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Not sure where your miles can take you? Not sure if you have enough miles to contact the MileValue Award Booking Service?

In order to determine if you have enough miles to take that trip you’re planning, look at the award chart for the loyalty program in which you have miles. Don’t worry what partner you want to fly. Look at the chart that corresponds to the airline with which you have a miles balance.

Here are the award charts for the three major US carriers:

All three of the legacy carriers have region-to-region miles. Their award charts group travel destinations into regions, and set a fixed number of miles needed to travel from one region to another.

That means it doesn’t matter whether you are going Los Angeles to Paris or New York to London–both trips are North America to Europe and cost the same number of miles.

You will have to determine what region your departure and arrival cities are located in by using the chart’s region legend. Then you’ll read the miles price off the chart, which varies based on three factors:

  • Cabin: Is your award in First Class, Business Class, or economy?
  • MileSAAver/Saver/Level 1 or Level 2-5/Standard/AAnytime: Only a small fraction of all seats can be had for the headline price on the chart. These seats are called low or saver award seats by the airline, and are what we strive to book. Other seats are usually available at double the price of these seats and go by names like standard space or AAnytime space.
  • Peak or off peak: American Airlines, Alaska, Etihad, ANA, British Airways, and a few other programs offer discounts for flying certain routes at less popular times of the year.

American Airlines

For the purpose of pricing awards, American Airlines awards are all one way awards. If you’re booking a roundtrip, think of it is as two one ways.

If your award is a single, direct flight, you can just read the price of the flight off one of American Airlines’ two award charts:

American splits the world into 15 regions. Start off by finding out what region your departure and arrival cities are in by scrolling to the bottom of the partner award chart page and clicking on Region Definitions, which triggers a drop-down menu with the countries in that region. Here are the first two regions displayed in the drop-down menu, for example:

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 12.07.36 PM

Differences Between Chart for Flying American and Chart for Flying Partners

The two charts are nearly identical. There are only three differences:

  1. The chart for an award with all American Airlines flights has four potential miles prices for each cabin because there are several levels of AAnytime awards, the expensive awards we never want to book. We only want to book MileSAAver awards, the cheap awards that are more highly capacity-controlled.
Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 11.15.29 AM
Award prices for travel originating in the Contiguous 48 U.S. states flying American Airlines

The chart for partners only has one price for each cabin because all partner awards price at the MileSAAver level.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 11.57.42 AM
Award prices for travel originating in the Contiguous 48 U.S. states flying partner airlines
  1. The chart for an award with all American Airlines flights has economy Off Peak dates to several regions, while the partner chart only has economy Off Peak dates to Europe. To see economy Off Peak dates look at the American Airlines award chart, and click Details on Award Travel at the top. These are the current economy Off Peak dates:

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 12.10.27 PM

  1. The partner award chart covers all regions of the world while the AA-only chart has all awards starting or ending in North America. That makes sense since all American Airlines flights start or end in North America.

If you’ve found a direct flight, go read the price off the appropriate award chart. Otherwise, how does the award price? That’s where American Airlines’ award routing rules come into play. Read about them in Redeem American Airlines Miles: Part 4– Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need.  

Let’s look at a specific example pricing a direct flight. 

If I wanted to fly from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires, Argentina in LAN Business class, I would first determine which region those two cities are in–North America and South America Region 2 in this case. I would then find the region where my award begins on the partner chart (since LAN is a partner), click the drop-down menu for Contiguous 48 U.S. states and then look for how much the MileSAAver Business Class price is to South America Region 2. As you can see, this award would cost me 57,500 miles each way.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 12.48.30 PM

American Airlines also flies this route, so if we looked it up on the American Airlines award chart, you’ll see the price listed there as well. It is the same, 57,500 miles each way.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 12.46.38 PM

United Airlines

United publishes an interactive award chart that lets you visually select your origin and destination.

Below you can see that I selected an award originating in the Mainland US, Alaska & Canada region of the North America zone with a destination in the Southern South America region of the Latin America and Caribbean zone. You can check United’s region definitions by clicking the hyperlink in the corner of the Select An Award box (View list of countries and regions):

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 1.09.36 PM

Once you have made your selections, a box will pop up below the map detailing how many miles your award will cost you. As you can see, United lists both the oneway and roundtrip prices for Saver and Standard–their names for low- and high-miles-price–award space in economy, Business, and First class. United allows you to book a oneway for half the price of a roundtrip.

An economy roundtrip Saver Award from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires prices out to 60,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 1.12.52 PM

United’s interactive chart is my favorite chart to use because it is so easy and straightforward. However, it’s tough to compare prices between zones. Sometimes it’s nice to see how much more or less one trip is compared to another.

If you like to compare this way, United also provides a PDF of its award chart in the more traditional spreadsheet layout. You read it by picking your origin on the left column, your destination on the top row, and then finding where those meet on the chart. The boxes are divided into Saver and Standard prices.

The PDF also includes the Star Alliance award chart, which makes no distinction between Saver and Standard awards because all partner space is low-miles-price space.

Delta

Note that while it’s the last we have of what was published by Delta, this collection of Delta award chart screenshots is over a year old and Delta has suffered various devaluations since then. Some recent devaluations include:

The only way to truly know if you have enough miles for a Delta award is to look it up via an award search on either delta.com, or call a Delta agent and ask for the award price.

These are the partners whose award space you can search on delta.com:

  • Delta
  • Delta Connection
  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolineas Argentina
  • Aeromexico
  • Air France
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • GOL
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

These are the partners it does not show. To price out awards flying these partners, you’ll have to call Delta (1-800-323-2323):

  • Air Europa
  • Czech
  • Kenya
  • Tarom
  • Xiamen Airlines 
  • Air Tahiti Nui 

Bottom Line

To figure out how many miles you need for a trip, you need to know your way around an award chart. Hopefully with this rundown of United, American, and Delta’s charts, you are ready to read any airline’s award chart.

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