So you’ve decided to take the American Airlines challenge and need to book your flights. Remember the challenge is based on points not miles. So we need to search for specific fare classes – unless you are indepentently wealthy, of course.
American is one of the few airlines that still let’s you hold an itinerary online. This makes planning somewhat simpler in that you can find a good fare, put it on hold for 24 hours, and continue searching.
You only need to book in class V or higher to get the 1 to 1 points to miles for the challenge. class V is still discounted, just not deeply discounted.
When searching on aa.com – if you search by “price and schedule” it will show you a table with the different flights down the left, and the different fares across the top. If you click the plus sign next to any flight, the row expands to show what fare class they are using.
meaning $114 for this leg in fare class S (which only gets 0.5 points per mile)
There is a table with points per class on American Airlines website.
In order to find flights in class V or higher, you will need to use a tool like itasoftware. The language used to search on ITA deserves a post on its own. But for now the following should suffice. In the from and to boxes, for a flights from San Francsico to Miami we would enter:
FROM: SFO::aa+ /f bc=V
TO: MIA::aa+ /f bc=V
The above reads “A round trip flight from San Francisco to Miami on one or more American Airlines (AA) flights, in booking class V.”
Using the month long search feature on ITA resulted in V fares of $359 compared to $259 in S (which only accrues 0.5 points).
A bit pricey for a mileage run, but if you are going to have to take two $259 trips for the same points in one of the 0.5 point fare classes, it would be cheaper
If there is a reasonable fare like this, but it does not appear on aa.com, you can hold a cheaper lower class fare online, but do not purchase it, then call American Airlines technical support and ask them to refare it into V and re-hold it. Then you can browse to My Reservations on aa.com and book the V class fare without paying a fee for booking over the phone.
Whew, that was longer than I expected. Hope it makes sense.