I feel a bit like Sheldon Cooper today (if you don’t know who that is, you’re missing out), in that I’ve made a discovery that has me giddy, yet at the same time I acknowledge it has very few practical implications.
In many ways American is very generous with their routing rules on award tickets, given that they let you exceed the maximum permitted mileage (MPM) for a city pair by 25%. As I wrote about in this post, that means you can fly from Los Angeles to Hong Kong via New York, and American also allows a free stopover at the North American gateway city on an award ticket.
So while I’ve often written about maximizing free stopovers and routings on award tickets, here’s something that made me pretty excited — you can fly roundtrip from Vancouver to New York on Cathay Pacific on a single one-way award ticket. That Vancouver to New York flight on Cathay Pacific is one of the coolest “fifth freedom” routes, since I don’t think there’s a more luxurious way to fly within North America.
Now, I found exactly one scenario where this is allowed, and it’s one I’m seriously considering taking advantage of. American’s MPM between Vancouver and Colombo (Sri Lanka) is 10,494 miles, and American’s MPM plus 25% is 13,117 miles.
Obviously most people would route from Vancouver to Colombo either directly via Hong Kong or with a connection somewhere on the west coast, but I wanted to see if there was any way to find an allowable routing that incorporates the Vancouver to New York segment on Cathay Pacific.
Flying from Vancouver to New York to Hong Kong to Colombo is a total of 13,014 miles, which is roughly 100 miles under the MPM for the city pair.
But here’s the cool thing — American has a “direct” flight from New York to Hong Kong which routes via Vancouver. Because it’s a single flight number they use the direct distance between New York and Hong Kong for calculating the MPM.
This means you could conceivably fly Vancouver to New York (stopover) to Vancouver to Hong Kong to Colombo for 55,000 miles in business class or 67,500 miles in first class.
Again, I don’t find this especially useful since I’d probably rather fly nonstop from New York to Hong Kong and enjoy a 15+ hour flight, rather than breaking it up in Vancouver for an hour in the middle of the night, but for the sheer novelty of traveling roundtrip on a one-way ticket I’m almost tempted.
So how cool (and useless) is that? 🙂