If you want to stop somewhere on a flight, it needs to be part of an open jaw, or a stopover, or a destination. As of writing this, there are still plenty of interesting things you can do with United’s stopover rules, although AA stopped allowing you to be so creative. Currently I’m on an itinerary that went like this: ORD-MNL, BKK-IST, IST-ORD; it cost the same amount of points as just going to just Manila and back.
Things aren’t all bad – it’s probably not too bad to add stopovers to an AA itinerary, it’s just that you have to pay for them and there is no way to discount things. One trick you can do for free though, is look for places you might be able to do something interesting in with less than 24 hours. There are 24 hour or less tourist itineraries out there for a fair amount of destinations, as for various reasons people may not have much time to explore somewhere they are only at for a short period of time.
Most of the time, searching for award travel, you are going to find less convenient itineraries but still normal-ish layover times. With a little creativity though you can look for places you can force longer layovers. Whether you want flight 1 from option A and flight 2 from option B, or just look for availability as one ways to find flights. Right now, AA’s website shows Royal Jordanian flights, however it doesn’t show the specific one, with availability, that I found with the KVS tool. My guess is that the site is determining the layover is simply too long. Even the one ways don’t show up on the site though, which is why it is not a bad idea to have something like this tool to search for more availability. I talk about using it a bit in this post. I was able to call AA and have them book the flight I wanted for me, although had to go through tech support to have them confirm this itinerary was not bookable online so that I was able to get the phone booking fee waived.
I’m traveling from Abu Dhabi to Istanbul, and have used a lot of United miles on this trip so wanted to see if I could pull any from my AA stash for this hop. It’s 20k economy or 30k business, not bad either way. There might be a business flight through Doha but nothing direct. I’m certain there’s easily Turkish flights available directly from here or Dubai however. There’s a British Airways flight that goes to Muscat, Oman – which has an amazing kart track literally across the street from the airport. However I couldn’t make my stopover work, and it was going to be a bit painful anyway; AUH-MCT, then MCT-DOH, DOH-IST. My layover was 24 hours 15 minutes, turning into an actual stopover. The kart track also doesn’t open until late, and the flight comes in after it is closed; it just wasn’t going to happen this trip. So I started exploring other options.
I found a great one, with Royal Jordanian! A flight out in the morning to Amman (AMM), and off to Istanbul in the afternoon. It’s not across the street, but it’s a 20 minute / 20km trip to the Jordan Sports Center, which is a nice looking karting complex. No phone or wifi (oh the humanity!) – visa on arrival though, so it’s a go. I’ll have time to stop, arrive, go karting at a new international track, grab lunch, then head back to catch my flight. Works for me! The only negative is my carry on is my electronics bag and will have a lot of goodies in it and be ridiculously heavy. +1 international kart tracks though, so it’s on!