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If you have American AAdvantage® miles burning a hole in your pocket thanks to the recent deals on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, there’s nothing more disappointing than trying to book a ticket to Europe or beyond and only finding flights with $700+ surcharges on British Airways, or AA flights at over twice the MileSAAver® price.
To help, we’ve updated the below table to reflect the 2017 schedules of American and its OneWorld partners (Air Berlin, Finnair, and Iberia). It lists most of the routes from North America to Europe that let you avoid British Airways flights.
With the exception of Iberia you’ll avoid fuel surcharges altogether, and with Iberia the charges are much less than if you used British Airways to cross the Atlantic.[table “315” not found /]
How can this help me?
The hardest part about American miles is finding space on flights across the Atlantic that aren’t on British Airways.
So if what you find first on AA.com doesn’t work for you, try looking for segments on the partners above individually until you find one that does work. Then, work backward to find flights that will connect to and from that flight.
Make sure you use this trick on AA.com to display partner airline flights, as they don’t always display by default.
If you’re looking for Iberia flights, they won’t display on AA.com, but you can see how to search for them here.
That said, finding Business Class space is very, very difficult on American, Iberia, Finnair, and Air Berlin, but for Economy Class you can often find availability on these lower surcharge partners and save $700+ in fees.
There’s no need to entirely avoid British Airways either. For connecting flights within Europe the surcharges are much more reasonable than on long haul flights. And even if you fly entirely on British Airways, some departing airports in Europe are much cheaper than others.
Can I go via the Middle East?
The Gulf carriers Etihad, Qatar, and Royal Jordanian are tempting options to get across the Atlantic.
But you can’t travel to Europe or Asia via the Middle East on one award ticket. Instead you’ll be charged for two separate award flights, which often isn’t worth it.
You can travel to Africa via the Middle East as long as you’re flying Qatar Airways via Doha, which is a really useful option given British Airways is the only real alternative.
In addition, Qatar needs to publish a fare from your origin to your destination. For example, flying Qatar Airways from Los Angeles to Johannesburg, South Africa, you’ll have to make sure Qatar sells tickets with that route.
Usually that’s only an issue if you’re trying to add connecting flights from smaller cities like Oakland or San Diego that aren’t gateways. The solution is to find your way to the gateway city another way.
What if there’s no award space yet?
The good news is American lets you change the date of award tickets for free as long as the first time you book your ticket is 21 or more days before departure.
That means you can book a British Airways flight and if something better opens up, you can switch to it then, even the week of your trip, and get the fuel charges refunded.
It’s worth checking regularly as your flight gets closer to see if you can get a better time, or save on surcharges.