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American Airlines flights for 5,000 miles??

A promo for American Airlines offering flights from 5,000 miles.
I got this by email yesterday. What a deal!

If you have an American AAdvantage account, check your email for this unusually generous offer: Get a one-way domestic flight starting at just 5,000 miles. Since those miles are worth about $66.50, that’s quite a deal for a flight these days.

Is there a catch? Well, yeah, of course.

First of all, see how it says, “Restrictions apply”? The restrictions: You have to book this flight between March 5 and March 15, for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays between April 2 and May 29. But the big catch is that you have to find the 5,000-mile flights. Poking around a little bit on the American site, I found them a bit elusive.

Here’s how to look for one:

screen from American Airlines web site
I looked for flights from San Francisco to Milwaukee in May.

Log into your AAdvantage account and enter in the cities you want to fly to and from. Make sure to select “one way,” just to make searching easier. Check the box that says “redeem miles.” Choose a date that is a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, between April 2 and May 29. Hit the SEARCH button.

At the top of the screen, you’ll see the best miles offer for flights on the day you chose, as well as for two days before and two days after. You can see I got lucky on the first try, and there is a 5,000-mile flight between my cities of choice at 12:30 p.m. on May 4.

If you don’t see anything you like on this screen — assuming your dates are flexible — hit the calendar button in the upper right.

Now you’ll see the whole month, and any days with a 5,000-mile flight will be highlighted in green.

There you have it! I’d love to hear if you find and book any flight deals. Personally, I already have a Southwest flight booked for the day I searched, from Oakland to Midway airport. (My parents live between Milwaukee and Chicago, so flying into either city works for me.) It cost me about 12,000 Southwest points, or $160. So switching to the 5,000 ($66) American flight would be like saving almost $100.

However, I probably won’t change, for a few reasons. First of all, Oakland Airport is a lot more convenient than SFO for me (and I couldn’t find a similar 5,000-mile flight on American out of Oakland.) The American flight lands late in the evening. Finally, since I’m planning to rent a car at Midway Airport in Chicago, and return it to Midway, flying to Milwaukee instead would complicate things. Rentals that you pick up at one airport and drop off at another are usually more expensive. And I don’t want to change my return flight to an American flight out of Milwaukee because I’ll be flying home with Nutmeg, my college-student daughter, using my Southwest Companion Pass.