American Airlines now lets AAdvantage members redeem 12,000 miles for an at-home Covid-19 test.
Redemption must be done by phone (calling AAdvantage Customer Service at 800-882-8880) and requires an active reservation with tickets issued on American Airlines ticket stock (a ‘001 ticket’, if you’re traveling on American using miles redeem through British Airways you’d be ineligible).
Perhaps the airline is trying to limit redemption to its own customers, since they’re providing about a penny per mile in value they want to get travel out of it too – rather than just being a source of Covid testing. Yet the restriction is really porous because all you need is an American Airlines reservation and ticket for somebody,
- The person whose miles are used for the redemption doesn’t have to be one of the passengers traveling
- And American tells me there’s “no verification of the activated test kit user vs. the passenger name record. This is the same as if a customer purchased a kit directly from LetsGetChecked for cash.”
Only U.S. residents are eligible for the redemption, and “[t]est kits can’t be purchased then packed for use abroad – they must be used in the U.S. prior to departure..” There’s also a limit of 1 test per AAdvantage member for international itineraries, and 2 tests per member for domestic itineraries.
American AAdvantage isn’t the first U.S. frequent flyer program to offer miles-for-Covid tests, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles introduced this in November.
When American introduced $129 at-home tests in December they recommended ordering 5 days prior to travel. For mileage redemptions they recommend ordering 10 days in advance, since AAdvantage Customer Service is only open Monday through Friday and the manual process may cause concern about lags.