I was booking an award for a client using AAdvantage and encountered a strange situation. I decided to share it because a) I think someone might be able to take advantage of this sort of glitch, and b) I wanted to hear if anyone has had a similar experience. Here’s what went down.
I was looking to get the client to Hong Kong but couldn’t find a suitable itinerary on Cathay Pacific (using the British Airways award search tool). Knowing (thanks to Wikipedia) that American Airlines flies its own metal to Tokyo Narita, I checked to see what was available. I did direct searches from Chicago O’Hare and Dallas Fort Worth, but nothing was available near the date I wanted.
Here’s where it gets weird. I did a few searches from other cities, including RDU (near where my client lives) and LAX (which has a direct AA flight to Narita). I found a couple flights involving overnights that had first class award on the day my client wanted to travel. In other words, there was availability leaving October 30th connecting to a first class award flight on October 31st. I was able to put these flights on hold . At this point, I had the idea to put the flight on hold including the long haul segment in first class that I wanted and then calling in to change the domestic legs to coincide with where my client lives.
At this point, it just got weirder. On two separate occasions I was able to put itineraries with long haul first class space on hold – both for the DFW-NRT flight and the ORD-NRT flight. The agents I spoke to when I called in saw this. However, when I tried to change the domestic legs, I was told that I wasn’t able to do that and still keep the long haul first class segment. The agent told me the most interesting thing – she said, “Sometimes the long haul segment is connected to the domestic segment so both have to be flown together”. She said the held itinerary (LAX-ORD-NRT, for example), would work, but if you don’t leave from LAX it wouldn’t.
This is probably one of the weirder things I’ve ever encountered since I got into this. Essentially, the first class space exists in some weird universe where you have to connect it to a specific domestic leg. But if you want to fly the first class long haul leg on its own you can’t get an award ticket. Strange, indeed. My assumption is that I would have been able to ticket the award if I just went through with the itinerary as held, but I didn’t want to try it out with a clients miles (obviously). So hopefully this could be useful to someone – if you try it let me know!
As an aside, the entire first class cabin is open – why you gotta be so stingy American?
Has anyone ever heard of this before?