Once upon a time, when mum and I travelled to Texas (96) and then to some countries in Europe and New York (98), we started collecting miles with American Airlines. After I moved to the UK, I stopped collecting them, because the credit cards here didn’t give me AA miles (I would have to pay an annual fee when no credit cards charge for it) and I wasn’t travelling at all to the US. I started collecting miles with BA instead.
My mum carried on but she had never the opportunity to use them as every time she planned a trip, it was too late to book with miles. Not to mention that all her trips are now to the UK and it isn’t convenient to travel to London via the US when there are direct flights. We only used part of her miles once, when we went to Recife together – it was quite easy to book the flights (via TAM) at the American Airlines store in Copacabana.
So we finally had an opportunity to use the miles again. They have created this new website that apparently is simple to book travel using the miles BUT, and this is a big fat but, the itinerary I wanted wasn’t showing there (they gave me whatever excuse for it). So I called them and a very nice guy, Charles, helped me with the reservation. It seems that very few people book trips within Brazil using AA miles, because he was quite puzzled about how to proceed. In total, we spent over an hour on the phone and couldn’t finalise the process! He was struggling to book Bea’s trip – because she is an infant, she doesn’t use miles, but she still needs a reservation. He asked me to call the following day so he would have everything sorted and ready to pay.
I called the following day and guess what? More problems. They had to remove Bea from the reservation, as it wasn’t allowing to pay and finalise the thing and after another hour on the phone, the trip wasn’t sorted. I had to pay for the 5 tickets issued (£77 por everything, which is quite a bargain) and only after receiving the confirmation via email, I would then call them again (!) to include Beatrice in our reservation.
The email with the confirmation never arrived, they called me for a couple of days on my mobile (from an “unknown number” and didn’t leave a message, so I couldn’t know it was them) until I managed to talk to them. To cut an even longer story short, we had to cancel the whole thing because GOL is no longer their Advantage partner and apparently there is no partner in Brazil that we can redeem the miles with.
I guess there are people that had great experience redeeming their miles, but we are not one of them. And if I can be honest, American Airlines is one of the worst airlines I have ever travelled with – Ryanair, TAP, Iberia and American Airlines are the top shit ones.
This miles thing is only worth it if you travel a lot and you collect your miles with the company from your home country. Or if you love to travel and you are flexible with your destination, eg, you check where you can go with the miles and if there is availability, BOOK the tickets, CONFIRM them and then you find out more about the destination, etc. This is probably what we are going to do next time we try to book a trip. We are thinking about a trip to Florida in 2015 (talking about planning ahead), when Bea will be bigger to understand a little bit of what is going on.
Do you have any tips and tricks on how to redeem your airmiles?