New AAdvantage Routing Rule Opens Awards to Australia

Jun 19, 2015

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In this post, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Nick Ewen explains how a recent update to the AAdvantage program offers frequent flyers another option for finding award space to Australia.

Just last week, American Airlines announced new nonstop service from LAX to Sydney starting December 17, 2015. Unfortunately, these flights are not yet bookable (with either miles or money), but the airline has announced another option for reaching Australia using your AAdvantage miles. Per One Mile at a Time, American is now allowing you to route via Doha on Qatar Airways to fly from Europe to Australia.

Flying Qatar Airways through Doha can now get you from Europe to Australia on one AAdvantage award!
Flying Qatar Airways through Doha can now get you from Europe to Australia on one AAdvantage award!

This is noteworthy because it expands the list of “exceptions” to American’s rather complex routing rules. Generally speaking, you aren’t allowed to travel through a third region en route to (or from) your final destination on an AAdvantage award ticket. For example, you couldn’t fly from New York to London to Singapore on a single award; you would need to book a North America to Europe award for 30,000/50,000/62,500 miles in economy/business/first, plus a separate Europe to Asia 2 award for another 35,000/52,500/70,000 miles.

However, the AAdvantage program does have several exceptions to this third-region rule, several of which apply specifically to Qatar Airways. On the following awards, you are allowed to transit the Middle East in either direction as long as your flights go through Doha and are operated by Qatar:

  • South America 2 to Africa
  • Europe to Asia 1 or Asia 2
  • Africa to Asia 1 or Asia 2

In addition, you can fly from Europe to the South Pacific (which includes Australia) via Asia 1 or Asia 2. This exception is valid on any carrier, which allows you to fly British Airways through Singapore, Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong, Japan Airlines through Tokyo or any other combination of Oneworld carriers. Your connection point just needs to be somewhere in the Asia 1 or Asia 2 regions.

This newest change adds yet another exception to that list and opens up additional routing options. It also trims the number of AAdvantage miles you’ll need to spend in order to fly from Europe to the South Pacific through the Middle East. The table below compares the old one-way award rates (involving two one-way awards) with the new ones:


Leg 1: Europe to Middle East (OLD)

Leg 2: Middle East to South Pacific (OLD)

Europe to South Pacific via Doha (OLD)

Europe to South Pacific via Doha (NEW)



20,000 miles

30,000 miles

50,000 miles

45,000 miles

5,000 miles


30,000 miles

45,000 miles

75,000 miles

60,000 miles

15,000 miles


40,000 miles

60,000 miles

100,000 miles

80,000 miles

20,000 miles

Of course, saving the miles comes at the expense of being able to stop in Doha, since the AAdvantage program doesn’t allow stopovers of more than 24 hours on award redemptions. Still, if you’re struggling to find award availability routing through Asia, this is a great option to have.

Just remember that both your flight into Doha and your connecting flight out of Doha (regardless of the direction of travel) must be operated by Qatar Airways. This gives you a choice of several European gateways, including (but not limited to) Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London-Heathrow and Paris. At present, Qatar’s only Australian destinations are Perth and Melbourne. However, you should be able to add connecting Qantas flights to these awards without spending any additional miles.

Unfortunately, award space on Qatar Airways doesn’t show up on, nor does it display on ExpertFlyer. I’ve found that the easiest way to search for this inventory is using the British Airways tool. While it’s not perfect, it does a solid job of displaying Oneworld award inventory:

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 8.36.01 PM
The British Airways flight listed above would not be an option with this new routing rule; however, either of the two Qatar flights listed would work.

Again, remember that you must route through Doha and you must fly on Qatar Airways to take advantage of this new routing rule.

Earning Additional AAdvantage Miles

There are several ways to boost your account balance to take advantage of this new exception:

  • The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard currently comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • You can currently earn sizable bonuses for paid premium-class travel, especially on long-haul flights (including JFK to LAX and SFO). This bonus was increased for non-elite members just last month.
  • While the most recent offer just expired, American does offer frequent promotions for purchasing miles, which can be a good way to top off your account.

Bottom Line

While the majority of you may not be clamoring to book an award from Europe to Australia, it’s always nice to have additional options for redeeming your hard-earned miles. If only this exception applied to Etihad awards, given that it flies the A380 (and its first class apartments) from both London and Sydney!

For more suggestions on how to book awards to Australia, check out Eric Rosen’s post on Using Airline Miles for Award Travel to Sydney.

Will you take advantage of this new routing option?

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