It’s been very tricky finding and redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage miles for award travel home. American Airlines does not directly fly from Okinawa to Los Angeles, which means that we could not just book our award tickets online at AA .com. In order to redeem our miles, I would need to contact the American Airlines telephone booking service at 800-882-8880.
I tried calling the AA telephone booking service several times asking for availability of award flights from Okinawa (OKA) to Los Angeles (LAX). Every time I called, the reps would tell me that they could not find any award availability. The reps kept asking me to try again in a few days. I didn’t understand why there was no award flight availability for us.
Asking for help
Since I had so much difficulty finding award flights for us, I consulted with a frequent flyer expert on the best way to redeem our AAdvantage miles to fly home from Okinawa.
I learned that the ideal way of working with the AA telephone booking service was to look up the exact date, flight number, and departure time of any flight we were interested in. The telephone reps can then be given your specific flight request to make the award booking.
I also learned that it is much easier to break apart your flight into individual segments. I discovered that instead of flying from Okinawa straight to Los Angeles, we would need to fly from Okinawa (OKA) to Haneda, Tokyo (HND). Then we would need to fly from Narita, Tokyo (NRT) to Chicago (ORD). Finally, we would need to fly from Chicago to Los Angeles. As cumbersome as this sounds, this was the only way we could get free flights from Okinawa to Los Angeles.
I discovered that the British Airways website is a great way to look up One World award seat availability.
Booking our flights with American Airlines miles
From the British Airways website, I found multiple Japan Airlines flights that I could connect to get us home on AAdvantage miles. I wrote down this information and then called the American Airlines telephone booking service again. This time, I could be much more specific with the exact flight I wanted to book:
“I would like 2 award tickets from OKA to HND leaving on November 15th, Japan Airlines flight number 902 departing at 10:05AM. My AAdvantage number is _______”
The reps used this information and immediately found the flights I wanted.
1. OKA to HND
2. NRT to ORD
3. ORD to LAX
The total for these 3 flights was only 25,000 American Airlines miles each person and $48.70 in taxes per person including a $35 telephone booking fee. This is because American Airlines treats this total booking as one individual flight from OKA to LAX. In total, getting us home from Okinawa will cost us a total of 50,000 American Airlines miles and $167.40. To top it off, we used our Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard to make the purchases so that we can get redeem our Arrival miles for cash back!
I was curious how much American Airlines would charge us in cash for flights from Okinawa to Los Angeles. The cheapest ticket I could find online at the AA.com website was $4,985 per person, making the one way flight cost $9,970 for the both of us! Ridiculous. I don’t think anyone would book that flight at this price.
Next, I used Kayak.com to conservatively estimate the value of our award flight redemption at $1653 for the cheapest flights for the both of us. Counting the fees paid, we saved $1485.60 on the cost of 2 tickets.
All of our flights are booked!
Redeeming our miles towards free travel is extremely exciting. So far we have all of our flights for our international trip booked.
We will be flying from Los Angeles to Honolulu then onwards to Tokyo for 50,000 American Airlines miles and $10. We saved $579.60 on these flights.
We will be flying from Tokyo to Taipei and then onwards to Okinawa for 60,000 United Airlines miles and $71.40. We saved $579.60 on these flights.
We will be flying from Okinawa to Tokyo to Chicago and then onwards to Los Angeles for 50,000 American Airlines miles and $167.40. We saved $1485.60 total on these flights.
Our total flight costs
In total, we have spent 100,000 American Airlines miles, 60,000 United Airlines miles, and $248.80 in cash. When we get to travel for nearly free, saving money towards our financial freedom is much easier!
Still a lot of planning to do for our trip
We have 5 free nights of hotel stay in Tokyo courtesy of our Starpoints. We have 5 free nights of stay covered in Taipei, since we will be staying with my family. We still have to figure out where to stay in Okinawa, as well as plan out our various trip activities. Stay tuned.
Where will your miles and points take you?