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This is the sixth 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.

Where We Are and Where We’re Going

We’re in the section on redeeming miles. Once you understand how to redeem miles, you’ll understand which miles to earn. This post will focus on the three major alliances, which among them have most of the world’s most important airlines. Every airline in these alliances has a distance-based or region-based award program as far as I know.

The Three Alliances

You can always book awards using one airline’s miles on its own flights or on that airline’s alliance partners.

Below is a list of each alliances’ members and those members’ hubs and codes. Knowing these lists or at least where to find them will make you a much savvier flyer.

Carriers are in alphabetical order except American carriers are listed first. Each entry includes the airlines name and its hubs.

Star Alliance

United Airlines (Newark, Houston-Intercontinental, Washington-Dulles, Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Cleveland, Tokyo-Narita, Guam)

Adria Airways (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Aegean Airlines (Athens, Greece)
Air Canada (Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver)
Air China (Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai)
Air India (Delhi, Mumbai)
Air New Zealand (Auckland)
ANA (Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka, Osaka-Kansai)
Asiana Airlines (Seoul-Incheon, Seoul-Gimpo)
Austrian Airlines (Vienna)
Avianca (Bogota, Colombia; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Quito, Ecuador; San Salvador, El Salvador; San Jose, Costa Rica; Lima, Peru)
Brussels Airlines (Brussels, Belgium)
Copa (Panama City)
Croatia Airlines (Zagreb)
EgyptAir (Cairo)
Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa)
EVA Air (Taipei, Taiwan)
LOT Polish Airlines (Warsaw)
Lufthansa (Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin)
Scandinavian Airlines (Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm)
Shenzhen Airlines (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Nanjing)
Singapore Airlines (Singapore)
South African Airways (Johannesburg)
Swiss International Air Lines (Zurich)
TAP Portugal (Lisbon)
Thai Airways International (Bangkok)
Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Ataturk)


Delta Airlines (Atlanta, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Detroit, Amsterdam, Tokyo-Narita, Paris-Charles de Gaulle)

Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo)
Aerolineas Argentinas (Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Buenos Aires-Aeroparque)
Aeroméxico (Mexico City)
Air Europa (Madrid)
Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Lyon, Toulouse-Blagnac, Marseille, Nice)
Alitalia (Rome-Fiumicino)
China Airlines (Taipei, Kaohsiung)
China Eastern Airlines (Kunming, Shanghai-Pudong, Shanghai-Hongqiao, Xi’an)
China Southern Airlines (Beijing-Capital, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Urumqi)
Czech Airlines (Prague)
Garuda Indonesia (Jakarta, Bali)
Kenya Airways (Nairobi)
KLM (Amsterdam)
Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon, Seoul-Gimpo)
Middle East Airlines (Beirut, Lebanon)
Saudia (Dammam, Jeddah, Medinah, Ryiadh)
TAROM (Bucharest, Romania)
Vietnam Airlines (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City)
Xiamen Airlines (Xiamen, Fuzhou, Hangzhou)


American Airlines/US Airways (Dallas-Fort Worth, New York-JFK, Los Angeles, Chicago-O’Hare, Miami, Charlotte, Phoenix, Philadelphia)

airberlin (Berlin, Dusseldorf)
British Airways (London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick)
Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)
Finnair (Helsinki)
Iberia (Madrid, Barcelona)
Japan Airlines (Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Osaka, Osaka-Kansai)
LAN (Santiago, Chile; Lima, Peru)
Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur)
Qantas (Sydney, Melbourne)
Qatar Airways (Doha)
Royal Jordanian (Amman)
S7 Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo, Novosibirsk)
SriLankan Airlines (Colombo)
TAM Airlines (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia)

Not Alliance Members

Tons of airlines are not part of any alliances. They usually make one-off codesharing deals or several partners across many alliances. Major unaffiliated airlines include virtually all budget airlines and several premium airlines:

Alaska Airlines
Virgin America
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Australia
every other airline not mentioned in this article

Where to Search Award Space

Few sites show award space for all members of an alliance, so it is often necessary to search several award search engines to completely search an alliance for award space.

Normally an airline will release award space to all of its partners equally, so if you see Brussels Airlines space on, for instance, that space is equally bookable with miles from any Star Alliance carrier (by calling the loyalty program of the carrier whose miles you want to use.) Click the links below for tutorials on how to search each site and which carriers can be searched there.

Star Alliance

  • (quickest to search, many partners displayed)
  • (more partners than, better at finding complicated itineraries)
  • (most accurate to confirm award space on a single segment)


  • (shows more and more partners)
  • (shows many more partners than, but not all)
  • Expert Flyer (shows some SkyTeam members’ award space that aren’t searchable elsewhere)


Next, I’ll start going through programs one at a time and explaining how they work.

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