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Saturday, June 22, 2024
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This Is The Best Use of 40k AA Miles

40k AA Miles is part of the Over Under Trip Report.


I am not excited when I book a boring awards flight from point A to point B. The fun comes from finding crazy routes to get to my destination (see The Marginal Return of Booking An Added Segment) that do not require an outrageous amount of points (see No Fun Round The World Trip Planning). My Melbourne residency begins with a flight to Fiji for 55k Alaska Miles (see 55K Alaskan to Fiji And My New Melbourne Residence). After that is complete, I immediately move to Bangkok for my next residency. To get back to the US, I booked  SQ business for 112,000 miles (see Bangkok Residency Booked! BKK-SIN-JFK SQ Return). This left me with one last flight to book: MEL-BKK.

Doing an awards search for that exact route yielded no results. Trying to find routing ideas, I searched for revenue flights. There was a direct flight on Thai Airways, but the rest connected in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. If I wanted to pay, the cheapest option was on Scoot.

a screenshot of a flight schedule
I’m not flying Scoot again (see Scoot SIN-BKK: Hard Product: Dreamliner, Soft Product: Not).

I searched for award availability from MEL-SIN and MEL-KUL. Again, I came up with no good options. Recalling my epic JFK-YVR-HKG-BKK trip (see Cathay A350 HKG-BKK: I Miss First Already), I searched AA.com for an award flight to Hong Kong. To my surprise, my new friend, Fiji Airways appeared. For 40,000 AA miles, I could fly business to Nadi then lie flat for 11 hours to HKG. I put the itinerary on a courtesy four-day hold while I searched for the final leg from HKG-BKK.

Searching on BA.com, I saw the same Cathay flight as I mentioned above available in business departing the following day at 9:55 AM. All that was left to do was to call AA and have them add the extra segment. That led to three different calls to AA.

Call #1

Agent: We can make the change but you have to book it now. We can’t put it back on a courtesy hold. If you do book it now and want to make changes in the future, we would have to cancel the itinerary, refund your miles, and refund your taxes.

Me: Let’s book it now.

Agent: Let me put you on hold for a few minutes while I finalize this.

Me: [pacing to AA hold music]

AA: Please give us feedback on your call.

Me: What? Feedback?

AA: Goodbye!

Call #2

Agent: We can’t make changes to this itinerary. And I can’t find any award availability from Melbourne to Bangkok.

Me: Thank you. I’ll keep what I have.

When I get stuck with points bookings, I email Matt from Live and Let’s Fly. Before doing so, I Googled ‘adding a segment on aa flight award on hold.’ Google must be spying on me because the first result was this article written by him American Airlines Restricts Changes on Partner Award Tickets. After reading this bad news, I emailed him to explain my predicament. He said to keep trying but was not confident that it would work.

Call #3

Me: I would like to add a segment.

Agent: Sure, please hold while I confirm that.

AA: [hold music]

Agent: [Post cc info being exchanged]. It’s confirmed.

Me: It still showing as ‘on hold.’

Agent: Let me check it. Oh, it seems there is a problem.

Me: [silence]

Agent: Let me have your credit card one more time.

Me: No problem.

Agent: Go check it now.

Me: It worked!

Agent: Anything else?

Me: Nope!

AA: Please provide feedback on your call.

Going forward, I will put my AA itinerary on hold and then try this technique again. If that doesn’t work, I will attempt to feed the agent the flights manually. If that doesn’t work, then as Matt wrote, this would be a major devaluation and a major buzzkill to the process for booking creative routes. Here, instead of paying 27,000 Avios for adding the extra HKG-BKK segment, I paid $40 extra in taxes.

Though I usually reserve the bus schedule spreadsheet for the trip recap, I could not resist sharing a draft of it, along with the Great Circle Mapper. For 207,000 points, I am paying $235 for a business class itinerary that retails for $13,075 and flying 27,237 miles.

a green and black table with numbers and letters

a map of the world a screenshot of a computer screen

TPOL: Simply The Best.

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