American AAdvantage Sri Lanka Award Exception

Filed Under: American, Awards

American has a rule whereby you can’t transit a third region on an AAdvantage award ticket when you’re traveling between two regions. There’s a list of exceptions, whereby you can transit a third region when traveling between two regions, but at times it sure doesn’t feel comprehensive.

In early June I had written about how American AAdvantage added an additional exception for connections in the Middle East. Specifically, they now allow connections on Qatar Airways in Doha when traveling between any of the following regions:

South America Zone 2 -> Africa (Europe still allowed as well)
Africa -> Asia 1 (Asia 1 still allowed as well)
Africa -> Asia 2
Europe -> Asia 1 (Asia 2 still allowed as well)
Europe -> Asia 2

Via JonNYC at TravelingBetter, it looks like American AAdvantage has added yet another award routing exception, this time for connections in Sri Lanka:

However, I just noticed in the very latest version, these exceptions added:

North America to Indian Sub Cont/Middle East
Central/South America Zone 1 to Indian Sub Cont/Middle East
South America Zone 2 to Indian Sub Cont/Middle East

Can now all connect in: Europe & Afghanistan/Bangladesh/Bhutan/British Indian Ocean Territory India/Nepal/Pakistan/Maldives/Sri Lanka.

Yes, those are some random countries to list, though most of that isn’t new. What’s new is that American now lets you connect in Sri Lanka when traveling between any of the above regions, which they didn’t previously allow. I expect this has to do with the fact that SriLankan Airlines joined oneworld just a couple of months ago.

SriLankan Airlines is now in oneworld

Oddly American categorizes Sri Lanka as being in “Asia Zone 2,” so that can be a great value. For example, American charges 90,000 miles for first class to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent (which is where the Maldives is located), while they charge 67,500 miles for first class to “Asia Zone 2” (which is where Colombo is located). Colombo is only about an hour flight from Male, so that can be a great way to save 22,500 miles each way.

Why should we care about this changes?

In and of itself I don’t find this to be especially significant. What I am happy about, at least in theory, is that American seems to be liberalizing their region based award routing rules somewhat in a rational way. This makes perfect sense given that they were written before they had many of these partnerships, so at the time it was a moot point.

In terms of low hanging fruit I should point out that American still won’t let you route from the US to “South America Zone 2” via “South America Zone 1,” meaning you can’t connect in Lima on LAN when traveling between the US and Southern South America, even though it’s about as direct as it gets.

Somehow that’s still not allowed

So yeah, it’s a minor change, but at least it’s something. There’s still a huge gap between American’s award routing rules and US Airways’ award routing rules, so here’s to hoping as they integrate systems they continue to liberalize routing rules… and not just in totally arbitrary ways, like here.

  1. going to CMB from LAX next year. What is the best segment on first or biz class? Are there many awards available? Can I search on AA or other non paid website?

  2. So Qatar flies to Seychelles, correct? So then, I can do one award from US to Seychelles now on AA?

  3. I suppose this change does not impact trying to fly from N. America to India over the Pacific? I find this to be one of the stranger things that AA does not allow considering for California travelers this is the most logical way to get to India…

  4. Sorry – I was not clear above… I understand that you can specifically route over the Pacific if you are flying to Sri Lanka. I was just hoping to clarify that a routing such as LAX-HKG-BOM on CX is still not permitted…

  5. It looks like this bodes well for my 2016 Maldives/Sri Lanka/India trip! I was planning on flying us Emirates first one way, but this could be a good option for the way back.

  6. Lucky,
    Interestingly, you can not fly IAD-DOH-CMB, or IAD-AUH-CMB even though it is almost a straight line
    You can however do DCA-JFK_NRT-HKG-CMB!

  7. @KG
    You CAN fly LAX-HKG-BOM, just that it will be 50k+30k = 80k for the award
    Back in the day, it was 25% more than UA and DL which were 60k but now, it is quite reasonable
    I would be happy if they just had CX service to IAD instead of connecting in JFK or ORD

    I also found that for QR they let me go LHR-DOH-SYD as 1 award, (60 in C of the 45/60/80 options)
    but the return SYD-AUH-LHR they charged me for 2 awards
    SYD-AUH was 45k (of the 30/45/60 choices)
    and AUH-LHR was 40k (in F of the 20/30/40 choices)
    So overall I paid 5k more for a trip partly in F class

    But, still this is great compared to DL and UA and
    no more than US (60k each way, but QR had no space back)

  8. A bit OT, but with the QR exception, one could do JFK-AUH-DOH-SEZ in EY F and QR J for 100K, right?

  9. @ AJK — No, the exception is only for Qatar and Doha, so you wouldn’t be able to connect in Abu Dhabi.

  10. @lucky does CX release much late/last minute availability?ive been searching dutifully via JAL website for my honeymoon to Maldives this September but not seeing much. Currently doing EY in biz both ways (operated by 9w). Is it worthwhile to try to switch to CX?

  11. @ AJK — Not necessarily, but the only allowed third-region transit city is Doha. The rules against transiting in third regions still apply otherwise.

  12. Am I missing something obvious or are Europe-South Pacific awards not allowed to transit a third zone? If that’s the case then the only options are the QF flights. That can’t be right can it?????

  13. I am in Delhi, India. How can I use this to my advantage. I have been planning a trip using AA Miles to Maldives, Africa (example: Seychelles, Kenya etc) for 2015.

  14. @ Ankit — This shouldn’t really hugely impact it, as you already have great ways to use miles to any of those destinations on Etihad and Qatar.

  15. Hey Lucky,

    I was thinking of doing something like this to get to India

    SEA-DFW-DOH-CMB and CMB-BLR on an avios award. Do you think that would work with 67.5k + an economy ticket for 4.5k ?

  16. @ pixel — To clarify, 67,500 miles for a business class ticket? That’s price to the Middle East/India, so you could do SEA-DFW-DOH-BLR. Not sure what benefit of CMB is here. CMB wouldn’t be allowed anyway on that routing, since it’s in “Asia 2.”

  17. Should’ve been clearer. Do you think one / both of the following would work ?

    SEA-DFW-DOH-CMB in First for 67.5k AA miles + CMB – BLR in Economy for 4.5K Avios on a separate ticket.

    If that does not work. Then something like SEA-LAX-HKG-CMB in First for 67.5K AA + CMB-BLR in Economy for 4.5K Avios.

  18. @ pixel — There is no first class on Qatar Airways from DFW-DOH, and that routing isn’t legal (you can’t transit Middle East enroute from the US to Asia 2). Second routing is perfectly fine.

  19. Awesome. Thanks buddy.

    Btw, are you going to make people do shots of Crater Lake Vodka at Dallas FTU before talking ? 😉

  20. @ pixel — Hah, need to find something else people can do shots of. Crater Lake Vodka is a PNW company, so not sure what they drink in the morning in Texas? :p

  21. Hi Lucky!

    Looking at booking my first AAdvantage now that my USDM has converted into AA.

    Would MLE-CMB-DOH-AUH-LHR be a valid routing or do you think it would count as back tracking or is it invalid 3rd region transit?
    MLE-EU is only 40k and thats a killer deal

  22. @ Eric — Hmm, I believe the “exception” only applies when flying SriLankan on segments to/from CMB. So assuming you’re flying SriLankan on both segments, I think that should be possible.

  23. So can you do IAD > AUH > CMB > MLE for 90k in F? And then not take the leg to MLE to get off in CMB? I realize that AUH > CMB > MLE needs to be on SriLankan.

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