This is a quick example of what I’ve observed for a while – that since last year, AA award availability has improved from the pathetically lacking state of a few years ago. It’s still not always great, but it’s much more plentiful than during the said terrible state.
Doctor of Credit reminded us this week of the AA Reduced Mileage Awards. If you have the Citi AA Platinum card or Aviator Red card, you get 7,500 points off on a domestic round trip, making it 17,500 points instead of 25,000. It’s been a while since I took advantage of this, and the list of discounted destinations looks pretty good. For example, I’ve had my eyes on Durango, Colorado for a while – home of San Juan National Forest, Million Dollar Highway and the Narrow Gauge Railroad. Since it’s on the reduced list for April and May, I checked the middle of May (shoulder season) from San Diego, and found weekend availability (leave Friday, return Monday) for one passenger:
The above screenshots show the normal “saver” award rate of 25,000 round trip (and you do have to find saver availability). But because it’s on the reduced list, it’ll set you back merely 17,500 AA points. You must call to book, but they abolished telephone service fee for this a few years ago. Small beautiful towns are usually not cheap to fly into, and the same itinerary, if booked as a revenue ticket, prices at $474 – the cheapest option of any airline on those days. There’s even more availability on the previous weekend. This is an actual redemption that I would happily take myself – if I didn’t have other plans already.
Do note you can fly the same itin for even cheaper with LifeMiles, assuming you can find saver United availability. It’ll set you back just 15,000 points, since CO and CA are both in the same domestic zone. LifeMiles has greatly increased in utility to me due to this sweet spot.
Another small town destination of interest to me – Gunnison, CO – was reduced only in April, and I couldn’t find weekend saver availability, so it’s not great across the board, but the Durango itin is a very good deal IMO. So have a look at the Reduced Mileage Awards, and maybe you’ll score a great place to explore!