I contacted Gary at the View from the Wing blog and he was very helpful with his award booking suggestions. He knows more tricks than I will ever remember.
I did this one all myself, and I went a different way than he suggested (my vouchers were expiring), but it was great to have a real pro as a sounding board. He really knows his stuff and I can assure you if you are at all hesitant to try something like this, his award booking service will be worth every penny you spend on it. Gary will save yo money and miles
Rick was planning a trip through several cities in Europe, and has a boatload of American Airlines miles.
One of the unique award offerings of American is their distance-based Oneworld awards. Instead of just one-way awards, roundtrips, and/or stopovers you can have up to 16 flight segments, with up to 1 stopover per city. And the number of miles charged for the award is based on the total distance traveled. The only catch is that you have to use at least two oneworld airlines other than American.
The neat thing is that awards may wind up being the same mileage price or even less expensive than a straight roundtrip award booking, and you get a whole bunch more segments for the price. It’s great for Europe and seeing a bunch of destinations, where extra flights don’t add significantly to total mileage and where you can pick up your second oneworld carrier quite easily, since you’ve got Iberia, British Airways, Malev Hungarian, and Finnair to choose from for intra-European flying.
My recently completed first class Asia trip was a oneworld award —
Toronto – Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific First Class
Hong Kong – Manila, Cathay Pacific First Class
Manila – Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific First Class
Hong Kong – London, Cathay Pacific First Class
London – Toronto, British Airways First Class
This was 180,000 miles per person, which is rather expensive. I wasn’t really ‘maximizing’ the award with stopovers and such. A simple roundtrip from North America to Hong KOng (or Manila) and back would have been just 135,000 miles. But I wanted the trip back through Europe, the round-the-world flights were useful to me (and saved a separate Europe trip I’d have needed to take), so it was a good value for my purposes.
I added into the trip separate intra-Philippines domestic flights, and the ferry pre-immigration from the Hong Kong airport to Macau and back. And my flights to and from Toronto, which I could have put into the award itself but would have required me to fly DC to say New York to Toronto and back, and I preferred flying non-stop so I kept that on a separate ticket as well.
But the American oneworld awards were useful to me, and I had suggested them to Rick. Ultimately because he had United vouchers expiring he went with burning those, but used American’s relatively cheap 10,000 mile one-way awards for intra-Europe to good effect.
Two side notes about flying intra-Europe: first, one-way tickets usually price at full fare, it’s often cheaper with the major flag carriers to buy roundtrips even if you are going to throw away the return; and second, most of the European discounters don’t show up in online airfare searches becaus ethey don’t pay to participate in the global distribution systems that sites like Orbitz or Expedia feed off of. Instead, sites like Which Budget and others are invaluable for figuring out which discounters fly which routes, so you can head over to their websites directly to figure out schedules and pricing.