Finally I got an AAgent that understood exactly what I wanted to accomplish and helped me get it done.
A few notes to help you understand where I am coming from and why I needed an AAgent in the first place.
The Sherpa and Sherpstress are headed to Southeast Asia to take part in our one-way mistake fare, Yangon, Myanmar (RGN) to Montreal, Canada (YUL). The mistake has been extensively covered, but for those that want just a quick synopsis, here is what happened.
As Myanmar (Burma) is now open to foreign tourists, the currency is being updated and re-pegged by the companies that post fares and currency conversions on behalf of airlines and travel agencies. Occasionally a mistake occurs (three times now to be exact) whereby a ticket is priced 1/12th of where it should be. During the mistake period, one can book tickets, and if booked through a US travel agency or transiting the US falls under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Transportation. Due to a new rule, if the ticket is issued, it cannot be cancelled, or subject to a price increase “even in the case of a mistake”. Thus, the Sherpas will be flying RGN-KUL-FRA-YUL in business class for $247 each all-in! Some tickets were cancelled for those flying on Swiss stock in first class, I couldn't find that availability and was happy to keep my Malaysia Airlines tickets in business, and thankfully mine has not been cancelled!
There’s just one minor detail. We have to be in Myanmar in order to start the flight - but this is why we save our miles.
We were looking for ANY Southeast Asian destination and intended on taking cheap Air Asia flights to get to Yangon. One of the best redemptions of any program has to be American Airlines’ 55,000 mile redemption in business class to SE Asia from the US. For those who don’t mind coach or have a smaller AA balance it’s only 32,500 - and if you have the AA Citi card, you get 10% back making it less than 50k or 30k respectively.
While American has made some improvements as of late integrating partner airlines (Air Berlin, British Airways/Iberia, Alaskan and Hawaiian) most oneworld partners are still left out, most notably Cathay Pacific. As Cathay (CX) held most of our flight segments I was going to have to use another engine (Qantas) in order to find availability before calling.
But I got lazy.
I called in and got nowhere near where I wanted to be.
Jan 9th - ORD - NRT - MNL in business, no connection over 3 hours and not starting in PIT where I would prefer, nor ending anywhere near Myanmar. This is not what I had in mind.
None of the products or flights were particularly exciting, no great layovers, just a very pedestrian and quick attempt to get me off the phone, and for them it worked. She claimed she could not “see” the availability on any of the flights I had found - which I believe to be patently false. I held the itinerary nonetheless and called back again to speak with someone else who might be able to help.
Jan 9th - PIT-ORD-NRT-HKG all in business, but a possibility to find something if more space opened up. The reason why I re-held the record locator is because on this itin, at least I had secured safe passage out of the Steel city.
While waiting in line for an insanely inexpensive television, I called in and got the best AAgent ever! American does not allow their agents to give out extensions or last names, and they have hundreds of phone agents working from call centers and from home so her name is irrelevant because you may never ever get her. Here is what she was able to secure.
Jan 9th PIT-JFK, Jan 10th-11th JFK-NRT, Jan 12th HND-HKG, Jan 13th HKG-DPS - all in business, $70 ($45 in taxes, $25 booking fee - well worth it).
The reason why this is such a great routing is what it allows us to do. The Sherpa has a terribly dirty little secret. Not once has the Sherpa ever stepped outside of a New York airport. Out of 184 cities in 34 countries on every inhabited continent on the planet Earth, New York City has not yet made the list. I know, I know, an egregious error, but living in the midwest (Omaha) most of my life, it was always very expensive to get to the Big Apple and stay there. Tickets would routinely range from $350-450 and hotels from $200/night. Comparing that to London where I could find a great deal often at $450-650, and stay in a hostel off Piccadilly Circus, it seemed like a no-brainer.
But it has been killing me. So I have to get there. And this is a free and easy way to start. We will have just shy of 24 hours in NYC, we used some Club Carlson points for a room on 6th Ave and Broadway, and paid for some upgrades.
We have also been dying to get to Tokyo, and back to Hong Kong (though this will be our third visit to Asia’s world city in six months).
My AAgent totally got this. It took her five minutes to maximize the layovers and secure great space. Even switching from Narita to Haneda so we would get to fly a better business class product and could stay in the city and not have to trek it back outside of Tokyo.
Absolutely amazing! I just hope that after the US Airways merger they keep the AAgents on board, instead of the geographically challenged US Airways reps. I'm looking forward to Bali, looking forward to posting my trip report. The countdown begins.