Category Archives: Award Booking

Lufthansa First Class Award Space This Spring for Two People

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Lufthansa First Class is one of the nicest ways to travel between the United States and Europe. Plus if you fly out of Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class, you get to access the First Class Terminal, one of the nicest lounges in the world.

IMG_0596

Lufthansa First Class Terminal from Outside

The problem is that for a few years you have usually only been able to book Lufthansa First Class award space up to 15 days before departure with partner airline miles like United miles.

IMG_0603

Inside the Cigar Lounge of the FCT

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule though. Lufthansa is phasing out First Class on its Denver to Frankfurt route in early April 2015. In anticipation of that move, it has released 2+ First Class award seats to partners on many of its flights between now and then in both directions.

IMG_0702

Lufthansa First Class Bed on the 747-8

Unfortunately since February 2014, United has charged a ridiculous 110,000 miles one way in Lufthansa First Class between the United States and Europe. Luckily some Lufthansa partners charge much more reasonable prices to book Lufthansa First Class.

  • Which First Class is on the Denver to Frankfurt route? (It’s awesome!)
  • What is the award space picture?
  • What if you don’t live in Denver or don’t want to visit Frankfurt?
  • Which miles book this space cheapest?

Continue reading

Something Fishy is Going on with Delta Stopovers

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

One Mile at a Time reports that Delta has stealthily eliminated stopovers on awards.

That’s not quite correct, but something very fishy is going on. Here’s how I know it is not true.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 11.04.43 AM

Above is a roundtrip award from Washington DC to Los Angeles. On the outbound, there is a one week stopover in Minneapolis. The award prices at 25,000 miles + $16.80, which is the same miles as it would cost without the stopover in Minneapolis–hence a free stopover. (This is $5.60 extra in taxes than if you didn’t stop in MSP.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 11.04.53 AM

But he does a larger point that many awards are not pricing with a free stopover when they should.

  • A look at the evidence
  • Delta’s explanation
  • What’s the deal?

Continue reading

Australia over Christmas and New Years on Miles

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

I get a ton of requests at my Award Booking Service for people who want to fly from the United States to Australia or New Zealand over Christmas and New Year’s with their frequent flyer miles. Usually the request is to fly in Business or First Class.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.46.29 AM

I want to dissuade you from this goal because it is one of the toughest awards to book.

Last month I wrote “The Easiest Places to Get with Miles.” Miles are awesome and can get you almost anywhere in the world cheaper and more luxuriously than most people realize. But some awards are easier to book than others. Focusing on easier awards, especially at first, can get you some award-ticket “wins” that will hook you and lead to more successful bookings in the future.

Trying to book two people from the United States to Australia in Business Class from December 21 to January 3 is very hard to turn into one of those wins. It will mainly lead to frustration.

  • What is the award space picture to Australia this holiday season with American, US Airways, United, and Delta miles?
  • What is the most likely strategy to find award space?
  • What other times of year does Australia have better award space?

Continue reading

Virgin Atlantic Opens Up Lots of Last Minute Award Space in Upper Class

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Virgin Atlantic is a London-based airline that serves or has plans to serve 12 American airports. Virgin Atlantic releases a ton of award space in Upper Class between the United States and Europe in the last days and weeks before departure.

Detroit begins 6/1/15, Atlanta begins 10/27/14

Detroit begins 6/1/15, Atlanta begins 10/27/14

You can book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class with Delta miles. Delta currently charges 125,000 miles roundtrip to Europe in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.

Last week, I looked at some of Virgin Atlantic’s new flights and asked whether booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class was the best use of SkyMiles.

Starting January 1, 2015, you’ll be able to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 62,500 Delta miles one way. Delta does not collect fuel surcharges on Upper Class flights.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 11.14.32 PM

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is among the world’s best business classes because it features a fully flat bed, direct aisle access from every seat, an onboard bar, and fantastic lounges, especially in London.

I was daydreaming about flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class home from Europe next summer, and I wondered: Does Virgin Atlantic release a lot of last minute award space on its routes?

I figure that if I am in Europe, and I do want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class home, I’d book the ticket at the last minute to maintain maximum flexibility.

  • Does Virgin Atlantic release a lot of last minute award space on its routes?
  • How can you search and book Virgin Atlantic award space?
  • How can you save money when booking Virgin Atlantic award space?

Continue reading

New Virgin Atlantic Routes, Best Use SkyMiles?

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

I recently received an email about changes to the Virgin Atlantic route network.

Virgin Atlantic is a London-based carrier that is not a member of any of the three major alliances, but does have a partnership with Delta.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 9.19.16 PM

Using 125,000 Delta miles for a roundtrip in Upper Class from anywhere in the United States to anywhere in Europe is a fantastic use of SkyMiles.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 9.46.59 PM

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Marketing

I checked a few of the Virgin Atlantic routes for award space for May 2015 and found award space nearly every day on one route, many of those days featuring two award seats in Upper Class, bookable with Delta miles with no fuel surcharges.

Virgin Atlantic serves 11 cities in the United States from London and the rest of Europe from there.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 3.31.56 AM

  • How is award space in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?
  • How can you book it with Delta miles?
  • How can you greatly reduce taxes on awards that involve Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?

Continue reading

Five Under-Priced Awards on the American Airlines Chart

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Yesterday’s post on the Coolest Thing You Can Do with 60,000 Miles was a hit, so I thought I’d follow up with how you can create your own THINK BIG itineraries with miles.

The basic premise of that post was connecting far-flung regions into a single trip by taking advantage of under-priced awards between the regions. In that vein, I’ll post some under-priced awards between international regions from the American Airlines chart today and United chart tomorrow.

AA Award Chart, Spot the Value

AA Award Chart, Spot the Value

Why American and United awards? Because they can be booked as one way awards, and these THINK BIG trips allow you to see more by booking a series of one way awards.

I’m including the cheapest one way international awards between non-American regions only because the cheapest international awards from the United States are better known.

Hopefully seeing cheap ways to get between East Asia and Australia or Europe and the Maldives will spur you to THINK BIG and come up with a really creative trip that incorporates both places.

1. First Class: 40,000 Miles Between Europe and India, Maldives, Middle East

or 30,000 miles in Business Class

American groups the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and the Maldives into one region, and then it under-prices many awards to and from the region!

Between Europe and the Middle East, India, or Maldives is only 30,000 American Airlines miles in Business Class and 40,000 miles in First Class.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 10.46.52 AM

Key routes to consider are Dubai to London on a Qantas A380 and Abu Dhabi to London with Etihad. Both feature absolute world class First Class products for the same price as you’d expect to pay for domestic First Class to Hawaii!

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 9.03.21 AM

7hr30min of A380 First Class for 40,000 miles

You can use these under-priced awards to get between Europe and Asia on a round-the-world trip.

  • What are the other top five under-priced awards on the American Airlines chart?

Continue reading

Gold Mine Award Space to All of Argentina

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Edit 9/3/14: Readers are reporting that Air France and Delta cannot ticket all the space shown on airfrance.us. There may be some sort of glitch. I’ll try to get to the bottom of this.

Award space is wide open in economy and business class between the United States and Argentina for the next 11 months, including award space over the peak December to March summer period.

You can book this award space on wide-open Aerolineas Argentinas flights with your Delta or Flying Blue miles. You can fly the awards into cities other than Buenos Aires to explore more of one of my favorite countries.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 1.42.48 AMWhether you’re interested in tango, steak, wine, Patagonia, or Iguazu Falls, you can get there for as little as 50,000 miles + $120 roundtrip.

This award space even extends over Christmas and New Year’s and for 2+ people.

Plus right now Delta miles and Flying Blue miles are even easier than usual to accumulate.

  • What is the award space picture?
  • How is Aerolineas Argentinas Business Class space?
  • What costly mistake do you need to avoid while booking?
  • How can you book the awards?

Continue reading

More Cathay Pacific Flights = More Cathay Pacific Space

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Cathay Pacific is a Hong Kong-based member of oneworld with a mind-blowing First Class and a top-notch business class.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 1.42.22 AM

Cathay Pacific First Class Bed

Cathay Pacific flies from six North American cities to Hong Kong (and from there to the rest of the world), plus Boston to Hong Kong starts in May 2015.

from gcmap.com

from gcmap.com

Cathay Pacific flies 777s between the United States and Hong Kong, which have only six First Class seats. Because of that, you rarely see more than one First Class award seat per flight.

But lately Cathay Pacific has been increasing its capacity to the United States so much that there are occasional flights with award space available for two out of the First Class cabin’s six seats.

  • What are the new routes/services from the United States to Hong Kong?
  • What is the pattern for Cathay Pacific First Class award space?
  • Which flights have two seats?
  • What are the best miles to book Cathay Pacific First Class award space?

Continue reading

How Much Does Award Space Change Day to Day?

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

If award space isn’t available on a flight you want, keep checking. Award space changes all the time. This is a truism, but I have never tracked one route and flight for a few days to show exactly how true the truism is until now.

I’ve tracked First Class availability on the brand new Asiana A380 this month and next for the past few days. There were changes every day.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 12.25.32 AM

Enclosed Suite for First Class on Asiana A380

I started tracking the award space for selfish reasons. I have a United award from Seoul to Los Angeles next month to return to the United States from the Asian vacation I’m taking with my brother.

The award goes the long way and features Asiana and Lufthansa First Class. Since booking the award, I’ve flown Lufthansa First Class and been to the Lufthansa First Class terminal, so I think I’d prefer to change the award to a direct flight to Los Angeles on Asiana’s stunning new product.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 12.25.08 AM

I’ve started checking every day to see if award space opens up on a day that works for my schedule. I am also checking award space patterns right near departure to estimate the likelihood that award space will open up for me right before departure.

  • How much has award space changed daily?
  • What is the pattern near departure?
  • Can I automate my search?

Continue reading

Incredible Asiana First Class on A380 Flying to US

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Asiana has started flying an A380 between Seoul-Incheon and Los Angeles. The daily flight includes fully enclosed suites in First Class and fully flat beds in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 12.25.32 AM

First Class on Asiana A380

Asiana is a member of the Star Alliance, so Asiana flights are bookable with United miles and Avianca LifeMiles without fuel surcharges.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 12.25.22 AM

Business Class on Asiana A380

Award space is wide open in summer 2015 on the route in all cabins. Award space for this summer is less available, but if you are flexible, you can be among the first to fly the Asiana A380 in any cabin you’d like.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 12.23.31 AM

  • How many miles does United charge to fly Asiana First Class and Business Class?
  • How many miles does Avianca LifeMiles charge?
  • How is the award space?
  • How does the product look?

Continue reading

US Airways Now Pricing Awards as Sum of One Ways

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

US Airways is now pricing roundtrip awards as the sum of two one ways. This can save you up to 50,000 miles per roundtrip awards.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 1.30.17 PM

This award will now cost the one way price of Chicago to Hong Kong plus the one way price of Shanghai to Chicago

You still can’t book a one way award with US Airways miles for half the price of a roundtrip, but this is a baby step in the right direction!

Even as the US Airways program and the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with a 40,000 mile sign up bonus on first purchase are set to disappear in early 2015, the program is improving!

  • What does it mean to price an award as the sum of its one ways?
  • How can this change save you 50,000 miles on a single award?

Continue reading

Free First Class 2014: Segment-by-Segment Searching

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

This is the twenty-first post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

This is a post about the main process I use every day to search for awards.

In an ideal world, you collect the right frequent flyer miles for the trip you want, go straight to the website of the airline whose miles you have, search for award space, and your dream trip pops up.

Airlines use frequent flyer miles to give away seats they don’t expect to sell otherwise, though, which means your ideal itinerary might not have award space if it’s at a popular time on a popular route. In fact, no itineraries with award space may show up on your search.

Just because nothing shows up on an airline search engine doesn’t mean no award itinerary is available.

When a simple search produces no result, you need to move on to segment-by-segment searching.

The idea is that just typing where you live and where you want to go into an airline’s award search engine may not reveal Saver award space even when there is a legal, possible award. Searching segment-by-segment, starting with the hardest segment can yield itineraries that the search engine missed.

In this post I’ll give a step-by-step example of how I used segment-by-segment searching to find award space between San Francisco and London when united.com didn’t show any award space.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 11.29.52 PM

  • What are the six simple steps to search segment-by-segment?
  • What popular non-travel website is your secret weapon in segment-by-segment searching?

Continue reading

Amazing Business Class Award Space for Four People to Europe

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Until late last year, getting to Europe in business class was much easier than it has been lately, especially for traveling parties of three or more. In December of last year, Austrian Airlines stopped releasing business class award space until about three months before departure. This made advance business class award redemptions for larger parties much more difficult.

In the past I’ve booked families of four to Europe and even to the Middle East on Austrian Airlines, and it is a very solid and comfortable flat bed business class product. See my full review for my thoughts on the onboard chef concept and the comfort of the bed.

Minced veal patty, potatoes, and veggies in Austrian Business Class

I was very excited several weeks ago to discover that Austrian Airlines was again releasing business class award space as soon as the schedule opens for up to four passengers.

  • Where does Austrian Airlines fly?
  • What kind of business class product do they have?
  • What miles are best suited for travel on Austrian Airlines
  • How good is award availability?

Continue reading

Excellent Finnair Business Class Space to Europe in 2015

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Finnair is offering excellent Business Class award space in a state-of-the-art bed next year from New York and Miami to Helsinki and beyond in Europe.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 1.43.46 AM

Since Finnair is a member of the oneworld alliance, you can book the business class award space for 50,000 American Airlines miles each way or 100,000 US Airways miles each way.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 1.42.03 AM

Finnair space is searchable on aa.com.

  • What is the Finnair Business class product?
  • What is the award space picture for Spring and Summer 2015?
  • How can you book awards with Finnair flights?
  • How can you get the miles to book Finnair flights?

Continue reading

Save Singapore Miles with Hidden City Ticketing

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Singapore Airlines’ award chart has some phenomenal sweet spots, which I’ve covered extensively:

Yesterday I published comparison tables of United’s award chart for United flights versus Singapore’s award chart for United flights.

While compiling those charts, I saw that Singapore has an incredible sweet spot from the United States to the Middle East. Look at these prices (economy/business/first one way):

  • Singapore charges 27.5k/65k/85k to Europe
  • Singapore charges 37.5k/57.5k/75k to the Middle East
  • United charges 30k/57.5k/80k to Europe
  • United charges 42.5k/70k/90k to the Middle East

In case you need to brush up on your geography, the Middle East is quite a bit farther away than Europe, but Singapore charges fewer miles for a Business Class or First Class award to the Middle East than to Europe.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 3.15.11 AM

United flies to four destinations in the Middle East:

  • Washington-Dulles to Dubai to Doha
  • Washington-Dulles to Kuwait to Bahrain

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 3.33.45 AM

We can use the Singapore sweet spot to book United’s Middle East flights cheaply in Business Class or First Class or to save miles on awards between the United States and Europe.

Singapore miles are extremely easy to get since you can transfer all of the major transferable points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles, and Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights.

The major transferable points are:

How do you book Singapore awards?
What are the out-of-pocket costs?
How can you use the cheap award price to the Middle East to save miles to Europe?
How can you add a one way in United First Class to Hawaii onto this award for only 2,500 miles?

Continue reading