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Update: American Airlines has now separated the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent regions on its award chart. Both awards are still pricing at the same levels — from the US, you’ll redeem 40,000 AAdvantage miles each way for economy, 70,000 for business class and 115,000 for first class when traveling to the following countries:

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 11.46.25 AM

Great news for those of us with American Airlines miles — without any fanfare, American Airlines changed its award chart this week to allow transpacific routings when flying from the US to the “Indian Subcontinent.”

Note that this option is only available for award flights on Cathay Pacific or American Airlines metal via Hong Kong (HKG). Otherwise, you’re still limited to previous rules — requiring transatlantic flights when traveling to this region.

Why This is Great News

Cathay
Now you can fly Cathay Pacific’s incredible business class to India and the Maldives.

This is great news for a few different reasons and a variety of travelers:

1. For those on the West Coast looking for a much shorter routing. Prior to this change, flying from the US West Coast to this region would require crossing the US, flying transatlantic, before finally connecting to your destination. Now, you can save stops and time by routing across the Pacific via HKG.

2. Anyone who wants to fly Cathay Pacific. Whether it’s in first class, business class or even economy class, Cathay Pacific service stands out from the rest. Remember, you can’t search for Cathay Pacific award availability on AA’s website, but you can use BA or Qantas to find availability.

3. Anyone on the East Coast looking to lengthen their premium-cabin experience. Flying from NYC to Mumbai (BOM)? Why settle for 16 hours on board a decent British Airways Club World product when you can spend over 22 hours on-board spectacular Cathay Pacific business class.

4. Avoiding British Airways fuel surcharges. Unfortunately, many transatlantic AA award flight options are on British Airways — infamous for its hefty fuel surcharges on award tickets. Although there are ways to avoid flying British Airways when flying to Europe, there are very limited non-BA options if you’re required to fly transatlantic on your way to India. This week’s award chart change now frees travelers up to avoid British Airways’ fuel surcharges completely by routing through HKG.

Countries in the “Indian Subcontinent”

Cathay
Cathay’s nonstop options from HKG to the Indian Subcontinent. Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

The American Airlines award chart region definitions lumps the Middle East with the Indian Subcontinent, as the award miles are the same to either region. I’ve confirmed with an American Airlines agent that the following countries are included in AA’s definition of the “Indian Subcontinent”:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

However, not all of these countries are accessible through Cathay Pacific’s routes. See the route map above for all of Cathay Pacific’s flights from HKG.

How Many Miles?

The newly revised American Airlines partner award chart.

Flights from the contiguous 48 US states to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent cost:

  • 40,000 one-way in economy (down from 45,000 pre-March 22)
  • 70,000 one-way in business
  • 115,000 one-way in first class

Bottom Line

While AA’s award chart has recently gone through significant negative changes, there have also been some positive changes. We’ll certainly count this change among them. The option of flying transpacific via Cathay Pacific should make it easier — and more comfortable — to make such a long journey to this region.

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