The Magic of the Stopover

Let’s say you are planning a frequent flyer award ticket to Europe.  What would you say if I told you that for the same amount of miles, you could get the first leg of a trip to Hawaii?  You’d say impossible, right?  Well, depending on where you live, you can do just that using the magic of the stopover.

A stopover is defined as a layover that is more than 4 hours for domestic trips or 24 hours for international trips.  American Airlines allows for one stopover at your North American gateway airport for trips between the US and Europe.  Gateway airports for American are Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, JFK and Los Angeles.  If you live near one of these cities (or can travel to them cheaply), you are in luck.  The cost of an award ticket between ANYWHERE in the US and Europe costs the same number of frequent flyer miles (20,000 miles one-way in the fall/winter, and 30,000 miles in the spring/summer).

Let’s say that you were planning a frequent flyer trip to Europe.  You would schedule your outgoing flights as a one-way ticket (between your home and Europe).  You would then schedule your return flights as a one-way.  But instead of scheduling it between Europe and your home airport, you would schedule flights that go from Europe to a gateway city and then on to Hawaii.  Your trip to Hawaii does not need to take place immediately after your trip to Europe.  It just needs to happen within 1 year of the issue date of the trip.  You can schedule the tickets and then change the date of the Hawaiian trip when you decide you want to do.  And if the routing is the same, you will not have to pay a fee to change the tickets.

I have to admit when I first heard about this, I thought it was one of the coolest things I had learned since starting this frequent flyer award travel journey.

I wish I had known about this option before I booked our last Hawaiian vacation because you could do the same strategy for a Hawaiian vacation.  I would have booked a one-way to Hawaii (departing from an American Airlines hub).  And then I would have booked a one-way from Hawaii to a US gateway city and on to Europe.  That would have given me the outgoing trip to Europe for only 2,500 more miles per ticket!

Feel free to comment on the post or email me at with any questions.


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