Ever since American started allowing one-way awards they have allowed for a free stopover at the North American international gateway. That meant 2 free stopovers on a round-trip award.
That policy created all kinds of loopholes. If you were flying from Tel Aviv to JFK it allowed you to add on a free ticket to anywhere in the US50/Canada at any point over the next year. Then you could fly back from say Kauai or Los Angeles to JFK and onto Tel Aviv anytime in the next year as well for just the price of the US-Tel Aviv award.
I’ve had a lot of fun at DansDeals Seminars over the past few years demonstrating just how far you could take that by combining awards and transforming 2 peak one-way awards that may have cost 52.5K or 55K miles into 1 off-peak award costing just 20K or 25K miles by using stopovers.
Of course people will say that bloggers have killed another deal, while others will be mad that I never explicitly made a post spelling out this stuff in full detail. In the end I felt that a seminar was a good medium to convey these kinds of tips with illustrated pictures and away from the prying eyes of the airlines. Though slowly but surely these loopholes are being plugged.
DDF member PlatinumGuy was the first to report last week that stopovers were going to be eliminated. He called it the first major hit of the American/USAirways merger. As of today with the launch of the new American AAnytime award chart it seems that they have indeed quietly taken away the ability to take any stopovers on an award.
I’ve confirmed this on AA.com as well as with several phone reps. Another one bites the dust.
For now USAirways still allows for a free stopover, though they require you to book a round-trip award. Other airlines, like Air Canada, Delta, and United still allow for a free stopover on a round-trip award as well. Alaska even allows for a free stopover on a one-way award.
You can still have up to 15 stopovers on an OneWorld Explorer/Round-The-World award ticket booked with American miles.
American provided no official notice of this rule change or of the new AAnytime award chart changes. Enjoy the lucrative SAAver award chart still offered by American and USAirways while you can as they’re probably going to change that one day as well without warning. Though hopefully that won’t happen until the programs are combined, most likely in 2015.