[The following is my rambling attempt at a 'hack my trip' post. Wish me luck...]
Burn, baby, burn.
Yup, after the last 12 months of program devaluations across the board, I finally pulled the trigger on my first Oneworld Explorer (all-partner award) ticket. Actually, I did so a couple months ago in the heat of 2013 mileage season, but the 'grounded' side of life has kept me from getting around to the more important things in life, namely, BS-ing all day about points and miles. Shame on it.
Anyhow, back to the topic at hand. Like I was saying, with both the #UnitedUnfriendly devaluation, and Delta's recent 'earn less, spend more' announcement, I've never felt better about burning a chunk of miles on an award flight. Usually I spend my earned miles either on friends and family, or on upgrades to regularly purchased tickets in order to make my 100k qualifying miles a year, but I've been curious about the deals to be had on an Explorer ticket, and Mrs. CruisingAltitude and I could use a fun trip for our 1yr wedding anniversary. Besides, I'd bet good money (or even miles) that with the AA/US merger, the current pricing of the Explorer chart, or the award altogether is in mortal danger.
And now for the booking story and rules of the fare... (if you're already familiar with them, skip a few paragraphs, but I've seen plenty of confusion about these tickets, so I thought I'd set out the basics)
Explorer tickets, as I explain them to my non-flyer friends, work a little like a Eurail train ticket, just on the Oneworld alliance carriers instead. You trade in a certain amount of miles in exchange for a distance you can fly. That distance can be made of up to 16 segments, over the course of an entire year. Seems easy, yes? Well it is, and it isn't. In addition, the following caveats are involved (there are more, but these are the basic ones you're most likely going to run into):
-You can only transit through any airport up to 2 times, with no more than one 'stopover' of more than 24 hrs
-You MUST fly on 2 or more Oneworld carriers (British Airways, Iberia, Cathay, LAN, etc) in ADDITION to any flight on AA
-You are only allowed one 'open jaw' segment, i.e.- fly into Paris and out of London, traveling by ground between the two cities
-Once booked, you can't change the flight path, or the cities, but you can change the dates and times. So if you decide you booked too little or to much time in any one place, or want to grab a few more hours in your favorite lounge, you can move the times around after booking.
Now for the pricing. The current award chart looks like this:
|Why thank you....don't mind if I do...|
|321T F Seats|
|321T J Seats|
|The lobby of the Raddison Blu Berlin - Yes, that's a giant fish tank. |
No, I don't know why....nor do I care :)