Happy New Year! Mrs. Selfish and I finally arrived in Singapore’s Changmi International Airport after a grueling 36+ hours of traveling, including a relatively uneventful New Year’s in the air.

Since my work is largely starting to slow down, culminating with the release of Little Inferno, I promised Mrs. Selfish I would start contributing regularly to our little corner of the web. So what better way than to highlight our recent experiences buying our tickets for the second leg of our trip?

American Airline’s One World Explorer Ticket

2013 One World Flights

Our long-haul international flight for 2013 – 16 Segments in Business Class!

The One World Explorer ticket is probably one of the best bargains you can find in point redemptions on the market. Award costs are based on distance, with the real bargains kicking in after Distance Zone 6:

AA One World Chart

Mrs. Selfish and I both booked Distance Zone 8 tickets for 180,000 miles each, saving an extra 10,000 miles as a bonus for having Citibank’s American Airlines Platinum Select Card (this links to the 30,000 mile version, but there are 50,000 mile versions which you can find on flyertalk).

The One World Explorer award has some interesting restrictions:

  1. Up to 16 segments, including connections
  2. You must fly at least 2 different One World carriers, not including American Airlines.
  3. The ticket is only good for 1 year from the date it is issued. So you have to fly the entire thing a year from the day you book it.
  4. You can change the date of the flights, but not the order, carrier, or class.
  5. You can only do 4 segments per continent free of charge.
  6. You are allowed one open jaw and this does not count toward your segment limit per continent – in our case, Mrs. Selfish and I are flying: Hong Kong-Singapore-Hong Kong-Chengdu/Beijing-Seoul-Tokyo. The Chengdu/Beijing section counts as one segment, but does not count toward our 4 segment Asia limit.

In order to calculate the overall distance of your award, most people recommend the Great Circle Mapper, which is arguably one of the best websites for calculating these things. When booking our award, GCM’s estimate was within 20 miles of the amount American Airlines quoted me!

Who you fly with Matters

British Airways: Purveyors of Ginormous Fuel Surcharges

In addition to paying in miles, you’ll also have to pay the taxes on all of these segments. Paying attention to who you fly with becomes extremely important at this point. While most airlines charge comparable taxes, a few tack on enormous fuel surcharges.

When I originally booked our tickets back in September there was little to no flight availability out of the States to Singapore, which is not surprising given we were planning on leaving close to New Year’s Eve. Coming from Washington, our only option was to take British Airways to London, then Finnish Air to Helsinki, then Singapore. The total ticket cost was $783.20 for business class.

Fast forward to mid-December. Flight availability on Cathay Pacific finally opened up from New York City to Hong Kong to Singapore. Once American Airlines released a flight from Reagan International Airport to JFK, I quickly booked our tickets. Total cost of new tickets: $291.50.

The taxes for our ONE British Airways segment had cost us over $490 in taxes – each! Even with the cancellation for the old tickets ($150 each) and the short term booking fee ($75 each), Mrs. Selfish and I ended up saving over $500 combined!

How to Find Award Availability

Finding award availability can be difficult, but there are a lot of good tools and walkthroughs out there. When searching for awards on our own tickets I used these resources:

  • Flyertalk – the ultimate thread on finding & booking one world award availability.
  • Million Mile Secrets – great step-by-step instructions.
  • Award Nexus – a good tool to search for awards in general, sign up for a free membership.

How to Book

After piecing together your itinerary, you’ll need to call American Airlines at 1-800-433-7300. There is a $25 booking fee, but it’s definitely worth it.

The Bottom line – if you’re looking to visit a lot of places and have the time, a One World Award Ticket through American Airlines is definitely worth saving up for!