The Basics

Why I Like The Expensive AA AAnytime Awards

on hold with an airline
Written by Charlie

The AA AAnytime awards an expensive class of awards that let you book a ticket – even if there are no award seats available. They can be very useful!

As miles and points collectors/burners, there are a few things that we may consider to be the terrible redemptions. In fact, if you redeem for some of these and tell anyone, you may be considered to be out of the club! 🙂 One of those redemptions are awards like the AA AAnytime Awards. They are expensive but they actually do have a use.

Why I Like the Expensive AA AAnytime Awards

What Are AA AAnytime Awards?

Link: American Airlines Award Chart

American Airline AAnytime awards are awards that basically are bookable anytime. It doesn’t matter if American hasn’t released award space for a particular date (which is, unfortunately, quite common). AAnytime awards let you book a ticket even if there is only one seat left on the plane. It is the award you book when you have to take that flight and you don’t want to pay the enormous cost typically associated with those last-minute/full-fare tickets.

AA AAnytime awards

A view of the AA AAnytime awards for Athens – Philadelphia for right now

AA AAnytime awards

The saver awards on that same flight – almost non-existent

How Much Do AA AAnytime Awards Cost?

But, they are expensive! American provides 2 levels of AAnytime awards and they can be more than a business class award ticket when booking economy! Here is an example:

  • US – Europe | Economy Saver – 30,000 miles
  • US – Europe | Economy AAnytime Level 1 – 47,000 miles
  • US – Europe | Economy AAnytime Level 2 – 65,000 miles
  • US – Europe | Business Saver – 57,500 miles
  • US – Europe | Business AAnytime Level 1 – 110,000 miles
  • US – Europe | Business AAnytime Level 2 – 135,000 miles

As you can see, you will be paying a lot of miles for the privilege of securing an award ticket when there is no Saver availability. But, why would you? With American’s partners, you would likely be able to find some option at the 30,000 mile amount, even if there is a little bit of flexibility required on your part to get those dates.  It is certainly better than paying more for economy than a regular business award would cost!

So, Why Do I Like These Expensive Awards?

The reason I like them is that they are there when I need them. I would never just book one of these awards for no reason. I would do what I said above – check for partner options and, if none are available, change the dates/cities a bit.

But, there are times when you need to be on a particular flight and that is when these American AAnytime awards can give value. Here is how they came in handy for me.

Death in the Family

One year ago today, my grandfather passed away. He was a terrific man who had taught me a lot and I like to think we had a special bond for a couple of reasons – I was his first grandchild and I shared his name and the name of his first son (my father). Beyond that, he really was a kind man who gave me a lot of teaching and experiences that I will always remember and hold dear.

Since I was in Greece, it was not as quick to get there as it used to be when I was a simple 3.5 hour drive away. But, as soon as I got the call that he had passed away, I jumped on AA’s website and booked the flight the next morning from Athens – Philadelphia – Albany. It was summer time on a non-stop flight from Europe to the US – of course there was no saver availability on the flight. I could have flown some other options that would have taken me up to Finland for an overnight and then to JFK and then bought a ticket/driven the rest of the way. But, when it is something like this, I do not really have the time to be creative to get the award price I want.

What about cash tickets? Again, forget it! A last minute ticket from Europe to the US, even roundtrip, was almost $2,000 that day. No way I was able to book that (and that was in coach!). It had to be miles.

How Many Miles Did It Cost?

The ticket I booked cost 47,500 miles for the exact flights I wanted and getting there as quick as possible. If there had been saver availability, it would have been 30,000 miles. But, I may not have been able to get the last segment at saver since I never saw it available on other dates so it would have been another problem.

An extra 27,500 miles for a coach ticket? To me, it was worth it. I can always earn more miles for that special trip someplace or we can fly economy on a trip instead of business. But I wanted to be there with my family for the service and it was something that was very important to me. So, I was just happy that I was able to snag one of the last tickets on that flight to get there.

In the end, I actually cancelled it as they moved the service out a while so I was able to do something different. But, I was very glad I was able to just secure a ticket and be ready to go, thanks to the very expensive AA AAnytime awards.


Oh, and when you book a AA AAnytime award ticket, you actually get to select a seat that would require you to pay extra – those extra space seats. That is free when you book an AAnytime award and actually not even selectable if you are booking a Saver seat. So, at least there is some consolation for your extra miles should you need one of those tickets!

Have you ever booked an American AAnytime award? How much more expensive was it?

Featured image courtesy Stefano Panzeri via

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • I have a few times… DFW – HNL in J/F Special present for my wife. It was worth it.

  • I really like this post. My fiance and I recently booked a FINNAIR flight from PRG to BKK for next summer (via AA) and wondered why anyone would ever book AAnytime awards when they’re so much more expensive.

    I would definitely use whatever was at my disposal (points, miles, cash, cc, borrow, etc.) in order to be with my family in times of dire circumstances.

    So glad you were able to make it to be with your family.

  • have booked them many, many times to see my family (or for them to see me) in LA area…40k miles (20k each-way) for a PHL-LAX R/T, last minute, is a solid value (often more than 2 cent/point), and i get an extra-legroom seat* each way, which would otherwise cost an extra $150+R/T (it’s marketed as MCE, but these are just in the bulkhead or exit rows, as there’s no actual MCE cabin on the ex-US PHL-LAX a321’s…and i’m usually no status or Gold status, so i’m paying all or some of that otherwise).

  • i totally second this. SENSIBLE AAnytime awards (and its equivalent at UA) are one of the sole reasons why these airlines are still superior over others.

    Purely revenue-based mileage currencies completely remove this. I’d hate to be the one fiercely loyal to an airline and only to get stuck in the tough choice of either coughing up the king’s ransom or missing the last chance to say my farewells.

    Except on certain extreme days, AA caps at 30.0k. UA’s upcoming “everyday award” caps at 32.5k. DL is a sky-high 65.0k. That’s how they say thanks for your blind one-way loyalty.

  • There are more levels. US-
    Southern SA is 30k in saaver. Anytime goes from 55k to 75k to 130k. Can’t see paying 130k being cheaper than any out of pocket.