American Debuts Cool Map Tool for Fliers, But Users Beware

American Airlines unveils a new logo and exterior for its planes.
Source: American Airlines
American Airlines unveils a new logo and exterior for its planes.

Got a stash of American Airlines frequent flier miles, and a case of wanderlust?

In a U.S. airline first, American on Tuesday launched a real-time, interactive Award Map tool that shows available destinations based on the amount of frequent flier miles you're willing to redeem.

(Read more: How Flying, Just for the Miles, Can Pay Off)

It's a helpful tool if you're looking to get away, and don't have a specific destination in mind. But users should be aware of a couple of downsides.

How Award Map Works

To use Award Map, you enter the number of miles you would like to use, add a destination preference by region (U.S., Europe, Asia, etc.) or activity (beach, ski or golf), your preferred travel dates and the number of passengers.

Additional search options include designations for round-trip or one-way travel, class of service (coach, business or first class) and whether or not to include American's partner airlines.

(Read more: What Travelers Can Expect With American-US Airways Merger)

Once you click search, the map populates with available destinations and shows the amount of miles required (when scrolling over each location), based on your search parameters. While hovering over a destination, a "book now" link appears, which takes you to a flight selection screen after clicking it.

Downsides of Award Map

However, there is a potential to spend more miles than necessary for a destination. For example, most domestic round-trip coach awards require 25,000 miles for a free ticket at the lowest level. If there's no availability at that level for the dates and destination you pick, the map won't display alternate dates where fewer miles can be used for the same trip.

Also, not all of American's partner airlines are supported. There might be award flights available for fewer miles on American's partner airlines that you'd normally be offered by calling American's reservations center.

Still, it's a nifty tool and definitely a fun way to begin searching the globe for available award seats. For more information on American's Award Map, click here.