Adding “Almost” Free ONE WAY Awards to Your Existing Frequent Flyer Reward Reservation

By Cacinda Maloney

As some of you may know, I went to another miles and points seminar this weekend in Los Angeles called Frequent Traveler University #FTULAX.  One of the best presentations was from Scott of  So this information is not something I came up with, I learned most of it from him and his website:

I will try to break it down for you so that you understand the concept and start trying to use it as a strategy to make your points last longer and give you a better value (plus a few extra trips  for the year).

CONCEPT:  A *free one way is a one way itinerary to or from your home airport added on to another award for no additional miles. For example, adding New York to Honolulu on to an award booking from London to New York costs no additional miles, so New York to Honolulu would be essentially a free one way.

For instance, in the example of London to New York above with a free one way to Honolulu, we are taking the one free stopover per direction on an award booking at our home airport of New York. This stopover can last for months. Then months later, we can take a free one way to Hawaii–effectively cutting our airfare in half for a second vacation!!  Airline award-pricing computer program–will see your free one way as a stopover and an open jaw because that’s all it technically is. But we’ll combine that stopover and open jaw into half of your next vacation!

For this post, we will use American Airlines as an example, as each airline has their own rules.

Routing rules for American Airlines:

  •  MPM (maximum permitted mileage)+ 25% is allowable (he says this is easy to stay within)
  • You cannot transit a third region *unless allowable by American.
  • Stopovers must occur at the North American International Gateway City. The North American International Gateway City is the last North American city you transit on awards leaving North America.
  • The airline that operates the flight that connects the two regions must have a published fare for your origin and destination city pair. (ie, The over the water carrier must have a published fare between city codes.  You can check this by simply plugging in the city pairs into Expedia, or Orbitz, etc to see if a fare is offered .)
  • All award travel must be completed within one year of its booking. This limits the gap between your main award and the free one way.

North America is defined by American Airlines as the 50 US states, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Bahamas, and the Caribbean, so these extra add ons work great for these places.

Example #1:  A trip to Australia with two additional one ways, one to Zihautanejo, Mexico and the other  to Miami, FL USA.

ZIH  to LAX     (This flight is 8 months prior to the next flight)

LAX to MEL (this is your direct nonstop flight) (this is on Quantas) (MEL then SYD is your open jaw)

SYD to LAX (this is your return for your Australian trip) (you travel intra Australia)


Use the multi city function and the redeem Advantage Miles function on the AA website and try and see what types of *almost free trips you can come up with!!

Cost is 75,000 AA miles and $150 taxes in coach.

How do you get back after a free one way?

You can book a return from a free one way as a one way award. You can use Southwest awards. Also, British Airways Avios awards are very cheap, if your route has a direct American Airline flight. Or United and American allow domestic one way awards for 12,500 miles.

Alternatively you can buy a one way cash ticket to return. Most US airlines charge half price for one way cash tickets compared to round trips, so this is an option.


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  1. […] related seminar, but this one was for miles and points, Frequent Travelers University.  Learned a few tricks and met new and old friends in the points […]

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