Category Archives: Free Oneway

Current State of Free Oneways

This blog became famous because I was the first to articulate how to book free oneways on United and US Airways awards.

A free oneway is a one way trip to or from your home airport that is tacked onto another award for no extra miles. Free oneways cut your flight bill in half for a second trip without adding to the price of the first trip!

American Airlines killed free oneways on its awards last week by nixing all free stopovers because free oneways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport.

What’s the current state of free oneways with major frequent flyer programs?

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Anatomy of an Award: Summer Trip to Paris & Free Oneway Home for Thanksgiving

My absolute favorite awards are the ones I’ve booked for family and friends. Helping them fly for (nearly) free is a great pleasure that can’t be replicated. Recently, my sister came to me asking for advice on the cheapest ways to fly from Boston to Paris this summer. She has zero miles and a tight budget. Staring at $1,500+ flights on Kayak.com, the trip wasn’t looking promising.

Main Award

Boston to Paris roundtrip with a later free oneway from Boston to Atlanta

Luckily, with the help of my AAdvantage miles, I was able to find her nonstop flights from Boston to Paris during the peak of summer travel. In addition, I helped her add a free oneway home for Thanksgiving, saving her additional money and hassle.

How did I find the award space? Was the free oneway easy to add to the itinerary? What’s the method to booking two seemingly tough awards on the same itinerary? Is there a secret way to save 10k miles on this trip?

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20k Miles to Europe All Summer Long with A Free Oneway in 10 Clicks

Here’s the goal:

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The goal is for a New Yorker to get a one way award to Europe in the height of summer for only 20k miles, which is a 10k mile discount plus a free oneway from Los Angeles to New York, a 12,500 mile value.

We want to pay 20,000 American Airlines miles for two flights that “should” cost 42,500 miles.

(This trick doesn’t just work for New Yorkers. It works for people who live in every city that has an American Airlines flight to London. And it doesn’t just work if you want a free oneway from Los Angeles. It works for free oneways from most of North America including Canada, Mexico, and Hawaii.)

Cities with AA Flights to London

Cities with AA Flights to London

So how can we accomplish our goal in 10 clicks?

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Free Oneways Are Still Possible On United Awards

I was nervous that free oneways might be eliminated by United upon its new chart taking effect yesterday. There was a cryptic comment on the new award chart that stopovers on certain awards might require extra miles.

Free oneways rely on a stopover at your home airport to pull them off. If certain free stopovers were eliminated, free oneways could have been eliminated with them. For more info on free oneways, see:

Are free oneways still possible on United awards?

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Why Is Space Disappearing on AA.com? A Common Problem When Attempting to Book Free Oneways

I got an email from a reader that demonstrates a common point of confusion about stopovers on American Airlines awards. Hopefully my answer will illuminate for everyone how American Airlines stopovers work, so that you can enjoy free oneways to Hawaii on your next international American Airlines award!

Hello Scott.  I am trying to book a flight from Paris – Atlanta (stopover) – Honolulu.

When I look at one-way Paris-Atlanta, I see several AA flights with minimal taxes and surcharges.

But when I change the search to multi-city, Paris-ATL-HNL, there are no longer any AA flights available on the Paris-ATL leg – just British Airways flights with almost $400 in taxes.

The AA flights no longer show up as a choice.  Should I call in to AA and would that trigger a fee?

Many thanks for your blog – I read it every day and have learned so much in the past year!

What’s the answer to this reader’s question? How can she get a free oneway to Hawaii?

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Another Deal the Bloggers Killed: The Negative Price Oneway from the Carribean to Europe

Currently, the following United award (Newark to London, returning Paris to Newark) would cost 60k miles in economy.

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Add in a stopover in Newark on the return, and a later one way trip to Jamaica and the price drops 2,500 miles to only 57,500 miles in economy!

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Unfortunately, this deal I first wrote about last year dies in six weeks! I’m a bit sad this deal will be dying even though I’ve never used it, and it’s pretty niche.

Learn more about negative priced one ways and how I killed them!

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20k Miles (or Less) to All of South America All Year

Or: Save 10k Miles by Adding a Free Oneway

Summer airfare–during our summer or theirs–to Southern South America usually tops $1,000 per person in economy.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 12.33.39 AM Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 12.34.40 AMBut you can get to South America this summer for only 20k American Airlines miles one way.

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All the legacy carriers–Delta, United, American, and US Airways–charge 60k miles roundtrip on Saver economy awards to Southern South America, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

American and United let you go one way for half the price while US Airways and Delta charge 60k miles for one ways.

American is even more generous with two off peak windows during which you can fly to Southern South America for only 20k miles each way:

  • March 1 – May 31
  • August 16 – November 30

Off peak awards are great because they represent a way to stretch your miles for even more trips. The problem is that peak time is peak time for a reason. The two off peak windows are almost half the year, but they leave out the best time to travel to Southern South America–December through February for their summer–and the most convenient time for Americans to travel–our summer.

Luckily, there is a way to fly to anywhere in Southern South America from New York, Dallas, or Miami for only 20k miles one way all year round! And you’ll get a free oneway to boot!

If you don’t live near New York, Dallas, or Miami, you can still use a version of the tricks in this post as long as where you live has a direct American Airlines flight to one of those cities.

How can you go to one of my favorite regions in the world during the best time to visit for only 20k miles one way?

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Anatomy of an Award: Business Class Roundtrip to Europe with Two Free Oneways to Hawaii and Canada

Last month I wrote about using American Airlines’ distance-based Explorer Award chart to save miles and add stopovers traveling to Europe. Check out Get a Roundtrip Business Class Award to Europe with Three Stopovers for 90k American Airlines Miles before proceeding. This post compares that Explorer Award option with a “regular” award option.

On a roundtrip from New York to Eastern Europe, I was able to add three stopovers and save 10k AAdvantage miles (90k vs. 100k) on the cost of a roundtrip business award.

Old Award

I didn’t go through with this award because it might not best use of miles. I could book a better award instead which opens up the potential for three vacations on one award. It’s slightly more expensive but adds tremendous value!

What’s better than a 90k Explorer Award to Europe? How did you maximize your AAdvantage miles? Does the new award include great free oneways?

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How to Save 70,000 Miles on US Airways Awards to Southeast Asia

By using the principles of free oneways and an incredible sweet spot on the US Airways award chart, you can save up to 70,000 miles on your next US Airways award booking to Asia.

I’m flying Turkish Airlines Business Class on My Next US Airways Award

US Airways charges ordinarily charges 120k miles roundtrip in business class to India or Thailand and 160k in first. We can cut that to 90k miles roundtrip in business class to South or Southeast Asia and 120k miles in first!

What is this awesome sweet spot on the US Airways chart? How do we take advantage of it? Can I really save up to 70,000 Dividend Miles per person by taking advantage?

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Anatomy of an Award: How to Fly a Peak Time with Off Peak Pricing and Add Two Free Oneways

I recently booked my friends a roundtrip award to Chile and Argentina, so that they can explore Patagonia next January for only 50,000 American Airlines miles each.

Lake District of Patagonia near Bariloche, Argentina

The award should have cost 60k miles each, but I saved them 20k miles by applying the same trick I used in the post 20k Miles to All of Europe All Summer, and I also added two free oneways onto the award, so that they already have half of their next vacation to Hawaii booked.

Here’s a visual representation of the award from gcmap.com that shows the free oneways from Chicago to Dallas and from Dallas to Honolulu in red and the main award in blue.

This Anatomy of an Award illustrates:

  • How to trick aa.com into giving you the off peak price all year round
  • How to add two free oneways to an American Airlines award

How did I book this award for my friends? How can you?

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Unlimited Free Stopovers on British Airways Awards, But No Free Oneways

You get unlimited stopovers on awards booked with British Airways Avios

But you can’t get any free oneways on awards booked with British Airways Avios.

Huh? How can that be?

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First Class Award Space Not Displaying Properly on AA.com

American Airlines has released award space in first class on its three-cabin 777 from Los Angeles to Miami on 18 days in April 2014 including the last 11 days. But you would never know that from searching aa.com for the award space, where no first class award space shows up on the route at all in April 2014.

What’s going on with aa.com, how can you get an accurate reading of American Airlines award space, and are any other routes affected?

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Expanded Free Oneway Choice on American Airlines Awards Booked Online

Two months ago, thexfactor emailed me to tell me that he’d booked something online at aa.com that was against one of the rules I laid out in The Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards.

His discovery greatly increases where you can take a free oneway when booking American Airlines awards online. I’ll break down what my research has uncovered about the new possibilities and give a little background on free oneways on AA flights.

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Comprehensive Plan for A Roundtrip to Europe in Business Class with Two Free Oneways

Or: A Letter to a Friend’s Mom

My friend’s mom wants to go from Los Angeles to London in early April with her American Airlines miles. This post contains all the information she needs to understand her options.

If you view the specifics of her situation as merely an example, this post should be hugely helpful to you in you want to plan an award to Europe with your American Airlines miles. This post hits on free oneways on American Airlines, fuel-surcharge avoidance, tax avoidance, when to book, specific examples of Aggravating Award Travel Fees and How to Avoid Them, and much more.

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A Letter in My Outbox

There are a lot of reasons to use an Award Booking Service, like the MileValue Award Booking Service. One great reason is because you have miles in several accounts and want to use the most efficient type for the trip you have in mind. Different miles have different best uses.

Recently I was contacted by a friend who had mid-six-figure account balances in his American, United, and Delta accounts. He wanted a simple open jaw trip to Europe in economy class. From Washington-Dulles to Nice and returning from London to Dulles.

Below is the email I sent to him. The only edits are that I have inserted images that I attached to the email, and I have added some hyperlinks to other posts that expand on a point I am making in the email.

In the email you’ll see the options I presented, and how I was able to book him a free oneway and an award that got him 2.3 cents of value for each United mile!

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Hey [buddy],

I wanted to let you in on what I’ve found.

First, I don’t know if you have any flexibility, but when possible on open jaw trips I recommend flying into London and out of France. The UK has the highest departure taxes in the world of about $155.

The UK departure taxes is if he went ahead with his trip plans.

This is more of an issue when flying business class where it’s more like $250. But you could save money by reversing the directions of this trip. If that’s possible, let me know.

United miles

I started with United miles as you directed. The return is super easy. There are four direct flights on your preferred date, all with space in economy. These are all the saver price of 30k miles.

Four perfect, direct options on the return.

The outbound is a lot trickier. The best option, and the only one that gets you in on your desired day leaves the day before and has an overnight in London. It’s one of those weird daytime flights to Europe, then a night at an airport hotel and London-Frankfurt-Nice then next day, arriving at 2:05 PM on your desired day. This is the earliest arrival possible. It’s not ideal, but it is the best 30k saver option.

Daytime flight to London connecting to…

 

…after an overnight in London, it’s two more flights to Nice to arrive in the afternoon.

The other option for the outbound is to book a “standard” award for 55,000 miles. The itinerary is a lot better, since it is one stop, a redeye across the Atlantic, and doesn’t require an overnight en route.

Ideal itinerary, but an extra 25k miles.

 

I hate to book “standard” price awards, but this might not be horrible for a few reasons. One, the roundtrip award would only be 85k miles + taxes, which is a steal compared to the $2,200 itinerary you found, and the award itinerary would actually be more convenient than the paid one you mentioned. [The paid itinerary he was considering had a one-stop return.] Second, within a week of departure United and Lufthansa tend to open up a lot of award space if seats are unsold–especially in business and first, but also in economy. When that happens, we can rebook that space.

If we rebook to saver economy, the award would be 60k miles like we want. If there is no saver economy space, but there is saver business, that would be an 80k mile award. It would save 5k miles and get you in business one way as a surprise treat. The one drawback of a last minute rebooking is the $75 fee for making a change within 21 days of departure, but that is swamped by saving 25k miles or saving 5k and upgrading to business class.

There are no guarantees with award space, but I would estimate the chances of a good saver economy itinerary opening up at 50%; a good saver business has an 80% chance of opening up.

American Airlines miles

For good measure, I looked at award space with AA miles next. The big problem is that if you book British Airways flights with AA miles, you incur fuel surcharges of about $300 per transatlantic segment. This is a big enough drawback on business awards, but on economy awards like this one, it’s a near deal killer.

I didn’t find any transatlantic award space that we could use on the no- or low-surcharge AA partners. I did find space on a BA flight, leaving and arriving one day later than you want. It cost 30,000 AA miles and $315.

A nasty surcharge on an AA award on BA flights is deal-killer in economy.

This compares to taxes of about $40 to $60 on the outbounds with United miles.

There were no good return options with AA miles.

Delta miles

Finally I checked space with your Delta miles. This was a bust. I didn’t find any good space on Delta or any of its partners. (I even looked at routing you through Russia on Aeroflot, which surely would have been an adventure!)

Putting it All Together

Both United and American can be used to book oneway awards. The return should pretty clearly be on your preferred flight of the four direct LHR-IAD flights on United.

For the outbound, you can choose the overnight in London, the “standard” award with the great schedule, or the fuel-surcharged and day-late BA itinerary.

If you choose to overnight in London, the total cost will be 60k United miles plus taxes and fees of about $210. The cool this is that you can add a FREE ONEWAY to this trip. By that I mean that sometime between your return from London and April 2, 2014, you can fly a oneway trip on United from Dulles to somewhere else–pretty much anywhere else. If that somewhere is in the continental US or Canada, it will cost $2.50 and zero miles to add to the award. If that somewhere else is in Hawaii, it will cost 2,500 miles and a few dollars. If it’s in Peru, it will cost 10,000 miles. Let me know when and where, and we’ll book the award to include the free or cheap oneway.

If you choose the perfect outbound via Frankfurt, the total cost will be 85k United miles plus taxes and fees of about $220. This trip would be eligible for the same additional free or cheap oneway (although some of the cheap oneways’ mile costs will be slightly different than those quoted in the last paragraph.)

If you choose the day-late outbound on BA, the total cost will be 30k United miles, 30k AA miles, and taxes/fees of about $500. This trip would be eligible for a free oneway but only between now and your departure date from anywhere in Canada, the US, or Mexico to Washington on AA or an AA partner.

Please let me know your thoughts on how you want to proceed. If you select something, I should be able to put it on hold for you to call in and ticket.

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I wanted to give an example of how I think, how I search, and how I communicate about award bookings. As you can see, I left a ton out of this email. For instance, I obviously searched for business class options instead of the “standard” option via Frankfurt, and I searched other dates near his date. But I left those searches out of the email for brevity.

I didn’t write a treatise on free oneways into the email, perhaps confusing someone who had never heard of them before. He did decide to book one to San Francisco once he understood the concept.

Once he made his selection, I held the award online. This did not go smoothly as United had its most common problem on multi-city searches: not showing all the options. I held something online using Bill’s trick, and I called in to edit the reservation to the correct flights.

Although it is not part of the ordinary service, I will be checking for award space to make a last second change to his award.

In general, I think the award booking went well. He was certainly thrilled with the results. I was a bit bummed to be booking an award that was dinged by UK departure taxes and included a “standard” (high-miles-price) component, but a lack of flexibility necessitated those choices.

I think something approaching good value was still achieved with the addition of a cross-country free oneway with a sticker price of $214 and not having to buy a ticket with a sticker price of $2,200.

The Mile Value Calculator says he got 2.3 cents of value per mile!