield, Four Points, and Gaylord Hotels are some of the hotels that offer miles per dollar. First Americana, Hawthorne, and Hyatt join others in awarding miles per day.
- Cars. Miles can be earned when renting cars from AVIS, Budget, Thrifty, Dollar, Alamo, Hertz, Carmel, National and Europcar.
- Holidays. If you book holidays through American Airlines you'll also earn miles.
- Cruises. Travellers can sail on a top-brand cruise line and earn miles on the AAdvantage program. Whether enjoying a weekend cruise or sailing for weeks, miles are earned on each cruise.
How to redeem AAdvantage miles
There are many ways miles can be used as part of the AAdvantage program.
The most exciting reason why people sign up for a frequent flyer program is for free flights, and the AAdvantage program allows for this. Members are able to book seats on any unsold seat with AAnytime Awards, or for fewer points book MileSAAver Awards seats, which are released in restricted numbers and are less flexible. Seats on partner airlines can also be booked, and these include oneworld airlines such as:
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- LAN Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qantas Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- S7 Airlines
American Airlines also has a number of other partners which allow points to be earned and redeemed:
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air
- Cape Air
- EL AL
- Etihad Airways
- Fiji Airways
- Gulf Air
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Jet Airways
- Seaborne Airlines
- TAM Airlines
Like any world-class frequent flyer program, miles can be used to upgrade an Economy Class or Business Class fare. These are limited to a single one-way trip with three maximum segments, and is obviously subject to availability.
American Airlines has a unique bidding system which enables you to pay for VIP experiences with points. Previous experiences include meeting sporting teams, celebrity chefs and famous musicians.
Car rental and hotel accommodation
Just like you can earn miles for renting cars from AAdvantage partners and staying at partner hotels, you can also redeem points for car rentals and hotel stays. Elite status members will receive better rates when booking.
You can redeem points for newspapers and magazine subscriptions, donations, identity protection services and membership to the Admirals Club, which gives you access to American Airlines' airport lounges.
How does the AAdvantage program compare to other frequent flyer programs?
As mentioned above, the AAdvantage program is award-winning and hugely popular.
Similar to the Qantas and Virgin Australia programs, your miles won't expire as long as you keep your account active. American Airlines' sets a maximum inactive period of 18 months. If you fail to earn or redeem miles in this time period miles will expire.
Let's look at the first status offered in the AAdvantage program - Gold status, compared to the silver membership in the Qantas and Virgin Australia programs.
Pros and cons of the AAdvantage program
- There are over 1,000 partners that allow consumers to earn miles
- Rewards can be redeemed on hotel stays as well as air travel
- AAdvantage members can transfer miles to other members
- Qantas is part of the oneworld alliance, so points can be earned and redeemed on Qantas flights
- Lack of credit card options for Australians