Will American Airlines Charge Me for Each Segment of My Award Trip?

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Million Mile Secrets reader Bob commented:

I am trying to book my 1st 1-way flight using different segments.  I want to book with American Airlines miles and go from Boston to Bangkok by going:

Boston -> New York (JFK) -> Hong Kong -> Bangkok

I used the American Airlines website to find award seats from Boston to New York (JFK) and used the British Airways website to find Cathay Pacific award seats from New York (JFK) to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Bangkok.

When I call American Airlines to book, will they try to charge me for the Boston to New York (JFK) segment, in addition to the miles to Asia?

Will American Airlines Charge Me For Each Segment Of My Award Trip

How Many American Airlines Miles Will Bob’s Trip Cost?

Why You Should Book Long Distance Trips in Smaller Segments

You should always search for award flights segment-by-segment because it is easier to find award flights that way.

Will American Airlines Charge Me For Each Segment Of My Award Trip

It’s Easier to Find Award Seats When You Book By Segment

For example, Bob may not find any flights from Boston to Bangkok, if he enters Boston as his departure city and Bangkok as his destination online.

But, if he breaks up his searches into:

  • Boston to New York (or other US city which has international flights to Hong Kong)
  • New York (or other US city which has international flights to Hong Kong)
  • Hong Kong to Bangkok

he will be more likely to find award seats!  So don’t give up if your first search online from your origin to your destination isn’t successful!

Will American Airlines Charge For Each Segment?

As long as Bob follows American Airlines booking rules for stopovers, American Airlines will charge him based on the price from his origin, Boston, to his final destination, Bangkok.  Currently that costs:

  • 35,000 American Airlines miles in coach
  • 55,000 American Airlines miles in business class
  • 67,500 American Airlines miles in first class

American Airlines recently made big changes to its award program.  One major change is that American Airlines no longer allows North American stopovers.

Will American Airlines Charge Me For Each Segment Of My Award Trip

The New American Has a New Award Chart and New Rules, Which Includes No North American Stopovers

Bob is traveling internationally, so he can stop in New York for no longer than 24 hours or he will have to book a 2nd ticket to complete his trip.  

Let’s say Bob just wants to connect in New York because there are more flight options from New York to Hong Kong.  In this case, he will NOT be charged for 2 separate award flights (as long as his layover in New York is not more than 24 hours).

Because he is flying Cathay Pacific for part of his trip, this is a oneworld alliance award.  According to the American Airlines oneworld award chart , a 1-way award in coach from the US to Asia Zone 2 costs 35,000 American Airlines miles in coach.

Will American Airlines Charge Me For Each Segment Of My Award Trip

If Bob Is in New York for Less Than 24 Hours, His Trip From Boston to Bangkok Will Cost 35,000 American Airlines Miles

However, if Bob wants to stop in New York for more than 24 hours, he will have to pay 12,500 extra American Airlines miles for his flight from Boston to New York.

Then he will have to pay another 35,000 miles to fly from New York to Hong Kong to Bangkok.

Will American Airlines Charge Me For Each Segment Of My Award Trip

If Bob Wants to Stay in New York for More Than 24 hours, His Trip Will Cost 47,500 American Airlines Miles

Bottom Line

You increase the chances of finding award flights by booking long-distance award flights segment-by-segment.   And you don’t have to pay more miles for each segment if you’re just connecting in New York (or in another US city for less than 24 hours).

But if you want to stop in North America for more than 24 hours, you will now pay for 2 separate award flights.

If you need more tips for using American Airline miles, check out my series on Booking American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro.

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15 responses to “Will American Airlines Charge Me for Each Segment of My Award Trip?

  1. Does this work on domestic awards? I have been curious for a while and haven’t been able to nail down a proper answer. Does AA or United let you piece your own domestic itinerary together for one price? If all segments are saver can I make my own connections for 12,500, etc. I assume this requires a phone booking because I can’t get the websites to reflect this. Any tips?

  2. I thought the new rule said no more oneworld alliance award

  3. @Raymond OneWorld alliance awards are still allowed. Otherwise the post above would not make any sense. 😉

  4. @Raymond, American Airlines got rid of OneWorld Explorer Awards (where you book segment by segment and you pay based on the distance flown). Standard American Airlines awards (whether on AA or OneWorld partners) are still around and are region-to-region based.

  5. Can you also have a less than 24 hour stop in HGK? I’m looking to book SLC-DFW-HKG-HKT with less than 24 hours in DFW (arriving the evening before the HKG flight) and HKG (the flight arrives in HKG in the evening and the HKT flight leaves the next morning). Would that price at 55k for business?

  6. I know AA considers less than 24 hrs not as a stopover with non-u.s destinations, but don’t they have this silly rule that regarding u.s cities a stopover will be considered anything over 4hrs? or maybe i’m confusing this with AS routing rules…?

  7. @Dude26, the 24 hrs rule is for an international itinerary. You can stop for > 4hrs and < 24hrs in a US city on the same award if it's an international itinerary.

    However for totally domestic itinerary, the rule is < 4 hrs to not be considered as a second award

  8. The reply to Jay, does that “yes” mean he has to call to book a domestic segment by segment? I had the same question. Online it seems I am charged for each segment. Does that mean they charge the phone booking fee still?

  9. Can you comment on this post by another blog- What makes American’s awards in particular even better is the airline’s routing rules that allow you to build in a stopover at its North American gateway cities on international awards from which the international portion of your itinerary departs or arrives. That means that with some creative planning, you can pretty much add on another award flight within North America (which includes Canada, the Caribbean, Alaska and Hawaii in addition to the continental US) for free.
    This states you can add on another award flight to take later w/in 11 months for only $5 fees and I was wondering if you have done this too and some tips on it? I gather you would have to book the original award trip as 2 one ways and on the way back add on another trip to take up to 11 months later from your home city?

  10. There are some exceptions where AA won’t ticket a particular routing as a single award, even if it meets the stopover rules.

    – There’s a Maximum Permitted Miles for each city pair, and you can exceed that but only by a certain percentage. If you’re routing is above that limit, then it can’t be a single award and you’ll have to get the extra segments separately. So you can’t go too far out of your way.
    – There’s a rule that the over-water carrier must publish a paid fare between the city pair. If they don’t, then they can’t do it as an award ticket either, so you’ll pay for extra segments to/from wherever they do have published fares to.
    – And, of course, AA doesn’t let you transit a third region. So, for example, US-Asia-Australia would have to be priced as two separate awards.

  11. Is it possible for me to set the following itinerary? LAX (home airport) -> HKG (for a few days) -> BKK (final destination) on Cathay Pacific as 1-way. Then for a return trip BKK -> MEL (for a few days) -> LAX on Qantas as a return flight.

    My plan is i have to keep my 2 home airports (BKK and LAX), but the stop over can be any city – says Tokyo for example. So is it possible to do this using the same region to region booking method? Thanks.

  12. If I am using AA miles to book a first class award flight to asia and back, do they allow a stopover or open jaw in asia?

    • @Jason – It may be possible to string it together on United, but AA does a pretty good job of showing all the domestic option. You will have to pay a telephone fee for calling.

      @Lor – That is no longer possible.

      @Paul E – You pay more miles for a stopover over 24 hours

      @ danny – No stopovers are allowed.

  13. Is it possible for a 3 day stopover in Sydney on a lax to Auckland flight. Qantas on AA website does require a flight change at Sydney. was wondering if I could stop for 3 days with out booking 2 segments.