I’ve written a few times recently that American has seemed to offer better award availability lately. It’s not great, but better than the almost no availability that has reigned for some time. We were promised that in September and goodness knows I hope what we’re seeing now isn’t all there is.
However there’s something important to understand about much of what American has done. Cranky Flier got American to confirm last week that much of the space they’ve opened up is on connecting flights. They’re offering married segment availability — award space that’s highly restrictive, but that you can game to your advantage if you know what you’re doing.
American Airlines Boeing 787-9 in Los Angeles
Let’s take an example of Washington National to Sydney via Los Angeles on February 5.
There’s no coach award space Washington National to Los Angeles.
And there’s no coach award space Los Angeles to Sydney.
There’s plenty of award space on these flights if booked through from Washington DC to Sydney.
The great thing is that American allows 5 day award holds. I put Washington National to Los Angeles to Sydney on hold.
Then I called up and had them drop the Washington National to Los Angeles flight. That left me with an award flying Los Angeles to Sydney that American had said was unavailable.
A couple of caveats:
- the agent can’t just cancel your flights and book a new award, that will be priced more expensively, they have to remove the segment you don’t want from the itinerary not start fresh.
- when I called the agent said “the system is giving me fits” and put me on hold, but when they came back they had done what I asked — I don’t know yet if American’s married segment logic somehow continues to link the flights and that has to be overridden, but I got no pushback at all.
It’s been possible to game married segment availability on American for some time, in the past I wrote about doing this for confirmed international upgrades. With the increase in connecting award inventory this just became a whole lot more useful.