Who said you couldn’t book American flights with Amex Points?

Just because you can’t transfer your Amex Points directly to American Airlines doesn’t mean you can’t book American Airlines flights using those Amex Points, at great rates. You can, and all you need is a simple points workaround. When figuring out how to maximize your American Express Membership Rewards Points, sometimes the roundabout options are the best, and if you want to lock in great American Airlines flights, at rates often better than American Airlines charges for their own program, you’ll want to get your pen and paper out…

Etihad Guest

Etihad Guest is a transfer partner of American Express, and also Citi Thank You cards. Etihad happens to be a partner of American Airlines, which means you can use your Etihad Guest Points for American Airlines flights. Just follow the logic: earn credit card points, send credit card points to Abu Dhabi based airline, and then use said points to book flights on American Airlines. Easy, right?

Great Rates

Now, not only is this a gem because you can’t otherwise convert Amex Membership Rewards Points into American Airlines AAdvantage Miles, but also because the Etihad Guest airline loyalty  program offers better rates for American Airlines flights than American Airlines does, through their own loyalty program! That logic train is even harder to follow than many of the others, but it’s true! Here are a few headline rates to cash in your Amex Points for American Airlines flights, by booking them through Etihad, and p.s. – they work in both directions…

50,000 Points Business Class U.S. To Europe Or North Asia One Way.

Oh yes! Jet off in the comfort of flat bed business class, even on American Airlines longest flights to Japan or South Korea for a mere 50,000 points one way. Same goes for flights between the US and Europe. And of course, there’s no eye rolling surcharges to speak of either, so these flights are cheap in points and cash. Southeast Asia, including China, is just 5,000 points more each way.

Versus: 57,500 redeeming for the same flights using American AAdvantage miles. 

62,500 Points Business Class U.S. To Australia Or New Zealand One Way.

If there’s ever a time to use points, it’s on the exorbitantly pricey, super long flights to the South Pacific. By booking American Airlines flights via Etihad Guest, you’re able to lock in round trip business for just 125,000 points, or one way for a mere 62,500!

Versus: 80,000 redeeming for the same flights using American AAdvantage miles. 

30,000 Points Business Class And Up For U.S. To South America One Way.

Lima is a buzzing destination, and not too far from a totally underground attraction which one day might become famous called “Machu Picchu”. You can land beds to Lima for 30,000 points each way, or move up to 50,000 each way to unlock Rio, Buenos Aires and Southern South America.

Versus: Same for Lima, but 57,500 for Brazil and Argentina using American AAdvantage miles.

Booking These Flights

There’s a bit of a dance here, but it’s a fairly easy one. For once, logic does exist, at least with the first step: you need to find seats using points on American Airlines, using American Airlines AA.com website. Once you’ve found “saver” level seat space using points, you can ignore the rates being displayed by American on their website, and call Etihad Guest to book at the better rates mentioned above. You’ll need to transfer your Amex Points into Etihad Guest to make that happen, and that does indeed mean you’ll need to create an Etihad Guest account to get started. That’s it though! Find seats on AA.com, transfer your points from Amex to Etihad Guest, and then call Etihad and feed them the American Airlines flight numbers, dates etc. All set!

Have you used Etihad Guest to book American Airlines flights?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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8 Comments

  1. Haven’t done it myself but been tempted a few times…

    Especially the 20K US/Europe Economy awards with minimal fees since AA charges over $3K cash for one way flights for some reason ???

    But in the end I picked up an Aer Lingus award on BA Avios using the “Avios / Money option”…
    13K Avios + €69 to fly from SFO to DUB direct seems like a pretty good deal IMO 😀

  2. Thanks for the reminder!! I boneheadedly transferred 88k MR to EY to use on RAM before checking availability… that supposed wide-open space completed disappeared and I thought those miles were basically lost.
    Not anymore!

  3. Amazing info, as always, Gilbert! Thank you!

    Does anyone happen to know if there are (much) surcharges on such bookings? Or if a connection is possible if the flight is not direct (but connection is also served by AA)?

    1. As far my research can tell, Etihad has little to no surcharges on AA awards. As long as the flight is OPERATED with AA metal you can redeem for it. If the EY agents can’t see what you’re looking for, pull up the flight numbers of segments with MilesAAver space over on AA’s website and feed them to the agent segment by segment.

  4. I can’t get San Jose, CR (SJO) to come up on Etihad search. Is this because they don’t service Latin America???

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