Back in the fall I spoke with AAdvantage President Suzanne Rubin and suggested that with their higher award pricing (since March 22), they could loosen their routing rules somewhat. She indicated they were looking at that.
And it appears they’ve started to because they now allow flying Cathay Pacific or American Airlines to Hong Kong, and travel beyond to India and the surrounding region on Cathay Pacific, as a single award — instead of requiring you to fly via the Atlantic.
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)
- 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Since so much of the AAdvantage award rules are unpublished, I wrote the Ultimate Guide to Booking Award Tickets Using American Miles.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.
And indeed they’ve just improved on one of their rules. You can now fly Cathay Pacific between the US and ‘Indian Subcontinent’ via Hong Kong as a single award.
Transpacific travel to the Indian Subcontinent permitted only via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific or American Airlines. Travel on other partners to the Indian Subcontinent is Transatlantic only.
Cathay Pacific First Class Seat
Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat
These awards used to have to go via the Atlantic. That meant available Cathay flights were off limits, making the awards harder to get. And it often meant more flying. From the West Coast of the US to India it can actually be slightly shorter to travel via the Pacific. American AAdvantage effectively forced you into a bit of extra flying.
You can now fly from North America to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific or American, and onward from Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific to:
- India (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and assuming Dragonair is treated as Cathay Pacific under this rule Kolkata as well)
- Kathmandu, Nepal
- Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Dhaka, Bangladesh (again assuming Dragonair is treated as Cathay Pacific which it should be)
- Male, Maldives
It’s somewhat strange that this exception precludes travel on American’s joint venture partner Japan Airlines.
American’s award pricing between the US and Indian Subcontinent is:
- 40,000 miles each way for economy
- 70,000 miles each way for economy
- 115,000 miles each way for economy
Now American needs to loosen up travel between the US and Asia, allowing routings via the Atlantic — because East Coast to Southeast Asia via the Atlantic isn’t farther than flying via the Pacific but it would open up a lot of possibilities for award travel. Furthermore they need to eliminate the ‘third region rule’ which prevents you from connecting in a region other than your starting or ending region unless there’s a specific exception made.
American has had routing limitations in place but they are completely duplicative and draconian when AAdvantage also makes you fly only on published routings. That rule prevents ‘crazy’ or ‘circuitous’ journeys for the most part, and certainly prevents circuitous journeys that would be allowed on a paid ticket. There’s no real justification for also requiring travel via the Atlantic, or via the Pacific, when paid tickets have no such requirement and it serves only to limit the ability of members to secure award travel in the most efficient means possible. So it is very good to see American relaxing the routing requirements.
(HT: JT Genter)