American Airlines Vacations - 2021 Guide

American Airlines Vacations - 2021 Guide

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American Airlines Vacations specializes in providing high-value vacation packages for travelers with a range of interests and budgets. In many cases, you can bundle your flights with a hotel, car rental or entertainment packages to save money. In other cases, you can book cruises or any type of vacation as you would with a traditional travel agent.

In many cases, you can save hundreds of dollars or more by bundling, especially if you're a traveler who doesn't enjoy the hassle. However, if you have a bit of flexibility with your travel plans and enjoy hunting for deals, you are likely able to find a better price on your own.

In the following guide, we compare vacation bundles and popular destinations on American Airlines Vacations to help you decide if it’s worth your while to book your next trip this way.

American Airlines Vacations

What can you book with American Airlines Vacations?

The AA Vacations website has a list of curated vacation options that cater to people who want romantic vacations, luxury vacations, all-inclusive vacations and more. Here are some of the different types of trips that you can book with American Airlines Vacations.

Flight + hotel

One of the most common types of American Airlines vacation packages is a combination of flights and a hotel stay. Once you put in your destination into the vacation search, you'll get a list of different hotel options that you can choose. You can compare the different hotel options and see which one might be right for you. You're given the standard room and can choose to upgrade if you prefer.

available rooms

Most of the hotels that are available as part of an American Airlines vacation package are independent and non-chain hotels. So you won't be able to use points to book them and won't earn points or receive any elite benefits. Even if you do find a chain hotel, most hotel chains will not honor any elite benefits because American Airlines Vacations bookings are third-party bookings.

For your flights, you'll want to check the flight’s fare class to determine if you earn AAdvantage miles (and how many) as well as whether you’ll be eligible for any flight upgrades. Most economy-class flights we’ve observed on the American Airlines Vacations site are in G or Q fare classes.

How do the hotel prices compare?

American Airlines Vacations doesn't show the breakdown of the cost of the flights versus the cost of the hotel stays. This makes it a bit trickier to compare the hotel prices and booking your hotel stay with the hotel directly or with another travel agency. Below, we have several different examples that show that prices are competitive with booking directly with the hotel. But savvy travelers will always compare prices to make sure that this packaged price truly is the best deal before booking. Remember, too, that American Airlines Vacations only partners with a subset of hotels — your best hotel option may not even be displayed on the American Airlines Vacations page.

One thing that you will want to be aware of when using American Airlines Vacations is that many of the chosen hotels will add resort fees on top of the published prices.

Resort fees

In the above example, you'd have to pay $91.20 directly to the hotel when checking in on top of your vacation package price. So be aware of extra fees when you are deciding if American Airlines vacation packages are worth it.

Flight + car rental

If you don't need to book a hotel for your destination, you also have the option to combine your flight and car rental.

You’ll first choose your flights from a variety of different options. You’ll see a price next to each flight — note that this is not the price of that flight but rather how that flight choice affects your overall package price. Then you’ll be presented with a variety of different rental car options. You can choose between different car classes as well as companies. In sampling packages, we only saw Avis and Budget offered as choices.

Flight car rental

How do the car rental prices compare?

Booking flights from Chicago to New York and four days of car rental through American Airlines Vacations comes to $479.80.

How do the car rental prices compare

The flights themselves cost $158.

chicago_new_york

When booked directly through Budget's website, the four-day car rental from JFK comes in at $179.96.

economy

The total for booking the two separately comes to a lower price: $337.96. That's not even considering the fact that, when you book separately, you can use car rental promotions and consider other car rental companies. It appears that you may be better off booking your flight and car rental separately, than through American Airlines Vacations.

However, there are so many variables, it's hard to talk in absolutes about pricing. It is certainly possible that in certain situations, combining a flight and car rental could result in savings.

All-inclusive packages

All-inclusive packages are one of the most popular types of vacation options. American Airlines Vacations maintains a landing page listing several all-inclusive vacation packages.

All-inclusive hotels do also show in the regular search results, although there isn't a way to filter the regular hotel search to only show all-inclusive hotels. Instead, just book your flight + hotel package and then look for hotel options that are listed as all-inclusive.

How does American Airlines Vacations compare to popular destinations?

American Airlines vacation packages can be a great way to use and earn American AAdvantage miles. Let's take a look at how the prices compare when booking on American Airlines Vacations as compared with booking your flight and hotel separately.

Vacation packages to Hawaii

First off, let's look at a six-night stay for four people from Seattle to Honolulu, staying at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort.

This shows significant savings for this particular package over booking separately: $683.66. One interesting note is that the AA Vacations website says that it is $330.35 in savings, though our calculations show more than twice as much savings. Because of the opacity of the pricing, it's possible that these savings are only approximate.

Vacation packages to Hawaii
Booked Separately
American Airlines Vacations
Flights$1,544.00$2,666.52 (not including hotel resort fees)
Hotel$1,806.18 (not including $210 hotel resort fee)
Total Cost$3,350.18$2,666.52
Savings$683.66
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Caribbean vacations

On the other hand, our sample Carribean vacation doesn’t show much of a savings. American Airlines Vacations charges nearly $1,800 for a three-night stay for two travelers in Aruba at the Barcelo Aruba with flights from Miami. This represents only a slight savings ($22.79) over booking your flight and hotel separately.

Caribbean vacations
Booked Separately
American Airlines Vacations
Flights$491.50$1,796.75
Hotel$1,328.04
Total Cost$1,819.54$1,796.75
Savings$22.79
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Disney vacations

Our next example is a family of four flying from Boston to Orlando for a Disney World vacation. In this example, we'll be staying at the Maingate Lakeside Resort in Kissimmee. Again, there is only a modest savings ($80.47) by booking through American Airlines Vacations.

Disney vacations
Booked Separately
American Airlines Vacations
Flights$700$881.27 (not including resort fee)
Hotel$261.74 (not including resort fee of $13.62 / night)
Total Cost$961.74$881.27
Savings$80.47
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Ski vacations

Our sampling of a ski vacation through American Airlines Vacations does show a larger savings. In this scenario, we have two people flying from Charlotte to Salt Lake City and staying at the Hampton Inn Salt Lake City Downtown. You save over $250 booking through American Airlines Vacations in this case, but note that Hilton will consider this a third-party booking. That means that you will not get any elite benefits nor earn Hilton Honors points on this stay if you book through American Airlines Vacations.

Ski vacations
Booked Separately
American Airlines Vacations
Flights$868$1,116.39
Hotel$520.11
Total Cost$1,388.11$1,116.39
Savings$271.72
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Jamaica

Here's a look at a two-person, four-night trip from Cincinnati, Ohio to Montego Bay, Jamaica. This includes a standard gardenside room at the Legends Beach Resort in Negril, Jamaica (on the west coast of the island). Booking this particular stay is about $200 cheaper through American Airlines Vacations:

Jamaica
Booked Separately
American Airlines Vacations
Flights$1,354.00$1,477.56
Hotel$325.58
Total Cost$1,679.78$1,477.56
Savings$202.22
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Las Vegas

Booking a six-night stay for one person at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas comes out to $996.37 through American Airlines Vacations, though as we mentioned earlier, you'll also pay resort fees directly to the hotel. How much of a resort fee that you pay is a bit of a mystery — The AA Vacations website mentions $39 per day, the Cosmopolitan hotel website says $45 per day as of January 2021; however, at checkout on the hotel website, it lists $50 per day. (We’ve used this amount for our comparison below.)

Again, you save quite a bit of money booking the flight and hotel directly through American Airlines Vacations ($331.50), though it's possible you might be able to save booking separately if you were able to find a promotion or deal or a cheaper hotel to stay at.

Las Vegas
Booked Separately
American Airlines Vacations
Flights$168.00$996.37
Hotel$1,159.88 (excluding resort fee)
Total Cost$1,327.88$996.37
Savings$331.51
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Are there other benefits to using American Airlines Vacations?

While it is fair to make the primary comparison on price alone, there are a couple of other benefits to using American Airlines vacation packages. These benefits may not outweigh a difference of hundreds of dollars, but it may tip the scale if the prices are close.

  • Earn bonus miles — You always earn 1,000 AAdvantage miles with a booking through American Airlines Vacations, and there are often special offers where you can earn additional miles. Purchases via American Airlines Vacations code as American Airlines purchases, so American Airlines credit cards will earn an additional bonus for making that purchase.
  • Installment options — When booking through American Airlines Vacations, you can use the Uplift Pay Monthly option to make monthly installment payments on your vacation. Your interest rate and terms vary on a variety of factors (including your own credit score). However, while it may be cheaper than just putting your vacation on your credit card, taking a vacation on monthly payments may not be the most financially savvy move to make.
  • Book with miles — You can pay for your vacation with your AAdvantage miles, at a rate of 1 cent per mile. This is not the best way to use American AAdvantage miles, but it's not the worst either.
  • Special deals and discounts — American Airlines Vacations regularly has bonus offers which can either give additional bonus miles or discounts on certain types of vacation packages.

As an additional benefit currently, American Airlines elite members have a credit of up to $400 that they can use toward these vacation packages.

American Airlines travel agents

While booking a trip through American Airlines Vacations is primarily done online, AA also provides the option to call in and speak with a travel agent to modify or cancel a booking. Especially given the complicated travel climate, it can pay to have a professional travel agent working on your behalf.

You can also contact an AA Vacations travel agent after hours or if there's an emergency on your trip. There is no charge for contacting an American Airlines travel agent with questions regarding your American Airlines Vacations booking.

Is American Airlines Vacations worth it?

American Airlines Vacations can be a source of savings for some people. This is especially true if you are booking a flight and hotel together or you are someone who doesn’t enjoy the planning aspect of vacations. As we saw in several of the examples, there are definitely situations where you can save money by combining your flight and hotels.

One area to be careful about is car rentals. Because American Airlines Vacations has such a limited number of car rental vendors, it may make more sense to book your car rental separately. That will enable you to choose from all possible rental companies as well as take advantage of any available promotions.

Also, remember that comparing the package price to the individual prices is only one way of comparing to make sure you're getting the best deal. Because American Airlines Vacations only has a limited number of hotel partners, you may find a better deal by booking your hotel separately with a non-partner hotel. And this doesn't even consider the fact that you lose points and elite status benefits by booking your hotel through AA Vacations, or that you may get a better deal by using your airline miles to get free flights and your hotel points to get your hotel for free.

Dan Miller is a freelance writer and has been covering credit cards, student loans and all things personal finance since 2014. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids.

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