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{{Main|article}}
 
{{Main|article}}
Every frequent flyer program has their own award chart. Many of these programs have “sweet spots”, which require fewer than the normal number of miles for tickets to specific destinations. While we’ve provided advice for {{Link|award options|figuring out the least expensive award option for an upcoming trip}}, it is also useful to be aware of some of the best available award redemption options.  
+
Every frequent flyer program has their own award chart. Many of these programs have “sweet spots”, which require fewer than the normal number of miles for tickets to specific destinations. While we’ve provided more general advice for {{Link|award options|figuring out the least expensive award option for an upcoming trip}}, it is also useful to be aware of some of the best available award redemption options.  
 +
 
 +
{{Box|Transfer Bonuses}}
 +
Any frequent flyer program that has a current transfer bonus is likely to temporarily offer many sweet spots. While the program might normally offer unspectacular pricing to your desired destination, if you can get 25%, 40%, or 50% more miles from your credit card points, its reward prices might be fantastic. Make sure to check for currently available bonuses. {{Link|Transfer Bonuses}}.
 +
{{/Box}}
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=== Cheap awards for domestic flights ===
 
=== Cheap awards for domestic flights ===
  
Normally, domestic one-way flights require 12,500 miles in coach and 25,000 miles in business. The required number of miles is remarkably consistent across dozens of different frequent flyer programs. But there are a few sweet spots.
+
Normally, domestic one-way flights require 12,500 miles in economy and 25,000 miles in business. This cost is remarkably consistent across dozens of different frequent flyer programs. But there are a few sweet spots.
  
 
<ul class="checklist">
 
<ul class="checklist">
<li>'''Delta and United have dynamic pricing'''. While this usually means you'll pay more for your award ticket, they sometimes offer tickets for less than the normal price. American airlines offers a rotating selection of [//www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/redeem/award-travel/reduced-mileage-awards.jsp reduced mileage awards] for their credit cardholders.
+
<li>'''Delta and United have dynamic pricing''' and have done away with their award charts. While this usually means you'll pay more for your award ticket, they sometimes offer tickets for less than the normal price. This is especially true when Delta is offering an award sales. American airlines offers a rotating selection of [//www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/redeem/award-travel/reduced-mileage-awards.jsp reduced mileage awards] for their credit cardholders.
  
 
<li>'''All the major US airlines have discounted prices for short-distance tickets'''.  For more details see {{link|distance programs}}.</li>  
 
<li>'''All the major US airlines have discounted prices for short-distance tickets'''.  For more details see {{link|distance programs}}.</li>  
  
<li>'''If you are flying United, Turkish Airlines only requires 10,000 miles in coach and 15,000 miles in business'''. You can transfer ThankYou or Marriott points. It is however, a bit of an obstacle to book your tickets. After you you've booked the reservation through their call center (800-847-8875), you'll need to send over an email with various forms and copies of your IDs, credit card, and Miles & Smiles cards to finalize the transaction. Until fairly recently, you actually had to go into one of their physical ticketing offices, so this is a major improvement.</li>
+
<li>'''If you are flying United, Turkish Airlines only requires 7,500 miles in economy and 12,500 miles in business'''. However, it can be hard to book these awards. The Turkish Airlines website doesn't reliably show United award availability. You need to search elsewhere. If available space isn't showing on Turkish Airline's website, you'll need to contact them by phone (800-847-8875) or email to make your reservation. Then you'll need to send over a followup email with various forms and copies of your IDs, credit card, and Miles & Smiles cards to finalize the transaction. Until fairly recently, you actually had to go into one of their physical ticketing offices to complete the purchase, so this is a major improvement. For more information, see this excellent [//frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/how-to-book-united-flights-using-turkish-miles-smiles/ guide] from Frequent Miler. {{transfer|Turkish}}</li>
  
<li>'''If you are flying Alaska, Singapore's frequent flyer program offers cheaper prices''' than regular prices tickets, but usually not cheaper than Alaska's short distance awards.</li>  
+
<li>'''If you are flying Alaska, Singapore's frequent flyer program offers cheaper prices''' than Alaska, but not than Alaska's short distance awards. [//www.singaporeair.com/saar5/pdf/ppsclub_krisflyer/charts/AlaskaAirlines_AwdChart.pdf Award Chart]. {{transfer|Singapore}}</li>  
</ul>  
+
</ul>
  
 
=== Cheap tickets to Hawaii ===
 
=== Cheap tickets to Hawaii ===
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{{ImageX|Hawaii2.jpg}}
 
{{ImageX|Hawaii2.jpg}}
  
Normally it takes 45,000 miles to book a round-trip award ticket to Hawaii in coach and 80,000 miles in business. But there are ways to get there for much less.</li>
+
Normally, it takes 45,000 miles to book a round trip award ticket to Hawaii in economy and 80,000 miles in business. But there are ways to get there for MUCH less.
  
 
<ul class="checklist">
 
<ul class="checklist">
<li>'''The most amazing deal is using Turkish Airlines miles for United flights'''. Turkish only requires 20,000 miles for a coach ticket and 30,000 miles for business class on any "direct" flights. This is less than half the normal cost. But, as discussed immediately above, it can be a hassle to book the tickets.</li>  
+
<li>'''The most amazing deal is using Turkish Airlines miles for United flights'''. Turkish only requires 15,000 miles for a round trip economy ticket and 25,000 miles for business. This is less than half the normal cost. But as discussed immediately above, it can be a hassle to book the tickets. {{Transfer|Turkish}}</li>  
  
<li>'''For Alaska flights, Singapore's frequent flyer program only requires 23-25,000 miles in coach''', depending on exactly where you are flying from. Unfortunately, their prices for business class tickets are expensive.  When you use Singapore's miles for United flights, they require 35,000 miles in coach and 60,000 in business, still a good price, but not as nearly as good.</li>  
+
<li>'''For Alaska flights, Singapore's frequent flyer program only requires 23-25,000 miles in economy''', depending on exactly where you are flying from. Unfortunately, their prices for business class tickets aren't as good of a deal. [//www.singaporeair.com/saar5/pdf/ppsclub_krisflyer/charts/AlaskaAirlines_AwdChart.pdf Award Chart for Alaska]. </li>  
  
<li>'''Korean Airlines has very good pricing for Delta flights''': 25,000 in coach and 45,000 in business. But they aren't transfer partners with any of the credit card programs. A more accessible option for Delta flights is Air France's Flying Blue. There pricing varies wildly, but they sometimes offer good deals.</li>
+
When you use Singapore's miles for United flights, they require 35,000 miles for economy and 60,000 for business. That's still a good price, but not a crazy good deal.
  
<li>'''For American and Alaskan Airlines flights, British Airways charges by distance'''. Coach prices start at 26,000 miles for flights that leave from the entire western part of the US (any trip less than 30,000 miles each way). If the trip is longer or you need to make a connection, you'll pay 50,000 points or more and their business class award prices are expensive.</li>  
+
<li>'''Korean Airlines has very good pricing for Delta flights''': 25,000 in coach and 45,000 in business. But they aren't transfer partners with any of the major credit card programs. A more accessible option for Delta flights is '''Air France's Flying Blue''' {{Transfer|FlyingBlue}}. Their pricing varies wildly but they sometimes offer good deals.</li>
 +
 
 +
<li>'''For American and Alaskan Airlines flights, British Airways charges by distance'''. Coach prices start at 26,000 miles for round trip flights that leave from the entire western part of the US (any trip less than 3,000 miles each way). If your trip is longer or you need to make a connection, you'll pay more. In all cases, their business class award prices are expensive, starting at 77,500 miles. {{Transfer|British}}.</li>  
 
</ul>
 
</ul>
  
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<ul class="checklist">
 
<ul class="checklist">
<li>'''Flying nonstop on Aer Lingus with British Airways or Aer Lingus points'''. Economy class tickets during Iberia's expansive non-peak season require only 26,000 miles round trip from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto, and 32,500 miles from Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle. You'll need to pay additional miles or make your own way from Ireland, to your final destination. British Airways is a partner with Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott.</li>  
+
<li>'''Flying nonstop on Aer Lingus with British Airways or Aer Lingus points'''. Economy class tickets during Iberia's expansive non-peak season require only 26,000 miles round trip from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto, and 32,500 miles from Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle. THIS MAY BE WRONG IT MAY BE 25k FROM bOSTON WITH BA AVIOS.  You'll need to pay additional miles or make your own way from Ireland, to your final destination. British Airways is a partner with Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott.</li>  
  
<li>'''Flying nonstop on Delta with Virgin Atlantic points'''. Economy class tickets during non-peak times only cost 20,000 Virgin Atlantic points from the East and Central parts of the US and 30,000 points from the Western part. These seem like one-way prices, but are actually the round trip cost. Unfortunately, they add large surcharges and you need to pay separately for any onward flights from London. Virgin Atlantic is a partner with each of the major transferable point programs.</li>  
+
Round trip flights on Iberia are as little as 68,000 points. 
 +
 
 +
<li>'''Flying nonstop on Delta with Virgin Atlantic points'''. Economy class tickets during non-peak times only cost 20,000 Virgin Atlantic points from the East and Central parts of the US and 30,000 points from the Western part. These seem like one-way prices, but are actually the round trip cost. I DON'T THINK THIS PART IS CORRECT. Unfortunately, they add large surcharges and you need to pay separately for any onward flights from London. Virgin Atlantic is a partner with each of the major transferable point programs.</li>  
  
 
<li>'''Flying business class on Delta with Korean or Alitalia points'''. You'll only need to pay 80,000 points for a round trip business class ticket. And with Korean, you can use a free stopover to visit two different cities for the same price. Alitalia is a partner with Membership Rewards and both airlines are partners with Marriott.</li>  
 
<li>'''Flying business class on Delta with Korean or Alitalia points'''. You'll only need to pay 80,000 points for a round trip business class ticket. And with Korean, you can use a free stopover to visit two different cities for the same price. Alitalia is a partner with Membership Rewards and both airlines are partners with Marriott.</li>  
  
<li>'''Flying business class on United with Asiana points'''. As with using Korean or Alitalia points with Delta, you'll only need 80,000 points. Unfortunately, Asiana is only a partner with Marriott. If you have Membership Rewards, you'd have to pay 88,000 points using ANA.</li>  
+
<li>'''Flying business class on United with Asiana points'''. As with using Korean or Alitalia points with Delta, you'll only need 80,000 points. Unfortunately, Asiana is only a partner with Marriott. If you have Membership Rewards, you'd have to pay 88,000 points using ANA or 90,000 miles using Turkish.</li>  
  
 
<li>'''Flying First Class with Asiana miles'''. Along with charging 80,000 points for business class, Asiana only charges 100,000 points (round trip) for a true first class ticket. If you fly United, you won't have to pay fuel surcharges. But it may be worthwhile to pay some extra money in fees to enjoy's Lufthansa's superior first-class experience.</li>  
 
<li>'''Flying First Class with Asiana miles'''. Along with charging 80,000 points for business class, Asiana only charges 100,000 points (round trip) for a true first class ticket. If you fly United, you won't have to pay fuel surcharges. But it may be worthwhile to pay some extra money in fees to enjoy's Lufthansa's superior first-class experience.</li>  
 +
 +
<li>'''American Airlines business class with Etihad miles''' {{transfer|etihad}}. Available for only 100,000 miles.</li>
 
</ul>
 
</ul>
  
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<ul class="checklist">
 
<ul class="checklist">
 +
<li>'''Many flights on Delta using Virgin Atlantic miles and on American using Etihad miles'''. Both of these foreign frequent flyer programs generally require fewer miles than the airline's own program. Whenever you are flying internationally on either airline (or domestically) on American, it is worthwhile to check their award charts.</li>
 +
 
<li>'''Trips with Lots of Stops'''. If you are planning on visiting a number of different destinations as part of the same trip, you can get some incredible deals, by taking advantage of distance-based programs. JAL, Cathay Pacific, and ANA charge based on the total mileage you fly, rather than per flight, allowing you to string together many different airplane flights as part of the same award. For example, you could fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo, then Hong Kong, then Sydney, and back to Los Angeles for only 60,000 miles in economy, and 155,000 in first. This is far cheaper than just a typical round trip to Australia. {{Link|multi destination}}.</li>  
 
<li>'''Trips with Lots of Stops'''. If you are planning on visiting a number of different destinations as part of the same trip, you can get some incredible deals, by taking advantage of distance-based programs. JAL, Cathay Pacific, and ANA charge based on the total mileage you fly, rather than per flight, allowing you to string together many different airplane flights as part of the same award. For example, you could fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo, then Hong Kong, then Sydney, and back to Los Angeles for only 60,000 miles in economy, and 155,000 in first. This is far cheaper than just a typical round trip to Australia. {{Link|multi destination}}.</li>  
  
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{{Image|CathayFirst.jpg}}
 
{{Image|CathayFirst.jpg}}
  
<li>'''Cheap flights on ANA / JAL to Japan'''. Award tickets to Japan typically require 60-70,000 miles in economy and 120-140,000 in business.  However, both of Japan's airlines offer special award deals when you fly on their own aircraft. You can fly round trip for 40,000 points in coach during the non-peak season or 75-80,000 in business (and with JAL, 110,000 miles in true First Class), on certain days of the week. JAL departs from Boston, Chicago, Dallas, LA, NYC, San Diego, San Francisco, and Vancouver, and partners with Marriott.. ANA departs from LA, San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, DC, NYC, Chicago, Houston, and Vancouver, and partners with Membership Rewards and Marriott. </li>
+
<li>'''Cheap premium-cabin flights to Japan on JAL and ANA'''. Award tickets to Japan typically require 60-70,000 miles in economy and 120-140,000 in business and around 160,000 in first.</li>
  
On both airlines, lower than normal priced awards are available when transiting through Japan to other destinations in Asia. For example, you can fly business class on ANA to Singapore or even India, for as little as 105,000 miles, rather than a normal 140-180,000 miles.  
+
<ul>
 +
<li>The most consistent way to get to Japan with fewer miles is to use Virgin Atlantic miles to book nonstop award flights on ANA. Business class requires 90,000 miles from the Western US or 95,000 miles from the Central and Eastern US. First class only requires a few little more: 110,000 or 120,000 miles. And Virgin Atlantic partners with all the credit card reward programs</li>
  
Another excellent option for premium cabin awards to Japan is to use Virgin Atlantic points to book nonstop award flights on ANA. First Class is 110,000 miles from the Western US or 120,000 miles from the Central and Eastern US. Business class is 90,000 or 95,000 miles.  
+
<li>Both of Japan's airlines offer special award deals when you fly on their own aircraft. You can fly round trip for 40,000 points in coach during the non-peak season or 75-80,000 in business (and with JAL, 110,000 miles in true First Class) on certain days of the week. ANA partners with Membership Rewards, JAL miles are harder to get.</li>
  
 +
On both airlines, lower than normal priced awards are available when transiting through Japan to other destinations in Asia. For example, you can fly business class on ANA to Singapore or even India, for as little as 105,000 miles, rather than the normal 140-180,000 miles.
 +
</li>
 
{{ImageX|Tokyo.jpg}}
 
{{ImageX|Tokyo.jpg}}
  
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<li>'''Africa via Senegal on South African Airlines'''. [//frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2017/12/11/fly-business class-africa-50000-miles-round trip/ Frequent Miler] points out that you can take the South African Airlines flight from D.C. to Senegal for only 40,000 Virgin Atlantic points round trip in economy, and 50,000 points round trip in business. Compare that to a typical cost of over 100,000 miles to fly business class to Africa. From there, you could fly round trip elsewhere in Africa for only 30,000 ANA miles in economy or 55,000 in business.</li>  
 
<li>'''Africa via Senegal on South African Airlines'''. [//frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2017/12/11/fly-business class-africa-50000-miles-round trip/ Frequent Miler] points out that you can take the South African Airlines flight from D.C. to Senegal for only 40,000 Virgin Atlantic points round trip in economy, and 50,000 points round trip in business. Compare that to a typical cost of over 100,000 miles to fly business class to Africa. From there, you could fly round trip elsewhere in Africa for only 30,000 ANA miles in economy or 55,000 in business.</li>  
 +
 +
<li>'''Flights between Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific'''. Turkish airlines only requires 15,000 miles in economy, 25,000 in business, and 35,000 in first to fly between any of the countries of Oceania or Australia / New Zealand or Air New Zealand.</li>
 
</ul>
 
</ul>
  

Revision as of 14:27, 23 May 2020

  Award Ticket Strategies


Every frequent flyer program has their own award chart. Many of these programs have “sweet spots”, which require fewer than the normal number of miles for tickets to specific destinations. While we’ve provided more general advice for figuring out the least expensive award option for an upcoming trip, it is also useful to be aware of some of the best available award redemption options.

Transfer Bonuses

Any frequent flyer program that has a current transfer bonus is likely to temporarily offer many sweet spots. While the program might normally offer unspectacular pricing to your desired destination, if you can get 25%, 40%, or 50% more miles from your credit card points, its reward prices might be fantastic. Make sure to check for currently available bonuses. Take Advantage of Transfer Bonuses to Get More Value from Your Reward Points.


Cheap awards for domestic flights

Normally, domestic one-way flights require 12,500 miles in economy and 25,000 miles in business. This cost is remarkably consistent across dozens of different frequent flyer programs. But there are a few sweet spots.

  • Delta and United have dynamic pricing and have done away with their award charts. While this usually means you'll pay more for your award ticket, they sometimes offer tickets for less than the normal price. This is especially true when Delta is offering an award sales. American airlines offers a rotating selection of reduced mileage awards for their credit cardholders.
  • All the major US airlines have discounted prices for short-distance tickets. For more details see Fly Short Distances Using Fewer Miles by Taking Advantage of Distance-Based Frequent Flyer Programs.
  • If you are flying United, Turkish Airlines only requires 7,500 miles in economy and 12,500 miles in business. However, it can be hard to book these awards. The Turkish Airlines website doesn't reliably show United award availability. You need to search elsewhere. If available space isn't showing on Turkish Airline's website, you'll need to contact them by phone (800-847-8875) or email to make your reservation. Then you'll need to send over a followup email with various forms and copies of your IDs, credit card, and Miles & Smiles cards to finalize the transaction. Until fairly recently, you actually had to go into one of their physical ticketing offices to complete the purchase, so this is a major improvement. For more information, see this excellent guide from Frequent Miler.
    MRURTYMar
  • If you are flying Alaska, Singapore's frequent flyer program offers cheaper prices than Alaska, but not than Alaska's short distance awards. Award Chart.
    MRURTYMar

Cheap tickets to Hawaii

Hawaii2.jpg

Normally, it takes 45,000 miles to book a round trip award ticket to Hawaii in economy and 80,000 miles in business. But there are ways to get there for MUCH less.

  • The most amazing deal is using Turkish Airlines miles for United flights. Turkish only requires 15,000 miles for a round trip economy ticket and 25,000 miles for business. This is less than half the normal cost. But as discussed immediately above, it can be a hassle to book the tickets.
    MRURTYMar
  • For Alaska flights, Singapore's frequent flyer program only requires 23-25,000 miles in economy, depending on exactly where you are flying from. Unfortunately, their prices for business class tickets aren't as good of a deal. Award Chart for Alaska.
  • When you use Singapore's miles for United flights, they require 35,000 miles for economy and 60,000 for business. That's still a good price, but not a crazy good deal.

  • Korean Airlines has very good pricing for Delta flights: 25,000 in coach and 45,000 in business. But they aren't transfer partners with any of the major credit card programs. A more accessible option for Delta flights is Air France's Flying Blue
    MRURTYMar
    . Their pricing varies wildly but they sometimes offer good deals.
  • For American and Alaskan Airlines flights, British Airways charges by distance. Coach prices start at 26,000 miles for round trip flights that leave from the entire western part of the US (any trip less than 3,000 miles each way). If your trip is longer or you need to make a connection, you'll pay more. In all cases, their business class award prices are expensive, starting at 77,500 miles.
    MRURTYMar
    .

Cheap flights to the Caribbean and Mexico

Caribbean2.jpg

Most frequent flyer programs treat Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America as part of a different zone than the United States. Normal round trip frequent flyer tickets require 35,000 miles for coach and 60,000 for business.

However, some programs treat at least some of these countries as part of the North American zone and therefore offer award tickets for the normal domestic price of 25,000 miles for coach and 45-50,000 miles for business.

  • You can get incredible deals on shorter flights on American and Alaska Airlines. British Airways, Iberia, and Cathay Pacific charge based on distance. Fly Short Distances Using Fewer Miles by Taking Advantage of Distance-Based Frequent Flyer Programs
  • For example, flights from Miami to the Cayman Islands would only require 11,000 Iberia Airlines miles in economy or 22,000 in business. You can fly from south Florida to anywhere in Central America, or from anywhere in the Southeast to Cancun, for only 15,000 British Airways miles in coach and 30,000 miles in business. From New York City to most of the Caribbean would cost 22,000 British Airways miles in economy and 44,000 miles in business. And 26,000 British Airways miles would pay for a nonstop round trip award from pretty much anywhere in the United States to anywhere in Mexico.

  • Once again, Turkish Airlines has incredible prices. You can book awards on direct Star Alliance (United, Air Canada) flights to Mexico, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Bermuda for only 20,000 in coach and 30,000 in business.
  • For Alaska Airlines flights to Costa Rica and Mexico, Singapore Airlines only requires 24,000 points. This award is only available on round trip flights and prices for business class flights are not very good.
  • Flying blue often offers great deals on Delta and Aeromexico (SkyTeam). They treat both the Caribbean and Mexico as part of the same region as the US. But with their dynamic reward pricing, there is no official price.
  • American Airlines has cheaper-than-normal off-peak rates of 30,000 for coach and 50,000 for business.

Aegean Airlines only requires 25,000 / 42,000 miles for Star Alliance flights and Korean Airlines only requires 25,000 / 45,000 for SkyTeam flights to Mexico, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. But neither partner with any of the credit card programs.

Cheap flights to Europe

GreekIslands.jpg

Two of the leading European frequent flyer programs offer promotional award rates for flights to Europe, which require as little as half the normal number of miles. For example, you can travel to Europe for as few as 25,000 miles round trip (plus fuel surcharges). Fly to Europe Using Half the Number of Miles Using Promo Awards}.

  • Flying Blue offers promotional rates for Air France and KLM (Netherlands).
  • Miles and More offers promotional rates for Lufthansa (Germany), LOT Polish, Austrian, and Swiss.

Other than taking advantage of award sales, the trick to low-priced awards to Europe is to book a ticket on an airline that doesn't charge fuel surcharges and use a program that requires fewer than the ordinary number of miles. For reference, a typical round trip award ticket to Europe costs 60,000 points in Economy and around 115-125,000 points in Business. The most exceptional bargains are:

  • Flying nonstop on Aer Lingus with British Airways or Aer Lingus points. Economy class tickets during Iberia's expansive non-peak season require only 26,000 miles round trip from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto, and 32,500 miles from Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle. THIS MAY BE WRONG IT MAY BE 25k FROM bOSTON WITH BA AVIOS. You'll need to pay additional miles or make your own way from Ireland, to your final destination. British Airways is a partner with Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott.
  • Round trip flights on Iberia are as little as 68,000 points.

  • Flying nonstop on Delta with Virgin Atlantic points. Economy class tickets during non-peak times only cost 20,000 Virgin Atlantic points from the East and Central parts of the US and 30,000 points from the Western part. These seem like one-way prices, but are actually the round trip cost. I DON'T THINK THIS PART IS CORRECT. Unfortunately, they add large surcharges and you need to pay separately for any onward flights from London. Virgin Atlantic is a partner with each of the major transferable point programs.
  • Flying business class on Delta with Korean or Alitalia points. You'll only need to pay 80,000 points for a round trip business class ticket. And with Korean, you can use a free stopover to visit two different cities for the same price. Alitalia is a partner with Membership Rewards and both airlines are partners with Marriott.
  • Flying business class on United with Asiana points. As with using Korean or Alitalia points with Delta, you'll only need 80,000 points. Unfortunately, Asiana is only a partner with Marriott. If you have Membership Rewards, you'd have to pay 88,000 points using ANA or 90,000 miles using Turkish.
  • Flying First Class with Asiana miles. Along with charging 80,000 points for business class, Asiana only charges 100,000 points (round trip) for a true first class ticket. If you fly United, you won't have to pay fuel surcharges. But it may be worthwhile to pay some extra money in fees to enjoy's Lufthansa's superior first-class experience.
  • American Airlines business class with Etihad miles
    MRURTYMar
    . Available for only 100,000 miles.

Short Distance flights (anywhere in the world)

With some programs, you can fly short distances for hardly any miles. This can be a huge savings, especially for flights that would cross a regional boundary. For example, it would typically cost at least 20,000 miles to fly form Southern Europe to Morocco, because you are flying between the Europe Zone and the Africa Zone, but you could fly there for only 6,000 British Airways points as long as you can take a nonstop flight. Fly Short Distances Using Fewer Miles by Taking Advantage of Distance-Based Frequent Flyer Programs.</li>

British Airways is the most famous, and often the cheapest, option for short-distance flights, with flights starting at 6,000 points in coach and 13,000 points in business. But depending on whether non-stops are available, whether you are flying round trip, and what type of points you have, Iberia, Cathay, or JAL may offer an even better deal.

For Star Alliance Airlines, United Airlines has an 8,000 point short-distance option that you can use for flights up to 800 miles within a single world region (but not within the US). For flights within the United States, there are a number of useful options, most notably only 5,000 points for short flights on Alaska Airlines.

A few examples of the many possibilities:

  • Dallas or Miami (or as far away as Nashville) to Cancun for 7,500 British Airways points.
  • Barcelona to Copenhagen for 8,000 United points.
  • Los Angeles to Sun Valley, Idaho for 5,000 Alaska points.
  • Miami to Turks and Caicos for 11,000 Iberia points (round trip).
  • Shanghai to Taipei for 8,000 United points.
  • New York to Saint Thomas for 7,500 British Airways points.
  • London to Switzerland for 6,000 British Airways points.
  • Salt Lake City to LA, and then later LA to San Diego, for 5,000 total Alaska points.
  • Sydney to Melbourne for 6,000 British Airways points
  • Boston to Philadelphia round trip for 11,000 Iberia points.
  • Hong Kong to Vietnam for 6,000 British Airways points.

Other sweet spots

  • Many flights on Delta using Virgin Atlantic miles and on American using Etihad miles. Both of these foreign frequent flyer programs generally require fewer miles than the airline's own program. Whenever you are flying internationally on either airline (or domestically) on American, it is worthwhile to check their award charts.
  • Trips with Lots of Stops. If you are planning on visiting a number of different destinations as part of the same trip, you can get some incredible deals, by taking advantage of distance-based programs. JAL, Cathay Pacific, and ANA charge based on the total mileage you fly, rather than per flight, allowing you to string together many different airplane flights as part of the same award. For example, you could fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo, then Hong Kong, then Sydney, and back to Los Angeles for only 60,000 miles in economy, and 155,000 in first. This is far cheaper than just a typical round trip to Australia. See More of the World with Inexpensive Multi-destination Award Tickets.
  • Cheap award flights to the Pacific via Honolulu. Thai airlines offers exceptionally inexpensive award flights from Hawaii to the South Pacific or Australia. They are a member of Star Alliance and a transfer partner of Citibank and Marriott. Round trip prices are 40,000 in economy, 60,000 in business, and 80,000 in first class. Often the cheapest way to book award tickets to Pacific is to book an award ticket from Hawaii, rather than your home airport. Then you'd book a separate award (or cash ticket) to Hawaii,.
  • Lufthansa also offers good rates, however premium cabin rates are higher than Thai's program and Lufthansa isn't transfer partners with the main credit card reward programs. Another well-priced option is flying Qantas round trip from Honolulu for 52,000 British Airways points.

    Sydney.jpg
  • Discounts to Southern South America. Most frequent flyer programs divide South America into a Northern and a Southern zone. Normal award prices for a round trip to Argentina, Chile, or other spots in the southern half of South America, require 60,000 miles. A few frequent flyer programs, like Korean Airlines, treat the entire continent as a single zone. Because they need to set an average price for the entire continent, they only require 50,000 miles, regardless of where you fly. For similar reasons, Flying Blue is sometimes a good option for these flights, but with their dynamic award pricing, the required number of miles varies wildly.
  • Even though Asiana splits South America into two parts, they have incredibly cheap award prices for business class travel to Southern South America, only requiring 70,000 miles round trip, rather than the more typical 100,000+ miles.

    But if you are willing to travel off-peak, you can fly for an even fewer miles. Etihad only charges 40,000 miles for round trips on American Airlines. Even better, "off-peak" includes Christmas break (and the southern summer) as well as early summer vacation.

    Because Etihad did not revise its award chart for travel on American Airlines (after American's last devaluations), they often offer less expensive awards than American itself. This is just one example. Etihad reward chart for American Airlines.

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  • Any long flight using JAL miles. JAL is a distance-based program that is an exceptionally good value on longer-distance awards, especially in business and first class. Even better, they charge based on the total miles flown, so you won't pay more (or much more) if you have to make connections or want to add a few additional stops. Whenever you need to travel a long way, JAL tends to be your least expensive option. For example:
    • To Australia. American Airlines would charge 80,000 / 140,000 / 180,000 miles for economy / business / first class round trip tickets between New York and Sydney. With JAL, you would need as little as 60,000 / 100,000 / 155,000.
    • To India. American Airlines would charge 70,000 / 130,000 / 170,000 miles for round trip tickets between New York and Delhi. JAL would require 60,000 / 100,000 / 155,000 miles.
  • First Class on Cathay Pacific to Africa. Getting to Africa usually requires a lot of points. Typical economy class tickets require around 80,000 points, business class tickets around 150-160,000 points, and true first-class tickets between 200-300,000 points. If you want an incredible flying experience, you can take advantage of a slightly unusual option by flying to Africa via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. You'll get two long flights with one of the world's best first-class experiences for only 140,000 Alaska miles, less than the cost of a typical business class award. However, it does take little bit longer, especially if you aren't leaving from the West Coast.
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  • Cheap premium-cabin flights to Japan on JAL and ANA. Award tickets to Japan typically require 60-70,000 miles in economy and 120-140,000 in business and around 160,000 in first.
    • The most consistent way to get to Japan with fewer miles is to use Virgin Atlantic miles to book nonstop award flights on ANA. Business class requires 90,000 miles from the Western US or 95,000 miles from the Central and Eastern US. First class only requires a few little more: 110,000 or 120,000 miles. And Virgin Atlantic partners with all the credit card reward programs
    • Both of Japan's airlines offer special award deals when you fly on their own aircraft. You can fly round trip for 40,000 points in coach during the non-peak season or 75-80,000 in business (and with JAL, 110,000 miles in true First Class) on certain days of the week. ANA partners with Membership Rewards, JAL miles are harder to get.
    • On both airlines, lower than normal priced awards are available when transiting through Japan to other destinations in Asia. For example, you can fly business class on ANA to Singapore or even India, for as little as 105,000 miles, rather than the normal 140-180,000 miles.

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    • Flights within South America. For flights from anywhere in South America to anywhere else in South America, Singapore Airlines only requires 12,500 miles in economy and 20,000 miles in business class. Korean Airlines offers the same pricing, but requires a round trip purchase.
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    • Getting to India via Asia or Europe. Flights all the way to India, or other spots on the that side of the world, normally require about 80-100,000 miles in coach, 150-200,000 miles in business, and well over 200,000 in first. Although, as described above, there are a few bargains, if you can book an award on ANA or JAL through Tokyo. The other way to get there for fewer miles is to make your own way to Europe or closer destinations in Asia, and then take advantage of award chart sweet spots for the rest of the journey.
      • Through Hong Kong. You can use Cathay Pacific miles to fly from Hong Kong to India for only 25,000 Alaska miles round trip in economy, 45,000 miles in business, and 55,000 in first.
      • Through Tokyo. With JAL and ANA,you can fly from Tokyo to India for as few as 25-30,000 miles round trip in economy, 55-60,000 in business, and 80-105,000 miles in first. That is a great deal, but it can be an even a better deal with Alaska Airlines miles. Alaska only requires 30,000 miles in coach, 50,000 miles in business, and 60,000 miles in first, to fly JAL round trip from Tokyo to India, year-round. You can combine these flights with any well-priced award or cash price to Japan (without having to fly nonstop on JAL and ANA).
      • Through Europe. If you can pick up a good bargain to Europe, you can save miles by buying a separate award ticket from Europe to India, the Maldives, or other central Asian locations.
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    • Getting to Australia via Asia. Often the best way to get to Australia is to book a separate award ticket or inexpensive cash ticket to Eastern Asia, and then book an award ticket from there to Australia. Not only can this save you points, it greatly increases the number of possible options for award space and lets you take advantage of the often fierce price competition on flights between the US and China,
      • From Hong Kong. You can fly round trip from Hong Kong to Australia for only 35,000 United miles in economy or 60,000 United or Alaska miles in business.
      • From China or Korea. You can fly round trip from China to Australia for only 40,000 United miles in economy, or 80,000 miles in business.
    • Hidden city ticketing to Australia. Many frequent flyer programs require fewer miles for trips to the Pacific islands than to Australia or New Zealand. However, it is sometimes possible to travel to those islands by routing through Australia or New Zealand, without paying any extra miles. You could book a trip to an "Oceania" destination, leave the airport in Australia, and never bother taking your final flight.
    • For example, you could use 30,000 Flying Blue miles to book a trip to New Caledonia that connects through Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Auckland. Or you could use 15,000 United Miles to fly between Asia and the South Pacific, connecting through New Zealand.

    • To South America via the Caribbean or Central America. United only charges 12,500 miles in coach and 20,000 in business, each way, to get to Northern South America, if you leave from Caribbean or Central America, and 15,000 / 25,000 miles if you leave from Mexico. This probably won't save you any miles, if you simply combine it with a typical separate award ticket from your home airport to one of these departure regions. However, if you can get to one of these other locations very cheaply or want to visit both as part of a single trip, this can be a very good deal.
    • Africa via Senegal on South African Airlines. class-africa-50000-miles-round trip/ Frequent Miler points out that you can take the South African Airlines flight from D.C. to Senegal for only 40,000 Virgin Atlantic points round trip in economy, and 50,000 points round trip in business. Compare that to a typical cost of over 100,000 miles to fly business class to Africa. From there, you could fly round trip elsewhere in Africa for only 30,000 ANA miles in economy or 55,000 in business.
    • Flights between Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Turkish airlines only requires 15,000 miles in economy, 25,000 in business, and 35,000 in first to fly between any of the countries of Oceania or Australia / New Zealand or Air New Zealand.



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