Using American miles for ATL -> FCO flight; several questions

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by Justin McCallon, Sep 28, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Hi. Thanks to anyone that takes the time to read this... I am hoping someone could answer a few questions regarding a planned trip from ATL -> Europe (undecided as to location, but probably FCO) using American Airlines rewards.

    I looked at the route map for AA. American Airlines does not fly direct to Europe except for flights using British Airways planes (from what I gather), which fly directly to London.
    If I wanted to fly AA to Europe without taking a BA plane, I would go MIA->London/Paris/Barcelona/Frankfurt OR JFK->wherever. I looked on Kayak and it seems like every flight from ATL that I could purchase goes directly ATL->LHR, using BA.

    With this in mind..
    1) Would I be able to stopover in LHR if I wanted? The issue is obviously that BA permits stopovers and AA only permits domestic stopovers (assume I want to fly ATL->FCO with stopover in LHR)
    2) I suspect I will have about 160k in AA rewards. If I want to book an AA flight, will those AA flights using BA planes count as AA flights or as Oneworld partner flights? More importantly, will I be paying BA fees or AA fees?
    3) It looks like I can get a 50k MilesSAAver flight or a 100k AAnytime flight (each 1-way) for first/business. Obviously I'd prefer to have 2 50k flights. With effort, what is my likelihood of booking 1 MileSAAver flight? 2 MileSAAver flights about 9 days apart? (I plan to fly in either May or Sept)
    4) In an effort to avoid fees and book at the lowest possible points, about how many weeks/months in advance should I book my flights?
    5) What are the estimated fees/taxes for booking these awards? What can I do (/read) to reduce these fees?

    The next set of questions has to do with my plan for my return leg to be something like: CDG -> MIA (stop) -> HNL. I would then fly coach with 10k United points from MIA -> ATL and then fly back ATL -> MIA at some later date and take my first class flight to HNL. Then I pay for my return flight HNL -> ATL with points. (It looks like this really only saves about 22.5k miles, but I'll take them!)
    6) This is permitted, right? (specifically, the stop in MIA)
    7) I will likely have no idea when I can make my HNL flight. What kind of rebooking fees am I looking at? How many months can I confidently expect to push it back? (e.g., I might delay it for 9 months)

    8) Finally, I plan to make both trips entirely on AA miles and (probably) Marriott points (and Chase points converted to Continental/United or Marriott). Is there anything I can do to take some "credit?" I realize I am paying almost nothing and I don't think I deserve anything by any means, but I'll still take anything I can get (e.g., somehow recursively pick up more miles, increase stays for Elite status, get cash back, etc)..

    Thank you so much for any help you can give.
     
  2. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    Hi Justin, and welcome to MP! :)

    To help with your questions:

    1. Stop overs using AA miles are only at the North American gateway city, regardless of which carrier you are flying.

    2. With award tickets, if you are on AA planes, you'll be on AA flights, if on BA planes, you'll be on BA flights. I'm not 100% sure why this is a concern though?

    As for the charges: If you use AA miles for BA flights you WILL pay the fuel charges (YQ) that BA charges. If you want to avoid these charges, you should use AA flights and the other OW partners in Europe: AY, IB, MA.

    3. Unfortunately this is all crystal ball reading, no one can tell you with any certainty whether it'll work out or not. Typically AA availability is good, and I've never struggled to get the flights I want. Others have. You're looking for flights that are close to the peak travel season to Europe though, which may complicate matters.

    4. See #3. Availability becomes available at the earliest 330 days out, but that is no guarantee that flight will be uploaded into the system. Sometime sAAvers are available early, sometimes they pop up 4 months ahead of time, sometimes the week of. You'll just have to keep looking. Also if you join a website like Expertflyer.com you can set up alerts so that when award space become available they will email to notify you.

    5. The fees all depend on your routing and carriers. You can enter your flights into ITAsoftware.com and they should offer you an option to view the summary of taxes and fees.

    6. Yes, you can stop in MIA without additional cost.

    7. Date changes do not incur a fee. As for how far back you can push your date, I'm not sure. I think there is a limiting factor there, but I don't know what it is off the top of my head. Perhaps someone else can pop in and give some advice.

    8. You're intuition is correct. You won't get any miles for your award reservation. The only thing I can think of that would change that is if you are moved onto another flight due to WX/MX/etc and the GA issues your new ticket into a fare class that allows mileage to accrue. Happens sometimes, but not often. If AA discovers the error they can always take it away as well.
     
    rwoman and JohnDeere19 like this.
  3. Wow, very fast and very informative. Thanks a bunch.

    As far as #2 - The concern is the high BA fuel/tax charges/fees (compared to low AA charges). The three inharmonious goals are to 1) fly as direct a path to FCO as possible, 2) incur as few fees as possible, and 3) be required to spend as few points as possible. If I were flying from JFK this would be no problem, since I could simply fly American right to FCO. But, from ATL, it seems they always want me to go right to LHR and use a BA plane. I guess my best path would be ATL -> JFK -> LHR using all AA planes, but based on a Kayak search, it seems like those routes are rare or non-existent (I saw none). Is there any way around this (basically, I really want to avoid paying a ~$400 fee)?

    Also, the deal with ATL -> LHR just seems odd. It is listed as an AA flight, even though it uses a BA plane. This is a big source of the confusion for me. There are other BA flights that use BA planes and do ATL -> LHR.
     
  4. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    You should keep in mind that award reservations aren't exactly like booking tickets, so the routing that Kayak or Expedia or even AA.com tries to push you onto when BUYING a ticket doesn't dictate how your award flight is required to be booked. You can call AA and ask for ATL-X-JFK-FCO. In fact you can try to book this directly on AA.com through their awards booking tool without calling. Have you tried that? Since you can only book AA flights on AA.com's award tool, it'll immediately eliminate the LHR BA flights as options for getting to FCO.

    I think you're getting confused about codesharing. Basically, BA flies from LHR-ATL on their plane. Since AA and BA are partners, AA is also able to sell seats on that flight and they add their own flight number to it. Two flight numbers, same plane. They share the $.
     
    rwoman likes this.
  5. Yep, that alleviates the confusion. Gracias.
     
    ACMM likes this.
  6. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    Any time! :)
     
  7. ACMM
    Original Member

    ACMM Gold Member

    Messages:
    25,789
    Likes Received:
    113,116
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Welcome to milePoint Justin. Glad to have you 'on board' with us :)
     
    DestinationDavid likes this.
  8. Microwave
    Original Member

    Microwave Silver Member

    Messages:
    271
    Likes Received:
    340
    Status Points:
    500
    Note that AA do not serve JFK from ATL, which is probably why you're not being offered that option. AA have seasonal service between ORD and FCO, thus ATL-ORD-FCO would be the only routing on AA metal that would keep you to one connection. If you'd be willing to connect twice, you'll have many options through MIA, such as ATL-MIA-MAD-FCO.
     
    JohnDeere19 likes this.
  9. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    Also ATL-LGA/JFK-FCO, technically one connection but that cab ride is a pain. Might work if he wants to stop over in NYC though.
     
    JohnDeere19 likes this.
  10. JohnDeere19
    Original Member

    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6,892
    Status Points:
    4,625
    Agreed, that can be a tough ride. I think you've got good single AA connection options if you can find availability (I find the ORD/JFK-FCO flights to be difficult to find milesAAver awards most of the time).
     
  11. JohnDeere19
    Original Member

    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6,892
    Status Points:
    4,625
    AA will offer ATL-LGA/JFK-FCO as an option for award travel if you enter ATL-FCO.

    PS, depending on when you want to leave, you may be able to find off peak availability!
     
  12. Yes, I realized afterward that ATL does not fly direct toJFK and ATL just connects to LGA. And, flying either that + connecting or flying ATL->ORD is going to make the flight so long (and backwards). This in mind, I think I'll have enough Sapphire miles to transfer to Korean and then fly Delta one-way direct ATL -> FCO. Correct me if I'm wrong, but my plan is to use my Chase 50k points to transfer to Korean, then use it to book a Star Alliance ATL -> FCO direct trip (which would use Delta) first class for 50k.

    On the way back, perhaps we'll train or fly to Paris and then do CDG -> MIA (stop) -> HNL (held for later) on American. Could anyone please explain the specifics on how to actually make the stop happen? (I assume that I call some number before my flight and say I plan to stopover in MIA and will book my MIA -> HNL flight later, or perhaps schedule one and then change it? If so, I am guessing I will incur the $25 phone booking fee?)

    Btw, if I can help any of you folks by referral fees, I'd be happy to do so. I plan to still register for the Chase Marriott card (the one that gives 70k points + free night) and for the Chase Business (the 50k points one).
     
  13. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    They're seasonal routes offered during peak travel season with the majority of redeemers not realizing you can use partners to get to FCO as well. Not surprising those seats get snatched up!
     
    JohnDeere19 likes this.
  14. Are you referring to finding MilesAAver 50k flights or to something else?

    Also, FCO isn't set in stone. I haven't been to Europe in 20 years (I lived there when I was 5). We might just decide to do a different trip since it's all very new to me.
     
  15. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    Wrong forum to get info on KE/DL issues, at least from me. :) Better off asking in the DL or SkyTeam forums, unless one of our AA residents knows those programs also.

    And just to clarify, DL doesn't offer first class, they fly 2 cabin planes with "business elite" and economy. There is an "economy comfort" class but I believe that's still considered Y since you'd have to buy into it on an award ticket. To be fair you'd be flying on 2 class planes on AA to FCO regardless.

    You'll need to book solid dates when you make your reservation. You can't not select a date for your HNL flight because there's no guarantee award space will be available, so you'll have to have solid dates when you book.
     
  16. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    I think he's referring to the reduced levels for economy awards during low season to Europe. They go from 30K to 20K. You're flying in a premium cabin though, so no discounts unfortunately. :cool:
     
  17. Microwave
    Original Member

    Microwave Silver Member

    Messages:
    271
    Likes Received:
    340
    Status Points:
    500
    Yes, this is an option. However, if there's a way to route through ORD and avoid taking a cab or bus from one end of Queens to the other, I'd suggest it. Depending on flight and conneciton times, I may even suggest taking two connections to avoid this, as it's a major inconvenience to have to collect bags, schlep across New York, re-check bags and reclear security. That said, if the options are between a LGA->JFK connection and a hefty BA fuel surcharge, I know which one I'd pick...
     
    JohnDeere19 likes this.
  18. Ok, I've pretty much got the hang of this now.
    After a handful of searches for AA awards, I'm really surprised to see there are a lot of milesAAvers open during the summer, including (a lot) to London during the Olympics. Who would have expected that?!
    My understanding from reading ThePointsGuy is that Business class American aren't too much of a downgrade from First Class. Do you have an opinion? Also, do you have any advice on which route to take for best overall flight experience (short duration, nicer cabins, less money spent, fewer connections)? Would this change substantially if we switched our mind to do LHR, CDG, BAR, or Munich?

    Sorry for those being very general.
     
    JohnDeere19 likes this.
  19. Microwave
    Original Member

    Microwave Silver Member

    Messages:
    271
    Likes Received:
    340
    Status Points:
    500
    The difference between business and first on AA is substantial. First provides much more space and privacy, and the seats go fully flat.

    That said, the difference between economy and business is galactic--a much larger leap than from business to first. Even still, first doesn't cost many more miles than business, so when redeeming I usually go right for F.
     
    JohnDeere19 likes this.
  20. JohnDeere19
    Original Member

    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6,892
    Status Points:
    4,625
    In terms of food, they're the same, but the F seat is far more comfortable and private. The F Class now comes with PJs, slippers, and turndown service as well. I tend to redeem for F as well when I can.

    I'd much prefer to pay extra to fly BA's superior J or F over AA's while eliminating a possible LGA->JFK connection, but everyone has different pain thresholds and is willing to pay different amounts for different things.
     
  21. I typed in MIA -> CDG. American serves this route directly. But, nearly every flight is MIA -> ORD/DFW/JFK -> CDG. This is odd to me, given the fact that a) Miami is closer to CDG, and b) Miami is a hub. Lame.
     
    JohnDeere19 likes this.
  22. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    6,846
    Likes Received:
    12,715
    Status Points:
    11,770
    I'm not sure what distance has to do with award availability? The fact that MIA is a huge AA hub doesn't help with availability either. At least in ORD/JFK you've got multiple airlines fighting for flyers, MIA is pretty much all AA.
     
    JohnDeere19 likes this.
  23. JohnDeere19
    Original Member

    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6,892
    Status Points:
    4,625
    I agree with DestinationDavid, but what do you mean MIA is closer to CDG? MIA is further from CDG than JFK and ORD!
    http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=jfk-cdg,+ord-cdg,+mia-cdg

    And believe me, you'll see far more odd things when you start getting deeper into the frequent flyer game!
     
  24. mowogo
    Original Member

    mowogo Gold Member

    Messages:
    7,078
    Likes Received:
    12,942
    Status Points:
    12,520
    MIA is primarily a latin america hub. There is not much local traffic for transatlantic flights, and they can be served better by using other hubs for that.
     
  25. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    To briefly respond to your idea of getting KE miles to get an award ticket using the DL ATL-FCO nonstop in BE: Be very careful before doing anything. DL low award availability is generally poor for DL elites and I can't believe they would made more seats available to non-status KE FFs. I've never used KE miles, but in the other direction, DL miles cannot be used on KE for about five months of the year because of blackout dates. I suspect that there might also be blackout dates for using KE miles for award tickets on DL planes. In addition, DL does not offer real one way awards; they charge the same number of miles for one way as for round trip. There could be the same situation when trying to use KE miles for award tickets on DL flights, that you would pay the same price in miles as for a RT. Finally, note that SkyTeam rules basically say that partner awards must be from the low award inventory, which is very tight on DL for BE seats; this means that spending more miles for a medium award seat isn't an option when using KE miles.
     
    JohnDeere19 likes this.

Share This Page