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One of the general rules of airline miles is that your miles can usually go further using miles on partner airlines than on the airline itself. And this is especially true when using American Airlines’ AAdvantage miles. While AAward AAvailability might be tight — or force connecting flights just because the airline can — you can get great value out of AA miles on partners.
Today, we are seeing this play out on transcontinental routes between New York City and Los Angeles (LAX). For reference, American Airlines will charge you 32,500 miles one-way in business class on its nonstop transcontinental routes from New York City to Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO).
First class on these nonstop transcontinental American Airlines flights cost 50,000 miles each way, if you can find the MileSAAver availability that pops up from time to time:
However, if you search for nonstop award flights on AA.com between NYC and Los Angeles starting in June, you’ll see a lower value for many dates:
These 25,000 mile options are “Alaska Airlines” award flights — but on ex-Virgin America aircraft. Although the flights are listed under business class, these are Virgin America’s well-regarded first class seats. And while Alaska will be replacing these excellent first class seats eventually, for now you’ll be able to fly coast-to-coast in style:
And some of these dates have wide-open availability:
If a date isn’t showing up on the calendar at 25,000 miles, don’t give up yet. I’ve already run across a handful of dates where the calendar shows “32.5K” but there are options at 25,000 on that day. For example, June 5 is showing at 32.5K on the calendar (see screenshot above), but 25,000 options show up when you select that date:
That said, if you’re looking to sleep through the transcontinental flight, these recliner-style first class Virgin America seats might not fit the bill. Instead, you might want to opt for paying 7,500 miles more for the American Airlines A321T lie-flat business class seats.
You can also redeem 25,000 Alaska MileagePlan miles for these Alaska award flights. However, based on the latest TPG valuations and other sweet spots of Alaska miles, it’d be better to redeem AAdvantage miles rather than MileagePlan miles — if you have the choice.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
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- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
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- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
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- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees