Extra LEGendary: Stopovers on AA Award flights.
I received a lot of emails from readers after the United free extra leg post with questions on whether this technique can be used with American Airlines.
Yes, it can. This is actually a practice that has been around for many moons. People new to the game (noobs) may not be aware of it, but have no fear- the Noob master is here.
American Airlines Stopover Rules
Before we dive in, let’s review a bit. A “stopover” is when you are at a destination for more than 4 hours domestically and 6 hours internationally. AA’s website classifies anything less as a transfer or connection. “If there are no scheduled flights within this timeframe, regardless of availability, you must take the next scheduled flight, but may not exceed 24 hours. If the connection exceeds 24 hours, it will be considered a stopover.”
There are a couple of different rules you’ll need to follow when adding an extra leg with a stopover on American Airlines flights. Let it begin.
First: American Airlines doesn’t allow you to use a “stopover” with flights that only include North America destinations. This means you must have a route that gets you out of North America to be able to take advantage of stopovers and free one way tickets on AA.
Second: Your stopover must be in a ” North American Gateway City”. North American Gateway cities include:
- New York City (JFK)
- Miami (MIA)
- Los Angelas (LAX)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Boston (BOS)
- Dallas (DFW)
Ok, ok. So to use stopovers, you must include a North American Gateway city on your “international ticket”. This means you can’t have a stopover in an international city with American Airlines (like you can with United and many other airlines). Kind of a bummer, but wait- there is good news.
If you do want a stopover internationally, you can book multiple one way tickets with American to satisfy all your travel wants and needs.
American Airlines allows you to book one way award tickets, and with each one way ticket, you can add a stopover. Very nice. You can add one before your trip, and one after your trip, to get two FREE one way tickets. The popular leg everyone likes to tack on to these trips is to Honolulu. Makes sense. Who doesn’t want a free ticket to Hawaii? That’s all the more reason to go to Hawaii.
Lets do a couple of examples.
Sign in to your AA account and go to the AAdvantage tab —> Redeem Miles—-> Book Flight. Then go ahead and click “multi city” to get started. For this example, we are flying DFW- LHR- and LHR- DFW. But where’s the fun in that? On to get killer value for our miles…let’s add a LAX segment before the DFW departure. I can always use a free trip to LA.
First One Way + Stopover
Look how I scheduled the leg from LAX-DFW 4 months before the DFW-LHR leg! You have 331 days of wiggle room when taking advantage of stopovers with American Airlines. 331, people! That’s a lot of time.
As you can see, there is no mileage price tied to the first leg because it’s FREE. At the top of the page, it says, “This international award allows a stopover in DFW.” Yes, it does.
When I checked a MileSAAver one way ticket from DFW-LHR, it came out to 20,000 AAdvantage miles and $219. Now lets see what it will cost to us to add an extra leg up front.
And the Grand total is 20,000 AAdvantage miles and $230.50. Boom. I’ll take paying an extra $11.50.
So there’s the example of adding a free extra leg to the beginning of an international ticket. But let’s get sexy and add a Honolulu ticket on the way back TOO. Check it out.
Second One Way + Stopover
Once again, MileSAAver non-peak economy tickets are only 20,000 one way. Score. Here is the final price for adding the Honolulu ticket onto the last segment of your ticket.
Winning. 20,000 miles and $177.40 for a ticket from Europe back home to Dallas, then to Honolulu. That’s value.
This is a tremendous way to maximize your American Airlines AAdvantage miles. I know it’s easier for people who live near a North American Gateway city, but you can always book a cheap British Airways award flight or Southwest if you really want to make it happen.
Heads up: If you are looking to book a partner award flight with your AAdvantage miles, you will need to call AA. It can’t be done online. You can reach them at 1-888-882-8880. You can also check for partner availability at Qantas.com.
Also: You can make changes to your extra free leg at a later time if need be, but you will have to call and chat with an AA rep and pay a $25 fee. So if you need to change the date, it can be done. Still worth $25!
Accumulating miles and points is all about value and this is a great way to streeeetch out your AAdvantage miles. I hope you’ve found this post helpful and you can start joining in on the fun and booking those free one ways. They’re extra LEGendary. Oh yeah.
— Noob Master