Category Archives: Award Booking

Five Under-Priced Awards on the American Airlines Chart

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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.

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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!

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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?

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Gold Mine Award Space to All of Argentina

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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?

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More Cathay Pacific Flights = More Cathay Pacific Space

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

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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?

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How Much Does Award Space Change Day to Day?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Incredible Asiana First Class on A380 Flying to US

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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?

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US Airways Now Pricing Awards as Sum of One Ways

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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.

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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?

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Free First Class 2014: Segment-by-Segment Searching

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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.

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  • 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?

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Amazing Business Class Award Space for Four People to Europe

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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?

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Excellent Finnair Business Class Space to Europe in 2015

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Save Singapore Miles with Hidden City Ticketing

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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.

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United flies to four destinations in the Middle East:

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

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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?

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US Airways Losing Two Key Partners This Week (BOOK NOW)

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Three months ago I wrote that US Airways would be losing five of its Star Alliance partners over the course of 2014. The final two of those five bite the dust this Thursday!

July 31, 2014 is the last day to use US Airways miles to book Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines flights.

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Turkish has seven routes from the United States to Istanbul

Note that the flights need only be booked by July 31. You can book US Airways awards up to about 335 days in advance. That means you can fly US Airways awards containing Turkish or Singapore flights until about July 1, 2015.

Many of us are loaded up with US Airways miles because The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is currently offering 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase. Check out all the places you can go with just the card’s sign up bonus.

Now is a great time to use US Airways miles on Turkish’s six routes from the United States to Europe or Singapore’s flights to and within Asia.

  • What are the current restrictions on booking Turkish and Singapore flights with US Airways miles?
  • What if you want to change your US Airways award that has Turkish or Singapore flights later?
  • How is Turkish and Singapore award space?

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Roundtrip to South America, Two Free One Ways to Hawaii for 50,000 Miles

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Recently, I posted about how we can get amazing value from the fact that the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program considers Hawaii to be part of the same region as Central AmericaWe can also use this sweet spot for great value on travel to South America too!

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On the Singapore Airline’s award chart, it costs fewer miles to fly between Hawaii and South America, routing through the continental United States, than it does to fly directly between the continental United States and South America.

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Adding Honolulu to Houston lowers the price of Houston to Buenos Aires

On the Singapore award chart:

  • Continental Unites States to South America: 60,000 miles roundtrip in economy
  • Continental Unites States to South America: 100,000 miles roundtrip in business
  • Hawaii to South America: 50,000 miles roundtrip in economy
  • Hawaii to South America: 80,000 miles roundtrip in business

This is great news for people that live in Hawaii or South America, but it is just as good for people who live in the continental United States!

People who live in the continental United States can use this sweet spot to get a complete vacation to South America and two half trips to Hawaii, all on one award redemption, for fewer miles than simply booking a roundtrip award between the continental United States!

Singapore miles are some of the easiest to get, since Singapore is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, and Starwood Preferred Guest.

  • What are the relevant rules and tricks for this award?
  • What variations on this award could we book?
  • How can you book this award?
  • What about using United miles?
  • How can you get Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles?

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Air India Joins Star Alliance

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Air India has joined the Star Alliance. Its direct flights between the United States and India are now bookable with United miles, Aeroplan miles, Lufthansa miles, Singapore miles, ANA miles, and any other type of Star Alliance miles.

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Award space is searchable at aeroplan.com and widely available.

Air India flights from the United States to Europe have fuel surcharges on cash tickets, but awards with United miles never have fuel surcharges, and Aeroplan is currently not collecting fuel surcharges on Air India award flights.

  • Where does Air India fly in the United States?
  • What cabins does it operate?
  • What is the price of an Air India award with United and other Star Alliance miles?
  • How can you search for and book an Air India award?
  • What amazing deal related to Air India award space probably won’t last?

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LifeMiles Corrects Mistake on Chart (Another Deal Bloggers Killed)

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Avianca LifeMiles has re-classified Guam as part of the Philippines. This ends the ability to book an award from the continental United States to Japan, Hawaii, or Guam for 12,500 LifeMiles in economy or 25,000 miles in business class that lasted as long as Guam was mis-classified as part of the continental United States.

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Now an award from the United States to Guam costs 32,500 miles each way in economy and 65,000 miles in business. (Hilariously Guam is still mis-categorized; this time as part of the Philippines.)

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 3.18.31 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 3.18.37 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 3.19.02 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 3.19.56 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 3.21.14 PM I am partially responsible for this deal ending because I wrote about the deal openly in “$200 Flight to Japan with Hidden City Ticketing on LifeMiles Awards.” That post caused a backlash from the “hoard secrets” camp who predicted the award’s immediate demise after my post.

I countered that I doubted Avianca noticed or cared enough to swiftly fix a mistake that had persisted for months. I bet another blogger dinner that Guam would still be mis-categorized as part of the continental United States for at least a month after I wrote the post in December 2013. The mistake lasted another seven months.

Avianca has several mistakes in its categorization of airports and allowed routings. It’s a big deal because you can often buy Avianca LifeMiles for 1.5 cents each or for zero cash by redeeming Arrival miles for LifeMiles.

  • What does the end of this deal mean for sharing LifeMiles mistakes?
  • What other mistakes on the Avianca chart were not corrected?

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Amazing Flat Bed Award Space to Australia During Peak Season

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Award space is wide open in Virgin Australia Business Class between the United States and Australia during February and March 2015 for 160,000 Delta miles roundtrip.

Premium cabin award space between the United States and Australia on direct flights on United and Qantas is scarce, so this Virgin Australia award space is all the more valuable.

Since 2012, Delta has not collected fuel surcharges on Virgin Australia flights. Roundtrip Delta awards between the United States and Australia cost 100,000 miles in economy and 160,000 miles in Business Class. Virgin Australia Business Class features flat beds that get rave reviews.

  • Where does Virgin Australia fly?
  • How good is the award space?
  • How can you collect Delta miles quickly?

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