Oct152015

AAdvantage Europe off-peak awards only 20,000 miles each way October 15 to May 15

In between my hours calculating taxes this week to file by today’s due date in my 10th year filing Loyalty Traveler business taxes, some of my time has been spent looking at off-peak award tickets to Europe for 20,000 AAdvantage miles each way. AAdvantage USA – Europe off-peak awards are only 20,000 miles each way October 15 to May 15. The trick is learning how to avoid high award fees and taxes.

My findings indicate plenty of award availability outside holiday weeks. Scoring an off-peak MileSAAver award ticket is a bit more challenging during Thanksgiving week. Those airline award ticket taxes are as confusing as trying to make rhyme or reason of Intuit and IRS rule explanations.

The main impediment I find in checking for good value low miles awards is the British Airways factor. It appears many routes to Europe include 90% of award routings flying British Airways across the Atlantic and that raises the ticket fees and taxes from less than $10 to Europe to a minimum $75 to $300+ one way.

Here are a series of award ticket screen shots to show how routing and airlines impact the amount of award taxes and fees on the same 20,000 off-peak MileSAAver redemption when traveling to different airports in Europe with different Oneworld Alliance airlines.

AAdvantage One-Way Off-Peak Award

20,000 miles + $5.60 Thursday, November 19

Los Angeles LAX – Munich MUC (all AA flights)

AAdvantage LAX-MUC 20K $5.60 Nov 19

AAdvantage One-Way Off-Peak Award

20,000 miles + $5.60 Wednesday November 18

San Francisco SFO – Amsterdam AMS (all AA flights)

AAdvantage SFO-AMS 20K $5.60

 

AAdvantage One-Way Off-Peak Award

20,000 miles + $83.10 Tuesday November 17

Carmel/Monterey MRY – Venice VCE (AA transatlantic flight with British Airways intra-Europe). Passing through London tacks on at least another $75 to the award ticket. Possibly much more.

AAdvantage MRY-VCE 20K 83 Nov17

AAdvantage Round Trip Off-Peak Award

40,000 miles + $263.50 Wed November 18 – Thu November 26

Carmel/Monterey MRY – Paris CDG (AA transatlantic flight with British Airways intra-Europe flights).

AAdvantage MRY-CDG 40K $263 Nov18-26

And what if you want to go to London?

From California it is a little hard to get a reasonable Thanksgiving week award to London.

British Airways has award availability. They are not in Thanksgiving holiday mode. British Airways is prohibitively expensive for award travel.

AAdvantage Round Trip Off-Peak Award

Los Angeles LAX – London Heathrow (British Airways transatlantic flights)

40,000 miles + $703.90

Thanksgiving Week Saturday November 21 – Friday November 27

AAdvantage LAX-LHR 40K $704 Nov 21-27

At those award fee prices, you might as well take Norwegian LAX nonstop to London Gatwick.

Norwegian Airlines flies LAX-London Gatwick LGW nonstop.

$629.40 round trip.

Sunday November 22 – Thursday November 26.

Even lower fares if you can return first week of December.

Pack light at 10K for one free luggage piece or plan on $42 bag fee for one checked bag each way.

Norwegian LAX-LGW $629 Nov 22-26

Thanksgiving Week is not really off-peak travel when passing through the USA

The high award fees during Thanksgiving are due to most award availability to Europe dominated by British Airways flight choices. Move the travel dates to real off-peak season like early December and there is far more American Airlines operated flights to London available for lower cost award tickets.

AAdvantage Round Trip Off-Peak Award

Los Angeles LAX – London Heathrow LHR (all AA flights)

40,000 miles + $195.90

Thursday December 3 – Wednesday December 9

AAdvantage LAX-LHR AA 40K $195 Dec3-9

 

My two week trip strategy to award travel to London

$195 in award taxes and fees for travel from the USA to London is something I am reluctant to pay. My strategy is simply fly somewhere else in London Europe and pay for a round trip flight from there to London, that in all likelihood can be found for under $100 round trip from most European cities. I’d get two destinations out of one AAdvantage award and take the tax and fees savings to buy a ticket to London.

FinnAir choice

California to Helsinki gives a low-cost option for one-way or return travel to reduce ticket fees and taxes.

AAdvantage Round Trip Off-Peak Award

San Francisco SFO – HEL Helsinki, Finland (AA flights to JFK and Oneworld partner FinnAir to Helsinki).

Thursday December 3 – Wednesday December 9

40,000 miles + $60.90

AAdvantage SFO-HEL 40K $61 Dec 3-9

Obviously, this is not a two week trip. This is an example of one way to get around flying through London and finding lower award taxes and fees by looking for FinnAir flights.

Blog post aside: My finger was hovering over “publish” button when I noticed my AAdvantage account number was in every image. That is why there are sloppy cover-ups on these images.

Loyalty Traveler curated Airfare Deals and Google Flights tutorials.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. I love these awards. In fact using one next week to LHR.
    No rtn booked, but will probably use partner AS 20k miles on AA metal.
    Good availability showing from UK/mainland europe to w coast thru early Dec.

    Ric:
    I think you mean ‘Europe’ in this para?
    ‘My strategy is simply fly somewhere else in London’

    Cheers
    S

  2. I was looking at the same on AA.com yesterday. It seems that there is no business saver slots available. That’s a bummer..

  3. These awards are pretty great when using AS miles! Since AS allows stopovers on one-way flights, flying a domestic AA segment between Oct 15 and May 15, stopping over somewhere, and then flying another AA segment to Europe (anytime, not just between Oct and May!) still prices both segments at 20k total.

    I’ve flown SAN-JFK//JFK-EDI and SEA-JFK//JFK-LHR etc. a number of times with the NYC-Europe segments at peak summer for just 20k miles and minimal taxes.

    Returning from Europe is a different matter, but for those traveling there often Europe-US fares are considerably cheaper than vice versa.

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