Say what you will about issues with premium cabin award space on American Airlines’ own flights, you can still book some fantastic flights on its partner airlines. From Cathay Pacific to Japan Airlines to Qantas, American has a stacked lineup of Oneworld partners. Throw in a partnership with Etihad and you have some great flights to book with your American miles.
For those who have been keeping up with the latest news surrounding the American AAdvantage program, yes, it is expected to implement dynamic award pricing. While this is a negative change as American can require more miles on a whim, this isn’t expected to impact the miles required for partner flights for now.
Now, if you’ve ready Gib’s recent review of American’s business class — ouch — then you might want to stick to partner flights anyway.
Make sure you check out our in-depth guide to redeeming American miles so you know all the routing rules so you can get the most out of your miles.
How To Earn American AAdvantage Miles
The most frustrating part of earning American miles is that the only transfer partner you have is Marriott Bonvoy. You can transfer Marriott points at a 3:1 ratio and receive 5,000 bonus American miles when you transfer a block fo 60,000 points. To earn Marriott points, you can use one of its co-branded cards issued by American Express or Chase (Learn More).
Alternatively, you can earn American miles directly through one of its co-branded cards issued by Barclays or Citi:
- Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard (Learn More)
- Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard (Learn More)
- CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard (Learn More)
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card (Learn More)
- AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard (Learn More)
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard (Learn More)
Qatar Airways Qsuites From The US To The Middle East
Since its launch in 2017, Qatar Airways Qsuites has been all the rage and for good reason. Qsuites is widely considered to be the best business class option in the sky these days. From sliding doors for privacy to double beds in the middle section for couples who want to nap together, Qsuites hits it out of the park. We’re confident you’re going to love the experience. In fact, we’ve heard exactly that from plenty of readers.
For 70,000 American miles, you can book a one-way business class ticket to the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent to visit places such as Jordan, Oman or Sri Lanka. While you could book with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles for the same flight, you’d be on the hook for some very steep surcharges.
Etihad Apartments From The US To The Middle East
If you want loads of personal space on a flight and have American miles to burn, it’s hard to beat the Etihad Apartments. I readily admit that I’m biased as the first time I used miles to book a ticket it was to book this with American miles — I booked Abu Dhabi to Melbourne — and had the entire cabin to myself.
That being said, as biased as I am, it’s still a great experience. While you can dine on demand on several airlines, Etihad will actually let you customize what you want to eat from the menu. You could combine a couple of dishes or just select certain parts of one dish and pair it with another. If you’re traveling with someone, you can even dine together in your Apartment.
You can book the Etihad Apartments between New York (JFK) and the Middle East — or Indian Subcontinent — for 115,000 American miles. You can add a connection to JFK on American for no extra miles. To book, you’ll need to call American Airlines’ call center in Australia or New Zealand. You can find more details about the booking process in our guide to redeeming American miles.
Continue to Africa For Only 5,000 More Miles
If you’d prefer to visit Africa, you can book either of the two options above for just 5,000 more miles. This is really where you’ll find some great deals when booking an award ticket with miles. For 75,000 miles you can book Qsuites from the US to Doha (DOH) and connect to some great destinations such as Cape Town, South Africa.
Etihad doesn’t fly an A380 to any country in Africa but you can still fly The Apartments from JFK to Abu Dhabi (AUH) and connect in business class to a number of countries. For the two flights, you’ll need 120,000 American miles.
I actually flew Etihad business class from Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi before connecting to New York in The Apartments. It was an amazing way to cap off a trip to Cape Town and the wine region — Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.
Cathay Pacific Business Class To Asia Zone 2
If you’re flying to Hong Kong, China or Southeast Asia, it’s tough to beat flying Cathay Pacific. The airline operates flights from 7 US airports and you can often find award space on American if you need to connect. Sometimes, that connection will be in economy class but it’s worth it for Cathay Pacific business class.
At 70,000 American miles one-way, this is a solid deal for a business class flight to Asia but what makes it a great deal is the experience. Cathay provides some great lounges at its home airport in Hong Kong (HKG) and the flight crews are great. The reverse herringbone cabin layout doesn’t hurt either as seats provide solid privacy and ensure that each traveler has direct aisle access.
Just in case you’re curious, you can also book Cathay Pacific first class out of several US airports for 110,000 American miles one-way. Simply put, this is an absolutely fantastic experience complete with great champagne and The Pier First Class Lounge — easily Cathay’s most famous lounge.
Japan Airlines First Class To Asia Zone 1
Japan Airlines might no longer serve the insane Salon champagne that retails for $350, but it’s still one of the best first class experiences on the planet. If nothing else, you can expect amazing service when flying first class with Japan Airlines thanks to some amazing crew members.
While the seat is nice, it’s the other aspects of the flight that really make the airline stand out. You’ll notice that Japan Airlines has taken great care to select quality amenity kit products and provide meals that are actually quite good. For those who like staying connected to the world while flying, Japan Airlines not only provides solid inflight WiFi but even provides complimentary access to first class passengers.
In the end, what sets them apart is their care for the customer which makes using 80,000 miles for a one-way first class ticket a great way to use American miles.
LATAM Business Class To Southern South America
At 57,500 miles for a one-way business class ticket to destinations such as Buenos Aires, Lima and Santiago, using the American AAdvantage program to book a trip to South America is a solid way to go. Even better, American’s Oneworld partner LATAM has a new business class product for its new aircraft and is retrofitting the current fleet.
While LATAM already offers lie-flat seats on its current Dreamliners, the new business class cabin will have 1-2-1 seating so everyone has direct aisle access. If you’ve flown Qantas business class on its Dreamliner or one of its A330s, you can expect something very similar. This is good news for flyers as these business class seats make great use of space for both storage and comfort.
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class To Papeete
Trying to get to islands in the South Pacific isn’t an easy task. There just aren’t many easy options. Fortunately, Air Tahiti Nui provides flights to/from Los Angeles which can be booked with American AAdvantage miles. Alternatively, your options are to fly United from San Francisco (SFO) or Air France’s fifth freedom flight from LAX.
Air Tahiti Nui now operates a new 787-9 Dreamliner out of LAX, however, you’ll still have 2-2-2 seating and angle-flat seats. If you want to ensure you don’t have anyone climbing over you (or vice versa), pick one of the seats in the middle section so you have direct aisle access. Don’t let that angle-flat bit deter you, it’s still a nice way to fly to Tahiti.
Qantas First Class To Australia
There’s no way around it, flying to Australia from the US takes awhile. However, if you can find the ever-elusive first class award seat on Qantas, your flight will be a fun one. While the first class cabin on Qantas’ Airbus A380 seats more passengers than many first class cabins, the crew manage it well and are quite friendly.
If you happen to fly out of Los Angeles (LAX), you can visit the Qantas first class lounge that has is loved by first class passengers and Oneworld Emeralds alike. Of course, the first class lounge in Sydney (SYD) is one you won’t want to miss either.
You can book a one-way first class ticket on Qantas with 110,000 American miles. You’ll certainly appreciate the comfy bed if you fly from Dallas (DFW) like I did as the flight is listed at 17 hours!
Asia To The Middle East In First Or Business Class
On July 1, 2019, Etihad will start flying an A380 from Abu Dhabi to Seoul (ICN) which means you can book The Apartments on this 8.5-hour flight for only 50,000 American miles. Alternatively, you can book Qatar Airways business class from Doha to Seoul for 40,000 miles. Oh, and that’s a Qsuites route.
You can use the same number of miles to fly from the Middle East to anywhere in Asia so you can also book flights on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. If you’re flying to Asia 2 — Southeast Asia plus Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, you can even connect in Japan and Korea. Regardless of which airline you choose to book, this is a great way to use miles for luxury.
Europe to Australia In First Or Business Class
When Amerian Airlines updated its (complicated) routing rules in April 2019, they opened up the opportunity to book the Etihad Apartments from Europe to Australia with a connection in Abu Dhabi. This means you can fly The Apartments from Paris (CDG) or London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi then continue onto Sydney (SYD) for 115,000 American miles. Put simply, this is awesome.
For 85,000 miles, you could book business class instead which means you could fly Qatar Airways Qsuites on the entire route. Since American also partners with Qantas, you can even connect to other parts of Australia or catch a flight to New Zealand for no extra miles.
You really can’t go wrong with either of these. Booking the Etihad Apartments on this route just might be my new favorite way to redeem American miles. And, let’s be honest, I’m crazy enough to fly to Europe to book an award — I’ve done it before.
Clearly, partner bookings are the way to go with American AAdvantage miles. Oneworld, Etihad and Air Tahiti Nui just provide so many great opportunities to make the flying experience enjoyable. We can’t be alone in thinking the fun should starts when you get to the airport. With any of these business and first class award tickets, your miles will be well spent as you’ll not only have a great way to fly but lounge access so you can start things off right.
Fortunately, between the co-branded American Airlines cards issued by Barclays and Citi and being able to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to your American account, you’ll have several opportunities to use credit cards to help you earn more miles.
When you think about it, the only thing you really have left to decide is where you want to go and which airline you want to fly. Since you really can’t go wrong with any of the options we discussed above, don’t overthink it. Just pick one and go for it!
Any suggestions on where to search for business class availability on LATAM? I’ve had no luck!
Hey Melanie – You’re not alone. LATAM is annoyingly difficult with biz class award space. Your best be is to search with British Airways. If you’ll need a connection, I’d recommend searching segment by segment.
Only if you can find availability to Asia. Good luck on that!
Hey David – Thanks for joining us. Which route are you referring to?
So hard to find open seats for two people in business or first. I have 200,000 miles just sitting there to be used.
Hey Jeff – What are you trying to book?
For a couple years now I’ve searched the AA website for first awards from bkk to LHR and/or cdg. Of course I expect to connect in hkg or kul.
The only seats I’ve ever found are on mh and to a lesser extent ba. I search in Feb to apr.
I did take an award last month on RJ in business to hkg then in first to LHR and business to cdg. Then return the same way. It was 180,000 aa miles plus $771 cash surcharge (more than a coach ticket the same day!) Being I used my AA Barclay’s card they gave me a 10,000 mile credit but I see they’ve ended that program.
I’ve NEVER seen Etihad, Cathay, or qantas show up as available. I would have to think the hkg-lhr route is not considered ‘off the beaten path.”
Hey Don – I can appreciate your frustration. I just recently searched British Airways for Cathay space between HKG and LHR and found several dates with space for up to 4 people in biz class. Qantas space is always very tough, of course. Interesting to hear about Etihad as I know multiple people who have booked it. I wonder if you’re just getting really unlucky with the dates you want/need to travel.
Thank you Spencer.
Encouraged by your research in another post I played with BA’s website and found tons of First Class flights between Bangkok and Paris via Hong Kong on Cathay next February and March.
I saw a couple on JAL.
So it’s obviously all about whose site you use as I’ve never seen Cathay or JAL First on the AA site.
I haven’t had time to play with the Qantas site yet.
Thank you again.
Happy to help. AA has addded a lot of partners to its online search in the last year but still hasn’t added Cathay or JAL. BA and Qantas will show space if available, though.
The biggest issue I’ve had with Etihad is that their only A380 route in the US is from JFK, and it’s impossible to find availability in the apartment. For months out, nothing showing. Sometimes it will show up within 48 hours before…but that really only works for people living in NYC with very flexible lives.
Coming back on the return is even more impossible. Customs rarely takes kindly to people without return travel plans…I’m not sure “oh, I’m going to wait for award tickets to show up” will cut it.
Hey Chris – Have you searched Etihad for AUH-JFK round-trip instead of looking for JFK-AUH? You won’t see Guest First space if you search the latter. Instead, you’ll need to search AUH-JFK round-trip to find dates with Guest First space for JFK-AUH. Looking into next year, I see space in either direction. Let me know if you have any questions.
Oh whoa. Yep, that worked a charm. Thanks! Can AA book those tickets as one-ways? Or do they have to book them as round-trip?
You can book one-way.
I’m checking for AUH-JFK but can’t find anything with Etihad, just BA.
What dates are you looking at? Can’t seem to find anything.
Hey Muhammad – Are you searching on Etihad’s site?
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