AA Advantage award seats - science or pot luck?

7 replies


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 07 Jul 2015

Total posts 56

AA Advantage award seats - science or pot luck?

Thanks to taking advantage of an Aus BT tip from a while ago, I have over 100k of AA Miles I'm looking at using to travel to the UK next year - around August 2016.

Just wondering if, as a general rule, it's better to book well in advance or closer to the day? From reading a previous article on here I do appreciate that award seats are released at the discretion of the airline.

I've done a few dummy bookings and i've learned I cannot book more then 333 days in advance and that there seems to be more awards seats available this month compared to similar time next year.

Any ideas?


Member since 21 Apr 2012

Total posts 2,058


In short, I'd say it is a science however the parameters that define that logic is unavailable to us, being commercial-in-confidence. Consequently, we need to be a bit more creative.

In my experience, I have found it useful to play around with multiple route options. I would say, ignore the most obvious being the Qantas options via MEL,SYD,DXB as your chances of scoring thoes are slim. I would also ignore BA's options as the co-payments are prohibitive. I find CX and MH are the most generous.

1) Identify the possible routes open to you for I presume ADL to LHR. Aadvantage only allows you to transit through region Asia 1, Asia 2 and DOH for award bookings to Europe from South Pacific. For example:


2) Get a BA Executive Club account and use the Avios award booking search tool to find availability for MH and CX.

3) Booking online is available only for some partner airlines such as QF and BA. With CX, QR and MH for example, you'll have to call up Aadvantage to make the booking. AA has a new rule in place whereby booking fees are waived if you are not able to make the booking online, when the routing is not offered. Booking fees are waived for EXPs in any circumstances.

4) Don't be afraid to use a combination of airlines. For example if you cannot find ADL/HKG but there is one for HKG/LHR with CX, then look for ADL/SYD and SYD/HKG with QF to connect to the HKG/LHR service. If you are worried if the flights cannot connect, confirm it with the Aadvantage agent, who will advise you. The award rates for such a routing is exactly the same as it would be the more "direct" option. You can also stopover if the next available flight is the next day (under 24h). The award rates remains the same. This is very handy as most QF flights out of Australia leave in the day, arriving HK in the afternoon, when most of the flights with lighter loads to Europe has left in the morning.

I'm not sure how to find availability for QR but I try to avoid them anyway due to their lounge access rules in DOH.

Sometimes the search for availability is more exciting than the trip! Don't get frustrated. Take a break and reassess your options. The combination is out there waiting to be found! Hope this helps!


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 07 Jul 2015

Total posts 56

Thanks TheRealBabushka! That's very comprenhensive!

I'm looking to travel probably last week of July, first week of August and as luck would have it (I think it's lucky route wise) I'll be in MEL around that time for a wedding - which may give me more options.

I'm not fussed about who I fly with really or even making a hop up to SYD or BNE to secure the best option. I'll consider all that as I get within 333 days of booking :)


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 13 Jul 2012

Total posts 154

I normally try to book my flights with AA well in advance.

Note that only BA, QF and AY bookings will be available online; lots of other partners can only be booked by phone. I made several business class bookings on Etihad via AA miles in the past year and the availability was excellent.

Another thing to consider is that due to UK taxation on long-haul flights it is always outrageously expensive to fly to UK as compared to other European countries.

A booking to UK in business may well have an extra $700 in taxes attached to it, while a booking to let's say Milan on Etihad will only add $150 or so in taxes.

Good luck!


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 07 Jul 2015

Total posts 56

Thanks Dimi. In your experience is the point cost the same on Etihad? Looking at AA.com it seems to be a standard 45k for Y, 60k for J and 80 for First.

Michael Kao

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 06 Nov 2014

Total posts 163

You can fly into London and fly out of another European city to avoid the hefty APD. 

I would avoid MH simply because their business class is well below par and with the ehle restructuring now, you never know if your flight will be cancelled or not. 

CX if you book really early the availability used to be quite good, but recently they have been less generous and they are talking about reducing the award availability to partners. IMO, if you can find seats in CX, go for it. 

If you happen to be in MEL, in my experience, MEL-DXB-LHR has a better chance of finding award seats on QF than SYD. 


Member since 03 Oct 2014

Total posts 6

It's more points with Etihad becasue you have to use 2 rewards due to AA Rounting rules. So Europe is 75,000 in buisness instead of 60,000.. However personally if you have the points I would still look at them. They have great Award availbility and you can fly Businesss Suites or First Class Suites on their brand new A380 all the way from Sydney to London! 


Member since 04 Nov 2012

Total posts 62

The OP going next year book as soon as the dates become available. Trying to book less than 9 months out is near impossible from OZ return.

Try JAL (free to join) for finding CX award seats, for all try Award Nexus.

If you dont have the time to find flights or spend possibly hours on the phone to airlines there are US based award bookers charge about $50 per pax who will do all the keg work for you like:


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