Tag Archives: Award Booking

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

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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.

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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?

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New Virgin Atlantic Routes, Best Use SkyMiles?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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?

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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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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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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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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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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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Four Ways People Make the Biggest Mistake in the Miles Game

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The biggest mistake in the miles game is collecting the wrong miles for the job.

That’s why I always advocate that people start at their end goal and work backwards. Figure out your dream trip and then figure out the best miles and points to collect for that trip. If you can’t narrow down your plans yet, at least collect flexible points that can cover the most possible trips.

And yet people make the mistake of collecting the wrong miles over and over and in a lot of ways.

  • What are four ways that people collect the wrong miles?
  • Are you collecting the wrong 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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Award Booking Secret: Return on United via Brussels

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United releases a ton of award space in all cabins–economy, BusinessFirst, and Global First–from Brussels to Washington-Dulles, Newark, and Chicago. These are three little-known routes that allow easy returns from Europe to the United States, even at peak times like May and June 2015, at the lower prices for United awards on United flights.

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United partner, Brussels Airlines, has service to Brussels from the rest of Europe, and awards that feature United’s flights are very reasonably priced from Europe to the United States:

Click the cabins for trip reports.

  • economy: 30,000 United miles
  • fully flat BusinessFirst: 57,500 United miles (vs. 70,000 for partner business class)
  • fully flat Global First: 80,000 United miles (vs. 110,000 for partner first class)

Other routes have more award space to Europe, but returning from Europe, United’s Brussels routes are tough to beat.

Now is a great time to book awards to Europe for May and June 2015 for 2+ passengers with United miles!

  • How good is the award space out of Brussels?
  • What if you don’t want to go to Brussels?
  • What routes have more award space to Europe?
  • Africa, anyone?

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Amazing Summer 2014 Award Space to Hawaii

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American Airlines releases a ton of award space on its routes to Hawaii at the last minute.

On almost all of American Airlines’ routes from Los Angeles to the four major Hawaiian islands and Dallas/Fort Worth to Oahu and Maui, there is award space for 4+ people in the next few weeks.

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If you live in Southern California or North Texas, this is a great chance to use as few as 12,500 Avios per person per direction to get to Hawaii during high season when the weather is a perfect 85 degrees and sunny.

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If you live somewhere else, this is a great chance to use 17,000+ Avios or 22,500 American Airlines per person per direction to take advantage of the last-second award space.

If you’d rather fly a different time of year when American Airlines has released no MileSAAver award space, this is a great reminder to look again within a few weeks of departure because American Airlines has been routinely releasing award space a few weeks out on its routes to Hawaii.

  • What is the award space for four people from the continental United States to Hawaii on American Airlines flights?
  • How can you book that space for 12,500 Avios each way?
  • Why might you want to book the space with Avios even if it costs fewer American Airlines miles?

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Lufthansa Partner Routes and Airlines with No Fuel Surcharges

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Update July 1, 2014:

The current offer on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is 20,000 miles after first purchase and payment of $79 annual fee.

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Annual Companion Ticket after first purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

———————————————————

The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is offering 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles for only three more days. The offer expires Monday June 30, 2014.

All airline awards require the payment of government taxes, but some Lufthansa awards also incur fuel surcharges. The key to getting huge value from your 55,000 Lufthansa miles is to redeem the miles for awards without fuel surcharges.

You can redeem Lufthansa miles with under $5 in fuel surcharges to the following regions:

  • Within North America
  • to Hawaii and Alaska
  • to Europe
  • to Central America
  • to South America
  • to the Caribbean
  • to Africa
  • to Asia

Lufthansa miles can be used for flights on all 26 Star Alliance airlines including United. Lufthansa has a competitive award chart with many destinations costing fewer Lufthansa miles than United miles to reach. See “Comparison of United and Lufthansa Award Charts.”

I checked the fuel surcharges on Lufthansa’s partners to find partners and routes with no fuel surcharges or fuel surcharges under $5 per direction.

  • What routes and partners can you use to pay zero fuel surcharges on Lufthansa awards?
  • How can you figure out the fuel surcharges on a route without calling Lufthansa?
  • How can you search for award space for Lufthansa awards.
  • How can you book Lufthansa awards?

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Award Flights to Europe Next Week and All Summer

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Award space is still available on several Star Alliance flights to Europe this summer!

Tons of space is bookable with United miles, Lufthansa miles, or miles from any other Star Alliance carrier.

A lot of people are contacting the MileValue Award Booking Service saying they’d love to head to Europe this summer but are resigned to waiting until next summer if there’s no space. Good news! On some routes, there is plenty of space for 2-8 people in economy, business, and first class.

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  • What routes still have premium cabin award space to Europe this summer?
  • What route has award space for eight people to Europe this summer?
  • Is there award space on direct flights from the West Coast to Europe?
  • What’s available this week?

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