American AAdvantage Made a Minor Tweak to Their Unpublished Rules (New Qantas Third Region Exception)

JonNYC just tweeted:

I find his information about American Airlines and AAdvantage to be remarkably reliable.


Qantas A380 First Class

American does not publish its award routing rules. The value of a mileage redemption program is a combination of:

  • The cost of an award (miles, money)

  • Availability

  • Award routing rules (what flights can be combined together to construct an award).

Since so much of the AAdvantage award rules are unpublished, I wrote the Ultimate Guide to Booking Award Tickets Using American Miles.

Award routing rules determine whether you can connect in Europe when flying from the US to Asia, or in Asia between the US and India. Liberal routing rules let you make the most of scarce award space. American’s rules are stringent. You have to follow the published routing rules of the primary overwater carrier on your itinerary and you cannot touch a third region when traveling between two regions unless there’s a specific exception in place.

When I spoke with AAdvantage President Suzanne Rubin last month she indicated they were looking at whether they might relax these rules, which are far more restrictive than competing carriers.

  • You cannot fly from the US to Europe to Asia, you have to fly direct from the US to Asia.

  • No American partner flies non-stop from the US to Africa, and it’s possible to use American miles to fly to Africa, only because they make an exception that will allow you to connect in the third region of Europe.

Known Exceptions:

  1. Travel between North/Central/South America and the Indian Sub Continent/Middle East can connect in Europe

  2. Travel between North/Central/South America and Africa can connect in Europe

  3. Travel between North American or South America Zone 2 and Africa can connect in Middle East/Indian Subcontinent if the flight arriving in and departing from that third region is on Qatar Airways.

  4. Travel between North/Central/South America and Asia 2 can connect in:Asia 1

  5. Travel between the Indian Sub Continent/Middle East and Asia 1 or South Pacific can connect in:Asia 2

  6. Travel between Africa and Asia 1 can connect in Asia 2 or in Middle East/Indian Subcontinent provided that connection arrives and departs on Qatar Airways.

  7. Travel between Africa and Asia 2 can connect in Middle East/Indian Subcontinent provided that connection arrives and departs on Qatar Airways.

  8. Travel between Asia 1 and Europe or South Pacific can connect in:Asia 2

  9. Travel between Europe and Asia 1 can connect in Middle East/Indian Subcontinent provided that connection arrives and departs on Qatar Airways.

  10. Travel between Europe and Asia 2 can connect in Middle East/Indian Subcontinent provided that connection arrives and departs on Qatar Airways.

  11. Travel between Europe and South Pacific can connect in Middle East/Indian Subcontinent provided that connection arrives and departs on Qatar Airways or now arrives and departs on Qantas.

  12. Travel between North America and Indian Subcontinent/Middle East can connect in Europe & Afghanistan /Bangladesh /Bhutan /British Indian Ocean Territory India /Nepal /Pakistan /Maldives /Sri Lanka

  13. Travel between Central/South America Zone 1 and Indian Subcontinent/Middle East can connect in Europe & Afghanistan /Bangladesh /Bhutan /British Indian Ocean Territory India /Nepal /Pakistan /Maldives /Sri Lanka

  14. Travel between South America Zone 2 and Indian Subcontinent/Middle East can connect in Europe & Afghanistan /Bangladesh /Bhutan /British Indian Ocean Territory India /Nepal /Pakistan /Maldives /Sri Lanka

You can fly from the US to Africa via London or from the US to Africa via Doha on Qatar Airways but you cannot fly from the US to Africa via Abu Dhabi on American’s partner Etihad as there’s no exception allowing transit in the Middle East region unless that transit is on Qatar Airways which would mean connecting in Doha.

And you can fly from the US to Hong Kong via Tokyo but you cannot fly from the US to Tokyo via Hong Kong as there’s no exception allowing transit in Asia 2 on a ticket from the US to Asia 1.

Relatedly there are specific rules that you can only fly from North America to Europe, Africa and the Indian Sub-Continent/Middle East via the Atlantic. It can make total sense to fly San Francisco to India via Asia instead of Europe, but this is not allowed.

Additionally, you can only fly to Asia via the Pacific, and though Australia and Tahiti and Fiji are in the same region, you cannot fly to Fiji via Australia (“the long way”).

What’s new here is that you can now fly Qantas’ London – Dubai – Australia service as a single award.


Qantas Pre-Departure First Class Champagne

About Gary Leff


Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel – a topic he has covered since 2002.

Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the “World’s Top Travel Experts” by Conde’ Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. I might be totally off, but as far as I knew, LHR-DXB-SYD/MEL was always bookable on the AA website for 80k miles.

  2. This isn’t as exciting as it sounds. You could always go via the Middle East when flying between Europe and the South Pacific because AA considered QF 1/2 and QF 9/10 as direct flights between SYD/MEL and LHR (i.e. they “stopped” in DXB rather than “connected”).

    It sounds like all that’s changed is you can now switch between the flights (e.g. QF10 from LHR-DXB followed by QF2 from DXB-SYD). This isn’t terribly useful since (a) award availability on the individual segments has always been much worse than on the complete flight, and (b) it results in layovers of around 10 h at DXB rather than 2 h.

    What’s a more interesting question (and one which his tweet doesn’t actually clarify) is whether or not you can connect using both Qantas and Qatar (e.g. LHR-DOH-DXB on QR connecting to DXB-SYD on QF). That would be something newsworthy!

  3. You can do India to NA and vv on Etihad now. Don’t know if they are making one off exceptions for me but I’ve booked two tix in the last 2 weeks one on J for 67.5k and one on F for 90k.

  4. Shame they don’t add Etihad as well. First Apartment SYD-LHR for 80k miles pre-deval. Would be unbeatable!

  5. Yep, as pointed out, has been possible to do this on the QF flights 1/2/9/10 that kept the same flight number.

  6. As others have noted, this has always been available as a single award. I booked one in F in the summer for a trip in February. Looking forward to those four segments on QF plus some J segments on QF and AY at the other end from/to HEL.

  7. Same flight number is treated as a non-stop flight, no third region connection involved. This is a change in the rules of the AAdvantage program that even third region connections are allowed. I titled this post a “minor tweak” and indeed it is one, but since American doesn’t publish its award rules I believe it’s important to keep up on these.

  8. till now, had to be a single flight # to be able to connect in DXB on Europe-> S.Pac award, this new change allows the transit in DXB regardless of flight #. And if you look on AA.com you’ll see that often that’s what’s available, award-wise. As Gary says, a small change, but gives hope for more exceptions to be added– previously QR exceptions were the only airline-specific exceptions in the exception-table.

  9. @JonNYC: Assuming you’re the same JonNYC who tweeted this news, can you clarify if QR-to-QF connections will now be allowed, or must it be the same airline all the way through? I suppose the same question could apply with BA-to-QR/QF connections in DOH, DXB, etc. for those who like fuel surcharges.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *