As the year starts to wind down, I remembered that I had a $139 US Airways credit that was set to expire on December 20th that was only valid for one-way travel between New York and the Los Angeles area. I hate seeing paid tickets go to waste, so I was determined to take one last trip to California – even if it was just for the miles.
December 20 was approaching quickly, and I knew my options would become more and more limited as the peak holiday travel days start inching up, so I called US Airways and booked a JFK to SNA trip departing next week using the credit.
Now that I had a ticket to California set in stone, I had to think about getting home. My options included: purchasing a ticket, redeeming British Airways Avios, or the more clever solution – taking advantage of American Airlines’ free domestic stopover rule.
Most airlines “charge” roughly 12,500 miles for one-way travel between the two coasts, but the great thing about American Airlines is that an “off peak” award to Europe originating from the US is only 20,000 miles, whether it’s booked from Los Angeles or NY.
A few friends and I are planning to go to Munich in September for Oktoberfest 2013, so I figured this would be a great opportunity for me to officially mark my calendar for that trip… and I can get myself home from California in the process.
Here’s the itinerary I came up with:
SNA to EWR on December 12, with my “stopover” being at my home airport, EWR; then, I will “continue on” to Europe in September on One World Alliance partner, Air Berlin, all for the grand total of 20,000 American Airlines miles. As an added bonus, I’ll be able to get a 10% rebate (2,000 miles) on my redeemed AAdvantage miles since I am a Citi® Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature cardholder, thus making this redemption for both trips only 18,000 miles in the end.
Since the first leg of my travel occurs during “off peak” dates, my entire award prices out “off peak”, even though my European segment is in September. Just to play around, I also priced out other European itineraries, including Rome in June, and the 20,000 mile price still applied for the ticket.
Now going back to my specific itinerary, if I had decided to book both trips separately, it would have “cost” me 42,500 miles at minimum if MileSAAver economy space was available – 12,500 miles for SNA to EWR and 30,000 miles from JFK to MUC, which is the regular “price” for peak European travel.
SNA – EWR on the same itinerary as above, priced out as one leg:
JFK – MUC on the same itinerary as above, priced out as one leg:
Without a doubt, American Airlines has a pretty incredible frequent flyer program, and if you can leverage the beauty of free domestic stop overs, you can stretch your miles way farther than you could stretch your legs out in Y.
On a side note, who else will be joining me in Germany for Oktoberfest next year?!? It’s my first time out there and I’m pretty excited to say the least!