Every airline has a rewards program with the same basic premise: Fly with us, earn miles (or points), and eventually, earn free trips or upgrades. Here, let's take a look at the basics of the AAdvantage program from American Airlines and the perks it offers.
How miles/points are accrued
The AAdvantage program offers one mile for every mile flown. (Easy, huh?) Generally, a one-way in the contiguous United States begins at 12,500 miles for economy class but refundable fairs can be 20,000-25,000 miles. Upgrades from one class to another can be as low as 5,000 miles (when you've purchased a full-fare ticket), but for discounted economy fairs, upgrades begin at 15,000 miles, plus a $75 fee.
Members can also accrue miles with American Airlines partners, such as hotels, car rental agencies, cruise companies, and vacation packages. AAdvantage also partners with other retailers as well.
When you use miles to book award travel at the AAnytime level (refundable, beginning at 20,000 miles one way), travelers get free access to preferred seating and priority access, which includes expedited check-in, exclusive security lanes, and priority boarding.
Connections with other airlines
Because of American's OneWorld alliance, you can use your AAdvantange award to book travel on the following airlines (although at a higher mileage rate than booking your award miles directly on an American flight):
- Alaska Airlines
- British Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- US Airways
US Airways recently merged with American Airlines, and for now, the AAdvantage program and the Dividend Miles program (the loyalty program from US Airways) are operating separately. The programs will be combined sometime in 2015.
Join the AAdvantage program here.