Hacking American Airlines’ Strict Routing Rules

aaAmerican Airlines now has strict routing rules that don’t let you transit through other regions, plus they now don’t allow stopovers. I’ve tried to come up with solutions to this.

Also, I hate paying for things, and I love geeking out about routing rules. With AA, this is kind of a problem, as traditionally you needed a paid service to figure out AA’s rules.

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The New Best Use Of AA miles (why you don’t need the explorer chart)

2014-05-20_18-40-13The AA Explorer Award chart is dead, so we’ll make our own stopovers, and sometimes at prices better than the Explorer Award chart!

On some routes, it’s a bummer. And the fact that they were unlimited stopovers is incredible, but most people can’t use unlimited stopovers. So you may find that this post makes the dead explorer award chart irrelevant, as there are routes that you can piece together for the same price.

First I’ll go over some basics, some commonly accepted good uses, and then move into some advanced routings.

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Completely Rocking the AA Explorer Award Chart

In the midst of United’s terrible devaluation, the value of American Airlines is more and more apparent. But less-obvious is a little known secret called AA’s Explorer Award Chart.

I’ve written a TON about crazy United award routes and it seems fitting to start doing some AA routes on the first day of United’s devaluation. The first place to start is this mysterious second “Explorer” award chart.

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What Will Happen to My US Airways Miles in the Merger?

Us Airways is now officially merging with American Airlines. And for the most part any changes to the final frequent flyer program are speculation.

Who’s award chart will they have? Will there be a devaluation? What will the routing rules be? Really… no one knows. I’m sure even the airlines are still figuring this out.

However, there have indeed been a few dates and plans made. Here is how it generally goes down:

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8 Reasons Why American Airlines is the Best Loyalty Rewards Program

Airlines Rewards programs have a terrible reputation. Horrible. And for so many reasons. Fuel surcharges, availability, restrictions of fare class (like on upgrades), lack of complimentary upgrades, etc…

And AA puts all those crappy programs to shame. Really, I mean they have the best top tier status but it’s more than that – it’s a solid and honest program. I’m not saying that AA miles are always the best currency, but if one had to be loyal to an airline, AA would be a no brainer.

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Weather Cancelations Deals – and why I hate airline fees (still)

In regards to compensation, weather delays are not seen as the airline’s fault… because they don’t control the weather. So you may not be compensated but you may want to know how to handle rebookings. Right now I’m still in Dallas (instead of Puerto Vallarta) because of the weather, so it seems like a timely sharing.

If a flight is canceled for whatever reason, they will try to get you in on the next available flight. They are really good about this. People are worried that they are on stand-by but it’s not just stand-by.

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The only good thing about American Airlines stopover rules

Well, I guess there are two things I like about AA’s stopover rules but in terms of routing I only like one. The non-routing perk is that you can have stopovers on one way awards. This essentially gives you two stopover awards. However, they are strict in that they only allow stopovers in the North American gateway city. No international stopovers. With United you can book stopovers in seemingly any location on the way to any location. It’s awesome. But AA has a stopover in the AA gateway city.

Despite their strict routing rules, the only thing that makes AA stopovers salvageable is their qualifications for a gateway city. Unfortunately, they seem strict on their definition of North America (US, Canada and Mexico). But the only qualification on whether or not your stopover is a valid routing is whether or not it’s the last place that touches North America… or the first returning. So most of the time people make stopovers in the major hubs, like ORD, JFK, MIA, etc… But in fact, you can do it anywhere that touches the US first/last. Rather the city that connects north America to your international destination.

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Warning: Find “Fare Basis Code” Before Booking Partner Flights!

Yesterday’s post, Mileage Running 101 – The art of flying for free travel, raised a question about finding the “fare basis code”. If you plan to earn United Airlines miles by flying on a partner airline, you should probably check United’s policy on accruing miles by flying partner airlines. The airlines classify each fare with a code (in this case we’re talking about just 1 letter) that represent the rules along with that ticket – this is the fare basis code. The codes determines all kinds of rules like cancellation policies. But the only one you need to know is that this particular code determines how many miles you earn or whether or not you earn miles at all with partner airlines.

I said that one could find the chart that shows how many miles United gives for partner flights by simply googling “earn united miles on [Turkish Airlines]” or whatever airline you wish to fly. However, this doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.

If you look at the chart for earning United miles on Turkish Airlines, it tells us fare codes and how many miles they earn. They seemingly tell us that all Turkish flights earn 100% United miles… but it’s not completely true.

There are generally two ways people get confused about the fare earnings. The first way people get confused is not knowing the difference between the economy fares. The second is way is even worse – when airlines leave out some of codes earning description.  Click to Read More…

Double Dipping the American Airlines Business Cards!

Screen shot 2013-01-26 at 10.19.00 PMLook what I found!

This isn’t just another reminder about how double dipping the American Airline cards is still one of the best deals in the credit card game. This is also an alert that there is a 50,000 mile Business MasterCard version of the American Airlines Citi card. Why is this a big deal? The best one I heard of was 40,000, but doing some searching I found a 50,000 card!

Who cares? Let me back up.

I’ve written a lot about double dipping the American Airlines personal cards. The card comes in two version, Visa and Amex, but you’re only meant to get one. However, if you apply for the both cards at the same time, in two different browsers (like Firefox and Chrome), you can get approved for both… and when I first did this, it was on one credit pull!

You can essentially do the same with the business cards. One Visa and one MasterCard! However, most reports that I hear are that you can only do one business app in a day with Citi and to just wait at least 95 days between both business cards (some say 120 days). This could net over 200,000 AAdvantage miles and $450 towards American Airlines!


Here’s the landing page for the MasterCard version, and here’s the link to the application.

Also here is the landing page for the Business Visa (and both personals) for 50,000 miles, $150 credit statement, two lounge passes and a spend requirement of only $3,000 in 4 months. And here’s the app for the Biz Visa.

These are the best offers that I’ve seen in a long time. These applications keep getting taken down but… here it is. (And note that there is a 40k personal MasterCard too (there are reports that you can apply for this 18 months after the personal cards, but haven’t done this personally)).

Also, a little secret: my business card just has my name on it twice – once as the name of the user and once as the business name. And my application just had my ssn as my ssn and business number (I’m a sole proprietorship :-p).