The ‘best’ of anything is subjective.
However, as I’ve been personally searching for the best points program, I’m finding that the American Airlines AAdavantage program has several benefits that make it a highly appealing program. Of course, if American doesn’t fly out of your home city, then you should try and accumulate points elsewhere.
Advantages of the American Airlines AAdvantage Points Program
1. Better than Average Flight Availability
Being able to use your points is a pretty important part of any points program. How’s that for a no-brainer statement?
However, when you plan to travel as a family and use awards, flight availability becomes an increasingly important benefit. Some airlines (see below) are so hard to find a single low mileage flight that I’d hate to try and find four to six seats for a family vacation.
A recent check on the WebFlyer.com award availability chart shows that American Airlines customers successfully booked award flights 61% of the time.
The only other programs with a better success rate for booking award travel were:
- US Airways – 68%
- Thai Airways – 63%
- Southwest Rapid Rewards – 62%
- Midwest Airlines – 62%
According to the same data, you should probably avoid the following US based airlines:
- AirTran – 24% (However, AirTran will soon merge with Southwest)
- Continental OnePass – 42%
- Delta – 47%
I’ve been doing some upcoming trip planning, and I’ve checked flights domestically and internationally. American has the best availability when I search for similar flights on Continental and Delta.
2. American Airlines AAdvantage Allows One-Way Award Booking
I remember being really excited a couple of years ago when American announced one way award flights.
Traveling in triangles has always been a great way to save money on flights.
When we visit the States, we like to do it in triangles. We leave a destination and fly to visit family B, then fly to see Family C, and then back to the originating city. This costs us three one-way tickets instead of two roundtrip tickets.
However, knowing that you can do the same with award tickets is such a tremendous value.
In addition, it gives you more flexibility. What if you were going to fly overseas to Rome and then wanted to travel back from London? With American, that’s easy because you just buy two one ways. Most other airlines would either make you go to back to Rome, or make you buy two roundtrip tickets (one to Rome and one from London).
3. Great International Partners
From the research I’ve done, American gives you access to some top notch OneWorld airlines. I have flown on American, Qantas, and JAL. I must say the JAL flight to Tokyo was one of the best flight services we’ve had. American was about the worst. I’ve personally always liked Qantas (though I have heard some criticism). People who have flown on Cathay Pacific always have something good to say.
You can use your American points to book travel on any OneWorld partner.
4. Earning Opportunities Are Good With the American Airlines AAdvantage Program
American always seems to have some kind of promotion going. For family travel, it is good to stick with airlines that give you ample non-flight opportunities to earn points.
If you’re having trouble keeping American points active, there are a lot of options to keep your points valid.
Disadvantages of the the American Airlines AAdvantage Points Program
This is going to sound really strange, but American isn’t really one of my favorite airlines to fly. I’ve not been impressed with their customer service.
Since I earn most of my miles by means other than flying, I don’t fly American to get points. However, when it comes to a free flight, my theory is: can it be so bad that I wouldn’t fly with them for free? I’ve never been on an airline that has quality that is too poor for my tastes.