Reader Stephen asked,
Can you ask AA to open saver level award space on a domestic leg of an international trip?
He found Japan Airlines first class award space Los Angeles – Tokyo but wasn’t able to include the Houston – Los Angeles flight that he needed as part of his award.
There are two circumstances in which you can ask American Airlines to release award space, and this is one of those times.
If you have built most of an award itinerary, but you need space on an American flight to complete it, you can ask for that seat to be released even if it isn’t showing award space (“to complete an itinerary”).
- Usually this would mean you have an international award, with the international segments, and you might just be missing a flight from your home airport to the international gateway. For instance you might have New York JFK – Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific available, but need Washington National – New York JFK which isn’t showing up with award inventory. This is the situation Stephen finds himself in for Houston – Los Angeles.
If you have found space for part of your traveling party, but need one more seat than is showing as available, you can ask for that seat (“to complete a party”).
Factors like how full the flight is and your perceived value as a customer affect whether American will approve these requests. Requests are responded to automatically and near-instantaneously by a system called “QMAX.”
Up until a year ago an agent could queue any request for space but now they are limited to ‘to complete an itinerary’ and ‘to complete a party’ requests.
In recent times there have been fewer approved requests, and those that are granted are usually done so close to departure. But the process remains.
I’ve had success with it in the past, even back when I just was an AAdvantage lifetime Gold (1 million miles mostly from sources other than flying, before I was a regular American flyer). I needed a Washington National – New York JFK segment to complete an itinerary and the phone agent had it approved instantly. I haven’t had success in awhile.
So while the process remains, you can ask, the answer is usually no. Can’t hurt to try, however.
From Traveling Better, here’s the American language on these requests:
to complete a party is defined as having less award inventory available than the number of people traveling on the award. At least one applicable Z/U/T* seat must be available prior to requesting an exception to complete a party.
When sending requests to complete a party, queue to QMAX.
If the request is denied then send to the appeal queue, documenting the other PNR your party is traveling with. Shopping is not necessary.
To Complete An Itinerary
Must have at least half of itinerary confirmed
AA feeder space to/from an AA or other airline partner international confirmed flight.