British Airways & Hawaiian Airlines Awards Now Bookable on AA.com

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American Airlines has now made awards on British Airways and Hawaiian Airlines bookable on AA.com. If you search for itineraries, results including these two airlines and Alaska Airlines will automatically show up among American Airlines’ own flights.

Note that there are sometimes glitches on award pricing on AA.com as I documented recently. On the following example the return 5K is priced correctly due to HNL being a stopover. On the way to JNB, however, I don’t think that there should be 5K charge for the feeder flight.

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The real shocker is the fuel surcharges on flights involving BA. AA lumps these to taxes and surcharges and doesn’t itemize them. If you click few times around AA further explains about “carrier imposed surcharges”. On my example above the BA “imposed” fuel surcharges are about $1400.

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It is easy to find the real taxes associated with the itinerary. As I was only interested about the BA fuel surcharges, I constructed an itinerary using ITA to find out the actual fuel surcharges on the four BA flights.

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Constructing an itinerary like the one above was fairly easy. You just plug in the origin and destination and AA will display the flights that it can find. You can then choose the ones that suit you best, if there are multiple options.

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This ability to book increasing number of partners on AA.com without having to talk to the reservations, is a welcomed feature. I hope that they would get other partners online as soon as possible as well.

American Airlines Offering Bonus Miles for Flights to Australia on Qantas QF20K

American has currently so many different bonus offers going on that it is difficult to keep track all of them. Their latest offer is for bonus miles on round-trip travel on non-stop Qantas flights between United States and Australia from April 19th to June 30th, 2012. The promo code for this offer is QF20K.

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The bonus is dependent of the class of service purchased. The only excluded fare classes are N and Q on both American and Qantas marketed flight numbers. This offer is also valid on Qantas flights ticketed under American Airlines codeshare numbers.

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Remember. You need to register for this offer.

Terms and Conditions:

AAdvantage bonus mileage offer is valid for round-trip travel on nonstop Qantas Airways operated flights between the U.S. and Australia from April 19, 2012 – June 30, 2012. Includes travel on codeshare flights marketed by American Airlines. This promotion is only valid for AAdvantage members who purchase and fly on published fare tickets that are eligible to earn AAdvantage miles. Excludes fares beginning with N or Q on American Airlines marketed, and Qantas Airways marketed and operated flights

My Award Booking Problems Today with United and American Airlines to the Rescue

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I am currently here in Kuala Lumpur, but will make my way to Europe next week after few days in Shanghai. I will land in Rome where I will spend few days, and then need to make my way to Stockholm from where I have unused business class return to Dubai via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian. To make things more complicated, I need to briefly visit Finland for few hours somewhere between.

For the past couple of months I have been reading customer service and other service failure horror stories about United on FlyerTalk. It is understandable that some things can and probably will go wrong when you are merging two large airlines like United and Continental. I have been mostly shielded of this wreckage as I have been traveling mainly in Europe, Asia, and Australia for the past six months, and haven’t set my foot on any of the US carriers for a while.

My status will most likely drop from Premier 1K to Platinum or Gold with United next year. It cannot go below Gold due to me having more than a million flight miles on the United’s program. I have the same situation with American where I have a lifetime Platinum status due to 2.7 million miles that I have collected.

So my goal today was to book FCO-XXX-HEL-ARN on Star Alliance using United Mileage Plus miles from my account. This award should cost 12.5K miles in economy. American also offers similar awards for intra-Europe travel, and the cost for oneway is 10K AA miles.

So, using KVS Tool I identified the flights on Lufthansa FCO-MUC-HEL and on Blue1 HEL-ARN that had award availability in economy.

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For some reason Continental.com DBA United.com was not able to price it correctly. It was able to price the transfers correctly tax wise, but was requiring double the number of miles than it should have.

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I dialed the ATT USA Direct access number here in Malaysia (free) and inputted the number for the 1K desk. This way I don’t have to pay for the call at all. The call was promptly answered, but for some reason I was immediately transferred to some award rewards phone tree. Second time the same thing. This time, however, I waited for few minutes and listened to the music before hanging up. Apparently some agents are not keen working on award reservations. But, I have zero patience working with United’s outsourced call center workers in Manila or India. It is like banging your head against the wall.

Third time I got an agent that was willing to do an award reservation, but appeared to be challenged when it came to Star Alliance member airlines and transfers vs stopovers.

1. According to the agent Blue1 is not affiliated with United or Star Alliance and they cannot book them. I pointed out the that airline is listed as a Star Alliance carrier on United.com and maybe she should check her info.

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2. Agent was referring a transfer of less than 24 hours as a stopover, which is incorrect. She was probably confused with domestic US transfer/stopover rules versus international ones.

3. Supervisor refused to ticket it because of the “stopover” and not a valid route. There is a valid MPM based YY fare that has an MPM of 1477. FCO-MUC-HEL-ARN is 1681. This is within MPM + 15. On paid itineraries you can exceed the MPM up to 25% by paying extra.

Overall, it was just a miserable experience with United’s supposedly 1K desk. Was transferred twice and the third agent was obviously very confused. I still have few tricks on my sleeves to get this itinerary ticketed.

Now that I had already wasted about an hour of my time and made three fruitless phone calls, I Decided to have a look at Finnair options using my American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Although I am a Finn, I really prefer flying on Lufthansa, especially if I end up in economy. Last time I flew on Finnair, maybe five years ago, was from Berlin to Helsinki in business class.

As is the case with United, I always want to know the award availability and my preferred routing before I call AA, although I have find it far more pleasant to deal with award reservations with AA than United.

Tried to use my British Airways Executive Club account first to identify Finnair award availability on the route.

The BA’s engine wouldn’t show Finnair availability on the Rome to Helsinki route as they fly it on themselves as well, although it would be quite a detour. Also the number of required miles would be 30K BA & 100+ euros in fuel surcharges etc.

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But because British doesn’t fly Helsinki to Stockholm, you can pull up both the economy and business class availability on that route using BA.com.

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ExpertFlyer does show Finnair’s award availability for economy, but won’t for business. It was easy to identify that I would get from Rome to Stockholm in Economy via Helsinki. Couple of hours would be enough, but I would prefer an overnight transfer.

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Unfortunately at the moment Finnair doesn’t have any economy award availability on Friday 27th from Helsinki to Stockholm. They do have business availability on quite a few flights, however. I made an ExpertFlyer alert for all the Friday flights that I could take, to alert me when there is availability on the X-class (the fare class that economy awards book into).

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I haven’t received my new Platinum AAdvantage card so decided to call the Executive Platinum number for free using the ATT USA Direct Service, the same service that United also uses. Lady who picked up my call transferred it to the “Platinum” desk. The gentleman was able to book the Finnair flights that I had identified to have economy availability and put in on hold for me. The call to AA took 337 seconds. I got the record locator and was able to easily pull up the itinerary on AA.com. The taxes were $57.90 and the number of miles required 10000.

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Conclusion

It makes sense to participate to number of programs. Although I far prefer Star Alliance over Oneworld, sometimes the Oneworld carrier is a better option. Also, dealing with United can be very problematic and time consuming as I again found out today. Not sure where they find all these surly people to man their 1K desk?

I am almost certain that I will get my preferred itinerary booked using Lufthansa and SAS, but it will take few phone calls.

Double American Airlines AAdvantage Miles on Select Alaska Airlines Non-stop Routes ASD12

American Airlines just dropped an email about their latest double miles offer; you can earn double redeemable miles on select non-stop Alaska Airlines routes.

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You can earn elite qualifying miles on Alaska and qualify for number of status related perks when flying on Alaska like priority checking, expedited security lines, preferred seating, and free first two bags. Delta SkyMiles Medallion members receive these perks as well as space available upgrades on Alaska that AA elites are not eligible for.

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You need to register for this promotion to be eligible for the double miles, and travel between April 16th and June 30th, 2012.

American Airlines Sues Gailen David aka The Aluminum Lady

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This is the latest twist on the apparently never-ending saga between the American Airlines and its former flight attendant Gailed David that is the person with the entertaining Aluminum Lady parody videos. Now, American Airlines has decided to sue Dailen David and people (John Does) who are feeding him information about day to day operations that apparently AA would like to keep under  the radar

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Gailen David has been advocating for more civilized air travel and been giving hints and tips about air travel on his DearSkySteward website. Last month American Airlines terminated Mr. David’s employment.

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Apparently the last draw for American Airlines was Gailen David’s posts about current and former American Airlines employees bumping paid first class customers on number of flights, and naming the people who did so.

Considering that American Airlines parent AMR is going through a chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganizing process, it probably wouldn’t hurt for these executives to show some humility and ride occasionally on coach.

What do you think? Is it ok for former and current executives to bump paying first class customers? Leave a comment below.

American Airlines & Japan Airlines Economy Award Sale to Asia – 40K Return in Economy

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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.

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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.

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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.

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These economy awards can offer tremendous value if you are originating/ending in an uncompetitive market.

American Airlines Offering Bonus Miles for New Miami-Barcelona Non-stop

Not only is American offering bonus miles for Madrid, but also for Barcelona as well. This bonus only applies for their new route between Miami and Barcelona. The bonus is higher for business and full’ish economy compared to discount ones. You are eligible for the bonus also if you are booked on Iberia or British Airways codeshares. It might be difficult to know exactly how their fare codes map with American Airlines ones for bonus purposes, however.

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You probably don’t need to have your origin or destination in Miami or Barcelona to qualify for the bonus, but rather have XXX-MIA-BCN-XXX. At least so have previous American promotions worked out, although this time they have the word “between” on the headline.

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Oneway trips are also eligible and there are no restrictions how many times you can earn the bonus. This offer expires on May 31st and registration prior to travel is required.

There are plenty of things to see and do around Barcelona. My favorite is the Salvador Dali museum in the city of Figueres. For some beach time, you can always take a train to Sitges.

Here’s the small print of this offer:

Terms and Conditions:
AAdvantage bonus mile offer is valid for round-trip travel (half the bonus shown will be awarded for one-way travel) on American Airlines marketed and operated nonstop flights between Miami (MIA) and Barcelona, Spain (BCN), April 3, 2012, through May 31, 2012. Includes travel on codeshare flights marketed by British Airways or Iberia (booked under the BA or IB flight number) and operated by American Airlines. Offer applies only to AAdvantage members who purchase and fly on purchased, published fare tickets. Bonus miles will be awarded based on the booking class purchased and do not count toward elite status qualification or Million Miler status. Registration prior to travel is required.

 

American Airlines Double Miles on Select Non-stop AA & Iberia Flights Between US and Madrid

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American Airlines appears be running non-stop promotions on number of routes from double elite qualifying miles to double redeemable miles or both. They just dropped an email regarding a double redeemable miles on number of direct/through routes between United States and Madrid. The bonus applies both to American and Iberia operates flights. Registration is required before travel.

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Madrid is a wonderful city to visit and the spring time is the best time to go there. The height of the summer is really hot, however, as the city is inland. Personally unless you like really high temperatures, I would avoid Madrid in July/August. I have been to Madrid number of times and I have been planning to go back sometime later in the year.

Note that you don’t have to originate from the three cities in the United States and your destination doesn’t need to be Madrid. You will only get double miles for the non-stop flights between the listed cities. If you fly LAX-DFW-MAD-ATH, your DFW-MAD flight will count for the double miles.

All Iberia flights between US, Puerto Rico, and Mexico earn at least 100% base and elite qualifying miles on a paid fare. On other flights it depends of the fare class. You can find more information about this on AA’s website.

Here’s the small print of this offer:

Terms and Conditions:
AAdvantage double mile offer is valid for nonstop travel on American Airlines or Iberia operated flights between Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) or New York/JFK and Madrid, Spain (MAD) from April 5, through May 31, 2012. Includes travel on codeshare flights marketed by American Airlines, British Airways or Iberia. Offer applies only to AAdvantage members who purchase and fly on published fare tickets. Bonus miles do not count toward elite status qualification or Million Miler status. Double miles will be calculated at 100% of the base miles earned. Registration prior to travel is required.

Discover America Daily Getaways Announced for the 3rd Week April 23-27

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On Monday, I wrote about the Discover America Daily Getaways for the first two weeks. There were three deals that caught my eye, but probably not good enough to make me to participate, however.

On the third week I probably have to make some purchases. Last year, I ended up buying both Hilton HHonors and Wyndham Rewards points. Wyndham points have been sitting on my account since that, but I have been using and earning Hilton HHonors points all the time.

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Wyndham Rewards Points Monday April 23rd

Wyndham has five different packages for sale. You can buy one each. The beauty of Wyndham Rewards points is the transferability to airline miles.  30K Wyndham Rewards points transfers to 12K miles or equivalent in kilometers in number of programs; Amtrak, Czech Airlines, Delta, Hainan, Frontier, US Airways, United, Airberlin, Aeroplan, AeroMexico, China Eastern, American Airlines & Air China.

Packages available

16000 Wyndham Rewards points for $55 = price per point 0.0034 = price per mile 0.0086

28000 Wyndham Rewards points for $76 = price per point 0.0027 = price per mile 0.0068

32000 Wyndham Rewards points for $110 = price per point 0.0034 = price per mile 0.0086

50000 Wyndham Rewards points for $143 = price per point 0.0029 = price per mile 0.0072

48000 Wyndham Rewards points for $165 = price per point 0.0034 = price per mile 0.0086

Above calculations do not take into account 10% discount when paying using an American Express branded credit card, and the figures are rounded. The price per mile number is calculated when transferring in the block of 30K Wyndham Rewards points to 12K airline miles.

When airlines sell miles in their respective programs, the prices tend to fluctuate between 1.8 to 2 cents per mile during the sales. You really cannot buy miles cheaper than first buying the Wyndham Rewards points during the Discover America sale, and then transferring them to airline miles. Of course you can use them for hotel stays as well.

Quick look at my Wyndham Rewards account shows that I was able to snag 146K worth of packages during the last year’s sale.

Hilton HHonors Points Wednesday April 25th

This is the only other purchase that I made last year.

Packages available

150000 Hilton HHonors points for $825

250000 Hilton HHonors points for $1375

100000 Hilton HHonors points for $550

I would steer away from buying Hilton HHonors points unless you are a Diamond member and/or know how to use them properly. You can “buy” a very good deal if you are able to use the points at a place like Conrad Koh Samui where rates are in excess of $600 per night.

American Airlines Double Elite Qualifying Miles for DFW-BOS Promotion BOSEQ

American has had the west coast DEQM/RDM promotion going now for close to six months. Last month American launched a DEQM offer for DFW-LGA flights. Now they are extending the offer for non-stop flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and Boston.

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This promotions required registration prior travel and is valid from April 3rd to June 30th, 2012. Please note that this offer only doubles the elite qualifying miles. You won’t earn more redeemable mikes by participating to this offer.

Here are the Terms and conditions of this offer:

Buy American Airlines AAdvantage Miles April Edition – 30% Bonus & 15% Discount

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The other day, American sent an email regarding their latest Buy AA miles promotion. You will get 30% bonus and 15% discount off the purchase price, if you make the purchase by noon on Thursday 5th of April. With the bonus & the discount, you can buy 52000 AAdvantage miles for $1035.13. The price of the mile is 2 cents.

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The last time American Airlines run a promotion for buying AAdvantage miles the price was 2.2 cents per mile. The current offer thus is better.

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Please note that you can only buy 40000 AAdvantage miles per calendar year. If you need to purchase more miles, I would suggest opening an account for an immediate family member. For ticketing purposes it would be better if you share the same last name.

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Does it make sense to buy?

The same advice still applies that I gave during the January sale:

When it makes sense to buy miles?

  1. Short on miles for premium international flight award on partner airlines
  2. Oneway travel in markets where OW fares are expensive
  3. Travel that requires flexibility as award tickets can be changed/canceled for a fee/without fee almost like flexible tickets

One of my favorite bright spots on AA’s award chart is the Europe to Middle East/Indian Sub-continent. It is 30K in business and 40K in first class for oneway travel. Now that Etihad is AA’s redemption partner this award has become more useful as Etihad has quite comprehensive coverage of the region.  You could fly from Europe to Maldives in business class for 60000 AAdvantage award miles.

The Australia/New Zealand zone is good way to burn miles too as is the Europe. Both of these markets tend to be expensive unless you can plan your travel far in advance, or travel in the markets where there is competition from low cost carriers.

Here are the Terms and conditions of this offer:

American Airlines Double Elite Qualifying Miles for LGA-DFW DFLGA (Targeted?)

American definitely has double elite qualifying promotions running on both coasts at the moment. Yesterday, I wrote about AA’s offer that was extended until the end of June that gives double elite and redeemable miles for flights between SNA/LAX/SFO-ORD-DFW.

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Now, American has launched a targeted promotion for double elite qualifying miles for flights between New York’s LaGuardia airport and Dallas/Fort Worth. Note that this offer won’t earn any extra redeemable miles. This offer is valid from March 26th to June 30th, 2012. It is NOT valid for reservation booked to prior March 26th per the terms and conditions.

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Apparently this offer is targeted. The AA’s system allows everybody to register, but this offer probably won’t work unless you received the offer email.

Note: This offer is valid only for AAdvantage members who receive this email directly from American Airlines.

Terms and Conditions:
Offer only applies to AAdvantage members who receive this email directly from American Airlines. AAdvantage promotion is valid for round-trip travel on purchased, published fare tickets on American Airlines marketed and operated nonstop flights between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and New York/LaGuardia (LGA) from March 26, 2012, through June 30, 2012. A round trip is defined as two one-way trips booked in a single reservation under one ticket number. Reservations containing open jaws are eligible. A maximum of one round trip is permitted per reservation. Reservation must be booked on or after March 26, 2012, to be eligible. This offer does not increment the member’s elite qualifying points or segments nor does it add to the member’s prize eligible mileage balance. Double elite-qualifying miles will be calculated at 100% of the base miles earned for the flights between DFW and New York/LaGuardia. Promotional miles associated with this offer will be posted to the account of the traveling AAdvantage member within 6-8 weeks after qualifying activity posts to your account. Promotion does not apply to travel on mileage award tickets or fares that are ineligible for AAdvantage mileage accrual. Flights operated by our codeshare partners or oneworld alliance carriers are not eligible for this promotion. This offer can be combined with other AAdvantage promotions. Registration prior to travel is required.

American Airlines ORD/DFW-SFO/LAX/SNA Offer of Double Elite & Redeemable Miles Extended Until June 30th, 2012

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American Airlines has extended the promotion of double elite and redeemable miles between ORD/DFW-SFO/LAX/SNA cities from March 30th to all the way up June 30th, 2012. This must be the longest double miles promotion in AA’s history.

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Originally Orange County airport (SNA) wasn’t part of the promotion, but from March 9 this offer has also applied to flights between ORD-SNA. On an email received from American they did mention that the offer would be valid for flights between DFW-SNA, but that doesn’t appear on the official promotion page on AA.com.

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Note that your address on file with AAdvantage program needs to be in TX, IL, or CA to be eligible for this offer. If you don’t live in these states, just ask your friend. And,yes, you do need to register as well.

Here are the full Terms and conditions of this offer:

Double Miles on All Oneworld Carrier Programs for Airberlin Flights

To celebrate the newest member of the alliance not only are Airberlin Topbonus members getting double miles on Oneworld alliance flights, but also all Oneworld carriers are offering double miles for Airberlin flights.

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Oneworld made an announcement about this:

Members of American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and S7’s frequent flyer programmes will earn double the normal mileage awards when flying on eligible airberlin flights from today until 15 May 2012.

Now here’s the tricky part. Some of the airlines require you to register for this double miles promotion and some do not. I went just through all the websites to find more information.

American Airlines AAdvantage: You need to register to get double miles credited for Airberlin flights. You can do it here.

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British Airways: No need to register to get double miles. You can find more info about this partnership here.

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Cathay Pacific: You need to register for this promotion to get double Asiamiles. You can do it here.

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Finnair: No information about the Airberlin offer on Finnair.com. There is only generic webpage dedicated to Airberlin that you can access here.

Iberia: No registration required. You can find more information here.

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Japan Airlines: Registration is required. You can do it here.

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LAN: Unfortunately there is no information available. Airberlin’s logo is visible on the Oneworld section, but then entirely missing on the earning of miles side that you can access here.

Qantas: Registration is required. You can do it here.

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Royal Jordanian: No info about Airberlin found.

S7 (Siberian Airlines): Page dedicated to Airberlin, but no info about double miles offer.

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