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The complete guide to American Web Special awards

Oct. 06, 2021
8 min read
Side of an American Airlines plane with engine and wing
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American Airlines is — for right this second — one of the airlines doing dynamic pricing right.

For now, the carrier has stuck with an award chart for most of its tickets. But American added a limited form of dynamic pricing when it introduced Economy Web Special awards in 2018. Although the pricing is no longer limited to economy tickets, these discounted tickets are issued on a route-by-route basis. And the discount varies by day and when you book.

American usually discounts Web Special awards below the cost of a MileSAAver award ticket, but it can sometimes be more. You’ll usually see higher prices when only AAnytime — American’s “last seat” award ticket — award space is available.

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Here's everything you need to know about American Airlines Web Special award tickets including what Web Special awards are, how to find them and the restrictions surrounding them. Being able to make use of Web Special awards will help to maximize your American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

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What are American Web Special awards?

Web Special awards often offer discounted award tickets on many American flights — even in business class. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As discussed earlier, Web Special awards are a product of American’s move towards dynamic pricing where the cost of awards varies just as paid ticket prices vary. These awards usually provide a discount over MileSAAver awards but also include more restrictions around changing your ticket.

In the past, we’ve seen a few crazy cheap Web Special awards. For example, the airline once offered 10,000-mile round-trip economy flights to Australia and New Zealand. I’ve personally booked New York-JFK to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) via Los Angeles (LAX) for just 45,000 miles in business class with Web Special awards.

Generally, however, deals won’t be quite this good.

In most cases, expect to save 5,000 to 10,000 miles per ticket. For example, I found a Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) to Cancun (CUN) for 10,000 miles one-way in economy. In this case, you’d get a nice 5,000 mile discount from the standard 15,000 MileSAAver price.

Further, you’ll sometimes find that Web Special awards are more expensive than the published MileSAAver rate. This higher cost usually happens when the flight is out of MileSAAver award space. As such, American is effectively offering you a discounted AAnytime ticket. You may find this option useful when booking a last-minute ticket or flying on high-demand routes.

For example, this flight from Charlotte (CLT) to London-Heathrow (LHR) didn’t have available MileSAAver award space in business class. This flight would typically cost 57,500 miles one-way. An AAnytime ticket costs a huge 180,000 miles one-way, but American is offering a Web Special award for 104,500 miles one-way.

This still isn't a great deal, but a good option to have if you need to fly on a specific day.

(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

Web Special awards are slightly more restrictive than MileSAAver

There is one significant restriction to Web Special awards: you can’t change your ticket. So if you want to make changes, you’ll need to cancel your trip and book a new one once your miles are refunded.

Thankfully, American Airlines recently removed cancellation fees for Web Special tickets. You can cancel your flight online and American Airlines will automatically refund your AAdvantage miles to your account.

The inability to change Web Special awards isn’t a massive deal in the end. The only thing you have to lose when canceling and rebooking a ticket is — possibly — the cost of the new flight being higher than your original flight. This is far better than the high fees American Airlines used to charge for Web Special cancellations, making Web Special awards a lot more flexible now than before.

Related: American Airlines further improves AAdvantage with added flexibility

How to find Web Special awards

(Photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.com)

Finding Web Special awards is simple: search the American website like you would for any other award ticket by selecting "Redeem miles". Web Special awards will appear alongside MileSAAver and AAnytime awards.

Start your search by heading to AA.com and entering your search details. Make sure to check the “Redeem Miles” box before starting your search.

(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

If your dates are flexible, use the calendar search tool to find the lowest award price for the month. This tool shows you pricing for all the dates in a given month. You can access it by clicking the “Calendar” button at the upper right-hand corner of the search results screen.

(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

American Airlines highlights the lowest price in green, which generally indicates a Web Special award if it’s less than other prices displayed that month. If you’re interested in booking, click the date and then click the blue “Apply Changes” button at the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

You can’t tell which awards are Web Specials from the initial search results. Instead, you’ll get this notice when you click on the award you’d like to book. Here, American will sell us a Web Special or MileSAAver Main Cabin award.

If you’re comfortable with the Web Special restrictions, click the Confirm button under the Web Special option and continue your booking as usual.

(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

How to earn AAdvantage miles

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

If you're interested in redeeming miles for Web Special awards, you might want to earn AAdvantage miles first.

There are several cobranded American Airlines cards you can use to earn these miles quickly. These cards let you earn AAdvantage miles on every purchase you make. Even better, some of these cards offer lucrative travel perks like free checked bags, priority boarding and even Admirals Club access.

Here’s a look at some of the best American cobranded credit cards and current signup bonuses:

The information for the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select and CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you're interested, you could consider opening a Citi Premier® Card and earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. The points may or may not post in time for you to transfer them, but you'd be ready if the opportunity arises again.

Related: The best airline credit cards

Bottom line

American’s Web Special awards are a great way to maximize your AAdvantage miles. You can use them to save miles on international and domestic award tickets in economy class and premium cabins. I’ve personally used Web Special awards to save tens of thousands of American miles over the years.

These awards got even better when American Airlines removed cancellation fees. Now, Web Special awards have almost as much flexibility as MileSAAver awards. Remember, you can cancel a Web Special award and redeposit miles for free, but you still can’t change a Web Special award.

Featured image by (Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock.com)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best for American Airlines lounge access
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 2X miles
2X2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
1X1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases

Intro offer

50,000 miles
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Annual Fee

$450

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

 includes a complimentary membership to the American Airlines Admirals Club lounge. Users can also add up to 10 authorized users (for no additional cost), and they get their own access — including two traveling companions. The primary cardmember also enjoys priority check in, screening and boarding for themselves and up to eight travel companions. Other perks include a free checked bag for domestic travel, 25% off eligible inflight purchases and $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Pros

  • Offers Admirals Club lounge access.
  • Help earning up to 10,000 EQMs that go toward elite status.
  • Priority check-in, airport screening, boarding and a free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions.
  • 25% discount on inflight food and beverages.
  • Receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Fee Statement Credit.

Cons

  • No travel protection benefits.
  • Miles redemption limited to American Airlines and its Oneworld partners.
  • 25% inflight credit doesn't include Wi-Fi.
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® Bonus Miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
Best for American Airlines lounge access
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

2X2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
1X1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

    50,000 miles
  • Annual Fee

    $450
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

 includes a complimentary membership to the American Airlines Admirals Club lounge. Users can also add up to 10 authorized users (for no additional cost), and they get their own access — including two traveling companions. The primary cardmember also enjoys priority check in, screening and boarding for themselves and up to eight travel companions. Other perks include a free checked bag for domestic travel, 25% off eligible inflight purchases and $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Pros

  • Offers Admirals Club lounge access.
  • Help earning up to 10,000 EQMs that go toward elite status.
  • Priority check-in, airport screening, boarding and a free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions.
  • 25% discount on inflight food and beverages.
  • Receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Fee Statement Credit.

Cons

  • No travel protection benefits.
  • Miles redemption limited to American Airlines and its Oneworld partners.
  • 25% inflight credit doesn't include Wi-Fi.
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® Bonus Miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation