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How Do I Know if a Flight Redemption is Good Value?

How Do I Know If a Flight Redemption is Good Value

When you collect points and miles you do it for the value, not for the mere pleasure of accumulating millions of them–although there is certainly some excitement when you see them piling up. I still remember how thrilled I was to accrue my first 30,000 miles. But I was even more excited to make my first redemption for a round-trip flight to South East Asia with the return flying Thai and Lufthansa first class. This was a ticket worth a few thousand dollars in value. The economy round trip-ticket would have easily run $1,200.

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Using Etihad Miles and Their Sweet Spots

Etihad booking flights

Etihad Airways is a Abu-Dhabi-based airline that offers worldwide coverage, luxurious premium cabin seats, and a lucrative rewards program. Etihad Guest, the loyalty program for the airline, is a very valuable program, but one that many people in the US are not familiar with. While Etihad is not part of any formal airline alliance, the airline has many partners, including ANA, American Airlines, Air Berlin, Jet Airways and more.

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Which Miles or Points Should You Use When Making an Award Booking?

Travel hackers have more choices than ever when it comes to which points or miles currency to use when making an award booking. In many cases, the most obvious choice isn’t always the most economical.

For example, if you wanted to book a flight within the U.S., you first choice may be to use the miles of a domestic airline. However, it may be possible to pay a lower number of miles by booking that same flight via the award chart of an international partner. In all cases, you will want to compare the value of mileage redemption to the redemption rates available for fixed value currencies.

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Best and Worst American Express Membership Rewards Redemptions on Cathay Pacific and Etihad

American Express has almost 20 airline partners, and you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to any of them. Two of the best Amex airline partners you might consider are Cathay Pacific and Etihad, but like other airline frequent flyer programs there are some sweet spots and some that may not be worth the transfer.

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Best and Worst Use of American Express Membership Rewards When Transferring Points to Airlines

membership rewards

We explained the best and worst redemptions for American Express Membership Rewards through the Amex Travel Portal. Now we look at the value of those points when transferred to frequent flyer programs.

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The Best Use of Allegiant Air Points

Allegiant Air’s reward program, myAllegiant, is a bit unusual. You can’t earn points by flying and the airline doesn’t offer elite status. In fact, the carrier’s gone out of its way to say that its program is for “infrequent flyers.”

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Best and Worst Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemptions: British Airways

British Airways Executive Club is a great program that can really stretch the value of your Ultimate Rewards points. Since BA is an airline partner of UR you can transfer points to Execuive Club, the airline’s frequent flyer program. While British Airways is not a U.S. airline, you can use Avios to fly on its partner airlines, which include American or Alaska.

Also, unlike most U.S. based airline programs, British Airways Executive Club is a distance-based program, and it works best on relatively short, non-stop flights. Redemption levels start at 7,500 Avios per one-way flight (15,000 roundtip) in the U.S. and 4,000 Avios (8,000 roundtip) elsewhere.

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Ultimate Rewards to British Airways: Best Redemptions

Short flights in the U.S.

Nonstop flights for distances up to 1,150 miles in the U.S. are priced at 7,500 Avios one way, which is a much better rate than reduced United flights priced at 10,000 miles for distanced up to 700 miles. The next level is 10,000 Avios for distances between 1,151 and 2,000 miles.

1) For travel originated or terminated in the U.S., consider transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC if:

  • You hold a Sapphire Preferred card and your desired roundtrip ticket costs $187.50 or more on the Ultimate Rewards site or
  • You hold a Sapphire Reserve card and your roundtrip ticket costs $225 or more on the Ultimate Rewards site.

transfer-from-sapphire-cards

2) For travel not originating or terminating in the U.S., consider transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC if:

  • You hold a Sapphire Preferred card and your desired roundtrip ticket costs $112.50 or more on the Ultimate Rewards site or
  • You hold a Sapphire Reserve card and your roundtrip ticket costs $135 or more on the Ultimate Rewards site

For better understanding of this valuation, read the Best and Worst Examples of Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points – The Portal.

A few examples of flights under 1,150 miles are: NYC – Miami, Toronto/Montreal, Washington, Chicago or Bermuda or Los Angeles to Seattle on the West Coast. You can find the distance between cities with this free tool.

West Coast to Hawaii on Alaska or American

Flights between the continental U.S. and Hawaii cost 22,500 one way, but the West Coast lies well within a 3,000-mile distance from Honolulu, so if you transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC, you can fly between the West Coast and Honolulu on American or Alaska for 12,500 Avios or 25,000 per roundtrip.

avios-hnl-west-coast

Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus

One of the most amazing Ultimate Rewards values is redeeming Avios between Boston and Dublin on a British partner Aer Lingus for 25,000 per roundtrip. Even a business class ticket (redeeming Avios for business class tickets are not usually recommended) for 75,000 Avios per roundtrip is a good deal compared to United’s 100,000 miles price tag.

Northeast to Western Europe on Airberlin or Iberia

Transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC and fly from New York to Berlin/Dusseldorf for 40,000 Avios on Air Berlin (per roundtrip), or to Madrid for 34,000 Avios on Iberia. United charges 60,000 miles for flights between the U.S. and Europe.

London to Europe on BA

We generally discourage people from using Avios to fly British Airways over the ocean due to high fuel surcharges, but short- and medium-haul flights between London and Continental Europe can be a real bargain. The fees on intra-Europe BA flights are capped at £35 (which is slightly above $45 with current exchange rates), so you can connect anywhere in Europe for cheap. You can fly to Marseilles or Copenhagen for 9,000 Avios per roundtrip, Rome, Ibiza and Budapest for 15,000 Avios, or Moscow, Athens and Istanbul for 20,000.

redeem-for-cheap-tickets-to-europe

Save even more by flying BA off-peak

British Airways has discounts if you don’t mind flying off-peak with them. Your savings for short-to-medium-haul one-way flights are as follows:

  • 4,000 Avios vs. 4,500 for Zone 1
  • 6,500 Avios vs. 7,500 for Zone 2
  • 8,500 Avios vs. 10,000 for Zone 3
  • 10,000 Avios vs. 12,500 for Zone 4

Intra-South America on LAN/TAM

Intra-South American flights can be prohibitively expensive; a one-hour flight between Lima and Cuzco (a gateway to Machu Picchu) can cost hundreds of dollars. However, the same flight can be yours for 4,500 Avios one way. Same 4,500 Avios can get you between other popular cities, for example, Sao Paulo and Iguassu Falls or Rio and Florianopolis. Or you can fly from Buenos Aires to Santiago de Chile for 7,500 one way.

Intra-Australia flights on Qantas

Qantas holds a virtual monopoly on intra-Australia flights, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a 1.5- hour flight between Sydney and Melbourne can cost $300-400 sometimes. Instead, transfer you Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC and book the same flight for 4,500 Avios and a few dollars of taxes.

Sydney – Auckland on LAN

This is a rare instance when we can recommend paying slightly more for a business class flight. This route is served by South American LAN on the way to/from Santiago and features Premium Business class with lie-flat seats. This 3.5 hour flight will cost you 20,000 Avios in business or 10,000 Avios in economy (one way).

lan-syd-akl
Buy business class tickets to Auckland for 20,000 Avios

Intra-Asia on Cathay Pacific and intra-Japan on JAL

You can fly from Hong Kong to Hanoi or Taipei for 4,500 Avios and to Chiang Mai or Siem Reap for 7,500 Avios one way. You can also use other oneworld partners Malaysia and SriLankan, but both add some fuel surcharges to their award tickets. Or you can redeem 4,500 Avios for any intra-Japan one-way flight on JAL from Tokyo – be it to Fukuoka in the South or Sapporo in the North.

Ultimate Rewards to British Airways: Worst Redemptions

This list is amazingly short.

Avoid connecting flights

The way Executive Club is designed is that any extra segment adds costs. So if there isn’t a non-stop flight or if you can’t find a nonstop availability, the system will usually (although not always) charge you for two segments instead of one.
Avoid connecting flights
For example, the flying distance between New York and Tampa, is just a hair above 1,000 miles which means it would cost 7,500 Avios per one-way flight if there was a non-stop flight between these two cities on American. Unfortunately, there isn’t, so when the computer routes your flight via Miami or Washington, DC, it adds an extra segment, meaning that you end up paying 15,000 Avios instead of 7,500. That makes transferring to United or booking your trip with Ultimate Rewards points a better option.

Once again, this is not always the case, so try to price your itinerary on the British Airways website first.

Avoid redeeming Avios for premium class travel

With some exceptions, using Avios to book first, or even business class is rarely a good deal. The BAEC scheme operates with a premise of a four-class configuration.

  • Economy
  • Premium Economy
  • Business
  • First

So if an economy seat costs 4,500 Avios, then a premium economy seat is 6,750, which is 50 percent more; a business class seat is 9,000, which is twice as much as a seat in economy; and a first class seat is 18,000 Avios, which is twice as much as a seat in business.

While redeeming Avios for a business class seat may be a decent value  (like our Boston-Dublin and Auckland-Sydney examples), in general, the best value of the BAEC program is in short trip redemptions. There just isn’t much value in spending a lot of points for a two to three-hour flight. If you’re interested in business or first, save your Ultimate Rewards points for another day and transfer them into a program providing a much better value for long-haul premium class travel.

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Best Use of Citi ThankYou Points for Flights to Asia

Best Use of Citi ThankYou Points for Flights to Asia

Tickets to Asia are usually north of $1,000 and sometimes close to $2,000. You can use Citi ThankYou points to fly there free by booking your flight with the Citi Travel Center or by transferring the points to one of the Citi’s airline partners. Booking through the travel portal is rarely a good deal though, due to the high cost of the ticket. Transferring points to a frequent flyer program is generally a more prudent choice. We give you the lowdown on which programs are the best transfer options.

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10 Ways to Redeem Miles with Air Canada Aeroplan for Maximum Value

10 Ways to Redeem Miles with Air Canada Aeroplan for Maximum Value

Air Canada no longer operates Aeroplan, its own loyalty program, but it still offers plenty of great redemption options. There were significant changes to how miles are valued in recent years following the spinoff, yet you can find great value if you know where to look and what to book. For instance, Aeroplan still allows stopovers and open jaws, which are a great way to increase award ticket value. And it has a round-the-world in business class fare for just 300,000 miles. Read on for more details.

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8 Ways to Redeem Miles with ANA Mileage Club for Maximum Value

8 Ways to Redeem Miles with ANA Mileage Club for Maximum Value

ANA Mileage Club used to be one of the best ways to book awards on Star Alliance partners such as United Airlines, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines. That changed after they completely updated the program. Now there are actually four different award charts depending on when, where, and who you fly.

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8 Ways to Redeem Miles with Lufthansa Miles&More for Maximum Value

Lufthansa miles

How much value you can you get with Lufthansa’s Miles & More loyalty program? These miles don’t have a big presence in North America, but it’s still possible to accumulate them with Star Alliance carriers, by transferring points from Starwood Preferred Guest, or getting a credit card from Barclaycard. The program offers a few unique values despite collecting additional carrier surcharges on most international award tickets.

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10 Ways to Redeem Miles on Alaska Airlines for Maximum Value

10 Ways to Redeem Miles on Alaska Airlines for Maximum Value

Everyone talks about the amazing trips you can take by redeeming frequent flyer miles, but just how much value do they really provide? This article takes a closer look at ten great ways to redeem miles through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. What, you’ve never flown on Alaska? It doesn’t matter. They have almost a dozen international partners, including American Airlines and Delta Airlines, which makes it easier than you’d expect to earn and redeem miles.

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Best Use of Citi ThankYou Points for Flights to Europe

citi thank you points

There are two ways to use your Citi ThankYou points to fly to Europe: booking your ticket with the Citi Travel Center and transferring ThankYou points to one of the Citi partner airline programs. If you want to maximize the value of your hard-earned Citi ThankYou points, the approach your take might depend on several factors.

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8 Ways to Redeem Avios with British Airways for Maximum Value

avios

The British Airways loyalty program, Executive Club, offers some unique value propositions. Partnerships with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines in the United States, as well as the rest of the oneworld alliance, provide ample opportunity to put it to good use. The airline also has a U.S. credit card, and you can transfer additional points from Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership rewards. Thus, flying on British Airways isn’t necessary to earn or redeem Avios points.

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10 Ways to Redeem Miles on Delta Air Lines for Maximum Value

redeem delta miles

You can redeem your frequent flyer miles for some amazing trips, but just how much value are you getting? This post examines ten great ways to redeem miles through the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program.

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10 Ways to Redeem Miles on United Airlines for Maximum Value

redeem miles

How much value are you able to find when redeeming your frequent flyer miles? Quite a lot, it turns out. Here we takes a close look at ten ways to redeem miles through the United MileagePlus program to get an incredible deal.

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10 Ways to Redeem Miles on American Airlines for Maximum Value

redeem aadvantage miles

Everyone talks about the amazing trips you can take by redeeming frequent flyer miles, but just how much value do they really provide? This article takes a closer look at ten great ways to redeem miles through the AAdvantage program operated by American Airlines.

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How Much Are Amex Membership Rewards Points Worth?

amex rewards

American Express Membership Rewards points are worth an average of 1.8 cents each. That takes into account the wide variety of redemption options available to you, whether transferring them directly to airline and hotel partners or using them as a credit when booking through the Membership Rewards Travel portal.

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Best Way to Redeem Miles on United Partners for Premium Class Seats to Europe

redeem ubited miles

There might be compelling reasons to book a partner’s flight rather than one on United, even if United metal is cheaper to fly. First, United might be unavailable. Second, it can take more connections and/or time to reach your destination. Third, you might want to splurge to have a better seat, service and food.

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6 Great Ways to Redeem Your American AAdvantage Miles after the Devaluation

redeem miles

American Airlines recently introduced significant changes to their award charts that drastically raise prices in many cases, as well as creating two separate charts for travel on American Airlines vs. partner airlines. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t still find some good opportunities to use those miles for incredible vacations.

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