Update: The trick in this post doesn’t work anymore since American Airlines has eliminated all free stopovers on awards as of April 2014.
Yesterday’s post greatly expanded the number of places you can get a stopover on American Airlines award by combining an AA award with a cheap Avios award. I’m sure many of your minds jumped to the big question: if you can get a cheap stopover almost anywhere, can you get a cheap oneway too? Yes!
We got great value out of the almost free stopovers outlined yesterday. But we can get even better value out of an almost free oneway obtained by following almost the same steps–just replace the desired stopover city from yesterday with your home airport.
The steps are:
- Book an international AA award with its North American international gateway city at an airport near your home airport, and a free oneway from that airport to your desired free-oneway destination.
- Book a direct AA flight roundtrip from the international gateway city to your home airport with Avios.
- Fly the two itineraries. Origin to your home airport, home airport to the destination of the free oneway.
Example of an almost free oneway: Alyse lives in Pittsburgh, PA and has a stash of AA miles. She wants to take her honeymoon to Spain. She’s heard about AA’s free oneways and wants to tack a free oneway to Hawaii onto her award. But Pittsburgh is not an international gateway city. Once Alyse learns about this AA and Avios combination trick, an almost free oneway is within her grasp. Here’s how:
Alyse sees that JFK is a nearby international gateway city with direct AA flights to Barcelona. And she notes that AA has a direct flight between Pittsburgh and JFK. Alyse would book two awards, with sample dates:
AA award, 50,000 miles, free oneway to Hawaii after the main trip:
September 15, 2012: AA business Barcelona-JFK
March 15, 2013: Hawaiian Airlines first JFK-Honolulu
BA award, 9,000 Avios:
September 15: AA coach JFK-PIT
March 15, 2013: AA coach PIT-JFK
Those are the awards Alyse would book, but this is what she would actually fly:
September 15: Barcelona to Pittsburgh
March 15, 2013: Pittsburgh to Maui
If Alyse didn’t know this trick, she would have booked Barcelona to Pittsburgh in business class for 50,000 AA miles and been bummed that she missed out on the free oneway fun. But with this trick Alyse can book Barcelona to Pittsburgh in business class and Pittsburgh to Honolulu in first class for 50,000 AA miles and 9,000 Avios. So Alyse would be adding a first class journey from Pittsburgh to Honolulu for only 9,000 Avios! That’s an incredible deal.
To get the most out of this deal, you must live close to an international gateway airport, so that a roundtrip is only 9,000 Avios. And you should book a premium cabin award with your AA miles. Why? 9,000 Avios for a oneway to Hawaii in coach is good, but 9,000 Avios to Hawaii in first class is better.
Your almost-free oneway can go anywhere in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or the USA, subject to the four rules that govern any AA stopover.
If you want another example of a 9,000 Avios oneway, reread yesterday’s post, but assume that the award booker lives in Tampa instead of Los Angeles. That would mean that LA to Tampa is a 9,000 Avios oneway tacked on before the main award.