Personally, I am not a huge fan of using miles for economy class tickets, but sometimes it can make sense. American is currently offering an award sale for trips originating in United States (including Alaska but excluding Hawaii), Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, The Bahamas, and the Bermuda to Asia. You can fly economy return for only 40000 Advantage miles instead of the usual 70000. This offer is valid for travel completed between April 6 and May 31st, 2012.
Book a round-trip Economy Class award ticket on American Airlines or Japan Airlines between North America** and Asia with 40,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® miles (taxes and fees apply up to $271). This offer is valid for travel completed between April 6, 2012, and May 31, 2012.
*40% savings off the standard AAdvantage award mileage level of 70,000 miles for round-trip travel on Economy Class for oneworld® and other airlines to/from the United States and Asia.
Government taxes and fees apply. Award Processing charges of $75 per passenger will be applied to award bookings ticketing less than 21 days prior to departure.
**Hawaii is excluded from this offer. North America is defined as the U.S. (including Alaska), Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, The Bahamas and the Caribbean.
Award Special Terms and Conditions:
The North America to Asia award special is valid for round-trip travel in Economy Class on flights which are operated by American Airlines or Japan Airlines. Award inventory is subject to seat availability and capacity controls. Seats for award travel may not be available on all flights. Standard AAdvantage® award travel terms and conditions apply. AAdvantage flight awards are subject to, and the passenger is responsible for, the September 11th Security Fee, applicable departure taxes, federal inspection fees, passenger facility charges, and any other taxes and fees imposed by a government entity (U.S. or foreign), as well as any fees or surcharges (including fuel surcharges) imposed by the carrier.
American Airlines divides Asia normally to two zones for award travel purposes. This promotions should be valid for both Asia 1 (Japan, Korea, Mongolia) and Asia 2 (Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Saipan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam).
As long as you can fly the route entirely using American Airlines or Japan Airlines, the award should price at 40000 AAdvantage miles in economy class instead of the usual 70000 miles.
American Airlines only flies to Narita, Shanghai, and Beijing in Asia. Japan Airlines flies to New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver in North America. If your final destination in Asia is outside of Shanghai or Beijing, you will have to rely on JAL’s award availability from Narita or Haneda airports onwards to your final destination.
Note that you cannot book awards that include flights on JAL online. The only way to have them included to your award is to call American Airlines.
Also, these awards are not pricing correctly online. I was able to do a reservation for economy award from Mexico City to Shanghai and return to Bermuda. The online incorrectly priced this at 35K miles per way when it should have been 20K. The American airline agent, with whom I spoke with, was able to price it correctly, however.
These economy awards can offer tremendous value if you are originating/ending in an uncompetitive market.