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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Amy, who missed an opportunity to redeem miles on a recent flight:

We put our AAdvantage miles to good use in booking round-trip tickets to Brazil in 2018, but we also needed to fly LATAM within Brazil to visit Iguazu Falls from Rio. I was aware that LATAM was a oneworld alliance partner, and that domestic economy trips in Brazil cost 7,500 miles one-way, so I went to AA.com to see if I could book that flight as award travel using my AAdvantage miles.

Unfortunately, LATAM did not come up on the website during my attempted award booking, so I ended up buying our tickets using a credit card. Later, I found out that all I needed to do was call American Airlines to book the LATAM tickets as an award over the phone. I hope your readers will learn from my mistake and be aware that you may be able to redeem miles on American Airlines partners even if the flights are not available online.

Many airlines let you redeem miles for flights not only on their own metal, but also on a variety of partners. However, finding and booking partner awards isn’t always straightforward, since award space may be obscured depending on where you look. You generally won’t see all your options in one place, so learning where to search for availability is key to mastering the art of award travel.

American Airlines has improved its online partner award booking options over the past six months, doubling the number of airlines that show up in AAdvantage search results. However, several key partners like LATAM, JAL and Cathay Pacific are still absent. To find those awards, try searching either through British Airways (on BA.com) or Qantas (on Qantas.com). Once you find the seats you want, you can call American Airlines reservations and feed the flight information to an AAdvantage phone agent. They’ll typically waive the $35 phone booking fee for awards that can’t be booked online, but only upon request, so make sure you ask!

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Amy a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured image via Shutterstock.

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2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.