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I’ve updated this post to reflect the new American Airlines award chart that went into effect on March 22, 2016.
Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro:
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – Types of Awards & Charts
- Part 3 – How Much Will My Award Cost?
- Part 4 – One-way, Openjaws, and Stopovers
- Part 5 – American Airlines, Alaska Airlines & Hawaiian Airlines for North American awards
- Part 6 – International Award Routes
- Part 7 – Finding British Airways Award Availability
- Part 8 – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability using the British Airways website
- Part 8b – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability using Japan Airlines’ Website
- Part 9 – Finding Iberia (& European) Award Availability using the Qantas Website
- Part 10 – Finding LAN & South American Award Availability
- Part 11 – Finding Air Tahiti Nui Awards to France & French Polynesia with FlightStats
- Part 11b – Finding Air Tahiti Nui Awards to France & French Polynesia with ExpertFlyer
One-way awards, openjaws, and stopovers, if used the right way, can help you better earn Big Travel with Small Money.
American Airlines lets you book 1-way award tickets.
This is great because it gives you a lot of options. For example, you can book a 1-way ticket to Rome using American Airlines miles, but book a return 1-way ticket using United Airlines miles.
This is a nerdy way of saying that you fly from your origin (City A) to your destination (City B) , but then fly back from another city (City C) to your origin (City A).
For example, I fly from Chicago (City A) to London (City B), but I fly back from Paris (City C) back to my origin in Chicago (City A).
This scenario can be valuable if you are traveling to a lot of different destinations, such as a backpacking trip in Europe, and don’t want the hassle of having to get back to the city you 1st flew into.
Since American Airlines lets you book 1-way awards, you can have openjaw itineraries very easily. For example, I’d book Chicago to London on 1 award. Then I’d book Paris back to Chicago as my 2nd award.
A stopover is when you intentionally take a break in your journey while traveling from your origin to your destination.
For example, say I am traveling from Chicago (origin) to Barcelona (destination) and decide to break my journey in London for 3 days. In this case, I have made a “stopover” in London and my flights would be like this: Chicago (origin) – London (stop) – Barcelona (destination).
Or I am traveling from Kansas City (origin) to London (destination), but decide to break my journey in New York (stop over) for 5 days. In this case, I have made a “stopover” in New York and flights would be like this: Kansas City (origin) – New York (stop) – London (destination).
American Airlines changed its rules in April of 2014 and no longer allows stopovers on an award ticket for more than 24 hours. For example, you can fly from Dallas to Hong Kong, and then from Hong Kong to Singapore all on American Airlines’ oneworld partner, Cathay Pacific.
However, if you wanted to spend a day in Hong Kong, you would need the time between your flight landing in Hong Kong and then taking off again from Hong Kong to be less than 24 hours. This does not provide much time to explore cities, but can be taken advantage of if you hurry!
There are, however, several tricks that would still let you stopover in another country.
Tricks to Allow a Stopover
There are 2 general ways that you can still book a stopover:
1. Book 3 one-way awards. Say you want to go from San Francisco to London, stop for a few days in London, and then fly back to San Francisco from Berlin. You’ll have to book 3 separate 1-way awards:
- 1 award from your origin to your stopover city (San Francisco to London)
- Another from your stopover city to your destination (London to Berlin)
- And the 3rd from your destination city back to your origin, assuming you want to return to your origin (Berlin to San Francisco)
This will cost many more miles than it used to cost to book a 1-way award with a stopover. However, if you don’t mind spending the miles and don’t want to pay more cash, this option could work.
2. Book an award ticket, and then buy a 1-way ticket. You can always book an award ticket from your origin to your stopover city and then buy a cheap plane or train ticket from your stopover city to your destination.
Say you want to go from Dallas to London, stop for a few days in London, and then fly back to Dallas from Barcelona.
You would book a 1-way award ticket from the Dallas to London. Next you would buy a cheap plane or train ticket from London to Barcelona. And finally you would book a 1-way award ticket from Barcelona back to Dallas.
This option is my personal favorite, especially since flights in Asia and Europe can be very cheap!
Knowing the rules of 1-way awards, open jaws, and stopovers can help you book the best award trip next time you travel.
By learning what you can and can’t do, as well as taking advantage of other airlines, travel can still be affordable and allow you to visit many more cities in a short amount of time.
Next in the series will be: booking domestic and international awards.