When my wife earned her second college degree, I promised her a trip to someplace nice with my American Airlines AAdvantage miles. She graduated, but our work schedules conspired deprive us on a good opportunity to travel.
So when she started studying for some exams, I upped the promise to take her anywhere in the world that she wanted, so long as my AAdvantage miles could get us there. But only if she passed. She passed, and chose either the Philippines or Rome, Italy. Again, our work schedule conspired to deprive us of any opportunity to travel.
Along the way my AAdvantage mileage account kept growing. I now have a sum total of 216,145 frequent flyer miles with American Airlines.
My wife will be finishing her internship soon, and since we are planning on having children in the near future, we have one last opportunity to have a trip of a lifetime. It will probably be our one and only big blow-out vacation during our lifetimes.
So I’m now starting to plan for a big trip for us, happening sometime next year – hitting Europe, Asia, and possibly Australia.
I’ve started the laborious process of collecting information on how to book a round the world trip with AAdvantage miles. Surprisingly, this has become someone of a challenge in and of itself because there isn’t a tremendous amount of information readily available out there on how to do this.
First off, American Airlines offers three 3 distinct types of awards:
- All-Partner Awards,
- All-American Airlines Awards, and
- Oneworld awards.
- I quickly figured out that we wanted to book a Oneworld award. The rules are very simular to a Oneworld Explorer fare (round-the-world air fare ticket).
The first two are most common and are only used for single destination trips. I will be booking a Oneworld Award and posting away while I hammer out the literary and finally book the trip.
The rules for building an itinerary are complex. I distilled the most important ones below:
To book an award itinerary, you must include at least two of the following airlines: British Airways (BA CityFyler, Comair, Sun-Air or Scandinavia), Cathay Pacific/Dragonair, Finnair, Iberia/Air Nostrum, LAN, Quantas, Japan Airlines (JAL Express, J-Air, and Japan Transocean Air), Malev, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, and finally, American Airlines (American Eagle, American Connection).
Your itinerary may not exceed 16 segments. Each flight number is one segment, regardless of the number of intermediate stops.
A stopover is defined by American Airlines as more than four hours for domestic flights and more than six hours for international flights. A person may stopover in each city 1 time, but not in the destination or originating city. A stopover does not count as a connection; you may connect through a city not more than 2 times.
Only U.S. carriers may be used to travel between the United States (including Hawaii) and Guam. No flights to Cuba are allowed.
Award Cost (in AAdvantage Miles)
Once you have picked out the cities you wish to visit, you will have to get an approximation of the distances. One way to get close is by using the Great Circle Mapper website. Once you have the distance travelled, look up the cost in the chart below:
|Trip Miles||Economy||Business||First Class|
A rough guestimate of MSP-LHR (London) –CDG (Paris) –ROM (Rome)-BKK (Bangkok) –MNL (Manila)-MSP is 19,605 miles, which would translate to 100,000 each ticket. Of course, this probably isn’t a valid routing and the routing will mostly likely have to change, but this is the first step in the process.
So we might be able to book two economy tickets in a close approximation of that itinerary. It actually seems doable. Another option would be to book a simultaneous OneWorld Explorer DONE3 fare and book one ticket as an business class award. Unfortunately a DONE3 fare is running a little more than $10k (!).
Will there be seats available? What obstacles will I encounter? What is the cheapest path to travel bliss? Can I leverage the trip into elite status?