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WebFlyer Home > Programs > Ratings & Reviews

Ratings & Reviews

(Program Reviews - Side by Side Comparison - Website Reviews)

American Airlines AAdvantage

(835 ratings)


This program was reviewed and rated by our editors in January 2013. Changes in the program past this date are possible, especially program partner information. We recommend you subscribe to the #1 source of frequent flyer information, Inside Flyer Magazine, to get the most current information possible.

From the Beginning

American Airlines was founded in 1930 when 80 smaller airlines joined forces and consolidated to become The Aviation Corporation. The airline moved its headquarters from New York to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1979.

The AAdvantage program launched on May 1, 1981 and lays claim to being the first mileage-based frequent flyer program in the world. The program has over 71 million members.

American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection serve 260 airports worldwide. And if you add in the destinations served by fellow oneworld member airlines and AAdvantage participating airlines, AAdvantage members can redeem miles to over 950 destinations in 150 countries. The program enjoys a reputation of having decent award availability. In 2011, AAdvantage members claimed 5,411,769 one-way flight awards, which represents approximately 8.8 percent of total passenger miles flown during the same period.



AAdvantage members earn miles for American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection carrier flights and for travel on eligible flights marketed and operated by other airlines. All members earn the actual miles flown and elite members earn a 500-mile minimum on short flights. Members who travel on purchased business class fares earn an additional 25 percent of miles flown and first class fares earn an extra 50 percent.

AAdvantage members have over 1,000 ways to earn miles. In addition to flights, members can also earn miles for hotel stays, car rentals, dining, retail purchases and using financial services, among other activities.



AAdvantage offers two types of flight awards: capacity-controlled MileSAAver awards and unrestricted AAnytime awards. Elite members have an additional travel award option and can redeem their miles for Dynamic Air Awards, offered for economy class travel within the mainland U.S. The mileage levels for Dynamic Air awards are variable, based on published fares, and there are no inventory restrictions on these awards.

AAdvantage flight awards are priced for one-way travel, allowing members to combine awards to mix and match cabins and create multi-city itineraries. One stopover is allowed on international awards at the North American gateway city only. In line with the rest of the industry, American Airlines requires 25,000 miles for a roundtrip MileSAAver award in coach for flights within the Continental U.S. and Canada, 50,000 miles in business class and 65,000 miles in first class. Roundtrip AAnytime awards are 50,000 miles in coach, 100,000 miles in business class and 130,000 miles in first class. When you travel using an AAnytime Award, you'll also receive additional travel benefits including two free checked bags, complimentary access to Preferred Seats and PriorityAAccess privileges, which include expedited check-in, exclusive security screening lanes (where available) and priority boarding.

The program offers peak and off-peak MileSAAver awards, which can provide a good value if you travel during the off-season. An off-peak MileSAAver coach award for roundtrip travel between North America and Europe (Oct. 15 through May 15) runs just 40,000 miles, compared to peak season flights at 60,000 miles. Roundtrip travel in business class to Europe is 100,000 miles and first class is 125,000 miles.

At 50,000 miles, American's off-peak coach MileSAAver award for travel between North America and Japan or Korea (Oct. 1 through Apr. 30) is a bargain compared to other legacy carrier programs.

The AAdvantage program also offers oneworld alliance distance-based awards that vary not only on the distance flown but also by travel class. Qualifying oneworld award itineraries must include travel on at least two oneworld carriers and cannot exceed 16 segments. These awards start at 30,000 miles in coach, 60,000 miles in business and 80,000 miles in first class for an itinerary up to 1,500 miles.

Mileage upgrade awards on American for one-way travel within the Continental U.S. and Canada require 5,000 miles from a full-fare coach ticket to the next class of service, 15,000 miles plus a $75 co-pay from discount coach fares and 15,000 miles plus a $175 co-pay from discount business class fares. Mileage upgrades to other destinations and for travel on British Airways and Iberia are also available.

Admirals Club memberships start at 80,000 miles for a non-elite member. Magazine and newspaper subscriptions are available starting at 300 miles. Members can also bid miles on exclusive experiences, donate miles to charity and redeem miles or a combination of miles and cash for car rentals, hotel stays and vacation packages.



American is a founding member of the oneworld alliance and non-oneworld airline partners include Air Pacific, Alaska Airlines, El Al, Etihad Airways, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and WestJet. Air Tahiti Nui and Cape Air are redemption only and partnerships with JetBlue and WestJet are earn only.

AAdvantage partners with Citibank to issue co-branded Citi / AAdvantage credit cards. Most of these cards offer a roundtrip discounted MileSAAver award, which allows cardmembers to redeem for 5,000 to 7,500 fewer miles to destinations selected quarterly. The standard sign-up bonus for the Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage ($95 annual fee) and CitiBusiness / AAdvantage credit card ($95 annual fee) is 30,000 bonus miles but occasionally there have been limited-time offers of 50,000 bonus miles or higher, targeted offers for signing up. Cardmembers earn one mile per $1 spent on purchases and receive travel benefits such as first checked bag free, priority boarding and 10 percent of redeemed AAdvantage miles back--up to 10,000 miles each calendar year. The annual fee is waived the first year. The Citi Gold / AAdvantage credit card has fewer benefits, a $50 annual fee and a sign-up bonus of 25,000 bonus miles.

The premium Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard offers Admirals Club membership, the ability to earn elite-qualifying miles, no foreign transaction fees and waived first checked bag fee, among other benefits. The annual fee is $450.

Hotel partners include, but are not limited to, Best Western, Choice Hotels, Fairmont, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Shangri-La, Starwood and Wyndham. Members earn the standard 250 to 500 miles per stay or one to two miles per dollar spent.

The AAdvantage program also offers a number of opportunities to earn miles from financial services partners and car rental partners including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Europcar, Hertz, National, Carmel and Thrifty and members generally earn 50 miles per day or one mile per dollar spent.

Retail partners are too numerous to list, but include a variety of partners, from FTD and Bose to SkyMall. Members can also earn miles by shopping with more than 500 retailers participating in the AAdvantage eShopping Mall and dining with AAdvantage Dining participants. Members with miles to spare can donate miles to Miles For Kids In Need and Operation Hero Miles.



The AAdvantage elite level program is three-tiered. AAdvantage Gold membership requires members to earn 25,000 elite qualifying miles or points or 30 qualifying segments during a calendar year. Platinum membership requires 50,000 miles or points or 60 segments and Executive Platinum membership, 100,000 miles or points or 100 segments. Qualifying miles include miles earned on all American, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air and all oneworld member airlines. At least four segments must be flown on American Airlines, American Eagle or AmericanConnection.

Travelers who fly on more expensive fares can achieve elite status faster by qualifying via points. Those traveling in full-fare coach and premium classes receive 1.5 qualifying points for every mile flown and discount coach travelers receive one qualifying point per mile flown. Deeply discounted fares earn .5 points per mile flown.

AAdvantage Gold and Platinum members get four upgrades for every 10,000 qualifying base miles flown. One upgrade is required for every 500 miles of travel and is valid on American Airlines, American Eagle or AmericanConnection flights within the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Bermuda and between the U.S. and Central America.

Gold members receive complimentary upgrades for the member and a companion when both are traveling together on a full-fare Y or B coach ticket. Complimentary upgrades will be confirmed 24 hours prior to departure. Gold members receive a 25 percent flight mileage bonus; dedicated Gold phone line; access to PriorityAAccess check-in, security (where available) and boarding; two free checked bags; waived close-in award fee, discounted Admirals Club membership; complimentary Preferred Seats and Main Cabin Extra seating (through December 2013) and oneworld Ruby status.

AAdvantage Platinum members receive all of the above plus a 100 percent flight bonus, priority baggage handling, oneworld Sapphire status (that comes with oneworld lounge access) and a 72-hour upgrade window.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum (oneworld Emerald status) members have a 100-hour upgrade window and receive unlimited complimentary upgrades on all fares when traveling within the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Bermuda and between the U.S. and Central America. They also receive eight systemwide upgrades that can be used on any American Airlines, American Eagle or AmericanConnection flight, waived award change fees, guaranteed coach availability when making reservations at least 24 hours in advance and expanded MileSAAver award availability.

AAdvantage offers a lifetime elite program where all AAdvantage base miles earned by flying on American Airlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection or any airline that participates in the AAdvantage program count towards Million Miler status. Members who accrue one million miles receive AAdvantage Gold status for the life of the program plus 35,000 bonus miles. Those who earn two million miles and higher receive lifetime AAdvantage Platinum status and four one-way systemwide upgrades.



Miles don't expire as long as you earn or redeem miles every 18 months and expired miles can be reactivated starting at $200 to reactivate up to 50,000 miles.

Award tickets are transferable to anyone but miles may only be combined among members through the shareAAmiles program. Members can transfer miles for $50 for each 1,000 to 5,000 miles transferred, plus a $30 transaction fee. Miles can be purchased in 1,000-mile increments for $29.50 per 1,000 miles plus a $35 processing fee. Missing mileage requests can be made within 12 months.



AAdvantage customer service is available from 9:00am-5:30pm CT Monday-Friday to help with award booking, upgrade requests and to answer general questions about award travel. Customer service is generally good and the customer service representative we spoke to seemed knowledgeable about the program. Members can also send questions via email.



American has been adding partner award inventory, including airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, Qantas, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, to its award booking engine and has a very functional award calendar on AA.com that displays all available award seats over a four-week period. If you want to book an award on partner airlines not available online, calling the service center incurs a $25 fee.

Members can also manage their accounts, register for promotions, request missing miles, contact AAdvantage customer service, redeem for non-flight awards and buy miles online.

American AAdvantage has many partners with which members can earn and redeem miles. Award availability is generally good and off-peak awards are a plus if you can be flexible with your travel plans. Executive Platinum members receive eight systemwide upgrades that can be used from any fare and unlimited domestic upgrades.

Members are required to pay a fuel surcharge on awards on British Airways as well as co-pays for some upgrade awards. Stopovers on international awards are limited to gateway cities in North America. Oneworld doesn't have as many member airlines as Star Alliance, giving members fewer opportunities to earn and redeem miles on partner flights.

AAdvantage Customer Service/Account Inquiries (800) 421-0600
Award Reservations/General Travel Information (800) 882-8880
American Airlines AAdvantage Department
P.O. Box 619688
DFW Airport, TX 75261-9688
Fax 1-817-963-7882

  Earning Ability Award Choices Partnerships Elite-Level Rules & Conditions Service Support Online Services Overall Rating
8.50 9.00 8.50 9.00 8.00 8.00 8.00 8.43
6.59 5.93 6.04 6.12 5.17 6.02 6.15 6.00

(835 ratings)


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