Longtime reader Eddy emailed me:

Do you know of someplace that has the rules of the various frequent flyer programs? I’m looking at trip to China next Spring and there are so many options, so I’d like to know for each program: (1) allow one ways? (2) permit stop overs? (3) charge for fuel? Any idea if this info is collected in one place anywhere? Thanks.

This seemed like something I absolutely had to put in one place, so this is the place.

This chart represents the rules for using the type of miles listed in the far left column.

Click the image to enlarge.

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I’ve included nine of my favorite programs on the chart. I toyed with how best to present the information of the chart, at one point including footnotes next to almost every entry. I ditched that, and instead will put longer form answers for each airline and explanations of the color-coding below.

Color Coding

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  • The first three airlines in light blue are the United States’ three legacy carriers. Since they have long competed on their programs, I grouped them together.
  • The four in the orange-brown are four foreign Star Alliance programs. (United is the American airline in the Star Alliance.) Since these programs can all book basically all the same partner flights, I grouped them together. By the way, here is a post comparing the eight Star Alliance award charts to see which has the cheapest awards.
  • The red on the chart indicates a bad answer.
  • The green indicates a good answer.
  • The yellow indicates a mixed answer.

Longer Explanations

American Airlines AAdvantage

  • American Airlines miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Since April 2014, American Airlines awards do not allow any stopovers other than the destination. A stopover is a layover greater than 24 hours on international awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Any program that doesn’t allow stopovers, doesn’t allow free one ways.
  • American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia flights.
  • I don’t know of any maximum segment rule on American Airlines awards. American Airlines does have some complicated routing rules though.

Delta SkyMiles

  • Delta SkyMiles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Since January 2015, Delta awards do not allow any stopovers other than the destination. A stopover is a layover greater than 24 hours on international awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Delta collects fuel surcharges on all these partners and on all awards that originate in Europe.
  • I don’t know of any maximum segment rule on Delta awards. Delta’s routing rule tends to be that award tickets need to comply with the same routing rules as paid tickets.

United MileagePlus

  • United MileagePlus miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • United awards allow one stopover on roundtrip awards that are not wholly within one region on the United award chart and zero stopovers on one way awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • United awards that allow a stopover allow a free one way.
  • United awards never include fuel surcharges.
  • United awards are capped at four segments per one way award and eight per roundtrip.

British Airways Avios

The British Airways Avios program is COMPLETELY different than all the other programs in this post. All the others are region-to-region miles.

In the other programs, you pay a certain number of miles based on what region you start in, what region you end in, and what cabin of the plane you fly.

Avios are distance-based miles. In the British Airways Avios program, you don’t pay a single price for an award, you pay a single price for each flight on the award. The price of each flight is based only on its distance and the cabin you fly. Add up the price of each flight to get the price of your award.

  • You pay for each flight, so of course one way is half the price of a roundtrip.
  • You pay for each flight, so it doesn’t matter whether you stop for 1 hour or 1,000 hours in each city you fly through. In that sense, you get unlimited free stopovers on British Airways awards.
  • You pay for each flight, so you have unlimited open jaws on Avios awards.
  • You pay for each flight, so you can’t have a free one way.
  • British Airways collects fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight. Here are the surcharges by partner.
  • British Airways awards can have unlimited segments. You pay for each one.

Singapore KrisFlyer

  • Singapore miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Singapore allows zero stopovers on one way awards. Singapore allows one free stopover on roundtrip awards. You can get up to three more stopovers on roundtrip awards for $100 each.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways. However if you book your roundtrip as a roundtrip, you get only one open jaw.
  • Singapore allows up to two free one ways per roundtrip award.
  • Singapore collects fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight except that Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights.
  • Singapore roundtrip awards are capped at six segments.

Air Canada Aeroplan

  • For awards departing the continental United States and Canada, Aeroplan miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards. That is not the case for awards departing other regions.
  • Aeroplan allows two free stopovers or one stopover plus one open jaw on roundtrip awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Aeroplan allows free one ways.
  • Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on many partners. Aeroplan doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights.
  • Aeroplan roundtrip awards are capped at 10 segments.

Lufthansa Miles & More

  • Lufthansa miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Stopovers:
    • Lufthansa does not allow stopovers on one way awards.
    • Lufthansa does not allow stopovers in your region of departure.
    • Lufthansa allows one stopover per direction of travel on roundtrip awards, two total per roundtrip.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Because you can’t stopover at your home airport, no free one ways are possible.
  • Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight. United, Copa, and Avianca flights within the Americas have no fuel surcharges.
  • Segments:
    • Roundtrip Lufthansa awards within one region are capped at four segments.
    • Roundtrip Lufthansa awards from one region to a second are capped at six segments.
    • Roundtrip Lufthansa awards that touch three regions are capped at eight segments.

Avianca LifeMiles

  • Avianca LifeMiles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Stopovers are not allowed on LifeMiles awards, and a layovers becomes an illegal stopover at 8 hours, not the standard 24.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Because you can’t stopover at your home airport, no free one ways are possible.
  • LifeMiles awards do not have fuel surcharges.
  • I do not believe there is a segment maximum for LifeMiles awards. There is a crazy rule that all flights must be in the same cabin. That is, you can’t mix economy and business or business and first even when your cabin of choice isn’t available on a flight you need.

Alaska Mileage Plan

  • Alaska miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • A stopover is allowed on one way Alaska awards. Two stopovers are allowed on roundtrip awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • A free one way is allowed on one way Alaska awards. Two free one ways are allowed on roundtrip awards.
  • Alaska awards only include fuel surcharges on British Airways flights.
  • I do not believe there is a segment maximum for Alaska awards.
  • You cannot combine partners on an Alaska award. You must fly one partner only (plus Alaska Airlines flights if you’d like) in each direction.

Did I make any mistakes? Correct them in the comments.

 

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