Booking Alaska Partner Awards - American Airlines

Booking Alaska Partner Awards - American Airlines
This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Booking Alaska Partner Awards

Calling all East Coasters!  Calling all East Coasters!

For those of you that are in the Eastern part of Canada that have felt left out in the cold in this series, I have good news for you.  Today we are going to look at American Airlines, a major partner of Alaska Airlines.

American Airlines is the world’s largest airline when measured by fleet size, revenue, scheduled passenger kilometers flow, and number of destinations served.  This makes for a great partner for Alaska to have because it helps connect much of the world to Alaska’s west coast centric network.

As the world’s biggest airline and being based out of the United States, it makes sense that the may have a lot of hubs and in fact, they do.  10 hubs in fact.

  • Charlotte, NC (CLT)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW)
  • New York, NY (JFK)
  • New York, NY (LGA)
  • Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
  • Miami, FL (MIA)
  • Chicago, IL (ORD)
  • Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
  • Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
  • Washington, DC (DCA)

I’ve created a map that has layers that you can turn on and off so you can see the cities that American Airlines connects to from your city. You can click on the button in the top right to expand the map which will allow you to play around with the map and find the best options from your airport.

As you can see from the map, Toronto and Montreal are very well serviced by American Airlines so in fact, Alaska Miles can be a treasure trove of redemption possibilities for you if you live in the Eastern part of Canada.

Unfortunately, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and any other Canadian city east of Alberta are not serviced by Alaska Airlines and if you recall, on an Alaska redemption, you are only allowed to travel with Alaska plus one partner.  So in this situation, you could fly west from Toronto to Los Angeles on American Airlines and connect to an Alaskan flight but you could not connect to a Cathay Pacific flight.  While this is a bit of a bummer, American Airlines services pretty much every place in the world so it’s actually not that bad.

Points Required

Why do they have to make things so complicated?  Sigh …

With American, there are off-peak and peak pricing for their flights but not all geographical locations differentiate between peak and off-peak.  For example, Asia has peak periods whereas Australia doesn’t.

Because of the somewhat complex nature of the different areas, I will break it down into areas that have peak and off-peak and those that don’t.  The other thing to keep in mind is that that peak and off-peak pricing only affects Economy Class travel.  Travel in Business or First has the same pricing throughout the year.

Areas with Peak and Off-Peak Pricing

Asia

AA Asia Chart

You can see that for Japan and Korea, there is Peak and Off-Peak pricing denoted by a “/”.  The more expensive pricing is during peak.

So what is considered Peak and Off-Peak?  Well according to the footnoted in the chart, American Airlines off-peak dates for Asia awards are October 1 – April 30. Peak dates are May 1 – Sept 30.  I can only assume this will be same regardless of year.

What you may notice here is that many Asian countries are no included in the chart, which means your options to Asia are very limited.  If you wanted to go to Thailand for example, you would have to use another Alaskan partners like Cathay, JAL or Hainan.

Central America

AA Central America Chart

American’s flights to and from Central America have a very small delta between the off-peak and peak prices so it almost doesn’t matter when you fly.  If you are curious about what is considered off-peak and peak, according to the footnotes from Alaska’s chart, American Airlines off peak award dates are Jan 16 – Jun 14, and Sept 7 – Nov 14.

Basically, the heart of summer and the Christmas season are the peak periods for Central America.

Europe

As you might expect, one of the most seasonal travel destinations from North America has been segregated for off-peak and peak travel.

AA Europe Charts

There is a significant discrepancy between off-peak and peak pricing to Europe so if you can travel during off-peak, you can save 33% in points if you are traveling in Economy.  Peak season to Europe is from May 16 – October 14th, which is almost half the year.

South America

South America is split into two areas: Upper South America (Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia)

Upper South America (Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia)
Deep South America (Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay)

AA South America Chart

I named the “Upper South America” area … Alaska has it split out by country in their charts.

Areas WITHOUT Peak and Off-Peak Pricing

American flies to a lot of areas that do not differentiate between peak and off-peak days.  The countries included this are Australia, the Caribbean, the Continental US, Hawaii, Mexico and New Zealand.

AA No Peak Off Peak Chart

Sweet Spots

Because American flies to so many destinations, it’s a ton of work to try to come up with a PPM calculation for each region so rather than do that, I will simply provide you with areas that I think are good value with American.

American has a very affordable reward chart to get to Asia, especially considering that it’s cheaper than Cathay and Cathay represent extreme value.

AA Asia Chart

The chart above is American’s chart to Asia and the one below is Cathay.

CX Asia

As you can see, American offers a significant discount on First Class travel to Japan and Korea but less so to China.  The difference might be enough for me to use American over Cathay to Japan or Korea but not enough to consider it for China.  American also defines Asia in a much narrower term than Cathay does so unless you are traveling to Japan or Korea, go with Cathay.  If you are going to Japan or Korea, strongly consider American.

The other areas that I would look to American for excellent redemption value are Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico because the distance traveled to those areas are significant but they are priced very low for Business and First Class travel.  All three regions are 30,000 AS miles in Business and 40,000 in First Class for one way travel.

I should note that the points required to these three areas represent good value but it certainly isn’t mindblowing, in fact, they are very comparable to an Aeroplan redemption with one significant difference in that American does not charge a fuel surcharge.

Finding Availability

In my experience, finding availability with American from the Eastern part of Canada is extremely easy.  Because Toronto and Montreal are connected to almost every hub that American has, you have a ton of options to get to where you want to go.  Out of the west, availability is much more difficult.  As an example, I was looking for Calgary to Dallas/Fort Worth and I found 1 direct flight in the month that I was looking.

To actually find availability, I would recommend using the Alaska site.  The nice thing about being connected to multiple hubs with American is that you can almost always find availability.  Here is an example of flying from Toronto to New York about 5 hours before the flight is scheduled to leave.

AA YYZ-JFK Close In

Sure … you connect in Charlotte but you can get to JFK no problem.  As I mentioned earlier, American does not charge a fuel/carrier surcharge.

AA YYZ-JFK Close In Tax

Keep in mind that I am not showing you this route because I think it’s good value, in fact, it’s terrible value.  The point here is that you can find availability to a hub that can then get you to the destination you want.  If you were looking to go from Toronto to New York, I would use Aeroplan because it’s considered a short-haul flight and would only cost 7,500 points per direction.

PointsNerd Take

American Airlines is an excellent option for people that live out east that want in on the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan redemptions.  The airline is the largest in the world so it can pretty much get you anywhere you want to go and it is, in fact, cheaper to use Alaska miles for American redemption than it is to use American miles.

For those out that live out west, you are spoiled with the other Alaska Air partners and it’s unlikely that it is an airline you will fly as part of a partner redemption but it provides you with options.

While you may not get the luxury like you would get with Cathay or JAL, American Airlines provides a solid option for those that are looking to diversify from Aeroplan because availability is high and taxes are low.

The biggest complaint I hear about Alaska partner redemptions from those out east is that you can’t take advantage of the program.  Hopefully this helps disprove that notion.

Get In On The Action

As I hope you are starting to see that Alaska provides extreme value in their redemptions, especially for those out west but as you can see from the example above, you easterners have options within the program as well.

Now if you want to get in on the Alaska redemption train, I would suggest you first read my review on the Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard.  I have a couple of reasons for this.

  1. I want you to make an informed decision on whether the card makes sense for you before you sign up.  I’m not a blogger that believes on flogging afilliate links to make a buck.  I truly am interested in helping you make your dream trip a reality.  If it works for you great, if not, keep reading the blog as I hope to be able to find a solution for you as well.
  2. The review provides a way for you to get the card for a $15 annual fee, which is regularly $75.  This $15 gives you 25,000 Alaska Miles and will quickly get you on your way towards redeeming on Alaska and its partners.

Next Up

I plan on taking a bit of a break from the Alaska Partner Redemption series to provide more content for those that aren’t into the program.  I will return to the series when I get some extra time because to be quite honest, it takes an exorbitant amount of time to write this series.

If you have a burning desire for me to cover another Alaska Air partner, feel free to leave a comment below and I will strongly consider it.

Series Navigation<< Booking Alaska Partner Awards – Korean AirFascinating Alaska Airlines Discovery >>
10 Comments
  1. thanks, the whole series is wonderful and really helpful. Question, any insight on rewards leaving from other continents? Once i’ve made it to Europe, and i right in feeling i am really restricted for my next reward?

    1. Hi Francois,

      For Alaska, you are not required to book round trip travel unless you are using Delta or JAL so it would be the same as any other award.

      All you need to do is consult the Alaska Award Chart (https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mileage-plan/use-miles/award-charts.aspx) and plug in your departing continent and where you want to go. You can refer to the screenshot at http://imgur.com/q1LoHTc to see what I mean.

      Not every partner will fly where you want to go but there are certainly options. You are not North America bound with this program, which makes it very powerful.

      Hope that helps. Cheers

      Jayce

  2. Great website and great posts! However, I am wondering what the options are for using the annual companion pass for people out east (Toronto). My understanding is that the annual companion pass (USD $99) is other big perk of the MBNA Alaska Airlines card.

    1. Ho John,

      Welcome to the site!

      The companion pass is only good for flights operated on Alaska Airlines metal. That means flights only flown by Alaska themselves.

      Unfortunately, Alaska does not fly to Toronto from their Hub in Seattle. The closest location where you can catch an Alaska flight is in Detroit. If you were to say use the Companion Pass to fly from Detroit to Hawaii and it could be an amazing value.

      Perhaps I just have the mentality of using points for my travel but I have never used the companion pass for Alaska. I personally do not see a lot of value in it unless you are going to somewhere like Hawaii. But for people at West Hawaii is quite affordable in the first place.

      Hope that helps. Cheers

      Jayce

  3. The google map you created to show AA’s hubs shows this error message:

    “This map is no longer available because it was moved to the trash. Please contact the owner to restore access.”

    1. Hi Justin,

      Thanks for the heads up. I managed to restore the map. Cheers

      Jayce

  4. Excellent writeup Jayce! I have been hunting for something like this on the internet and I finally found it!

    I live in Alaska and im mvp gold looking to book my first international trip with mileage for next feb-may timeframe.

    I plan to maintain my mvp gold status so my wife and i are thinking she will fly with miles and I will pay cash for ticket.

    So I have spent many hours looking for rewards that are a good value both for cash (earn eqm) and mileage.

    We plan to do a big trip feb-may timeframe then november and december. For my paid flight im trying to figure out when to use mileage and when to pay cash. To me it appears more peak seasons occur in November/December so maybe that’d necesitate me paying cash for my ticket then and using miles for the feb-may

    Anyhow I know it was time consuming for you, but I’d love to see a writeup on other useful/newish partners like Emirates, Condor, or Icelandic. Thanks!

    1. Hi Aharon,

      Thanks for the kind words. I will definitely look into doing something for the additional Alaska partners you listed but I’m not sure on the timeframe just quite yet. Cheers

      Jayce

  5. Hi,
    Great read. I live in Toronto and not clear on the options with Alaska Airlines reward. You mention reward is only possible out of Toronto if there is a leg with Alaska Airlines? Or I misunderstood.
    Would you mind sharing an example itinerary from Toronto to Australia?

    1. Hi J,

      With Alaska Miles, you are only allowed to fly Alaska + a partner (or one or the other). In your particular case, you could fly from YYZ-LAX-SYD on American Airlines (AA). While finding availability will be the hardest part, it is possible to route to Australia from Toronto only using Alaska Miles.

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