American Airlines Award Booking Real Life Awards

Weird AA First Class Award Space Experience

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.

No sAAver space on DFW-NRT
No sAAver space on DFW-NRT

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.

But for some reason, there are flights available when I start my search from another city?
But for some reason, there are flights available when I start my search from another city?

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.

Proof that I could put the flight on hold - I think I could have booked this (when I called the agent was ready to finish it for me)
Proof that I could put the flight on hold – I think I could have booked this (when I called the agent was ready to finish it for me)

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.

Another itinerary that somehow opens up F space when you start from another city
Another itinerary that somehow opens up F space when you start from another city

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?

Joe
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less
http://www.asthejoeflies@gmail.com

5 thoughts on “Weird AA First Class Award Space Experience

  1. I ran into this as well a couple months ago – was doing ORD-MIA-LIM and AAgent couldn’t see MIA-LIM T but could see ORD-MIA-LIM T. Hidden city award ticketing. Good idea with the hold and segment drop, unfortunate that didn’t work.

  2. Matt – interesting find. I know this type of married segment logic is used by other airlines for award space – didn’t know AA did it too. Happened to me a couple years ago with Cathay – LAX-HKG had only 1 F available, but LAX-HKG-SIN/BKK/DPS/etc had 2 F available.

  3. I think the flight needs to have a published fare in order to be booked with AA miles. Maybe they don’t publish a fare for that itinerary?

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