Remember that “rule” of AAdvantage awards that said you cannot transit the Middle East to get to Africa on a single award? Turns out that’s not so true any more.
I was in the midst of asserting that it was when @real_jetsetr suggested that the routing rules of new oneworld member Qatar Airways might make it possible to take the trips as a single award. I was skeptical but also curious. So I did a quick search on the Qantas site and found an award itinerary PHL-DOH-JNB leaving 11 August 2014 and arriving the following afternoon in Jo’burg. I called in to American Airlines and gave the agent the routing I wanted and he came back with a rate of 37,500 points one-way in coach. That’s the “normal” US-S. Africa rate, not an end-on-end award.
This quirk in the rules does require that Qatar Airways have a published routing for the city pair in question. That isn’t necessarily bad news, or at least not awful. Turns out that American and Qatar have approval from the DoT for QR to put their code on pretty much any AA flight they want. And they are doing so quite a bit. Qatar can also codeshare on US Airways-operated flights so they’ve got a whole bunch of US origination points from which they publish fares, even for cities they don’t fly to on their own. And given the growing number of AA/US hubs which do have QR service (PHL started recently; MIA starts next week; DFW starts 1 July) there are quite a few options to make these awards work.
No guarantees on award space, and the business class is angle-flat still (though wider than most IMO and very good food/service) but this is definitely a nice option to have available in your quest for awards, particularly if you want to avoid paying the fuel surcharges.
Maybe this is old news, but the group of us discussing it didn’t know for sure and I don’t recall seeing much discussion about this option elsewhere online.
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