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Are AA miles basically useless for US-Europe redemptions?

Are AA miles basically useless for US-Europe redemptions?

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Old Feb 12, 19, 1:13 pm
  #1  
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Are AA miles basically useless for US-Europe redemptions?

Hello!
I hate to start such a negative thread but for the first time since moving over from DL, I'm trying to use AA miles to travel from WAS to Europe and am having no luck. I've looked at NAP, VCE, DUB, and LHR so far and all flights are coming back with BA segments which of course carry huge fees ($1,000+ per ticket). To be fair, I am looking for a May redemption so it may be too late/high season but I've been looking for months now. I think it's really the fact that AA doesn't seem to open up any award availability on their own metal that's frustrating. DL get's a bad rap for reward redeeming miles but I never had issues like this. I'm hoping that I'm just going about it wrong?
Thanks!
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Old Feb 12, 19, 1:19 pm
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Join Date: Nov 2010
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Do you think maybe it's been discussed on FT before? Yes, choices to Europe are limited, but there are more choices not displayed on aa.com (in particular, IB). Also, since you bring up DL, maybe you should look at AAnytime awards, which are freely available but only applicable if you fly AA all the way. Yes, looking in Feb for May SAAver awards is aspirational.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 1:21 pm
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May would be hopeless even if AA released a lot of TATL seats.

If you are talking J, then almost entirely useless. Some limited opportunities on IB when the schedule is loaded.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 1:21 pm
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Unfortunately, you are correct. The last 3 times I've traveled to Europe (from the US), I've tried getting "normal" award tickets (without the BA fuel surcharge) to no avail, and I'm a HUGE planner ... I search for tickets at 5 AM 330 days out ... nope! Never a first class award available without using BA aircraft. I've simply accepted that my trips to Europe will cost me $1000+ per ticket, and try to tell myself that it's still a cheap ticket to fly on a 787-9 in first and enjoy a few hours in the Concorde Room in London during the inevitable layover.

It's frustrating, but it's the world of FF miles ... they are getting harder and harder to use, and cost more and more to redeem.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 1:24 pm
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Originally Posted by MartiniMan View Post
I search for tickets at 5 AM 330 days out ... nope!
AA typically doesn't release awards at the 330-day mark, but often a few days later and sometimes much later.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 1:25 pm
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Are you looking for J or Y? When in May? Picking some random dates in May I see plenty of Y saver for routings like DCA-ORD-LHR and DCA-RDU-LHR. J is harder to come by but I see DCA-LGA//JFK-LHR on May 14th or May 25th. Not ideal to have to take a taxi between airports but it does get you in J to Europe...

In the award search, uncheck "British Airways" and then scroll through the dates.

Yeah you will have to be flexible on dates to use AA miles for saver J... but it's no different on DL. Doing a similar search for DL there are some days they want 280k for a one-way in J...

Last edited by wetrat0; Feb 12, 19 at 1:31 pm
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Old Feb 12, 19, 1:55 pm
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Join Date: May 2001
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Was looking at Beginning of Aug redemption in Business class for 2 ... found AMS, MUC, BCN and MAD all available with AA operated flights. Tax and fees $5.60 per piece.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 2:24 pm
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I am hardly an apologist for AA, but i have gotten saaver biz awards for me and four other in my family during both summer and Christmas for the last few years. No rhyme or reason to getting them though, but if you are looking for May now you will find slim pickings. Even a revenue ticket in biz may be quite expensive now. I got my 5 summer 2018 tickets on April 1 and my 5 Christmas 2018 ones in late August. Randomly space was there and i grabbed it after having looked for months w no luck.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 2:43 pm
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Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
This is the part I love the most. When you uncheck BA ...viola...the choices become a blank page.

OP, yes AA sucks and I've brought this up just recently so you'll probably get the same old BS from AA apologists.

Things have changed greatly in a year.
or if you uncheck BA and you still see dates available, upon closer inspection, one of the flights (and more often than not, it’s the TATL leg) books into T in economy. I.E. pay another 17.5K miles more to sit in F from SAN to LAX and end up in coach for the LAX-LHR leg.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 2:57 pm
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AA serves more European destinations out of PHL than any of their other hubs.

Narrow your search to just PHL-Europe destinations. If you find availability, then try routing from your desired DC airport (DCA would give better connections thorugh PHL).

Worst case if you find something out of PHL, you can decide if you want to drive there.

And as mentioned here - avoid BA. You'll get socked with their infamous carrier fees. AA should only be $5.60 for the award if you are flying on their equipment.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 3:01 pm
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I just booked a few weeks ago two round-trips in J on AA metal to Europe in May. Is the OP using the flexible date calendar? You often have to go via NYC (and do the LGA to JFK shuffle), but I've always found a seat or two near my planned dates.

Worst case, book on BA and in case of schedule change, you can request to re-accommodate on AA metal. AA will also automatically refund the YQ (BA copay charges) when the ticket re-issues.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 3:02 pm
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Originally Posted by PHL View Post
AA serves more European destinations out of PHL than any of their other hubs.

Narrow your search to just PHL-Europe destinations. If you find availability, then try routing from your desired DC airport (DCA would give better connections thorugh PHL).

Worst case if you find something out of PHL, you can decide if you want to drive there.

And as mentioned here - avoid BA. You'll get socked with their infamous carrier fees. AA should only be $5.60 for the award if you are flying on their equipment.
The downside of that strategy is that AA sometimes has married-segment award availability, so that even if PHL-YYY is not available at the MileSAAver level, XXX-PHL-YYY might be.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 3:06 pm
  #13  
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Thanks all. For the record, I've not just started looking now, I've been looking since last year at a variety of dates. Again, I don't think it's so much the lack of availability that's frustrating. I understand it's the high season, it's just the lack of availability that doesn't involve huge BA surcharges and the difficulty filtering them. As bad as Delta was, I got spoiled with the readily available direct flights IAD-LHR on VS in Upper Class or IAD-CDG on AF in J (took my last VS flight last year so it may have changed). That being said, the DL operated flights were a joke, sometimes pricing out at more than 500k miles. Guess I'll keep looking.
I am glad to hear it's not just me who's frustrated. Also glad to hear that some have had success.
Thanks again.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 3:20 pm
  #14  
 
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Do you have an ExpertFlyer subscription? If not, you should - I can't imagine searching for J inventory without it.

Are you flexible on dates? If not, you are in AAnytime land.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 4:07 pm
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If you go to the Advanced Search Page you can select American Airlines in the Options section at the bottom of the page. That will prevent BA flights being returned. Obviously I don't know how many seats or what cabin you want but right now there's a couple of days in early to mid May with >1 Business MileSAAver on AA metal (5/6 and 5/14) from WAS-LHR and a couple of dates mid to late May (5/14, 5/15, 5/21, 5/22) with the same thing on the return.
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