Using AAdvantage Miles to go to Paris


I spent the last several days trying to book award travel for 5 to Paris. I knew that it was going to be a challenge before I even got started because the dates were pretty firm (about a week, with travel mostly on the weekends over a specific week!). I started out by looking at the American Airlines site for availability. That, not unsurprisingly, showed no availability for the time that I wanted–or, in fact for the next month. After that, I tried calling American. I know that this is not the conventional wisdom since their tools for searching partner availability seem limited, but I figured it would save me some time if it worked out. This was not the case. I spent an hour on the phone with them–almost all of which was on hold–and came up with nothing despite the very courteous agent’s best efforts.

After that, I called a friend of mine who has a subscription to KVS Tool. We put each other on speakerphone and set out to find what we could. A couple of hours later, we had an itinerary that looked like it would work. It was a bit painful, involving a day-long layover in Miami, but it got the 5 seats there and back. I called AA to book the segments and, with a few minor modifications, had a successful booking (multiple airlines, same alliance).

In retrospect, I should have started with KVS Tool or ExpertFlyer (where I have a premium subscription and which would have likely found me the same availability), but I tried for the shortcut and missed. Learn from my fail and save yourself some time. Only bother the telephone agents when you already have your itinerary unless it’s a straightforward award with likely availability. It will save you time.

On an unrelated note, I have a fair bit of travel coming up over the next three months, so expect a few trip reports. At the least, there will be:

  1. Abingdon, VA (I will only do a trip report here if I do something worth reporting on 🙂
  2. Crescent City, FL (again, only if I do something worth reporting on)
  3. Greensboro, NC
  4. Palm Springs, CA
  5. At least one other to-be-determined domestic US destination

Then, during 2012, there will be at least 2 international trip reports (Paris and Berlin) and a bevy of domestic activity.

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  1. #1 by uavhelicopters on March 23, 2012 - 4:17 pm

    I read the interview on MMS and was really interested in your Paris redemption. Could you share more information on how many points each coach ticket cost and the routing specifics? I am trying to plan a trip to Paris from Atlanta and so far the cheapest coach redemption I have seen is 60,000 United miles round trip but that is booking directly through United with no special routing.
    I am new to all this and am looking forward to my first points redemption for a trip.
    Thanks!

  2. #2 by cdmoye on March 25, 2012 - 4:44 pm

    Sure thing, I spent 40,000 each for the RT coach tickets and 60,000 for a RT business class ticket (April is off-peak for AA). The AA agents couldn’t find routing with availability for me, so a friend of mine and I used KVS Tool and ExpertFlyer respectively to look through options. We ended up with:

    RDU->DCA->MIA (overnight there with some friends)->MAD-ORY to get us there.
    CDG->BOS->JFK->RDU to get us back.

    I called a couple of weeks ago just to re-re-verify everything (a sort of habit of mine) and was told that there had been a schedule change. I asked them what the change was, and was told that my routing had been updated on the return to CDG->ORD->BOS->JFK->RDU. They asked if that was okay with me (seriously?). I said that no, it wasn’t really because they’d added a connection and, BTW, an overnight in BOS. After about a 10-minute hold, they had changed it to CDG->ORD->RDU. This was better than I originally had. This type of thing is exactly why I check on my reservations frequently.

    The best advice I can give when looking for your own routing is to find the transcon legs first, then find intracon routes to get you to your endpoints. For us, that meant finding MIA->MAD and CDG->BOS first and then making everything else work from there.

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