Adding Segments to an Award Itinerary — Reader Success Story

Mar 27, 2019

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Edgar, who used AAdvantage routing rules to visit two cities on an award trip home from Asia:

I’m new to points and miles, but thanks to a few articles I read about maximizing rewards, I was able to add segments to an award flight and save time booking it over the phone. I had to call American Airlines, since I wanted to book an AAdvantage award on Cathay Pacific. After waiting on hold for over 20 minutes, I decided to hang up and call again, but this time to the Spanish line, where there was no wait the two times I called.

I first booked a flight from Manila (MNL) to Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) with a short layover in Hong Kong (HKG) for 37,500 miles. Knowing I could change AAdvantage award flights for free if the origin and destination remained the same, I later called back to add segments so I could get a bit more out of the trip. American allows up to four segments on international award flights, with a maximum permitted layover of 24 hours.

I added one segment from Hong Kong to Beijing with a long layover on both ends, giving me enough time to get a glimpse of two cities I’ve never visited before. The trip still cost me 37,500 miles, while the same flights would have cost over $2,300 in cash.

American Airlines offers a relatively generous award change policy, as you can usually modify your travel dates and routing so long as your origin and destination (and a few other parameters) are unchanged. That creates opportunities to improve your itinerary even after you book; for example, you could switch to a nonstop flight if you originally book one with a layover, or you can add stops like Edgar did to sneak in a quick visit or simply break up a long trip. He took the right approach by locking in flights between Manila and Chicago first, because changing either of those cities would have involved fees, but adding segments in the middle did not.

You’ll still have to adhere to other routing rules, but you can make these changes with no penalty if you can find the right award availability. That that may involve searching on multiple sites depending which airlines you plan to fly, since American Airlines still excludes some partners from its online award search results, and even a multi-city search isn’t likely to return the ideal itinerary to maximize layovers. Your best bet is to break your search up into individual segments and piece together an itinerary that meets your needs. Once you’ve found flights that work, call in to book them and ask for the phone booking fee to be waived.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Edgar a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo by Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

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