My sister asked me a few weeks ago: “Didn’t you say there are no stopovers allowed on American Airlines awards?”

“Yes,” I replied. “In April, American removed the ability to add a free stopover to awards under all circumstances. It was a super bummer because I used to use the free stopovers for free one ways.”

“I just got a free stopover on my American Airlines award.”

She gave me her American Airlines number and password, so I was able to go into her account and check everything out.

She did indeed add a 2+ day stopover in Los Angeles on an award between Hawaii and the continental United States.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 3.19.30 PM

  • How did she get this stopover?
  • Is it repeatable?

What Happened

She originally booked a roundtrip economy award from Honolulu to Salt Lake City for 35,000 American Airlines miles and $10.

She decided she wanted to spend a few days in Los Angeles on her way home, so she called American Airlines to make the change. Knowing stopovers weren’t allowed, she planned to delete the Salt Lake City to Los Angeles segment from her award and just buy Salt Lake City to Los Angeles on whatever carrier had the cheapest cash ticket.

Her plan: change the AA award to the red lines and buy the blue line
Her plan: change the AA award to the red lines and buy the blue line

For whatever reason, instead of just saying, “I’d like to delete the Salt Lake City to Los Angeles segment” to the phone agent, she told her whole story. She explained that she wanted to spend a few days in LA on the way home, so she was calling in to change her award.

And for whatever reason, the agent said, “Well, we can just add a stopover in Los Angeles for a few days.”

He changed the award to this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 3.20.20 PM

She paid $1.20 in taxes. (The 9/11 fee changed from the original booking.) She paid no extra miles.

I couldn’t believe it. I had to look at her receipts myself. Here’s the $1.20.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 3.20.27 PMHere’s the original 35,000 miles coming out of her account, and no other deductions showed in her account in the last five months.

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Is It Repeatable?

If it happened once, it can probably happen again, but I don’t know how you can make it happen.

My sister probably lucked into an extremely friendly and helpful agent who decided to disregard the policy of no stopovers to help her out.

What’s interesting to me is that the computer didn’t stop him from changing the award without collecting extra miles. We now know that is technically possible.

Good luck repeating her success. Frankly, I won’t try to add stopovers to awards I book through my Award Booking Service. If it’s possible at all, it would probably take an extreme number of hang-up-call-backs.

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