When searching for flights the other day I came across a unique instance that I thought was worth sharing. Tomorrow American Airlines is offering a round trip flight from Chicago to Miami for just $140. It is a pretty good price for the mileage at just over $0.05/mile. If you type the flights into Webflyer‘s mileage calculator (ORD-MIA-ATL-CLT-ORD) it would appear you’ll earn just over 2,600 miles for the flights, but American has a trick up their sleeve!
The ATL-CLT-ORD portion of the flight is listed as AA 1908. That’s right, the whole portion is listed as the same flight number and is on the same Airbus A321. When you click through to select seats, you notice you can’t request upgrades on this series of flights. The flight is listed as “AA 1908 ATL to ORD.” As you select seats, its the same story, the seat you choose is going to be the same seat on the ATL-CLT portion and the CLT-ORD portion of the flight.
The really interesting part about this whole thing. AA will only credit your advantage account with 1 segment and only give you the ATL-ORD non-stop mileage. Don’t get me wrong, for the price the mileage is mostly worth it, but if you didn’t know any better, how angry would you be when you log into your advantage account and find one less segment at about 250 miles less than expected.
This isn’t unique to American Airlines either. All of the legacy carriers (United, Delta, American) and smaller airlines Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, etc. all have the same rule. The rule is, if you are going from A-B with a stop, but all flights are listed as the same flight number on the same plane, you will only get credit for 1 segment and the standard miles for going from A-B. Usually, the difference is only a few hundred miles which isn’t going to make or a break a year of earning mileage, BUT for those that qualify on segments, this could be an issue.
There is a workaround, but I can’t say that I totally recommend it!
When I missed my flight to Atlanta, I had several agents try to help me get to Miami. When I took my recent mileage run to Miami, I spoke with several agents in Atlanta who tried to re-route me back to Chicago. Since you’re flying to Charlotte, an American Airlines hub, you could potentially get off the plane and “miss” the second leg of flight 1908. You could show up to the gate just moments after the boarding process is complete and work with gate agents to try to get home ASAP. Chances are they will put you on a later non-stop to Chicago or if you’re lucky, route you through somewhere to get home.
Now, this technically violates the contract of carriage. I’m also not sure how understanding they will be considering it is recommended that you do not deplane in Charlotte, but it is possible. By missing this flight, you should get booked on another flight with a different flight number and get the missing miles and missing segment. You may also get extra miles and an extra segment if you get lucky with your new routing home.