Anatomy of an Award: How to Book an Award on Southwest

Update 10/13/14: Southwest awards now cost 70 points per dollar of the cash fare instead of 60. Taxes are now $5.60 per direction within the United States instead of $2.50 per flight. Everything else is the same.

The other day I helped a friend book a roundtrip Southwest award from Los Angeles to Denver for 11,761 Rapid Rewards and $5, taking advantage of a 1,000 Ultimate Rewards transfer to make up a shortfall of points in her account. For some people, this post will be very basic.

How to Avoid the Phone Fee on Award Bookings

The legacy carriers--United, US Airways, Delta, American--all charge a fee if you ticket your award by phone instead of online. Here's your guide to avoiding those phone fees:

United

United charges $25 per passenger if you book by phone. They will not waive this phone fee just because a booking could not be completed online. That's frustrating because many multi-city and free-oneway awards can't be booked online. They generate error messages despite being within the routing rules.

Here's how you avoid the phone fee with United:

First, search for and reserve any United flight.

$35 Hotel Rooms for October 16 – December 10

Whenever Priority Club announces its new list of PointBreaks hotels, the miles’ world pays attention. The hotels on the list that may ordinarily cost hundreds of dollars a night go for 5,000 Priority Club points for a limited time. The new list is valid for stays from October 16 - December 10.

As loyal readers know, I’m not big on hotel rewards programs; I usually get a better deal pricelining as I explained here.

How to Get to Australia and New Zealand with American Airlines Miles Part 2

This is Part 2 of my two-part post on using AA miles to get to Australia and New Zealand. Read Part 1 first.

Here are a few more ways to get to Australia and New Zealand with American miles.

Air Tahiti Nui and Air Pacific: Connect in the Middle of Nowhere

One horribly annoying rule when redeeming AA miles is that your award cannot transit a region other than the origin region and destination region unless explicitly permitted.

How to Get to Australia and New Zealand with American Airlines Miles Part 1

Australia and New Zealand are a tough place to get to with miles, especially if you want to go from mid-December through March, which encompasses Christmas, New Year's, and the Southern Hemisphere's summer.

Having booked several trips to Australia and New Zealand for myself, family, and others through my Award Booking Service, I'll share some tips on getting there with American Airlines miles.

Basics

American Airlines allows oneway bookings at half the price of roundtrip awards.

Forum Buzz: Buy US Airways Miles for 1.1 Cents through 100% Share Miles Bonus

US Airways and American Airlines have merged since the publication of this post so it is no longer valid.

From 10/1/12 to 10/31/12, US Airways is offering a bonus of 100% on shared miles. This is a non-targeted offer that only requires membership in US Airways’ Dividend Miles program for at least 12 days and a minimum of 1,000 miles in your account to begin.

What do I need to take advantage of this offer?

You need at least two Dividend Miles accounts that have been open for a minimum of 12 days.

Free Domestic Circle Trips on United Awards

Last month, I got an interesting email from reader Ed that started:

Scott,

Please consider if this is viable, albeit challenging to book:

[UA]  DCA-BOS-YYZ-ORD-CLE-EWR // EWR-ZRH-IST, IST-IAD

The answer is yes it is possible, and what it means is that you can add a free circle trip onto roundtrip international United awards.

Hopefully readers of this blog are well acquainted with Free Oneways on United Awards, the most-read post I've written.

The central idea of free oneways is to take your free stopover at your home airport, then start a second trip from there on the same award.

Forum Buzz: 15% off Delta and other SkyTeam Flights

This is the first post in a new series called Forum Buzz. Scanning the forums daily could easily consume an hour or two. I hope to distill the best deal(s) of the day that have the forums buzzing into a five-minute post.

The Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards

There are five cardinal rules of American Airlines award tickets that I wanted to put together in one place for reference. All AA awards must comply with these rules and several other minor ones.

You should consult this post when planning an AA award, especially if you are trying to add a stopover or free oneway.

1. Stopovers are not allowed on American Airlines awards.

All connections on purely domestic itineraries must be less than four hours. All connections on international awards must be less than 24 hours.

2.

Free First Class Next Month: Using Delta.com for Award Searches

Hey there, you're reading an outdated post! The updated series from April 2015 can be found here.

This is the twenty-sixth post in a monthlong series. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete.