Off-peak awards are great – it gives you a chance to stretch your miles and be able to experience more places for less. Unfortunately, not every airline publishes off-peak awards. The good news is that American Airlines is one that does have these special awards. We will break down each of the zones that American Airlines uses for their off-peak awards. The first one we looked at was hawaii. The next was to North Asia. This time, we will look at Europe.
American Airlines Off-Peak Awards – Europe
American Airlines offers several off-peak awards and they actually have a couple of ways that their off-peak awards are better than US Airways. For example, the awards themselves do not only need to be on AA flights (US Airway off-peak awards must only be on US Airway flights) and you can book one-way awards with AA (US Airway awards must be round-trip). Given the amount of flights that these advantages give us at a decreased level, the American Airline off-peak awards should definitely not be missed.
North America to Europe
American Airlines, like US Airways, offers off-peak awards to Europe. Unlike US Airways, the calendar of off-peak dates for AA awards is much more generous. US Airways has dates of January 15 – February 28 while American Airlines has the date spread of October 15 – May 15. However, AA’s pricing is a little more than US Airways. While US Air charges 35,000 miles (5,000 fewer miles if you have the US Airways credit card), AA requires 40,000 miles.
For the purposes of award regions, American Airlines classifies North America as containing the 48 United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean (including Bermuda and the Bahamas) and Hawaii. Hawaii makes an interesting part of the region as it gives yet another way to create an incredible trip of sorts.
- Regular award rate in coach – 30,000 miles one-way
- Off-peak award rate in coach – 20,000 miles one way
- Off-peak dates – October 15 – May 15
The off-peak dates make up 58% of the calendar year which gives plenty of opportunities to get to Europe for 20,000 fewer miles than normally required. Actually, considering that over half of the year is considered off-peak, it should be considered normal for the award rate to be 40,000 miles roundtrip to Europe. 🙂
The Good and the Bad
Of course, these awards can be booked as one-ways at half the price of a roundtrip as well making it possible to get to Europe for only 20,000 miles. That is an incredible deal, especially since there are quite a few airlines that will get you there (AA off-peak pricing is available on their partners as well when using AA miles).
The downside is that flights on British Airways will demand higher surcharges that would be a trip-killer. Think $700 for a coach award ticket! So, going to Europe or leaving from Europe, you will want to avoid taking British Airways and departing from London. In fact, avoid departing from London at all.
It makes it very easy to get an idea of what is going to give you huge surcharges before you pick the flights to redeem for – anything going to Europe and starting with BA (British Airways) is going to have high charges. The other popular ones that you will see offered on AA are US (US Airways), AB (Air Berlin), and AA (American Airlines) and these will not be leveraging the huge surcharges at you. Those three airlines offer a great network of cities that they fly to so you should still be able to make your way around Europe while avoiding those huge charges.
Availability is very good. With that much of the calendar available and that many cities to visit, you should have no problem putting together a European trip during the off-peak season. I looked at many US gateway cities to European destinations for travel for 6 people and found a lot of flights available! Granted, many of these will be those dreaded British Airway flights, but you can still find a lot of non-surcharge availability throughout the calendar.
One thing to be aware of with American Airlines is that they do charge close-in booking fees. That means, if you are within 21 days of departure, you will receive a $75 fee assessed for that reservation. So, while availability on some routes open up more the closer to departure, be aware that the gamble of waiting for that availability may cost you a bit if it is within the 21 days.
Booking the Award and Squeezing Value
Booking these awards are just like booking any other awards at AA.com. Simply put your departure and arrival cities in and make sure that your dates of travel fall within the October 15 – May 15 timeframe and every saver seat to Europe will display at 20,000 miles one-way / 40,000 miles roundtrip!
As I have said before, if you want to get a little more involved with squeezing the most value out of your miles as you can, you can mix and match off-peak awards to do that. For instance, the off-peak dates for Hawaii from the mainland are January 12 – March 13 and August 22 – December 15. Of those dates, only August 22 – October 14 fall outside of the off-peak dates for travel from Hawaii to Europe. So, you could assemble a trip that involved flying to Hawaii for X amount of days before leaving from Hawaii to Europe and then Europe back to home (assuming home is in the US). Yes, that is a lot of distance to fly in coach, but it is totally doable, especially when you realize how many miles you are saving and what it is costing! 🙂
For our example, I chose to go from Chicago to Honolulu (stay a few days), then from Honolulu to Paris (stay another few days) and then fly from Paris back to Chicago. Total cost? 57,500 miles and $99! That is 2,500 fewer miles than most airlines charge just for a roundtrip award from the US to Europe! Plus, the taxes are pretty low as well. This is just one way you could mix up the calendars to create a great trip opportunity.
This is just another fantastic off-peak option from American Airlines and one that gives you access to Europe for only 15,000 more miles than a roundtrip domestic ticket. Being able to get to Europe at that low price is definitely something that puts it within reach of most people. Especially if you sign-up for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card that gives you 50,000 miles!