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American Airlines Devaluation: Book AA Seats at Former Levels via Alaska Airlines

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If you feel nostalgic about the old American Airlines’ award chart, you’re not alone. AAdvantage used to be the most valuable frequent flyer program bar none, but since March 22nd it’s more on par with other legacy programs like United and Delta that have undergone severe business and first class award devaluations.

There is still great value in using AAdvantage miles though, mostly due to its airline partners.

However, if you would like to get the same redemptions on American and use its old award chart levels, you still can. You can book your travel on American using partner Alaska Airlines program. Alaska uses the exact same chart American used to. So you can book an American award flight, but you will have to pay with Alaska Mileage Plan miles.

Here is the case in point. New American levels for transcontinental flights are 32,500 miles for business class and 50,000 miles for first (to read more on why it’s worth paying so many miles read our previous post). However, if you book the same flight using Alaska miles you will only pay 25,000 miles in business and 32,500 miles in first. That’s a terrific value, especially for a first class seat, and would cost roughly 50 percent less.



You can only book American award flights on Alaska if American has saver award availability for these flights. This rule holds whenever you book a partner flight with any frequent flyer program.

Best Value Awards

Aside from the U.S. transcontinental first class award, there are a few other routes where you could benefit greatly from booking an American award flight using Alaska miles.

Europe and South America 2

In January 2017, American is going to start running a 3-cabin 777-200 between Miami and Barcelona. While it’s not a very long flight, its business class cabin will feature angle-flat seats, so you would be much more comfortable in a first class seat, which is excellent.

American also flies a 777-300 between New York and Sao Paolo with lie-flat seats in first class and angle-flat seats in business, and current availability is pretty good throughout the year.

The cost difference between American and Alaska miles is quite considerable, especially for first class.

U.S. - Europe/South America 2 (one- way)BusinessFirst
American Airlines AAdvantage miles57,50085,000
Alaska MileagePlan miles50,00062,500


American runs a 3-cabin flight between Dallas and Hong Kong, and while getting a first class Saver award from Dallas is not easy, it is possible for a flight back, as long as you’re flexible of course. In order to get your ticket with Alaska, we recommend you find your award on the AA website first to confirm availability.

Travel to Hong Kong

As you can see, the mileage difference between Alaska and American awards is whopping 63%.

U.S. - Asia 2 (one- way)BusinessFirst
American Airlines AAdvantage miles67,500110,000
Alaska MileagePlan miles55,00067,500


Flights between L.A. and Sydney feature a 777-300ER with excellent configuration in both first and business class cabins, but premium class seats on this route are virtually impossible to get at saver award rates. If you manage to snatch a first class ticket to or from the continent down under using Alaska miles you will save you over 50 percent.

U.S. - Australia 2 (one- way)BusinessFirst
American Airlines AAdvantage miles62,50072,000
Alaska MileagePlan miles72,000110,000

How to Search and Book an AA Award on Alaska

You can research availability and book your American award flight on the Alaska website. Keep in mind, though, that the Alaska site often displays phantom availability, which means you can see flights that are not actually available. On the other hand, just because you’ve found an available flight on the American website, that doesn’t always mean you will be able to book it on Alaska. Sometimes it might be prudent to check if both search engines have availability for your preferred flight.

Working the new Alaska search engine is quite easy. Just go to the Alaska website, click Mileage Plan in the top menu, then Award Charts.

Image of Alaska Website

Next screen shows you a lot of options, most of which we don’t need.

Mileage plan gives you the world

Let’s try to find a first class award seat on American between New York and Sao Paulo, Brazil sometime in May. We know that AA flies a 777-300ER with excellent configuration in both first and business class on this route, which might explain why first-class availability on this route is abysmal. Choose Continental U.S. and South America, and then narrow the search results to the data you see on the screen.

Alaska website credit cards

Now that we’ve narrowed things down, let’s click Book Now.

Screenshot of Alaska Website

Make sure to search one-way and tick the box that says Award Calendar if you are flexible. Click Find Flights.

Tick First class on the left, and you will see one date, May 12, displaying the 62.5K figure, which should be what American would charge for this flight. Let’s hope it’s a non-stop flight we need, and not the one connecting in Miami. Click Continue.

Screenshot of Alaska Website

Luckily, it is a non-stop between New York and Sao Paulo with both business and first class available on this date. Pick your choice and complete your reservation.

How to Get Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

If you don’t fly very often on Alaska Airlines, you can get Alaska Miles using an old and trusted method.

Credit Cards

There are two co-branded Alaska Airlines cards issued by Bank of America.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature with 25,000-Mile Bonus and $100 Statement Credit

  • Spending Requirement: $1K/3 months
  • Annual Fee: $75

Here is another link if the first one isn’t working. There is no $100 credit, but also no spending requirement.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature with 25,000-Mile Bonus

  • Spending Requirement: None
  • Annual Fee: $75

BoA Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card 25,000 miles

  • Spending Requirement: None
  • Annual Fee: $75

You can have more than one personal Alaska Airlines card (and get more than one bonus), but you shouldn’t apply for more than one personal card on the same day.

Next: American Airlines Devaluation: Save AAdvantage Miles by Booking on Etihad Airways

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