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American Airlines Vacations is AA’s flight package booking website, and it’s clearly trying to drum up business as it’s recently been offering some solid promotions. Last week, we shared how you could save $130 off an already-great flight and hotel package to Hawaii. Now, let’s show you how you can earn 20,000 bonus AAdvantage miles — worth $280 at current TPG valuations — by booking an Asia or South Pacific getaway.
Before we get into how you can maximize this, let’s review the basics of the promotion:
- Book by: December 26, 2018
- New Zealand: Auckland (AKL), Christchurch (CHC), Queenstown (ZQN) and Wellington (WLG)
- Australia: Adelaide, (ADL), Brisbane (BNE), Cairns (CNS), Melbourne (MEL), Perth (PER) and Sydney (SYD)
- China: Beijing (PEK) and Shanghai (PVG)
- Vietnam: Hanoi (HAN) and Ho Chi Minh (SNE)
- Other: Hong Kong (HKG); Tokyo, Japan (NRT); Seoul, South Korea (ICN); Bangkok, Thailand (BKK); Jakarta, Indonesia (CGK); Taipei, Taiwan (TPE); Singapore (SIN); Nadi, Fiji (NAN); and Bali (DPS)
- Bonus miles will be awarded to the first traveler’s AAdvantage account
- Miles will post “six to eight weeks after travel is complete”
- Although AA Vacations allows you to select a hotel stay that’s shorter than the length of the trip, the T&C of this promotion requires the hotel stay to match the length of the trip
- No minimum stay requirement is listed in the T&C
While this promotion is great for anyone that’s looking for a trip across the Pacific, it’s especially good for a year-end mileage run. In addition to being able to get a cheap flight+hotel package, some of the AAVacations-booked flights post as Special Fares. This means that you’ll earn award miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) based on the flight mileage, instead of based on the cost of the flight.
For an example of how powerful that can be, let’s take this mileage run example from Orlando (MCO) to Beijing (PEK):
Based on standard fares, this flight option would earn:
- Award miles: 1,970 (before elite bonuses)
- Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM): 15,912
- Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD): 394
While that’s a respectable 3 cents per mile mileage run, it doesn’t earn you many award miles or EQDs. But, if this same flight is purchased through AA Vacations — making sure that the flights are coding with the critical Special Fares asterisk — you’d pay as little as $520 and earn:
- Award miles: 7,956 (before elite bonuses) + 20,000 bonus miles
- Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM): 15,912
- Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD): 1,591
The 27,956 award miles for this trip alone are worth $391 at current TPG valuations — and that’s before adding in any elite status bonuses. Speaking of elite status, this Special Fares booking earns more than 4x the EQD of what you’d earn by booking a standard fare.
Citi cardholders will want to start their search on this page and then click on the 20,000-mile bonus promotion in the homepage header to get “exclusive access to our best airfares plus a special 10% discount off our already guaranteed lowest prices on hotel stays, rental cars, tours and activities when you book a vacation package.”
For example, the same flights, dates and hotels in the search above drops to $514 when you book through the Citi landing page.
That’s just a savings of $7 for this two-night itinerary at the cheapest hotel option, but the 10% additional savings on the hotel stay can really add up for longer stays or at more-expensive hotels.
If you’re not sure where to go, AA Vacations just added a section to its page showing the best prices on vacation packages. Enter an origin city in the search bar to limit the suggested results to your preferred departure airport. Note that prices listed are based on two passengers.
Between solid flight packages and these promotions, AA Vacations is worth a second look for AA elites and those where American Airlines is the cheapest flight option anyways. Just remember to price-compare with other travel package websites like Orbitz or Expedia to make sure that you’re getting the cheapest price — or calculate that you’re fine overpaying a bit to score excellent promotions like 20,000 bonus miles.
If you're a frequent American flyer but don't have status, additional perks that come with this card like first free checked bag on domestic AA itineraries, preferred boarding on American flights can be extremely valuable.
- Earn up to 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles: 40,000 AAdvantage® miles after making $2,000 in purchases in first 3 months and 10,000 after making a total of $6,000 in purchases in first 12 months of account opening*
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations*
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at restaurants*
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
- Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card*
- No Foreign Transaction Fees*
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
- Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
- Receive 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*