AAdvantage Now Allows Routings From Europe To Australia Via Middle East

In my opinion American AAdvantage miles are among the most valuable mileage currency out there, despite their somewhat backwards routing rules.

I’ve written about how American’s award routing rules are simultaneously extremely generous and extremely stingy:

  • American lets you exceed the maximum permitted mileage (MPM) for a given city pair by up to 25%, which at times allows for some really generous routings
  • American doesn’t let you transit a third region when traveling between two regions, unless that region is part of the list of exceptions (chart below)
Traveling Between:And:Third-Region Connection Allowed In:
North AmericaCentral America or
South America Zone 1
North AmericaSouth America Zone 2
North AmericaEurope
North AmericaMiddle EastEurope
North AmericaIndian Sub Continent Europe
Hong Kong*
Middle East
North AmericaAfricaEurope
Doha*
North AmericaAsia Zone 1
North AmericaAsia Zone 2Asia Zone 1
North AmericaSouth Pacific
Central America or
South America Zone 1
South America Zone 2
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Europe
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
Europe
Central America or
South America Zone 1
AfricaEurope
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Asia Zone 1
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Asia Zone 2
Central America or
South America Zone 1
South PacificSouth America Zone 2
South America Zone 2Europe
South America Zone 2Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
Europe
South America Zone 2AfricaEurope
Doha*
South America Zone 2Asia Zone 1
South America Zone 2Asia Zone 2
South America Zone 2South Pacific
EuropeIndian Sub Continent /
Middle East
EuropeAfrica
EuropeAsia Zone 1Asia Zone 2
Doha*
EuropeAsia Zone 2Doha*
EuropeSouth PacificAsia Zone 1
Asia Zone 2
Doha*
Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
Asia Zone 1Asia Zone 2
Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
Asia Zone 2
Indian Sub Continent /
Middle East
South PacificAsia Zone 2
AfricaAsia Zone 1Asia Zone 2
Doha*
AfricaAsia Zone 2Doha*
AfricaSouth Pacific
Asia Zone 1Asia Zone 2
Asia Zone 1South PacificAsia Zone 2
Asia Zone 2South Pacific

The problem is that in many cases the list of region exceptions hasn’t kept up with the new partnerships American has taken on. For example, you can’t fly from Miami to Lima to Buenos Aires on a single award, even though it’s quite a direct routing. Why? Because Lima is technically in “South America 1,” while Buenos Aires is in “South America 2.”

Qatar Airways joined the oneworld alliance in 2013, which is great, since Doha is a logical connecting point to many destinations. However, in many cases American hadn’t made exceptions to allow connections in the Middle East when traveling between other regions.

Qatar-Airways-777-Business-Class-06

In mid-2014, American began allowing AAdvantage awards to be routed through Doha when traveling between the following regions:

South America Zone 2 -> Africa
Africa -> Asia 1
Africa -> Asia 2
Europe -> Asia 1
Europe -> Asia 2

What’s interesting is that the exception was added exclusively for travel on Qatar Airways through Doha, and not for travel on any of American’s other Middle Eastern partners, including Etihad, Gulf Air, and Royal Jordanian.

Well, it looks like American has recently added another exception. It’s now possible to redeem American AAdvantage miles for travel from Europe to Australia via the Middle East, assuming you route via Doha on Qatar Airways. This is a perfectly logical addition, given that there’s no more practical place to connect when traveling between Europe and Australia than the Middle East.

QR-Australia

Previously you would have had to book this as two awards. Here are the prices for award travel between Europe and Australia, and by comparison the rates for travel between Europe and the Middle East, and then between the Middle East and Australia:

Europe to AustraliaEurope to Middle EastMiddle East to AustraliaSavings booking "direct"
Economy Class45,000 miles20,000 miles30,000 miles5,000 miles
Business Class60,000 miles30,000 miles45,000 miles15,000 miles
First Class80,000 miles40,000 miles60,000 miles20,000 miles

As you can see, you save quite a few miles in all three classes of service with this new exception. It’s too bad that this exception is limited to Qatar Airways, and doesn’t include travel on Etihad Airways.

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-113

For what it’s worth, the Qantas “direct” flights between London and Sydney/Melbourne (which stop in Dubai) have long priced as a single award, assuming you’re flying all the way through on Qantas.

Qantas-First-Lounge-Sydney-60

I’d say it could still make sense to redeem separate awards for travel between Europe and Australia in Etihad A380 first class. I’d rather redeem 100,000 miles for Etihad A380 first class from London to Abu Dhabi to Sydney, than redeem 60,000 miles for Qatar Airways business class for travel between the regions. And when you redeem as two awards you can also do a stopover in Abu Dhabi (with chauffeur service at all airports) to break up the journey a bit.

Etihad-A380-First-Class-01

But it’s still great to have the option of flying on Qatar Airways using one award.

For more on redeeming American miles, see the recent guide Tiffany wrote about how to redeem AAdvantage miles.

Bottom line

Given that American doesn’t have nearly as generous routing rules as US Airways used to have, I sure wish they’d comprehensively examine their list of region exceptions. It seems the list of exceptions were created decades ago, and are just randomly being updated without much thought put into them.

But kudos to AAdvantage on this change!

(Tip of the hat to David)

Comments

  1. The NA to Asia rules are the most annoying to me. That would open up more options. At least CX and JL availability is usually OK for me.

  2. your chart is missing the exception from North America to India/Middle East via Colombo… I believe it actually applies from most regions to India/Middle East via Colombo and vv.

  3. Still no exception for travel between US and Sri Lanka via Doha, huh? Totally sucks b/c AA award price is a steal in biz and first. But you have to fly via Asia Zone 1, which is definitely farther if you are coming from the east coast.

  4. Hi Lucky,

    I was looking for flight from Santiago, Chile to Bangkok, Thailand in J or F on AA.com last night. However, It is showing # between South America 2 and Asia 2. Does it mean it is not applicable? I tried to look up SCL to SYD and SYD to BKK, they are available on qantas.com.What would you do? Thanks

  5. Does the whole routing have to be on QR or could you theoretically go Etihad Australia-AUH then AUH-DOH-Europe on QR? Technically you would be routing via DOH on QR. I doubt you could do the reverse as that would violate the “most direct routing” rule.

  6. Hi Lucky,

    Is there any “official” source to these news? I was the one reporting a MEL-PER-DOH-ZRH award booked at 60k miles with AA on FT two days ago and while I am happy it has worked out for me, I am still not sure whether this was a one-off or a new rule by AA. If it is indeed a new rule, then this would certainly be a great option for EU-AUS travel in the future!
    I still find it strange that none of these rules (or exceptions to rules) are to be found on AA.com…

  7. Can anyone explain why RJ is left out of the mix for Mideast award routings? They’re not the best product in the sky, but – like QR – they’re a full alliance partner…

  8. Great news for Aussie FF’s – finding J seats on QF to London and back is just getting harder all the time and QR run a really good product (unfortunately no F to Australia).

  9. Your condensed list of Nov. 2004 QR exceptions is missing North America – Africa via DOH (though it appears on the overall chart of exceptions.) QR J might be one of the best redemptions between those continents.

  10. how about CX from Australia through Asia to North America on 1 award – now that would be a news story… 😉

  11. This is promising! Now that they’ve introduced this routing option, do you think that they’ll eventually allow US to Australia/Oceania via Asia?

  12. @ Reine — Unfortunately highly doubt it, as that continues to be quite a bit out of the way. Would be nice, though!

  13. Ben – great post, trying to weigh costs and points if I had to use Cathay v/s Qatar v/s Qantas, based on all your posts so far
    So if one had to buy 2 set of tickets , one from Tx to starting point in US and use Cathay, or
    from Tx to London and use either Qatar or Qantas, it would seem that using Alaska and travelling Cathay would still work out most point effective would it not ?

  14. Asia 2 to Europe is ONLY allowed via Doha? So BKK-AUH-LHR isn’t a valid routing, do i have this correct?

  15. Asia 2 to Europe is only allowed via DOH.

    I just put the following on hold: SIN-DOH (QR)-AMM-KBP (RJ) and the rep priced it as 1 award (Asia 2 to Europe) in J for 52.5k.
    What’s the reason behind this, does 1 leg on QR metal and a stop in DOH give it the “DOH exception” even though it’s also connecting in AMM on RJ?

  16. @ D93 — In theory, but keep in mind that Qatar doesn’t fly to Sydney, and they don’t have a first class product on any routes to Australia.

  17. True! So LHR-DOH-AUH-SYD would be a better example of F.

    So bottom line, as long as you touch DOH, it’s allowed?

    Thanks!

  18. @ D93 — It’s a mystery how exactly the computer works. It could work, but wouldn’t 100% count on it. It could be that the “longhaul” segment has to be on Qatar.

  19. Lucky,

    Per your post i can go from Asia 1 to Europe Via Asia 2 and Doha*

    I have a reservation on hold and my routing is HND-HKG-BKK-DOH-MAD-BCN with the HND-HKG and BKK-DOH legs in First class. My question is, the rep calculated a total of 75K AA miles per person (2 one ways), but it should be 70K miles and count as 1 way. I spoke with 2 reps and they both said i couldn’t route through 2 regions (Asia 2 and Middle East). Is this true or should I keep trying? Do you know if there’s anything i can reference that they can look into to make it a one way for 70K points?

    Thank you!

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