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AA has announced effective immediately they will be capping the number of segments you can have on one-way award flights. The new cap applies to the AA award chart, as well as the AA Oneworld and Partner award chart. American has added the following under details on award travel:

For each one-way award redeemed for travel within the United States and Canada, a maximum of three segments are permitted. For all other destinations (including Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands), a maximum of four segments are permitted.

Simply put, for award tickets, this means:

  • Within the US and Canada, only three segments will be permitted
  • International travel only four segments will be permitted

While the exact language talks about one-way awards, this change is effective for all award travel. As an example for these purposes, a round-trip flight from Chicago to Tokyo and back to Chicago is considered two one-way awards, and not a single round-trip award.

AA 787

This change is not particularly surprising since AA already has a “select the most direct route” policy. However, they have been very relaxed in implementing it. The new cap will probably have a minimal impact on most domestic travelers since you should be able to get around the US within two stops. Below is an example of something that you would not be able to book as a single award. While this is an extreme case as it is two lesser served locations, remember, when you're looking for award space your options may often take you down a path of adding a connection to find that availability.

AA Too Many Segments for New Award Rules
The outbound flights include too many segments to price as a single award ticket; however, the return would be valid for a single award redemption.

 

Where this new policy may start becoming a problem is if you are flying between two relatively remote destinations, where you need a couple or more connections on either side of the Atlantic or Pacific to reach your destination. For instance, if you have to take a couple of flights within Asia to reach a large international hub, you then only have two segments to reach your destination within the US. You now have to remember this segment restriction the next time you are making an AA award booking.

Overall

This new cap comes as no big surprise. Ever since AA switched to a revenue based loyalty program, there have been numerous changes, and very few of them have been positive. On the other hand, even though AA is not the most generous with its MileSAAver award availability, there still are some great sweet spots in the program. Ultimately the new caps should not trouble most people, but a few will have to rethink their plans.

Source: The Points Guy

AA Limits the Number of Segments on Award Flights
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Comments

  • Doesn’t seem like a huge impact. Wouldn’t want to take a flight with more segments than that anyway unless it was a paid run you are doing for mileage.

  • They certainly are not making it any easier for those holding AA points. It’s already hard enough to lock down a good award so every change even the tiny ones make it just that much more dificult

  • As someone who lives in a small town, this definitely could affect me negatively when I try to book award flights to international destinations. More restrictions are never a good thing.

  • I’m not sure why anyone would want to take that many stopovers no matter what. More chance to miss flights, more chance to loose luggage, adds way too much time.

  • angelo fonseca says:

    Impressive how changes in AAdvantage are being massively at the customer’s expense.

  • 4 segments for international travel is bad news…a bit too restrictive IMO.
    I usually have 5-6 segments for international travel and this is really going to hurt me.

  • Luckily for me I live near an AA hub but otherwise I could definitely see this becoming a problem for those in small airports

  • Can’t imagine it being a problem for me, but thanks for the link to the older post about ‘sweet spots in the program’. That, I found of interest.

  • I hope this doesn’t hurt my winter plans. I live in ABQ, going to multiple islands in the Med.

  • Yet another poor change.

  • Another devaluation from AA.

  • Jimmie Lin says:

    This seems like a logical restriction but in practice it may harm some of those who are in less-serviced airports. Especially if we’re heading to South America where everything involves a stop in a major city, so that might make it use up an extra one-way award…

  • My only complaint is there could be a few international flights for some of us that have issues, if you are headed to smaller locales and leaving from somewhere that isn’t a hub.

  • Combined with overall poor/nil availability of AA awards , this could definitely come into play. Death by a thousand cuts.

  • I wonder what caused AA to even think about this? Exactly how many award tickets were issued with under the above discussed circumstances. Is this a cure in search of a problem?

  • If you are travelling Australia/NZ to Europe I’ve had 4 segments so getting to Greenland/Iceland may be a problem but can’t see much impact beside this.

  • This will hurt the little guy more than the big spender. When you live in a small town and save enough points for that dream trip to some remote location, only to find out you now can’t actually use your saved points to get there because there are too many segments!

  • To be honest this doesn’t seem to be too bad and shouldn’t have too much impact to many people. When I saw the headline I feared something much more restrictive.

  • Flying out of Chicago I have never needed more than four segments to get to my international destination on an award ticket.

  • As devaluations go, this one is not that bad, if it means that it will keep other things in tact.

  • I try to have as little segments as possible but less choice and more restrictions always has consequences both for those who want 3+segments and those who don’t who have more people choosing similar flights as a result of three segment people having to choose two etc

  • Jacqueline parsons says:

    This is inconvenient at best. I do agree that anyone starting off not from a hub could face issues if flying internationally.

  • Four segments for international travel is not good news for a multi international trip using points. Fair enough if you have the convenience of starting off from a major airport destination it could work out ok but otherwise I can see this making journey planning a hassle.

  • Not as drastic as I first thought when I read the headline but it a minor devaluation nonetheless

  • Ricardo Machado says:

    I do not see it as a problem as long as AA keeps its small city coverage. Otherwise it would be impossible to reach for example northeast Brazil where aa no longer have coverage.

  • It affects me because I live in near a small airport and you have to make at least one connection at a hub to go anywhere. Multiple connections required to go to the East coast.

  • Seems like an unnecessary restriction that just adds more fuel to the “rewards aren’t rewarding anymore” discussion. Since it would be natural to go with the shortest option anyway, should one exist, this strikes me as there is that one guy who was gaming the system somehow and they felt the need to put an end to it.

  • Seems like a harmless policy change, but in practice when trying to use AA miles, there never seems to be any availability unless you are willing to make multiple layovers.

    As said, this could really impact the international traveler that doesn’t live in a major hub.

  • Perhaps posters can take a few minutes to read through the thread before parroting “seems like it’s harmless …”.

  • Not a big issue I will say.
    I prefer this kind of changes than a devaluation!

  • I agree that this new restriction for most people will not be a big deal. The real issues for me are – increased difficulty in getting award seats to and from major hubs, and also AA not allowing layovers. I used to be able for example to fly BKK- NRT, spend a few days in Toyko and continue NRT-JFK on same award ticket – no longer possible.

  • I thought this would be a worse thing when I first read this. But I can see this as possibly a problem for anyone with a small city with either starting or ending. I bet they just price it accordingly if it’s more than the amount of segments then it accommodates for it. I wouldn’t want to add segments anyway but I remember the days where people would book whatever connections to get the destination. I like nonstop flights but my husband has proven to me that even a bag can get lost on a nonstop flight. Somehow American got it on another nonstop flight, instead of the flight he was booked for. It was quite a surprise to us not to see it in baggage claim!

  • Frankie Zhu says:

    Seems like a slippery slope. Not looking forward to changes in the future and other airlines following suit. Unfortunately I have a lot of miles banked with AA so will be liberally spending those miles this year and next.

  • Can’t say I’m too surprised by this, but unless it were absolutely necessary I wouldn’t want more than 4 legs on an international flight anyway.

  • This change really hurts the people who don’t live in an AA hub city and wish to travel internationally.

  • joel kling says:

    Who wants multiple stops anyway? Airport food and drink is expensive.

  • AA Never good to the ones with award travel. More restrictions on an all ready difficult to find availability for reward tix. With merger network much bigger. Airline feels it doesn’t have to. This also has to be cause people were able to fly round the world on two one-way award tix.

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