The American and USAirways mileage programs will combine in the 2nd quarter of this year. Until then expect to see more news like this as the programs align:
Effective immediately you can redeem USAirways miles for American anytime award flights and you can redeem American miles for USAirways anytime award flights.
In other words previously you could only use 45K American miles for a one-way USAirways coach flight to Israel when there was saver award space. Now you can redeem 45K, 65K, or 85K American miles to get that flight any day. In business the American rates are 67.5K, 125K, or 155K each way.
Additionally American is taking on USAirways’ policy of not charging a phone booking fee when an award can’t be booked online. Phone fees for awards that are bookable online will go up to $30 domestic/$40 international.
This is helpful when booking awards on airlines like Cathay Pacific that can only be booked over the phone.
The Citi AA card is currently offering 50,000 miles with the fee waived for the first year.
Cardholders can book a one-way coach award for 8,750 miles instead of 12.5K miles and a one-way first class award for 21,250 miles instead of 25K to select rotating destinations. There are dozens of valid destinations in the US and Canada.
Previously those award were hit with a phone booking fee which took away some of their value, but now they are no longer subject to that fee.
The advantage of these awards over BA Avios is that they allow for free connections. That opens up hidden city possibilities. While Los Angeles isn’t a valid destination, Monterey, CA is.
You can book a flight from JFK-Los Angeles-Monterey for 8,750 miles and just get off the plane in Los Angeles. Of course that won’t work if you have checked luggage, but you can always have one person book a ticket to LA for 12.5K miles and check the bags while the rest of the family books tickets to Monterey for 8,750 miles.
Of course the same thing would work for a flight from NYC-Los Angeles-S. Francisco as that is also an eligible destination.
Newark is a valid return city, so you everyone can book a return flight from Los Angeles-Newark for 8,750 miles.
Note that some AA agents will actually let you fly anywhere in the US/Canada for 17.5K miles round-trip as long as you are departing from one of the valid destination airports. YMMV!