American Airlines has some of the best award options for flights around the world. With the American Airline AAdvantage award program, you can fly practically anywhere in the world using miles that you earn from credit card bonuses and flying on American Airline flights. By learning some basics about the program you will be a pro at booking your next award flight. In a series of posts, we’ll discuss the different ways American Airlines points can be used to maximize your awards.
Part 1 – Introduction to Using American Airlines Miles and the Partner Airlines
Part 2 – Comparing American Airline’s 3 Award Charts
Part 3 – Taxes and fees and How to Book Awards (online vs. phone)
Part 4 – Stopovers and Open Jaw tickets American Airlines
Part 5 – How to Maximize American Airlines Explorer, oneworld and Other Airline Award Charts
Part 6 – How to Maximize AA MileSAAver Awards (includes off-peak)
Part 7 – Planning an International Award
Part 8 – Maximizing AA Miles to South America
Part 9 – Maximizing AA Miles to Asia
Part 10 – Maximizing AA Miles to Europe
Part 11 – Maximizing AA Miles to Africa
Part 12 – Maximizing AA Miles to Middle East
Part 13 – Maximizing AA Miles in the US and Hawaii
Maximizing stopovers and open jaws is one of the easiest ways to stretch your American Airline miles. You can take advantage of stopovers and open jaws on the same award. When used correctly you get to travel to more places and you’re not limited to flying back home from the same airport.
American Airline’s stopover and open jaw rules are not as great as United’s or Lufthansa, but they still allow you to get more from your awards. Knowing their rules and limitations will help you plan an extensive trip and allow you to easily book with oneworld partners.One advantage to using American Airlines miles over United miles is that you are allowed stopovers on one way awards.
A stopover is a connection over four hours in between the originating city and the destination for domestic flights or 6 hours on international flights and can last for up to a year. A layover is less than 4 hours for domestic flights and 6 for international.
This is what a stopover looks like:
Los Angeles (originating city) → Paris (stopover) → Istanbul (destination)
American Airlines has strict stopover rules. Stopovers must be made in a North American International Gateway City and the award ticket must include an international destination.
This is a bit disappointing because you won’t be able to make a stopover in Europe, Asia or South America. However, you still have a selection of different hubs that are not a part of the continental US enroute to South America, Europe, Oceania or Asia.
American Airline North American International Gateways for Stopovers
|Flies From||Flies To||Airlines|
|Los Angeles||Brisbane, Buenos Aires, Dusseldorf, Kuala Lumpur, Lima, Melbourne, London, Madrid, Rome, Santiago, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Toronto||Qantas, American, Berlin, Finnair, LAN, Malaysia, El Al, Air Pacific, Air Tahiti Nui, Iberia|
|New York||Amman, Antigua, Barcelona, Berlin, Bermuda, Caracas, Doha, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Lima, London, Milan, Paris, Port Au Prince, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, San Juan,Santiago, Sao Paulo||Qantas, American, Berlin, Finnair, LAN, Malaysia, El Al, Royal Jordanian, Cathay Pacific, JAL, Jet Airways, Jordanian, Iberia|
|Boston||Beijing, London, Madrid, Managua, Panama City, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo||American, Iberia, LAN, British Airways|
|Chicago||Amman, Beijing, Berlin, Cancun, Doha, Dublin, Duesseldorf, Helsinki, Hong Kong, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Miami, Manchester, Milan, Montego Bay, Paris, Rome, San Jose Cabo, San Juan, Shanghai, Tokyo||American, British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, JAL, Roayl Jordanian, Etihad|
|Washington DC||Tokyo||British Airways, Etihad|
|Raleigh||London, Tegucigalpa||American, British Airways|
|San Diego||Barcelona, London, Tokyo||British Airways|
|San Francisco||Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Lima, Madrid, Tokyo||British Airways, Air Berlin, LAN, Cathay Pacific, JAL|
|Miami||Antigua, Barcelona, Belize, Buenos Aires, Cali, Cancun, Cozumel, Curacao, Curitiba, Granada, Guayaquil, Keywest, Kingston, La Paz, La Romana, Liberia, Lima, London Madrid, Managua, Milan, Montego Bay, Montevideo, Montreal, St. Paul, Panama City, Paris, Pensacola, Port Au Prince, Port of Spain, Porto Alegre, Providenciales, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Quito, Rio De Janeiro, Roatan, Salvador, San Juan, San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Santa Cruz, Santiago, Sao Paulo, St Croix Island, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Maarten, St Thomas Island||American Airlines, British Airways, Air Berlin, LAN|
|Orlando||London, Sao Paulo, Tokyo||British Airways, LAN|
|Honolulu||Nagoya, Osaka, Sydney, Tokyo||Qantas, JAL, Hawaiian, Air Pacific|
|Houston||Doha, London, Manchester||British Airways|
|Dallas||Bogota, Brisbane, Buenos Aires, Cancun, Caracas, Chihuahua, Cozumel, Frankfurt, Guatemala City, Hermosillo, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Nassau, Panama City, Paris, Providinceiales, Puebla, Puerto Vallarta, Rio de Janeiro, Roatan, San Jose, San Jose Cabo, San Juan, Seoul, Sydney, Toronto, Zacatecas, Zurich||American, British, Qantas|
|Seattle||London, Rome||British Airways|
|Denver||Barcelona, London||British Airways|
|Baltimore||Sao Paulo, London||British Airways|
|Las Vegas||London, Montevideo, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo||British Airways, Air Berlin|
|Newark||Hong Kong, London, Paris||British Airways, El Al, Jet Airways|
|Mexico City||Lima, London, Madrid, Santiago||British Airways, Iberia, LAN|
|Vancouver||Hong Kong, London, Tokyo||British Airways, Air Berlin, Cathay Pacific, JAL|
|Montreal||Amman, Doha, London||British Airways, Royal Jordanian|
|Toronoto||Helsinki, Hong Kong, London||British Airways, Finnair, El Al, Etihad, Jet Airways|
|Punta Cana||Antigua, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Dusseldorf, Lima, London, Munich, Santiago||British Airways, Air Berlin, LAN|
|Cancun||Dusseldorf, Lima, London, Santiago||British Airways, Air Berlin, LAN|
|Antigua||London, Punta Cana, Tobago, St Kitts||British Airways|
|Nassau||Grand Cayman Island, London, Providenciales||British Airways|
|St Lucia||Grenada, London, Port of Spain||British Airways|
If I missed any American Airline North American International Gateways, let me know!
Knowing which airports are North American International Gateways is key to booking American Airline stopovers, but you also need to know where the airline’s hubs are that go to the international destination that you want.
You can use the oneworld Interactive Network Map to find out where you can fly to/from different International Gateways.
The search results will show you the connections and segments for flights leaving from the International Gateway.
Here are examples of a few acceptable stopovers with AA awards.
Los Angeles - Mexico City (stopover) - San Jose, Costa Rica (international destination)
San Francisco- Toronto (stopover) - Paris (international destination)
New York- Miami (stopover) - Bahamas (international destination)
These examples are acceptable because the stopover is at a North American International Gateway and there is an international destination included in the award.
One Way Awards
American Airlines allows stopovers on one way awards. Your award has to include an international destination and the stopover must be at a North American International Gateway.
What this looks like:
Los Angeles - Mexico City (stopover) - Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires - Nassau (stopover) - Los Angeles
Miami - Santo Domingo (stopover) - Rio de Janeiro
Technically speaking, your stopover cannot be in an international city unless it’s Mexico or in the Bahamas. This is allowed because they are considered a North American International Gateway.
Another way to make a stopover outside North America is by booking three one way awards.
What this looks like:
One Way #1: New York (stopover) to Paris
One Way #2: Paris to Rome
One Way #3: Rome to New York (stopover)
To make an international stopover work using one way AA awards, you can reserve your award ticket from the departure to the “stopover” as a one way award, then arrange alternate transportation from the stopover city to the destination city. You can do this by train, cheap airline like RyanAir or Pegasus or bus. While it’s not necessarily a true award stopover, you’re still able to see the cities you want to stop in.
An open jaw is when you return home from a different city than the you landed in. Say for example you flew into Athens from Los Angeles, but you traveled overland to Paris. Rather than making your way back to Athen’s to return home, you fly back from Paris, making this an open jaw award.
Departure: Los Angeles to Athens
Return: Paris to Los Angeles
Departure: New York to Milan
Return: Barcelona to New York
oneworld 16 Segments + One Open Jaw
With oneworld, you’re able to book up to 16 segments using American Airline awards based on their oneworld Award Chart. With the chart, the cost of awards are distance based so with the ability to book up to 16 segments and one open jaw this a good way to maximize your awards.
A segment is every flight that you are one from departure to landing, not the point that you depart and arrive to your destination, so when you are planning out your segments make sure to stay within your 16 segment limit.
Your 16 segment allowance and one open jaw can also turn your trip into a Round the World if you use the oneworld Award Chart. It’s a great way to maximize your miles. You can use the Round the World tool to help you map out your maximum-16 segment itinerary.
To get a clear view of your segments and miles, I recommend using the Great Circle Mapper. The tool breaks down your itinerary by segments and the total distance of each segment so that you can stay within the oneworld Award Chart distance based zones.
This is a standard round trip itinerary from Los Angeles with only 6 segments:
LAX to CDG, CDG to DBV, DBV to FCO, FCO to MAD, MAD to VIE, VIE to LAX
What makes this an open jaw ticket is that you don’t return to the original city from the first airport you arrived in. An open jaw is great way to not confine you to a country or city if you wanted to venture off without using miles.
Taking advantage of stopovers and open jaws are the best way to travel to more places on one award. By deciding which award chart suits your needs the best, you can figure out how to incorporate a stopover and an open jaw making the trip one of many trips of a life time!