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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