Detailed Redemption Rules for American Airline (AA) Miles

NEW_787_aircraft_masterimageWe have posted an article before: A Beginner』s Guide to American Airline (AA) Miles, to give you a brief introduction to American Airline Miles, including how to earn AA miles and how to use miles for free air ticket (mainly focus on using miles for Sino-US air ticket). In this post, we will elaborate the specific rules of the AA award ticket and hope it will help you.

In general, you should follow the below rules when using AA miles to redeem free air ticket:

  1. It can redeem one-way flight ticket but the stopover is not allowed. The miles of a round-trip ticket is calculated as the sum of the miles of two one-way flights.
  2. The required mile is determined by departing zone and arriving zone and has nothing to do with the flight route. You can use miles to buy air ticket of AA flights and of AA partner airlines flights.
  3. The specific rules for picking route:
  • Apart from the conditions specified by AA, you cannot make a flight transfer in a third zone from departing zone to arriving zone.
  • Your total flight distance cannot exceed 125% of the Maximum Permitted Mileage and you need to pick the most direct
  • The published fare between departure city to destination city can be searched.

Then let』s look into their detail content one by one:

1. Airline partners

American Airlines is one member of the OneWorld alliance; the following are members of the Alliance:

AirlinesIATA CodeCountry
Air BerlinABGermany
British AirwaysBABritish
Cathay PacificCXHong Kong
Japan AirlinesJLJapan
LAN AirlinesLAChile
Malaysia AirlinesMHMalaysia
Qantas AirwaysQFAustralia
Qatar AirwaysQRQatar
Royal Jordanian AirlinesRJJordan
S7 AirlinesS7Russia
SriLankan AirlinesULSri Lanka
TAM AirlinesLABrazil

In addition to the partners in the Alliance, American Airlines has established partnerships with following airlines:

AirlinesIATA CodeCountry
Air Tahiti NuiTNFrench Polynesia
Alaska AirlinesASUSA
Cape Air9KUSA
Etihad AirwaysEYUnited Arab Emirates
Fiji AirwaysFJFiji
Gulf AirGFBahrain
Hawaiian AirlinesHAUSA
Jet Airways9WIndia
Seaborne AirlinesBBPuerto Rico

You can redeem award ticket of both AA and above mentioned airlines with AA miles. But one point about this you need to pay attention: only the award tickets of Air Berlin (AB), British Airways (BA), Finn Air (AY), Qantas Airways (QF), Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ), Alaska Airlines (AS) and Hawaiian Airlines (HA) can be directly searched on the website of American Airlines. The award tickets of other airlines need to confirm the award seat availability and then call American Airlines customer service to go through the redemption procedure. Of course, it also costs AA miles, but the redemption is transferred from online redemption to customer service. The common search tools are:

  1. British Airways
  2. Qantas Airways
  3. Japan Airlines
  4. ExpertFlyer
  5. KVS Tool

2. One-way flight ticket is OK, but stopover is not allowed

It is a good aspect as the one-way flight ticket can sometimes add more flexibility. For AA, the stopover means:

  • For the domestic flight in the United States, there are over 4 hours in certain city during transfer.
  • For the international flight, there are over 24 hours in certain city during transfer.

As it can redeem one-way flight ticket, open-jaw of course will not be a problem. Pay attention not to stay longer than the specified time of the stopover when you make your schedule. The required miles of a round-trip ticket is calculated as the sum of the miles of two one-way flights.

3. The required miles are determined by different zones

The AA system divides the whole world into many different zones and the required miles are based on the division of the zone. The specific zones are divided as follows:

Award ZoneCountries/Regions Included
North AmericaUnited States (Including Alaska and Hawaii), Canada, Caribbean, Mexico
Central AmericaBelize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama,
South America Region 1Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela
South America Region 2Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay
EuropeAlbania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Middle East/ Indian SubcontinentAfghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan
AfricaAlgeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Melilla, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Reunion, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia
South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Asia Region 1Japan, Korea, Mongolia
Asia Region 2Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Saipan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
South PacificAustralia, Easter Island, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Tonga, Republic of Vanuatu, American Samoa and Samoa

Based on the above division, AA has two published flight award charts: one is for the AA flights and the other is for AA partner airlines flights. If one segment of your routes is operated by AA partner airlines, you should check the later award chart.

In fact, it』s easy to determine the required miles:

  1. Determine departing zone and arriving zone;
  2. Find the two zones from the flight award charts and check the required miles:
  • If your whole journey is operated by AA flight, go and check the AA Award Chart
  • If certain segment of your journey is operated by AA partner airlines, go and check the Partner Award Chart.
  1. When the flights are only for economy class and first class, the first class adopts to the Business/ First column in the award charts. When the seat on the flight is at three classes, the first class is determined by the First column in the award charts.
  2. In the American Airlines Flight Award Chart, each class is further divided into MileSAAver, Anytime Level I and Anytime Level II. But the later two require a lot of miles, and generally it is believed that we refer to the MileSAAver.
  3. In the AA Partner Airlines Flights Award Chart, there is only MileSAAver for each class. Generally speaking, only when the partner airlines offer Saver ticket does the AA redeem ticket with miles. Therefore, there is only the MileSAAver.
  4. If there is Off Peak in the award charts, check and see whether your time accords with the defined period of time. If so, adopt to the miles in the Off Peak column in the corresponding chart. Attention please: Off Peak is only for the economy class.
  5. Flying within the North America, the North America zone is further divided into Contiguous 48 U.S. States, Canada & Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, and Caribbean. In fact, the required miles from other regions to these small regions are the same. So, they are divided into the North America Region at the very start.

The below are award charts indicating the specific required redemption miles from 48 U.S. States to places around the world. The charts only show Off Peak and Saver level, so these who want to book Anytime can ignore. The first one is American Airlines flight and the second one is AA Partner Airlines flights.

From 48 U.S. States toOff PeakMain CabinBusiness/FirstFirst
48 U.S. States125002500032500
Canada & Alaska125002500032500
Central America15000175003000040000
South America 115000175003000040000
South America 220000300005000062500
Middle East450006750090000
Asia 125000325005000062500
South Pacific375006250072500

From 48 U.S. States toOff PeakMain CabinBusiness/FirstFirst
48 U.S. States125002500032500
Canada & Alaska125002500032500
Central America175003000040000
South America 1175003000040000
South America 220000300005000062500
Middle East/Indian Subcontinent450006750090000
Asia 125000325005000062500
Asia 2350005500067500
South Pacific375006250072500

You can search on the AA official website for detailed award charts:

4. Unless otherwise specified, flight transfer in the third region is not permitted.

Traveling from region 1 to region 2, what if you want to experience the different culture and go shopping in the airport of another region? According to the rules of AA, I』m afraid it is not permitted at most time. For example, if you are traveling from America to Australia, flight transfer in Japan is not allowed.


Route in the picture is not acceptable. You have to fly to Australia in a direct way.

Of course, there must be exceptions as it is inconvenient to fly within some regions after all. Some reasonable flights transfer is workable. The common one, for example, is the Asia 2-North America route in which you can choose to transfer in Japan (Japan belongs to Asia 1). The picture below shows another acceptable Asia 2-North America route.


In Asia 2-North America route, you can transfer in Asia 1.

The acceptable transfer routes we have listed in the following chart:

Zone 1Zone 2Allowed Zone 3
North AmericaAsia 2Asia 1
North AmericaAfricaEurope, Doha*
North AmericaMiddle East/IndiaEurope
Central America, South America 1Middle East/IndiaEurope
Central America, South America 1AfricaEurope
Central America, South America 1South PacificSouth America 2
South America 2AfricaDoha*
EuropeAsia 1Asia 2, Doha*
EuropeAsia 2Doha*
EuropeSouth PacificAsia 1&2
Middle East/IndiaAsia 1Asia 2
Middle East/IndiaSouth PacificAsia 2
AfricaAsia 1Asia 2, Doha*
AfricaAsia 2Doha*
Asia 1South PacificAsia 2

*Doha in the chart means these routes can transfer in Doha, but from departing zone to Doha, Doha to arriving zone, it must operated by the Qatar Airways flight

5. Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM) and Most Direct Route

What is the Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM)? In fact, the name has explained itself. MPM is a mileage 「restriction」 among most cities around the world specified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). You can search on ExpertFlyer and we will introduce it in the Appendix.

AA award ticket imposes limitation on the flight distance: from the departure city to the destination city, the sun of the miles cannot exceed 125% of the MPM between two cities.

In addition, you are asked to choose the most direct route. For example, from Los Angeles to Hong Kong (LAX-HKG), if you transfer in NYC, the total distance is 10547 Miles.

Flight distance of LAX-JFK-HKG route calculated by GCMap

Through searching on ExpertFlyer, it can be known that the MPM is 8698Miles, 125% of the MPM is 10872 Miles.

屏幕快照 2015-09-15 下午6.13.27

MPM of LAX-HKG route starting from Pacific Ocean calculated by ExpertFlyer

The route does not exceed the 125% MPM restriction and trans-region is allowed, but the route is circuitous as you can fly from LAX directly westward to fly over the Pacific Ocean. Generally speaking, AA customer service will not print this kind if ticket for you. However, the restriction is not fully compelled. The AA customer service will redeem ticket for you under the following conditions:

  1. The route is a little bit circuitous, for example, New York-Chicago- Hong Kong
  2. There is no ticket for the most direct route and have to choose other routes.

6. Published Fare is a must-have

What is the Published Fare? Put it simply, you need to buy ticket to take the flight you want. The ticket not being issued cannot be redeemed for free air ticket. However, is it really as simple as it looks?

Generally, the rule is performed as follows:

In the journey, the trans-oceanic carrier needs your published fare between the departure city and destination city.

For example, my route is PIT- JFK-HKG -WUH, the trans-oceanic segment JFK-HKG is operated by Cathay Pacific Airways (CX), and then I need to confirm the CX has published fare between PIT-WUH. How to check it? Trough ExpertFlyer:

屏幕快照 2015-09-15 下午6.23.38

Published fare for PIT-WUH through ExpertFlyer

As we can see, CX does provide published fare. Therefore, as long as you also meet other requirements, you can redeem ticket of the flight. (Actually in the first introduction to AA miles we have checked it.)

Generally, there』s no need to worry about the problem. Most airlines in the world have published fares between most cities. Only some of them are exceptions.


I. How to check MPM on ExpertFlyer

First, there is no need to say you should log in ExpertFlyer. General speaking, you need to buy yourself a membership, but the new registration can experience the premium membership for free within 7 days.

Click the Travel Information on the left of the page after logging in, and then click the Maximum Permitted Mileage at the top of the page.

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Enter the departing airport and arriving airport you are interested in and choose the date. And finally choose the direction of your flight. As we all know, AA merely allows you to start from the Pacific Ocean in the LAX-HKG route. So choose Pacific and click Search, and you will get the result as we provided before.

II. How to check Published Fare on ExpertFlyer

Similarly, click the Fare Information on the left of the page after logging in ExpertFlyer. Enter the departing airport and arriving airport you are interested in and choose the date and airlines and then click Search.

屏幕快照 2015-09-15 下午6.50.20

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