I’ve written in the past about American’s distance based awards, which can be an incredible value. While American’s partner award chart is region based, the distance based award chart, is, well, distance based.
As a refresher, here’s the distance based award chart:
I consider the “sweet spots” of the chart to be zones six and seven, especially for travel in business class. American charges just 130,000 miles to fly 14,001-20,000 miles in business class, and 150,000 miles to fly 20,001-25,000 miles in business class.
The great thing is that you can fly up to 16 segments and stop at each city along the way if you’d like to. The only “catch” is that you have to fly at least two OneWorld airlines and can’t transit any city more than twice on a single award.
The thing that would have made these awards even more valuable is if American’s partner airlines could be included on these awards, and not just OneWorld airlines. For example, it would be amazing to be able to fly Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska, Etihad, etc., on one of these awards.
While that’s probably not happening anytime soon, Qatar Airways is joining OneWorld as of October 30, 2013. And the implications of this — and the value it adds to distance based awards — is HUGE.
Why is this so exciting? Here’s American’s partner award chart for travel to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent:
As you can see, 135,000 miles are required to fly roundtrip in business class between there and North America.
However, as I showed above, you can fly up to 20,000 miles in business class for 130,000 miles, which will get you from North America to most of India or the Middle East… and beyond! So not only do you save 5,000 miles, but you have the option of stopping over at each airport along the way for as long as you’d like (as long as your ticket is used within a year of the date of issue).
For example, here’s a really simple routing well within that 20,000 mile limit — you can fly New York to Doha to Delhi to Hong Kong to New York, and stop in each city along the way, and still be nearly 1,500 miles under the limit.
Similarly, if you wanted to go to the Maldives, you could fly from New York to Doha to Male to Hong Kong to New York and stop at each airport along the way for just 130,000 miles in business class.
Or I’ve always wanted to visit Nepal, so now you can do New York to Doha to Kathmandu to Hong Kong to New York with stops in each city for just 130,000 miles in business class.
And those are all really straightforward, direct routings. For the same 130,000 miles in business class you can fly New York to London to Dusseldorf to Munich to Doha to Delhi to Bangkok to Hong Kong to Tokyo to New York, with stopovers in each city.
October 30 can’t come soon enough!