How difficult is it to book AA award flights? | Australian Frequent Flyer
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How difficult is it to book AA award flights?

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one9

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Sep 14, 2005
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I am considering joining AA so that I can transfer points from Amex through Starwood to AA. I believe once I transfer 2,000,000 points to AA, then I get lifetime AA Platinum status (sapphire).

My questions:

1. AA Platinum status is equal to Sapphire oneworld status, but it appears that this is not good enough for lounge access. On the Platinum PDF file I donwloaded from AA, it lists a benefit as:
"A discounted rate on Admirals Club Membership"
I would have expected lounge access to be complimentry. Qantas Gold (sapphire) can access Qantas and oneworld lounges when flying oneworld. So is it the case that AA Platinum does not provide complimentry lounge access?
(It says the same for AA Executive Platinum which is the highest status - Emarald)

2. I would like to hear from people who have booked AA reward tickets. Especially those who have booked (a) Qantas domestic flights and (b) flights from Australia to Asia. Was the process easy or difficult?

- Is it possible to book other carrier rewards (Qantas, Cathay Pacific etc) online? Or does it need to be done by phone? If has to be done by phone, is it possible to see availability online? Do you call AU or US number?

- AA have a policy which really doesn't suit me well of charging a $50 fee if booking a reward ticket less than 21 days or $100 fee if you book even closer (7 days??). For a Qantas domestic ticket, this fee is more than the fuel surcharge fee. 21 days is a long time.


3. Is it possible to achieve lifetime AA Executive Platinum by accumulating a certain number of points (eg. 3,000,000) ??
- Furthermore, do AA provide information about lifetime status through points anywhere? I can't find it on their website. I have read on a forum that AA do not, and that they may change it at any time. Any opinion on this?


All in all, AA does not seem as attractive as it first seemed. Whilst they don't charge fuel surcharges on award tickets, they charge a hefty booking fee if you book within 21 days (I nearly always do this). Further, it seems their highest status and second highest status is not equivalent to Qantas highest status and second highest status as it does not provide complimentry lounge acccess. And whilst I am not sure, it seems that it may not be possible to book oneworld flights (eg. Australia - Hong Kong) online.

I look forward to having my questions answered and hearing from anyone who has experience with redeeming AA reward flights.
 

Dave Noble

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one9 said:
I am considering joining AA so that I can transfer points from Amex through Starwood to AA. I believe once I transfer 2,000,000 points to AA, then I get lifetime AA Platinum status (sapphire).
Absolutely correct


one9 said:
1. AA Platinum status is equal to Sapphire oneworld status, but it appears that this is not good enough for lounge access. On the Platinum PDF file I donwloaded from AA, it lists a benefit as:
"A discounted rate on Admirals Club Membership"
I would have expected lounge access to be complimentry. Qantas Gold (sapphire) can access Qantas and oneworld lounges when flying oneworld. So is it the case that AA Platinum does not provide complimentry lounge access?

(It says the same for AA Executive Platinum which is the highest status - Emarald)
You do get complimentary lounge access to Qantas lounges as per QF Gold, excepting that you do not get lounge access within America when travelling on a domestic itinery within America



one9 said:
2. I would like to hear from people who have booked AA reward tickets. Especially those who have booked (a) Qantas domestic flights and (b) flights from Australia to Asia. Was the process easy or difficult?
The process is easy; just phone AA and make a booking. As long as there is X class award availability, then QF is available. Also, you can redeem on JL and JL do seem, ime, to have much more availability than QF for awards. Also, when booking on BA, you can redeem awards into V class as well as X class and that makes a huge difference. I was booking 2 awards for next month and could choose almost any day for a flight between Australia and UK. With QF points, there was nothing at all

one9 said:
- Is it possible to book other carrier rewards (Qantas, Cathay Pacific etc) online? Or does it need to be done by phone? If has to be done by phone, is it possible to see availability online? Do you call AU or US number?
There is an Australia number or you can phone US.

one9 said:
- AA have a policy which really doesn't suit me well of charging a $50 fee if booking a reward ticket less than 21 days or $100 fee if you book even closer (7 days??). For a Qantas domestic ticket, this fee is more than the fuel surcharge fee. 21 days is a long time.
Personally, I wouldn't call 21 days a long time; even so, USD50 is still less than QF Fuel fines, especially if taking a multi sector trip ( e.g. CNS-TSV-BNE-SYD , which was one I just booked ). Note : if you are Executive Platinum, no fees apply

one9 said:
3. Is it possible to achieve lifetime AA Executive Platinum by accumulating a certain number of points (eg. 3,000,000) ??
No

one9 said:
- Furthermore, do AA provide information about lifetime status through points anywhere? I can't find it on their website. I have read on a forum that AA do not, and that they may change it at any time. Any opinion on this?
As you will have read, it is an unpublished benefit, but I see no reason why they would be changing it

one9 said:
All in all, AA does not seem as attractive as it first seemed. Whilst they don't charge fuel surcharges on award tickets, they charge a hefty booking fee if you book within 21 days (I nearly always do this). Further, it seems their highest status and second highest status is not equivalent to Qantas highest status and second highest status as it does not provide complimentry lounge acccess. And whilst I am not sure, it seems that it may not be possible to book oneworld flights (eg. Australia - Hong Kong) online.
Well, I would say that the $50 is still less than fuel fines, especially on international itineries. The statuses are equivalent excepting for lounge access when travelling domestically in America ( as long as you have a same-day international connection inbound or outbound, they will allow lounge access in America ). When travelling elsewhere ,such as Australia , no lounge problems at all. Not being able to book them online I find to be a minor issue ; just make a phone call

Dave
 

NM

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one9 said:
2. I would like to hear from people who have booked AA reward tickets. Especially those who have booked (a) Qantas domestic flights and (b) flights from Australia to Asia. Was the process easy or difficult?
I booked BNE-MEL-AKL and return in business class (had a choice of business or economy) for 3 seats on the same flights during the Christmas school holidays. Booking was made about 6 months ahead of time.

Availability for AA is basically the same as for QF FF members, with the difference being that QF Gold and QF Plat members get access to more economy seats (T class), while AA Plat and Exec Plat members get better access to BA economy seats (V class). But remember that the only way to get to QF Gold and QF Plat is by paid flights.
one9 said:
- Is it possible to book other carrier rewards (Qantas, Cathay Pacific etc) online? Or does it need to be done by phone? If has to be done by phone, is it possible to see availability online? Do you call AU or US number?
You can book on any OneWorld carrier as well as any of the AA partner airlines, including JL and TN. I made my booking by phone. Was quick and painless. BUT - do you research first using a tool such as ExperFlyer so you know what flights are available, which saves a lot of time on the phone.
one9 said:
- AA have a policy which really doesn't suit me well of charging a $50 fee if booking a reward ticket less than 21 days or $100 fee if you book even closer (7 days??). For a Qantas domestic ticket, this fee is more than the fuel surcharge fee. 21 days is a long time.
QF awards are one-way, while AA are return. So your US$50 is for a return flight. A QF domestic return flight with only one sector each way will cost two fuel fines of A$37.60 each, making A$75.20. At today's exchange rate, that is US$56.57, so not a great deal different.

And note that the last two award trips I have booked (one using QF points and one using AA points) were only available using one-stop itineraries in each direction (BNE-ADL-PER//PER-SYD-BNE and BNE-MEL-AKL//AKL-MEL-BNE), so the fuel fines would have been a lot more than US$50 for each of those trips.
3. Is it possible to achieve lifetime AA Executive Platinum by accumulating a certain number of points (eg. 3,000,000) ??
no
one9 said:
- Furthermore, do AA provide information about lifetime status through points anywhere? I can't find it on their website. I have read on a forum that AA do not, and that they may change it at any time. Any opinion on this?
AA lifetime status is earned through reaching lifetime miles targets, not points. Q-Points are only used for annual membership status.
 
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drron

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Better still if you are a qantas club member you get access to the admirals lounge and 2 free drinks-AA members pay for their drinks.Boy am I glad I became a life member when it was amazingly cheap.Life golden wings for mrsdrron looks a little sick though as she continually points out to me.
I have found AA to be easier to book award flights than qantas.
 

serfty

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drron said:
Better still if you are a qantas club member you get access to the admirals lounge and 2 free drinks-AA members pay for their drinks. ...
It's not limited to 2 only;If you have used your coupons, just go to the service desk and ask for more.... ;)
 

bigdog

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The biggest issues you will find with AA is actually fliying with them. They are consistently appauling in all aspects of modern day air travel including their lounges? Who wants access to a lounge where they give you one drink voucher? Whey hey! :p
 

NM

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bigdog said:
The biggest issues you will find with AA is actually fliying with them. They are consistently appauling in all aspects of modern day air travel including their lounges? Who wants access to a lounge where they give you one drink voucher? Whey hey! :p
You can ask for more vouchers.
 

simongr

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serfty said:
It's not limited to 2 only;If you have used your coupons, just go to the service desk and ask for more.... ;)
I wish we had known this when we were transiting through LAX a couple of months back. We finished our two pints of Bud at 8:30AM - didnt realise we could go back for more so we pottered around the airport.
 

straitman

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simongr said:
I wish we had known this when we were transiting through LAX a couple of months back. We finished our two pints of Bud at 8:30AM - didnt realise we could go back for more so we pottered around the airport.
A bit like drinking 2 pints of water. You can only drink a limited amount of it at any one time :!:
 
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