Questions about a One World award ticket

Apr 2nd, 2009, 12:04 PM
  #1  
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Questions about a One World award ticket

I know AAFrequentFlyer has lots of experience with this and I welcome anyone's response.
I currently have about 250,000 AA miles. Since I'm now traveling alone and plan to do a little more pleasure traveling, I'm thinking next summer might be a good time to work on my "bucket list". I really want to get to Russia and to China/Vietnam/Thailand; and I'd love to get to Africa for some sort of safari as well as hitting South Africa. I could also visit my "big three" in South America -- Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Rio, as well as seeing Machu Picchu. And I really wouldn't mind getting back to Australia.

I'm sure happy with BusinessClass instead of First. I'm having a bit of difficulty planning, as you need to have an itinerary before finding how many miles it will take. And it sounds like you can't change any aspect of the itinerary after you book -- right? Or I can change the dates without changing the order of the itinerary? Since I will want to hook up with a couple of land tours (like the Safari and perhaps a tour in China and/or Russia), it's kind of impossible to come up with exact dates when some of those may not even book -- especially for a single -- until fairly close to the time. Will I have a lot of trouble getting seats for major routes in Business? Would they be easier to get if I used more miles and got First Class instead of Business?

I'm looking at taking several months -- maybe even 5 or 6 -- to do this. Not looking for expensive luxury travel at my destinations, much more laid back and hopefully fairly inexpensive, including renting a small apartment for a week in many of the major cities.
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Apr 2nd, 2009, 12:17 PM
  #2  
yk
 
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I'm pretty sure AAFF and Gardyloo (who has done many RTW trips) can answer your question in more detail.

for the time being, you may want to read the FIRST post of this thread (if you haven't done so already). It is updated just last week:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...nes-miles.html
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Apr 2nd, 2009, 03:21 PM
  #3  
 
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Since you're doing this trip all in one swoop, it will make it easier to plan.

AA just recently changed one rule, a very significant rule. Before the change ONLY the "as crow flies" distances between departure and destination counted towards the total miles. Unfortunately now it's the distance between any connection city. For example, Fort Myers-Mia-Los Angeles would have been Fort-Myers-Los Angeles. Not any more. It is RSW-MIA-LAX now.

With that in mind, there are couple of rules that limit the ability to plan exactly as you want.

You can only have 1 stopover plus 2 connections in any one city.

You are allowed to change dates but not the cities once you ticket.

That said, the mileage rule change made the award somewhat less desirable, but like I said, since you want to do this in one swoop, it may still be a very nice award.

Post the desired routing and I'll try to help you with getting the most out of it. I assume you want to start in RSW and end there, but if you could tell me which way you want to go, which destinations are more important, etc. Post as much detailed routing as you can at the moment.

Business class should be available, especially if you are traveling alone.
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Apr 2nd, 2009, 10:06 PM
  #4  
 
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AAFF has probably done more Oneworld award trips than I have, but in working with friends who've done similarly ambitious itineraries, I'd only comment that the more stops you string together the more difficult it seems to become to make everything work as smoothly as you'd like. You can easily run into domino problems, as one segment gets re-scheduled making for a mis-connect, leading to a busted hotel or safari reservation, etc. The key is flexibility and learning how to work the system to your advantage. You should start with some planning aids:

For example, the invaluable Great Circle Mapper - http://gc.kls2.com/ - coupled with the Oneworld .pdf timetable - http://www.trvlink.com/download/oneworld/oneworld.pdf - and the desktop planner - http://www.trvlink.com/download/onew...rlddesktop.exe - will give you a good start on route planning and mileage estimates. 250K miles can be good for up to 50K flown miles, but the 16-segment limit and stopover rules can become a pain, as Oneworld is very "hubby" especially in Europe (London) and Asia (Hong Kong and Tokyo.)

The real crux, though, will be getting the flights you want on the days you want. Availability in premium classes is indeed a problem on some routes, e.g. most famously Cathay Pacific over the Pacific, or Qantas from N. America to Oz, or Qantas from Sydney to Joburg, etc. NOT "impossible" as many say, just difficult, requiring persistence and flexibility.

If you love a challenge, it's great, and the rewards are obvious.

For example... (use the Great Circle Mapper, copy and paste): MIA-LIM-SCL-EZE-GRU-GIG-LHR-DME-LHR-CPT-JNB-SYD-HKG-SGN-HKG-PVG-ORD - 42K miles, 220,000 AA miles in business class.

Have fun - you deserve some.
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 06:44 AM
  #5  
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OK. Thanks for the help so far. I'm still a little confused about some of this "stopover" information, including a double talk thing on that first link where I can't figure out if just going through a city is a stopover and/or if it adds a segment. For example, I sure don't have to start and end in Ft. Myers, if a beginning RSW to MIA and MIA to RSW takes up two segments. Just as easy for me to start and end in Miami and save those two segments for better use.

I also got a little lost about it counting for a segment even when you are doing land travel. For example MIA to SFO, then LAX to HKG counts as three segments, because they count you getting from SFO to LAX on your own as an actual segment, but now NOT counting miles? Did I read that right?

Right now I'm working on routes that will work best (hopefully non-stops) between major cities in South America and Africa (it looks like I may have to go through London?), or alternately between South America and Australia, hopefully without going through LAX or somewhere. Also between Hong Kong or other China Cities and either Africa or Australia.

Since I'm thinking of doing this over next summer (2010) and wouldn't be returning until sometime in fall of 2010, I guess I have at least 10 months from now to plan. I'm assuming I can't book until about 11 months from my final flight?
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 07:33 AM
  #6  
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Gardyloo, when I clicked on the downloading of OneWorld Timetables, I got a "4267 pages" or so icon. Is that right? I don't see a need to download 4000 pages of a current timetable. Is there an easier, more brief way? I have to play with the Great Circle Mapper. I didn't quite figure it out yet, but will.
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 08:35 AM
  #7  
 
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Stopover - any time you stay longer than 24 hours and also you can't have a stopover in the starting or final destination points. So if you do fly out of or into RSW, you can't have a stopover there.

Connection - Ultimately AA wants you to connect within (I believe) 6 hours BUT if the only available(available meaning that's the ONLY flight, not seat availability) flight to your next destination is 23:59 minutes later it will still be considered a connection.

With that in mind, 1 stopover and 2 connections in any one city. London Heathrow and London Gatwick is 1 city just as JFK and LGA is one city.

You can stay in London for few days, weeks, months but you can only connect through London 2 more times.

Few years back I flew into Sydney in afternoon but the next flight to Auckland was not until next morning, so although I got to stay in Sydney overnight it was still considered a connection, not a stopover.

Hope that helps.

Have fun playing with the itn.

My last OW itn (before the mileage rule change) To be honest I'm not even sure it's totally correct but close...

SRQ-MIA-LHR(stop)-CAI(stop)-LHR/LGW-DVB(stop)-LGW-MAN-ORD-TPA(stop)

Few months later

TPA-ORD-MIA(stop) (bought a R/T ticket MIA-SRQ)

Few months later

MIA-POS-MIA-SRQ(end) (originally it was suppose to be MIA-SJU-POS-MIA-SRQ) but since the ticket was about 9 months old at that time and there was a drastic schedule change, I got away with changing it to MIA-POS-MIA. Nobody questioned it but they could have)
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 08:57 AM
  #8  
 
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Gardyloo, when I clicked on the downloading of OneWorld Timetables, I got a "4267 pages" or so icon. Is that right?

The link will open a .pdf (Acrobat) file in your browser (assuming you have Adobe Acrobat already on your computer - if not, it's free all over the place.) It's 4000 pages only in the language of Acrobat - the actual file is around 5 megs, but it's very easy to use. Just "save a copy" when it launches, then you can just re-open the file (oneworld.pdf) when you want to play with it.

The stopover rules are pretty complicated. Basically, you can stop over (defined in most cases as over 24 hrs unless there's a connecting flight within 6 hours of arrival, in which case anything after 6 hrs is a stopover.) The distinction is only important when you're hitting the same city more than once, e.g. Chicago - London (connection to) Moscow (stopover) - London (stopover) - Madrid (stopover) - London (connection) - Cape Town. In this case, you'd be maxed out on the number of times your wheels could touch London - two connections and one stopover. In your case, Hong Kong could be a problem, because if you want to go to 2 or more countries only served via HKG e.g., Vietnam plus Thailand plus Sri Lanka (say) then you'd be connecting through HKG too many times. Usually there are work-arounds, but they can be time consuming and costly in terms of miles burned to travel a short distance (e.g. HKG-SGN-HKG-BKK-HKG in order to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok, since Oneworld doesn't have any direct service between the two.) Hope that doesn't muddy things too much.

As for open-jaws (e.g. London-Moscow, overland to St Petersburg - London) you're allowed one per trip, which can also be at the beginning/end (e.g. start in Miami, end in Chicago.)

To solve the connection-point and open-jaw limitations, what most people do on RTW itineraries, whether they're award or purchased, is treat the 16 segments as a backbone, and look for inexpensive ways to do "spur" trips from hubs. So for example, fly into Bangkok and use the cheap regional low cost airlines to get to Vietnam or Cambodia and back, then continue the "backbone" to the next hub (maybe Hong Kong) from which take the train to Beijing/Xi'an etc., then back to HKG to resume the RTW. Europe, Southeast Asia and South America are great places to try this, using local cheap carriers, trains, or the various "air pass" products offered by Oneworld (especially the Visit South America Air Pass - see the Oneworld.com site.)

You're right - Oneworld has no direct S. America < > Africa routes, so you have to go via Europe or Australia. (Lan flies from Santiago to Auckland/Sydney, Qantas goes from Buenos Aires to Sydney.)

You're right about timing. 330 days out, so you have time.
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 09:33 AM
  #9  
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OK, I have a better understanding of stopover, but I'm still confused. If you fly JNB to LHR, then LHR to SVO (within 3 or 4 hours) it still counts as two segments against your 16 right, even though it's not a stopover?

And while I have no reason to want a stopover in Ft. Myers, are you still saying that RSW- MIA - EZE for example would be two segments against my 16 and not just 1, even without a "stopover" but just a connection in MIA? I'm more concerned about the total segments than I am about stopovers.

OK, here's a very basic idea for 16 segments (if they are really non-stops and don't count as two segments):

MIA-RIO-GRU-SCL-EZE-SYD-MEL-PER-JNB-HKG-BKK-PVG-PEK-SVO-LED-LHR-MIA

Of course, I could easily reduce those stops in South America and fly locally, and I could easily give up a stopover in London -- unless connecting there still counts as an extra segment. I haven't included any open jaws here, which I'd probably do (like going from Johannesburg to Capetown, for example). Am I on the right track? I checked something similar to this routing and was pushing the 50,000 miles total.

I was a little surprised to see the non stop from SYD to PVG and flights from PEK to Moscow, for example without going through Hong Kong. But now I'm thinking the Australia to South Africa and THEN the Far East followed by Russia, London and home kind of makes as much sense as Australia to Far East, then Russia, then to South Africa, where I seem to have to go up to London to get back to Miami.

Well, it's a start. But all I see is dollar signs flashing in front of my eyes (not for the flights -- just for the destinations).
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 09:52 AM
  #10  
 
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Some of the segments are not possible (although I can be wrong), I just don't have the time right now to look at OW schedules.

PER-JNB?
JNB-HKG ( I know CX served this route, but I'm not sure it does anymore)
BKK-PVG (pretty sure that won't work)
PEK-SVO (again, no OW airline serving that route, AFAIK)
SVO-LED?

Any segment counts towards the 16 segment limit.
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 09:55 AM
  #11  
 
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All segments count and always did. It's just that the miles between connection points are now all counted against the limits, while previously you only "paid" the miles between stopover points.

Your route fails because there are no Oneworld direct flights between JNB-PER or BKK-PEK, or PEK-SVO, or SVO-LED. Sometimes those flights turn up in the various timetables that are actually codeshares (e.g. PER-JNB operated by South African but carrying a Qantas code.) Codeshares on non-Oneworld airlines are not permitted. BKK-PEK would have to be BKK-HKG-PEK or BKK-NRT-PEK, etc. The only Asia to Moscow direct route is on JAL from NRT, otherwise you go via London, Amman, or Helsinki (or Madrid, but that burns another segment and a lot of miles.)
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 09:58 AM
  #12  
 
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PS - JNB-HKG still flies; I did it a couple months ago in the new CX J coffins. Bleh. 3-class part of the year, 2-class the rest.
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 10:28 AM
  #13  
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Yes, I did see the Cathay flight from JNG-HKG non stop.
And I missed that the PER-JNB flight was a code share, but there IS a Qantas -- flight 63 -- SYD-JNB, which is just as good. I'm not hung up on going back to Perth.

What I saw for PEK-SVO was FinnAir -- but it does go through Helsinki, so would be two segments. And now I see that one of those flights is code share with Aeroflot -- but FinnAir does do PEK-LED (through Helsinki). So that could work and then fly LED to LHR (doing my own roundtrip travel within Russia?

When all is said and done, I could easily forget Russia as part of this (easy to do from home with London anyway), if it starts getting too complicated connecting from China.

And BKK isn't really an issue either. I could fly from South Africa to Hong Kong and do my own thing as Gardyloo mentioned above for SE Asia, then fly Hong Kong to PVG and then PEK to Russia -- or wherever. And frankly, I might even look at an "adventure-type-tour" of SE Asia which starts and ends in HongKong anyway.
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 11:13 AM
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SYD-JNB and v.v. on QF 63/64 might possibly be the hardest award seat to score in business class in all of Oneworld. It's even hard to book in business class using paid RTWs; it's actually easier to get in first class using either scenario; however that adds (a lot) to the dollar or mileage cost.

I'd definitely plan on routing Africa > Asia > Oz > S. America (or the reverse) which saves miles, too.
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Apr 3rd, 2009, 11:40 AM
  #15  
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Interesting -- why was I thinking the other way saved miles? No problem with that order, Gardyloo -- although I somehow picture it in the reverse as you say.
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Apr 4th, 2009, 02:43 PM
  #16  
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OK, here's a new go-round. This one is only 14 segments (but I'm sure I could come up with two more to add) and is a total of 41,837 miles. Only open jaw is getting from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Actually, I might even opt to do a train from Helsinki to St. Petersburg too, taking away another flying segment I could add elsewhere. I am right, aren't I, that the land segment doesn't count as a segment?

Any problems you see with this?
I'm using city names rather than codes to make a few of them easier to follow:

Miami - Rio - Santiago - Buenos Aires - Sydney - Melbourne - Hong Kong - Shanghai - Beijing - Helsinki - St. Petersburg - (land to Moscow) - Madrid - Johannesburg - London - Miami
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Apr 4th, 2009, 03:03 PM
  #17  
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I should mention that I would plan to do some travel within Africa, but I'm not finding one-world options within Africa, so I'm assuming that would all be land or smaller airlines on my own. I'm NOT going to fly to London to get from Capetown to Nairobi, for example!

And I do want to do some other travel within Southeast Asia. A stop in Jakarta coming from Australia is a possibility for another segment. Trying not to hit Hong Kong too much probably means land travel to VietNam and Thailand and Cambodia with a return to Hong Kong.
And I'm still not opposed to dropping Australia out completely, especially since it would be in the middle of the winter there. That would mean flying from South America to Asia and I haven't even looked at those possibilities.
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Apr 4th, 2009, 03:13 PM
  #18  
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Ooops. And yet another question. Is it true that I must use Sao Paulo (GRU) for Rio? I can't seem to find nonstops from RIO or GIG to Santiago or to Buenos Aires on One World. Seems odd to me that even LanChile wouldn't do that? I'm assuming that SaoPaulo isn't all that difficult to use for Rio anyway?
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Apr 4th, 2009, 03:42 PM
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Couple of comments -

You have two open-jaws, Shanghai-Beijing and St Petersburg - Moscow. The PVG-PEK flight in the timetable is a China Eastern codeshare, ineligible. So you could go PVG-HKG-PEK or PVG-NRT-HKG instead, or else go SYD-PEK-NRT-PVG-HKG-HEL. Whichever, you'll be using up one or two of the "extra" segments.

Flying LED-HEL-MOW-MAD is complicated because Finnair flies into Sheremetyevo airport (SVO) while Iberia flies out of Domodedovo airport (DME). There have been reports that just crossing Moscow may count as a segment, even if it doesn't count as an open-jaw. If it were me I'd fly the Asian route and save my one open-jaw for Russia - although frankly given that the Finnair hops are so short, I'd probably just do the whole Russia thing - HEL-LED-M0W... on the train and save my flight award segments for something that delivers more punch - MIA-LIM-GIG for example, or SYD-CNS-SYD, to visit the Great Barrier Reef during the winter, when there aren't killer jellyfish in the water and it's not boiling hot/humid. But that's just me.

The JNB-LHR-NBO thing is indeed an awful lot of miles, but you should check out the cost of local flights within Africa before ruling it out altogether.

Regardless, you're well over the 35K mile threshold for the OW220C award but well under the 50K mi max, so you can keep playing.
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Apr 4th, 2009, 03:45 PM
  #20  
 
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You could fly Comair within Africa as part of your award but their network is pretty much limited to southern Africa so wouldn't work if you wanted to go to Nairobi.
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