Reader Liz saw the plan we showed off back in January allowing my parents to head to Europe and Alaska on the same award ticket. Now, she’s wondering if the same kind of concept can work for her.
Liz is looking to travel with her husband in the Fall of 2015 from Minneapolis to Rome, Paris and London, and then, in June of 2016, continue on to Alaska.
Current Program Status
Liz has been stocking up on Ultimate Rewards points and AAdvantage miles. Given how much time is left before she’s looking to travel, she’s not too concerned just yet with how many miles would be needed, so long as she knows the most effective way to go about such an itinerary.
Testing the Theory
As you may remember, our original look at weaving Europe and Alaska into the same booking relied primarily on a roundtrip AAdvantage award flight, though a number of minor awards had to be added to the mix.
American allows for stopovers only in North American Gateway Cities, but the region-based nature of their program means flights from Europe to New York or Alaska cost the exact same number of miles.
American allows for one-way awards, perfect for open-jaw itineraries, and any international award flight may include a stopover at a North American Gateway City. This is any city where American or one of its partners operates a flight providing continuing service overseas. For example, Miami, New York, Chicago and Dallas Fort-Worth would all be considered Gateway Cities if you are connecting through one of these hubs on your way out of the country.
In our original plan, we took advantage of Miami’s status as a gateway city and my parents’ close proximity to Miami, given that they live in Orlando. The outbound itinerary is basic, taking them directly from Miami to Milan. The inbound itinerary is where the fun begins: the logic behind the flight is that their trip home is actually from Zurich to Anchorage, Alaska with a stopover in Miami.
Of course, several months are built into this “Miami Stopover” and they’ll be flying or driving back and forth to Orlando where they live on totally separate award tickets. Once it’s time for their trip to resume, they’ll simply make their way to Miami and pick up where they left off, continuing on to Anchorage by way of Las Vegas.
The key to this is the region-based nature of American’s award chart: