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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.
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.
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.
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
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