Best Use Of 280,000 AA Miles?

Jun 15th, 2009, 01:39 PM
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Sometimes I'm hesitant to ask these questions here because I find that a feeling of jealousy invariably overwhelms me when I hear stories like yours, Patty.

I'm still curious to know if it actually makes sense to try to claim a ticket that involves 50,000 miles of travel on OneWorld (assuming you have the miles) -- if that's the best value for money. I'm also trying to imagine what that itinerary will look like (it's like peering into the fourth dimension! ).

There actually is a OneWorld planner here -- I haven't used it so I don't know how useful it is:

There's a lot of info on this Wiki page. I don't know if the info is accurate, but it's probably worth reading anyway:

There's also an interesting Frommer's article here with an interesting OneWorld routing:

It'd be great to find some sample itineraries like the ones Gardyloo posted (and the one in Frommers) and their costs so that you can figure out what you're getting when you redeem. Is there a website that does that? If not, maybe someone needs to build that website.
111op is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 02:16 PM
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Off and on over the years I've pondered taking the Continental Micronesia Island Hopper but the thought of 14 hours in a 738 has stopped me every time The reason I mention this is that you can still redeem DL miles on CO flights through Oct 24th and it's one of the more interesting trips I can think of.
Patty is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 03:48 PM
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I cashed in a lot of miles at the last minute to travel from ORD to BKK in Feb 08 in first class on UA. It was a much-needed trip at that point in my life. After that trip I can say that spending my miles to get a business class seat is just fine. I don't NEED first class. It just wasn't THAT much nicer. But I'm glad I did it once. I had wondered what that private first class lounge at NRT was like... you go up to it in a glass elevator... and there is a special invitation waiting for you when you get to the NRT red carpet lounge main floor and show them your first class ticket .... smile ...

simpsonc510 is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 05:16 PM
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There actually is a OneWorld planner here -- I haven't used it so I don't know how useful it is:

Hold up for a second. Don't mix apples and Toyotas. The planning tool you mention is for purchased round-the-world tickets using the Oneworld Explorer RTW ticket product. It is NOT the same thing as claiming a "round the world" award using AA miles.

AA does not have a "round the world" award scheme, unlike some other airlines, e.g. United/Star Alliance or Delta/Skyteam.

Instead, AA has a redemption (award) scheme it calls a "Oneworld award" because it requires use of AA's Oneworld Alliance partners, and no other airline partners. (For instance AA has partnerships with Alaska Airlines and El Al, neither of which are members of any alliance including Oneworld. Neither of those airlines can be used with a Oneworld award itinerary.)

If you want to create a round-the-world itinerary using AA miles for a Oneworld award, you certainly can do so. However, if you want to figure how to fly 30 or 50,000 miles and not go all the way around the world - say by flying back and forth across the Atlantic a few times - you can do so with a Oneworld award.

With a paid RTW ticket, you have to travel eastward or westward, without backtracking between the 3 "regions" created by the airline industry - the Americas (including the Caribbean,) Europe and Africa (including the Middle East) and Asia and "Southwest Pacific" - meaning Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands. You're limited to a maximum number of miles (most RTW tickets) or by the number of continents you pay for (Oneworld Explorer) and can take no more than 16 flights.

Some of those conditions are the same for awards - 16 segments, a year to complete, etc. - but not the routing requirement.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 15th, 2009, 05:35 PM
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This is interesting, thanks!

The going back-and-forth Atlantic itinerary comment is interesting.

So is it (theoretically) possible to fly


There are 14 segments in this itinerary, so it should be almost 50,000 miles.

So the idea here is that US1, US2, ... are separate US cities.
EU1, EU2, ... are separate European cities.

It's just pushing your JFK-LHR-BOS idea to the extreme.

If you cash 7 trips at business class for 7x2K = 14,000, and the mileage requirement is 280,000, that's almost 5c a mile?

But I guess realistically, it's probably not a very interesting option because you've choose 6-7 US cities that are presumably pretty close together, and there's a limit to how far east you can go to Europe (JFK-FCO is about 4200 miles).
111op is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 05:49 PM
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Actually you only need 220,000 miles to construct a OW award that uses 50,000 miles, so the redemption rate is even better than what I calculated.

But it's probably not possible to fit 7 r/ts in comfortably.

Must the OW award start in USA? Can you choose to fly between Asia and Australia a few times, for example?
111op is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 08:19 PM
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When I've put together very ambitious (35,000 flight miles or more) itineraries, the controlling factors have always been running out of segments, and/or running out of stopover/connection points, and/or the time needed to complete the trips.

The rules must be observed, for example you can't stop over in the same city twice, and you can only connect through a city twice. So since Oneworld is pretty "hub" intensive, multiple trips across, say, the Atlantic become complicated due to a limited number of city pairs that can be used or connected through.

And like any mileage redemption trip, it all depends on award seats being available when you want to fly. Putting a dozen or 16 segments into one trip with availability on all of them being lined up in advance, over a period of several months, is no easy task. And once your itinerary is set, it's cement - date changes are allowed but NO re-routing allowed after booking.

No, the award can start and end anywhere. My most recent OW award was Tokyo-Vancouver-London-Stockholm; I used my one "open jaw" allowance in ending in a different place than where I started.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 16th, 2009, 04:49 AM
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Yes I see your point about crossing over the Atlantic multiple times. I'm thinking it's theoretically possible, but it'd be useful to start with figuring out which US cities have non-stop flights on OW to Europe, since I bet that's the governing constraint rather than the one on the Europe side.

Maybe at one point you can consider posting your sample itineraries on a website somewhere? They would be interesting to look at. Your trips sound fascinating!
111op is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 06:50 AM
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My itineraries typically entail four-continent purchased RTWs, which then allow me to accumulate so many FF miles that virtually all my (and my wife's) leisure travel is done utilizing awards. However this year I'm taking a break from paid RTWs, since business travel can be combined with award travel more easily, plus frankly our combined FF mileage balances (a little over 1 million miles) are enough that we're now starting to give away trips as presents to relatives.

Paid RTWs (we use the Oneworld Explorer - continent based, not mileage) have different prices depending on how many continents you're covering, which booking class (economy, business, first) you use, and most importantly, where you buy the ticket and where you begin and end the trip. For example, last year just before Oneworld changed the rules to reduce the number of allowed flights from 20 to 16, I bought a 20-segment RTW ticket in South Africa, which cost around US$4900 for a four-continent trip (Africa, Europe, N. America, Asia.) I started in Cape Town, flew to London and then to Helsinki. Back to London and then to Muscat (Oman), then back to London and on to LAX. I live in Seattle and American doesn't offer service up and down the west coast, so I used an open segment to travel on my own to Seattle. Then some time later I flew to Dallas and then to Anchorage, back to Dallas and back to Seattle. Then later I flew to New York and then to Dallas, then to Tokyo and on to Singapore. Then back to Tokyo, then to Hong Kong, then I completed the trip by returning to Johannesburg and Cape Town. I then used an award to get back to the US.

If I had needed to revise the paid RTW itinerary midstream (for example, in the one I did right before that, I "swapped" Australia/NZ for Asia, thus the four continents were revised from Africa/Europe/N. America/Asia to Africa/Europe/N. America/"SW Pacific") the cost to do so was $125 to have the ticket re-issued, plus any difference in airport taxes etc. that arose from going to Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney instead of Tokyo, Hong Kong and Chitose.)

The most recent itinerary (Asia, not Oz) traveling in business or first class (in the US where business class isn't offered on most flights, you travel in first class) and with my elite status in AA's frequent flyer program, I earned around 150,000 frequent flyer miles. Using a Oneworld award, those 150K miles could easily be used for another round-the-world trip in business class, so in essence the one purchased RTW ticket could leverage two RTW trips, all in business or first class, for an average of something like $2500 per trip - up to 32 flights over two years (one year validity for the RTW ticket, a second year to complete any award travel.) In my mind that's superb value.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 16th, 2009, 07:22 AM
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Hi, so you paid 4900 for 4-continent in S. Africa (which I geuss in Business?), whereas 4-continent in USA would be double that?! That's clever.

oneworld Explorer - 4 continent
Economy USD 4,400
Business USD 9,100
First USD 12,500

When I checked the fares, I was thinking that 3-continent (at least in Economy) at 3900+ would probably not be good value. It seems like I could just put something similar together by stitching together several r/t tickets.

But I guess the beauty of the Explorer is that you potentially save on having to backtrack? Also I guess there are all these other factors I didn't consider (like mileage accumulation, etc.).

I think that my big problem with this kind of planning is that I just haven't planned anything like this before. It seems impossible to know what my schedule will be like so far ahead of time.

Anyway here are some interesting itineraries to contemplate (along all the various "circle" options):
111op is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 12:14 PM
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I think that my big problem with this kind of planning is that I just haven't planned anything like this before. It seems impossible to know what my schedule will be like so far ahead of time.

Exactly. Plus, of course, you can't book airline flights farther out then 11 months, so what I recommend to people is that they develop something of a travel "strategic plan" - call it a multi-year wish list if you want - in which they put into some kind of order destinations and time frames for travels that they (a) would like to do, or (b) may have to do, as far out as they can. Know ahead of time (roughly, of course) what the costs, or mileage requirements, or time commitments would be, then block out a savings plan, or a mileage accumulation plan, or a calendar plan, that could accommodate those potential travels. By doing so you can also look at things like weather conditions in your destinations, or what events you'd like to join (or avoid), so that you travel smarter, and most likely cheaper, when you get around to it.

The plan won't be precise, at least until the dates come closer, and it won't rule out unplanned travel - business trips, weddings, etc. - that always come up. But it gives a framework for looking ahead, and can help you start treating travel like any other recurrent expense.
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