American is my airline of choice because of their frequent NYC-SFO nonstops and good customer service. While they can't always compete with the discount airlines on price, there are a number of ways to wring the most value out of your American Airlines ticket.
AAdvantage is the industry's oldest frequent flier reward program and still considered one of the best. Members gain from 1 to 1.5 AAdvantage miles per mile flown; award tickets can generally be bought for 25,000 miles. If you value AAdvantage miles at 1 cent per mile (as I do) then an 5,000 mile round-trip from San Francisco to New York on a $200 ticket gains you $50 in AAdvantage miles. 25% off is a pretty good deal!
Like many reward credit cards, you'll receive one mile, worth about 1 cent, per dollar spent. If you use these miles, you're essentially saving 1% on all purchases; however, unlike other rewards cards, the miles are deposited directly into your AAdvantage account at the end of the month, combined with all the miles you have earned from other sources, letting you get to your award faster. New members get 25,000 bonus miles, a $250 value. An annual fee applies after the first (free) year.
Savings: 1% back on all purchases you make
Fare sales are special discounted fares with some added restrictions; many only apply on Tuesday and Wednesday, although smaller discounts are available on other days of the week.
Tell American Airlines your home airport, and they'll automatically email you when new NetSAAver fares are published originating from your airport.
Register for cashbaq.com and buy an Entertainment Book. Cashbaq will give you $15 off the purchase price, deposited into your Paypal account. Once your purchase your Entertainment Book and login to their website, you'll be able to activate a code for 5% off any American Airlines flight booked at AA.com.
Savings: 5% off any flight
Unlike vouchers or flight credits, AA gift cards are fully transferable. Usually these sell on eBay for less than face value, which saves you cash when booking your flight on aa.com. Be sure to buy at least a week before your flight, as the gift card must be physically mailed to you. Also, pay attention to the seller's positive and negative feedback ratinngs.
American offers a discount of up to 5% for attendees of select LGBTQ events worldwide. Check out the link above to get a list of events with discount codes. Book a flight to that city during the timeframe specified using aa.com, and you'll get a discount, usually 5%.
If you chose the CitiBusiness card when you registered for your AAdvantage credit card, you'll get an additional 1 mile for every dollar spent booking a flight on aa.com. If you do a lot of flying, these savings can really add up.
Put all these savings together, and you can easily fly twice as far for the same amount of money. Happy travels!