In this iteration, we will discuss the arcane exception to “maximum permitted mileage” (MPM) rules that normally prevents you from visiting way far off cities along a route. Generally, your routing between point A and point B must fall within a certain number of miles that airlines determine to be the most miles you should be allowed to fly to get there. However, in some cases, certain airlines do not fly between points A and B, but instead fly A-C-D-E-B, for various reasons (i.e. neither A nor B are “home base”, therefore they either do not have traffic rights, do not fly directly between the two, and so forth). So they issue a “published routing” between points A and B which bring you back to their home base, and then shuttle you through various stops to get you to point B. This sounds complex, but it isn’t. Consider this example.
- You want to fly between Sydney and Los Angeles.
- Singapore Airlines does not operate a direct flight between Sydney and LA. Codeshare with United, sure, but none of their own.
- Singapore Airlines wants your business.
- The only way Singapore Airlines can GET your business is if you fly back to Singapore with them.
- It makes economic sense to have the Singapore – Los Angeles flight stop by Japan on the way, as this way they can a) conveniently shuttle some people between Singapore and Tokyo, and b) pick up some Tokyo passengers who want to fly an excellent airline to Japan.
- As a result, Singapore Airlines tells you: we will sell you a ticket from Sydney to Los Angeles on SQ metal (i.e. on an SQ plane), but since we don’t fly it directly, you will first need to fly SYD-SIN, then you will change planes, and hop on the Airbus 380 that will go SIN-NRT, stop to pick up some passengers, and fly NRT-LAX.
Now they have your business and all is well. The good thing about this is that you can pick this up as a reward seat, as well – and obviously, you can stop along the way. As well, SYD-SIN-NRT-LAX is clearly significantly further away than SYD-LAX, but it is of no importance in this particular case, because SQ advertises this as an inconvenient, but SQ-operated routing, for the occasional traveller who is either slightly cooky, is massively loyal to SQ, or just needs to do a few stopovers along the way.
Note that this cannot be modified. For instance, you cannot fly SYD-SIN-KIX-LAX, because there isn’t a KIX-LAX flight on SQ. It is also extremely difficult to find availability on this routing (and, as is the case with SQ flights in general, never any premium classes). But this is just one example of published routings and their usefulness in designing convoluted itineraries. A number of other routings are available around the world, so it’s always worth exploring some possibilities on the off chance that a certain airline publishes a routing that will give you the opportunity to visit a city that you may otherwise not get to.
ExpertFlyer is a good source of published routing information.
This is a good and easy to understand example. Now, to push it further, is it possible to use a published routing to book a mini RTW without flying the airline that published the routing on some segments? For instance, in your example, would flying SIN-NRT or NRT-LAX on NH be allowed? Does it need to be a codeshare?
Good question. Published routing rules are a little but nebulous, but one thing has been established so far: in my example, so long as the last segment, SIN-SYD, is on SQ (and you can’t really fly it on anything else), the others can be on any airline, which is great. It should be similar for other routes, too, but of course, it always comes down to the agent who may interpret the rules otherwise 🙂