UPDATE: I created another post with screen shots to show you how this tack on works.
In a previous post, I talked about how you can tack on a trip to Hawaii for free when traveling to Europe. I have another twist on that same concept. Off-peak travel between North America and South America on American Airlines is 15,000 miles each way. (And I love that off-peak is during the winter – exactly when you’d want to travel to South America.) That includes ANY North American location, including Hawaii. That is less than the 17,500 miles needed to travel between the contiguous U.S. to Hawaii!
How can you use this to your advantage? American Airlines allows you to stopover in your U.S. gateway city when traveling internationally. For American Airlines, the gateway cities are Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami (most likely candidate for South America), JFK, and Chicago. Let’s say you wanted to travel to Lima, Peru. You would redeem a one-way award ticket from your home airport to Lima. For your return flight, you would redeem a one-way award ticket from Lima to Hawaii. You wouldn’t actually travel all the way to Hawaii on that return flight. Your ticket is good for one year after issuance. You can change the dates of the U.S. gateway to Hawaii flights for free as long as the routing remains the same and the same level of award redemption is available within that 1 year.
With enough planning, you could execute this technique with every award redemption outside the U.S. For example, combining the Europe redemption and the South America redemption, could look like this: Travel from your home to Europe one-way (20k miles). For your return, travel from Europe to Hawaii with a stopover in a U.S. gateway city (20k miles). You would stop in your U.S. gateway city for up to 1 year. Then you would travel from your U.S. gateway city to Hawaii (free). Travel from Hawaii to Lima with a stopover in a U.S. gateway city (15k miles). Stay in your gateway city for up to 1 year. Then travel from your U.S. gateway city to Lima (free). Travel from Lima to your home city one-way (15k miles). Or you could continue the technique and instead of going to your home city, you could book a trip from Lima to Hawaii and so on.
Feel free to comment on the post or email me at email@example.com with any questions.