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Last updated April 25, 2016 to remove American Airlines awards that went up in price last month and add more Singapore and Korean awards.

Until 2014, the best way to use miles to book a round-the-world (RTW) trip was to save a lot of one mileage currency and book a special RTW award with those miles. If you’ve saved up miles for years to book yourself such a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you’re probably dismayed that the best two RTW awards from American Airlines and Delta were eliminated in 2014.

You can still book RTW trips in 2016, but now the best way is as a series of one way awards across many different programs to take advantage of sweet spots on each airline’s award chart.

In this post, I’ll list some of the cheapest awards, or sweet spots, from each region. When planning your RTW trip in 2016 or beyond, refer to these lists to piece together your trip. For instance, if you know you want to visit South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia, look under each of those headings to find cheap awards to the next region.

But before getting to those lists, let’s consider other types of tickets that should be part of your RTW award.

Avios & Cash

All of the awards on the lists in the next section are from programs with region-based miles. These miles usually offer the best value for international awards.

But before using region-based miles consider using Avios or cash for appropriate flights on your RTW trip.

Cash

Use cash if the possible awards are not getting you a good return on your miles (1.2 to 1.8+ cents each, depending on the miles.) This will be very likely when a low cost carrier flies the route you want to fly, especially within Europe and Southeast Asia or to Iceland.

When cash flights are the best option, you don’t need to actually use cash to book them.

You can book them with points that can be used like cash toward any flight like ThankYou Points or Arrival miles from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, or you can use the $250 per year airfare statement credit on the Citi Prestige.

Avios

British Airways Avios are fantastic for short, direct, economy awards especially when you can fly a partner with no fuel surcharges. There are tons of times you would want to use Avios on your RTW trip. A partial list:

  • West coast of United States to Hawaii
  • Miami, Dallas, or New York to Latin America or Caribbean
  • Intra-Latin America international flights
  • Intra-Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador (including Galapagos), and Chile (including Easter Island)
  • Intra-South Africa
  • Intra-Australia
  • Intra-Europe, especially on airberlin or Niki for no fuel surcharges
  • Boston to Ireland on Aer Lingus
  • India to Sri Lanka to change zones on the American Airlines chart from India/Middle East to Asia 2
  • Europe to Israel

Region-to-Region Awards

For the longhaul awards, you’ll almost certainly get the best value by using airline miles that allow one way redemptions with the price based on a region-based award chart. A partial list of such airline miles:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage (transfer partner of SPG)
  • Delta SkyMiles (transfer partner of AMEX Membership Rewards and SPG)
  • United MileagePlus (transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards)
  • Alaska Mileage Plan (transfer partner of SPG)
  • Singapore KrisFlyer (transfer partner of AMEX, Chase, Citi ThankYou Points, and SPG)
  • Asiana Mileage Club (transfer partner of SPG)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (transfer partner of AMEX and SPG)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (transfer partner of AMEX, Chase, Citi, and SPG)
  • Air France Flying Blue (transfer partner of AMEX, Citi, and SPG)
  • Korean SkyPass (transfer partner of Chase and SPG)
  • Etihad Guest (transfer partner of Citi and SPG)

Some of the awards below are listed because they cost very few miles. Some are listed because they present amazing value in a premium cabin. Links take you to longer articles on that award. Any prices listed are one way unless otherwise noted. If no cabin is listed, the award is in economy. If no fuel surcharges are mentioned, the award has none. Remember to check Avios redemptions and cash tickets before booking any awards on these lists.

From United States

To Europe

To Korea or Japan

To China or Southeast Asia

To Central America, Mexico, Caribbean

  • with 12,500 American Airlines miles each year from April 27 – May 20 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights
  • to Central America only with 15,000 Alaska miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights
  • to Central America only with 15,000 Etihad miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights

To Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, or Ecuador

  • with 15,000 Alaska miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights
  • with 15,000 Etihad miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights

To Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay

To Hawaii

To Fiji

To Australia/New Zealand

From Europe

When leaving Europe, don’t fly your longhaul flight out of London. You’ll pay $200 to $300 in taxes for starting a premium cabin itinerary in the United Kingdom. Hop a low cost carrier flight from London to somewhere on the continent and fly your longhaul award to the next region from there.

Intra-Europe

To United States

  • See From United States to Europe above

To Hong Kong

To Middle East/India/Maldives

To South America

From the Middle East

Intra-Middle East

To Europe

  • See From Europe to Middle East above

To East Asia

  • in Business Class with 40,000 American Airlines miles
  • in First Class with 50,000 American Airlines miles
From North Asia

To United States

  • See From United States to Korea or Japan and From United States to China or Southeast Asia

To Australia/New Zealand

To Oceania

To Southeast Asia

From Southeast Asia

Intra-China

Intra-Indonesia

To United States

  • See From United States to China or Southeast Asia

To Europe

  • See From Europe to Hong Kong

To Australia/New Zealand

To North Asia

From South America

Flights leaving Brazil cannot have fuel surcharges, so miles that otherwise collect fuel surcharges on most awards are especially well used from Brazil to Europe.

to United States

  • See From United States to Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, or Ecuador and From United States to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay

to Europe

  • See From Europe to South America. Note that traveling South America to Europe is better than Europe to South America because flights leaving Brazil cannot have fuel surcharges.

Intra-South America

to Central America

  • (from Northern South America) with 10,000 United miles

to Africa

From Australia/New Zealand

Intra Australia/New Zealand

To Rest of Oceania

To North America

  • See From North America to Australia/New Zealand and From North America to Fiji

To Europe

  • See From Europe to Hong Kong

To Southeast Asia

  • See from Southeast Asia to Australia/New Zealand

To North Asia

  • See from North Asia to Australia/New Zealand

Please add your other favorite awards in the comments, and I may include them in this post. Bookmark this post for reference when you want to book a RTW trip.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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Delta will no longer charge a $25 per passenger fee to book tickets by phone. That’s excellent news since some Delta partners like Air Tahiti Nui can’t be booked on delta.com.

In February 2015, American Airlines eliminated phone ticketing fees for awards flying airlines that can’t be booked on aa.com.

United still has phone ticketing fees for awards–$25 per passenger. However, in my experience, this fee is usually waived if I put an award on hold online and then call in to ticket it with a story that I was getting an error online.

Hat Tip One Mile at a Time

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

You can now redeem American Airlines miles to the Indian Subcontinent via Cathay Pacific or American Airlines flights that connect in Hong Kong.

Until today, you could only connect in Europe or the Middle East. Routing via Asia would break your trip into two awards–USA to East Asia + East Asia to Indian Subcontinent. This additional routing option is very welcome, especially for folks who live on the West Coast, for whom routing via Hong Kong is faster than routing via Europe or the Middle East.

The change appears on American Airlines’ award chart.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.43.22 PM

The new tilde on the chart is explained in the footnotes.Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.43.35 PM

The wording makes it clear that the routing via Hong Kong is only allowed to the Indian Subcontinent and not to the Middle East. Unfortunately, the AA award chart doesn’t separate those two regions.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 3.11.20 PM

However, The Points Guy has confirmed with an AAgent that the following countries are considered to be the Indian Subcontinent:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

Unfortunately since the March 22 devaluation, awards to the Indian Subcontinent in First Class are insanely expensive:

  • 40,000 American Airlines miles one way in economy
  • 70,000 in Business
  • 115,000 in First

Economy and Business are decent values, though Alaska charges only 62,500 miles one way in Cathay Pacific Business to India and 70,000 miles in First.

Bottom Line

To get the Middle East on a single American Airlines award, you need to:

  1. Fly directly there
  2. Connect in Europe

To get to the Indian Subcontinent on a single American Airlines award, you need to:

  1. Fly directly there
  2. Connect in Europe
  3. Connect in the Middle East
  4. New Option: Connect in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific or American Airlines flights

All other one way trips to the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent–like Los Angeles to Tokyo to Mumbai on Japan Airlines or Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Dubai on Cathay Pacific–will require at least two awards.

For more information on American Airlines’ award routing rules, see “AA Award Rules & How Many Miles Do You Need.”

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Turkish Business Class award space is widely available from this summer through the beginning of next year to Europe. You can book award space for up to eight people in Business Class on routes from America to Turkey and beyond with United miles, Asiana miles, Aeroplan miles, Lifemiles (of Avianca), and many other Star Alliance miles.

Where Turkish Flies

Turkish currently flies from eight American cities to Istanbul, and adds Atlanta to the list in about a month: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Miami, Washington D.C (Dulles), Boston and New York.

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.17.52 AM
Atlanta begins May 16, 2016

From Istanbul, you can connect to over 100 countries. Turkish Airlines has destinations in more countries than any other airline in the world.

The Product

Turkish’s long haul flights feature flat bed Business Class on a variety of planes that either have a 2-4-2 configuration or 2-2-2 configuration. The 2-4-2 configuration is not ideal since no seat has both aisle access and a guarantee that no one will climb over it during the flight. The 2-2-2 configuration is preferable as you can choose a seat in the middle aisle which would guarantee no one climbs over you. At the end of the day though, a fully flat bed and great catering should overcome the moderate inconvenience of the 2-4-2 configuration.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.16.10 PM

Read this trip report of Turkish Business Class from Washington D.C. to Istanbul to get a more detailed perspective on Turkish Airlines’ product.

Award Space

Award space is excellent July through February from most Turkish gateways in the United States to Istanbul in Economy and Business Class for up to eight people.

Chicago to Istanbul: for 8 people

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 6.10.46 PM

For the return flight back to Chicago, about half the amount of days are available in Business Class.

Atlanta to Istanbul: for 8 people (route starts 5/16/16)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 6.14.38 PM

Space in Business Class for the return back to Atlanta is just as widely available.

Houston to Istanbul: for 8 people

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 6.48.34 PM

Space in Business Class for the return back to Houston is just as widely available except in July and August.

Miami to Istanbul: 8 people

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.03.35 PM

For the return flight back to Miami, about half the amount of days are available in Business Class.

Boston to Istanbul: 8 people

boston to istanbul

For the return flight back to Boston, the same amount of space is available in Business Class with the exception of August and September.

New York to Istanbul: 8 people

nyc to istanbul

For the return flight back to New York, about half the amount of days are available in Business Class.

The exceptions I see are:

  • the Los Angeles and San Francisco to Istanbul routes are spotty with Business Class seats up until September, but from September through February availability is wide open for up to 8people; for the return flight back to Los Angeles there is plenty of space in Business for up to 8 people, and for the return flight back to San Francisco September through February has tons of Business Class seats
  • the Washington D.C. to Istanbul route has few Business Class seats available except in August, January and February for up to eight people; for the return back to Washington D.C. there is plenty of space in Business from September through February

Best Miles to Use

Any Turkish award space you see on united.com is equally bookable with any Star Alliance miles. Here are the cheapest Star Alliance miles to Europe:
Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 5.24.03 PM

Aeroplan (loyalty program of Air Canada) divides Europe into two regions– the cheaper region is for Western Europe and the more expensive is Eastern Europe, so travel to Turkey is 57,500 Aeroplan miles each way in Business Class. United and United Partner are separate categories because United charges more miles to fly premium cabins on partner redemptions.

Asiana, ANA, Lufthansa, and Singapore collect fuel surcharges on Turkish award flights. Aeroplan, United, Avianca, and Copa do not. I would use Asiana miles or Aeroplan to book an award on Turkish Airlines to Europe. A roundtrip Business award between the US and Istanbul costs 80,000 Asiana miles + $412.66 ($340 in fuel surcharges). The same award would cost 115,000 Aeroplan miles + about $77 (only taxes and fees, no fuel surcharges).

If you want to book the Turkish space to somewhere outside of Europe, check out this comparison of Star Alliance award charts to all regions of the world.

United, ANA, LifeMiles (Avianca), and Aeroplan display Turkish Airlines award space on their websites. If you want to book with another type of miles, search united.com and call the airline whose miles you want to use in order to book.

Example Award

In 2011, I flew from Los Angeles to Entebbe/Kampala, Uganda on Turkish, then returned from Nairobi to Los Angles with a stopover in Istanbul. This was a cash ticket in economy, and the flight from Los Angeles to Istanbul was the most painful of my life because I couldn’t fall asleep despite exhaustion.

You could book the same trip with miles in Business Class at the moment.

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.23.25 AM

It would cost 160,000 United miles + $79, or fewer miles with other types of miles.

How to Get the Miles

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express come with 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively in the first three months of cardmembership. Starpoints transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Japan Airlines Mileage Bank.

Both Asiana and Aeroplan, my top two choices of miles to use to book Turkish Airlines, are 1:1 transfer partners of Starwood Preferred Guest.

Aeroplan is also 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards, which you can earn from The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz. It comes with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, Singapore, and British Airways.

The card has a $475 annual fee in the first year. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, and hotel status. Be aware that the “regular” Platinum card is worse than this offer because it has a smaller sign up bonus and only a $25 lower annual fee.

For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card.

Landing Page: Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

Bottom Line

Turkish Airlines award space is wide open from the United States to the rest of the world from July 2016 through the February of 2017. You can book it with any type of Star Alliance miles, but some of the best deals are with Asiana and Aeroplan to Europe.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

You can book yourself a tour around the Caribbean and South America stopping in three places for only 64,500 miles total with half the trip in a flat bed. By stopping in three places, I am referring to actual destinations, not connections that have to be under 24 hours.

This incredible deal relies on piecing together four sweet spots awards into one big trip. Even if you never take a trip like this, you should know about these sweet spot awards.

For the purposes of this example, this will be the route we examine:

Philadelphia > Aruba > Bogota, Colombia > Rio de Janeiro, Brazil > Philadelphia

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 7.46.00 PM

However the price is the same no matter where your home airport is, and no matter where you choose your destination in Southern South America to be.

You can tweak the route to your liking and keep the same prices as long as each destination falls in the right region for the pricing of the award.

What does that mean exactly?

  • Aruba could be replaced by anywhere that is in the region defined by American Airlines as Mexico, the Caribbean or Central America for no extra miles
  • Bogota could be replaced by any nearby city with direct LAN flights from the Caribbean or Mexico, though the miles price will probably go up if you choose a different city since this part of the award is flown with distance-based Avios
  • Rio de Janeiro could be replaced by any destination in South America for no extra miles

United States to Aruba

American Airlines post-devaluation award chart has flights to Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean during the off peak season priced at just 12,500 miles one way in economy.  

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.20.37 PM

The off peak season for these regions is defined as:

  • April 27 – May 20
  • September 7 – November 14

Taxes: $16

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.20.42 PM

Where to search for award space: aa.comHere’s how to search aa.com, award space is great to Aruba during off peak season

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.19.52 PM

How to Book: on aa.com

Aruba to Bogota

It costs 4,500 British Airways Avios to fly from from Aruba to Bogota, Colombia on LAN in economy.

Taxes: $49 (my ba.com is in euros for this reason)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.18.01 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.18.11 PM

Where to search for award space: ba.comHere’s how to search ba.com. This route has the worst award space in the post, so if you copied this routing, you’d build the trip around award space on this leg. You can pick a place with better award space to Bogota (or wherever you decide to go), but the Avios price will probably be higher. Aruba to Bogota is only 605 miles flown, so it is the cheapest price of 4,500 Avios. Flights 651-1,150 miles flown are 7,500 Avios and something like Cancun to Bogota is 10,000 Avios.

How to Book: on ba.com.

Bogota to Rio de Janeiro

For 12,500 Singapore or American Airlines miles you can fly from Bogota, Colombia to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Avianca/TACA (if using Singapore miles) or LAN (if using American Airlines miles). You could book the same flights in Business Class for 20,000 Singapore miles, or 25,000 American Airlines miles. 

Taxes/Fees: $62 (ignore the miles price in the screenshot, we pay the price on Singapore’s chart, not United’s chart when using Singapore miles)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.14.19 PM

Where to search for award space: If using Singapore miles, united.com. Here’s how to search united.com. If using American Airlines’ miles, ba.comHere’s how to search ba.com. Award space is very good on Avianca’s direct Bogota to Rio flight, especially in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.14.08 PM

How to Book: If using Singapore miles, on singaporeair.com. If using American Airlines miles, call American Airlines’ AAdvantage customer service at 1-800-882-8880.

Rio de Janeiro > United States

It costs 35,000 Asiana miles to fly Business Class on Copa Airlines, Avianca, United, or Air Canada from Southern South America to the United States. I booked Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile in Copa Business Class for 35,000 Asiana miles this year.

Taxes/Fees: $57 (ignore mileage prices below, Asiana has lower prices than United for the same flights)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.22.31 PM

Where to search for award space: united.com. Here’s how to search united.com. There is great award space between Rio and Philadelphia.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.21.52 PM

How to Book: call the Asiana Club at +1-800-227-4262.

What Do Those Awards Add up to?

    United States to Aruba = 12,500 American Airlines miles

    Aruba to Bogota, Colombia = 4,500 British Airways Avios

    Bogota, Colombia to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil = 12,500 Singapore or American Airlines miles

 + Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to United States = 35,000 Asiana miles in Business Class


    64,500 miles and under $184 in taxes

Or, if you wanted to fly the leg between Colombia and Brazil in Business Class, it would cost 72,000 using Singapore or 77,000 American Airlines miles.

Consider it from this angle as well. Heading southbound, you spent only 12,500 + 4,500 + 12,500 = 29,500 miles/Avios, and you visit three places. Normally a one way award to Southern South America would cost 30,000 American Airlines/Delta/United miles, and no stopovers would be allowed.

Why are There No Fuel Surcharges Mentioned in This Post?

Because fuel surcharges are not levied on any airline, on any ticket, w the Americas that I am aware of. Great news for our mega-trip!

How to Get the Miles and Points Needed for this Trip

American Airlines Miles

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

Singapore Krisflyer Miles (transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points)

The Citi Prestige® Card with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

Asiana Miles (transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints)

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card by American Express, personal and business versions, both are offering 25,000 Starpoints each for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively within three months of the accounts opening.

British Airways Avios 

British Airways Visa Signature card by Chase is offering 50,000 Avios for spending $2,000 within three months of the account opening.

While I can not directly link to the current offer from British Airways Visa Signature card by Chase, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Bottom Line

If you have some (emphasis on some, not many are needed!) American Airlines, Singapore, and Asiana miles as well as a few British Airways Avios, you can piece together an amazing multi-award trip that spans all over the Caribbean and South America with three different destinations. It would be a great way to use up smaller amounts miles hanging around in your frequent flyer accounts, leftover after larger redemptions.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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United.com is the fastest way to search most Star Alliance award space. I frequently use the search engine even if I’m using another type of Star Alliance miles.

I often use the site’s calendar to search two months of award space at a time on a single route. Sometimes I’ll check “Nonstop only” if I am searching segment-by-segment, and sometimes I’ll check “United flights only” if I am using United miles (because United charges fewer miles for its own flights) or even partner miles (because some partners don’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights while collecting them on other partners.)

Yesterday I uncovered a problem with searching for United flights only.

How to Do an Advanced Search on United.com

On united.com, click Nonstop if you want the search results calendar to display nonstop flights only.

If you want to see only United flights, click “All search options” in the bottom left corner of the search box on United’s homepage….

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.06.57 PM

…where you will be directed to an advanced search page. In the locations and dates section, clicking My search preferences triggers a drop down menu. Clicking “United and United Express® only” puts a filter on the search that should leave out any partner flights.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.10.47 PMRight now the “nonstop” filter is working but not the United-only filter.

Examples of the United-Only Filter Glitch

Yesterday I discovered a malfunction in the United-only filter when running some searches for United award space to Europe. Putting the United-only filter on my searches was yielding calendars that reflected results with partner flights as well.

I know this because the list of flights available for the specific day searched, listed underneath the calendar, were not showing the Saver space that was reflected in the calendar’s color coding (green = Saver Economy and Saver premium cabins available, blue = Saver premium cabin available). The United-only filtered calendars were matching the non-filtered searches, which should not be the case. Simple logic tells us there should be fewer United flights available than United and Partner flights available.

This means you’ll need to search day-by-day to check if the Saver space you want is actually available on United metal until a software tester at United figures out the bug.

Below are search results on different routes that illustrate and prove what I’m talking about.

This calendar shows the standard search results for two people from New York City to Frankfurt, with space on United flights as well as partners:

United only filter

This calendar shows the search results for two people from New York City to Frankfurt, filtered for only United flights (not partners):

United only filter

Despite my request for the second calendar to filter any partner flights and only leave United flights, it is the same as the first. The flights available for May 1 (the day selected on the calendar here) displayed under this calendar did not show any Saver space available in Business or First Class which is what the green color is supposed to symbolize.

To further prove my point, here is the same search query from New York to Frankfurt, filtered to show only nonstop flights (United and partner flights):

Non-stop filter

And here it is again, but filtered for Nonstop and United flights only:

Non-stop filterThe calendars are the same. And the flights available for May 1 (the day selected on the calendar here) displayed under the calendar did not show any Saver space available in Business or First Class, which contradicts the green shading.

Don’t Believe Me Yet?

Here are two other routes that exemplify the same problem.

These calendars are for two passengers traveling from Houston to Paris, unfiltered, showing all United and partner flights.

no filter iah to par

The calendars for the same route during the same two months, but filtered to only show United flights and not any partners, are exactly the same.  Flights listed underneath were not reflective of this Saver space.

no filter iah to par

These calendars are for two passengers traveling from Washington, D.C. to London, unfiltered, showing all United and partner flights.

no filter IAD to LON

The calendars for the same route during the same two months, but filtered to only show United flights and not any partners, are exactly the same.  Flights listed underneath were not reflective of this Saver space.

no filter IAD to LON

Nonstop Filter Only Half Working

I also noticed another small malfunction, although this one isn’t nearly as annoying as the United-only filter glitch as there are two simple ways to work around it.

The Nonstop box in the search tool on United’s home page and the “New Show only nonstop flight availability” check box on the search results page don’t fully work.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.45.07 AM

Checking either will update availability on the calendar (i.e. the colors change) but the actual flights available listed under the calendar don’t update.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.45.17 AM

I mainly care about the calendar, and “nonstop only” does correctly display on the calendar, so this really isn’t a huge deal. If it bothers you though…

The Work Arounds

You have to either:

  • Un-check the 2+ and 1 stop boxes on the advanced search page, making sure only the Nonstop box is checked or
  • Un-check the 1 stop box on the left hand side of search results page. This will update the flights listed under the calendar.

Bottom Line

United.com‘s search tool is buggy at the moment, so if you’re trying to find United flights to book with United miles and would like to see more than a day’s availability at a time, you’ll need to pay for it on a site like Award Nexus– read more here about how to use it. I will keep an eye on the situation and let you know when it appears that the bug has been resolved. Likewise, let us know in the comments if you see any progress.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

24

On roundtrip United awards, you get one free stopover in addition to your destination and up to two open jaws. I’ve given a few examples of how permissive United is in allowing us to combine these rules (1, 2, and 3).

I want to give a lot more examples and a clear structure of how and why to book what I’ll call “Three One Ways Awards.”

What are United Three One Ways Awards?

Imagine a roundtrip United award with a stopover.

  • New York to Frankfurt (stopover)
  • Frankfurt to Delhi (destination)
  • Delhi to New York

This is legal, and a little bit interesting. You get to see Europe for zero extra miles on your award to India. Now imagine that there is an open jaw between the origin (New York) and the final destination.

  • New York to Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt to Delhi
  • Delhi to Los Angeles

This is legal and a little more interesting, but you probably either live in New York or Los Angeles, so there’s little practical benefit.

Now imagine that you keep this structure of a stopover and an open jaw, but throw the idea of flying anything like a roundtrip out the window.

  • New York to Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt to Delhi
  • Delhi to Bangkok

Amazingly this too is legal. And it’s very interesting because it can be part of a New Yorker’s round-the-world or other very BIG trip. This map should make it clear why I call this a Three One Ways Award.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.48.49 AM

The trick is that we book it as a single United “roundtrip” award and not as three one ways. Why?

Well in this example, if you booked all three segments as one way awards, you would pay 90,000 United miles in economy:

  • New York to Frankfurt (30,000)
  • Frankfurt to Delhi (25,000)
  • Delhi to Bangkok (35,000)

If you book the one ways as a single “roundtrip,” you pay 77,500 United miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.48.42 AM

  • New York to Frankfurt to Delhi (42,500 with free stopover)
  • Delhi to Bangkok (35,000)

And we can find even bigger discounts and sweeter spots on the United chart.

How to Book a Three One Ways Award

You book Three One Ways Awards on united.com’s advanced search page by selecting “Yes” and “Multi-city” for the second and third questions.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.06.55 PM

You may want to select three suitable one ways by using the United award chart . A United Three One Ways Award will touch up to four regions on the chart. Of those four regions, you are specifically looking for three regions such that a one way between A and C is way cheaper than A to B plus B to C.

For instance:

  • A = Japan
  • B = Australia/New Zealand
  • C = Oceania

A to B is 22,500 miles. B to C is 22,500 miles. So A to B plus B to C is 45,000 miles. A to C is only 12,500 miles, so getting a free stopover in B as part of a Three One Ways Award would be a huge savings.

Unfortunately you don’t decide on a Three One Ways Award what is the destination and what is the stopover. I tried to book Seoul to Tokyo to Auckland to the Cook Islands to take advantage of the huge discount I just mentioned between Japan and Oceania.

If I could choose the stopover, I’d make it Auckland and have the destination be Tokyo. Then the award would be 27,500 miles (Seoul to Tokyo is 15,000 and Tokyo to Cook Islands is 12,500.)copy

Unfortunately United’s computer made Auckland the destination and Tokyo the stopover. That made the award 42,500 miles (Seoul to Auckland is 20,000 and Auckland to Cook Islands is 22,500.)

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.45.11 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 8.06.28 PM

United open jaws can only be at the destination or origin, so I tried to force the destination to be in Japan by changing the award to:

  • Seoul to Fukuoka (open jaw in Japan to force it to be the destination)
  • Tokyo to Auckland
  • Auckland to Cook Islands

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.52.06 AM

Unfortunately I got an error online. I need to call in to attempt to book this award. When I call in, I’ll either be told the award is illegal or costs 27,500 miles I believe.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 8.07.23 PM

Weird Prices During Booking

The final miles price of the entire roundtrip award will always make sense as the sum of two one way awards, but while booking, some funny award prices will show up. Like this part of the award pricing at 21.3k miles or another time I saw awards listed for 0 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.46.49 AM

Those are caused by United arbitrarily assigning a portion of a one way award price to the parts before and after the stopover. The above screenshot is taken from the New York to Frankfurt to Delhi to Bangkok example. The 21.3k miles represents 21,250 or half of the 42,500 mile price from the United States to India.

The Rest of Your Trip

Three One Way Awards should be part of a bigger, perhaps round-the-world, trip. You can fly the three one ways to your home airport, from your home airport, or somewhere in the middle.

These awards should be combined with other sweet spot awards that I’ve compiled in this post.

Examples

Los Angeles to Honolulu to Bangkok to Sydney

United’s computer sees this as Los Angeles to Bangkok (stopover in Honolulu) with a return of Bangkok to Sydney. It is 17,500 miles cheaper to book all of this as a roundtrip award in economy than as three separate awards.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.44.55 AM

Since the award breaks in Bangkok, that means you can take advantage of the way-too-cheap United awards from Southeast Asia to Australia: Thai First Class for 40,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.43.49 AM

Economy for the first two thirds and First Class to Australia is 80,000 miles total.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.44.21 AMNew York to Munich to Kigali to Sao Paulo

In economy, this would be 90,000 United miles as three one ways or 70,000 miles as a Three One Ways Award.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.44.20 AM

Because Africa to South America is such a steal in Business Class (45k miles one way), I decided to book that leg in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.45.22 AM The first two thirds of the trip in economy and the last third in Business Class is just 85,000 United miles. Booking as one award saves 20,000 miles.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.45.42 AM Houston to Panama City to Lima to Buenos Aires

Just booking Houston to Buenos Aires is 30,000 miles in economy. Booking each leg individually would be 47,500 miles. Book all this as a Three One Ways Award for 37,500 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.47.26 AM

United considers the destination on this award to be Panama City.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.48.49 AM It’s a little more expensive if you get United to consider the destination to be Peru, which you can do by adding an open jaw there.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.51.39 AM The price jumps to 40,000 miles if the destination is Cuzco.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.51.49 AM

Failed Online Attempts

Sometimes throwing an open jaw into the award in an attempt to pick the destination caused an error that looked like this.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.55.36 AM I failed to book Los Angeles to Guam, Tokyo to Auckland to Fiji online.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.55.56 AM
I also failed to book New York to Munich to Zurich, Brussels to Kigali online.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.41.56 AM

I think these awards would be bookable by phone. More research is needed.

Bottom Line

You can use the free stopover on roundtrip United awards as intended for an en route stopover, to set up a free one way, or as part of a Three One Ways Award.

The Three One Ways Award is a useful way to string together three one ways onto a single award for massive miles savings.

Post some great Three One Way Award opportunities in the comments. Make sure to include:

  1. The cities involved
  2. How many miles total in the cabin you’d want to fly
  3. How many miles you’d save over booking three awards
  4. Whether your dummy booking on united.com was successful
  5. What united.com chose as the destination and the stopover
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2

American Airlines is increasing the number of miles needed for most awards–including huge increases in First Class–on March 22, 2016. There are just 13.5 days left to lock in the current award prices for travel through February 2017.

You can currently book through February 2, 2017, and on March 21, 2016, you can book through February 15, 2017.

I’ve shared awards that you should book before the devaluation because they are going way up in price, and I’ve shared tricks to potentially extend the time period during which you can book at current prices.

If you don’t want to book the awards yourself, that’s where the MileValue Award Booking Service comes in. Basically you tell us the award you want, and we use your miles to book it. You pay us $125 per person per award if we succeed and nothing if we don’t. Here’s a more detailed post on how it all works.

Based on the United devaluation in 2014, I anticipate a deluge of award requests in the next few weeks, so get yours in as soon as possible.

Click here and fill out the form to hire the MileValue Award Booking Service

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

13

I was having lunch with my friend the other day, and we started talking about miles and points. She has some credit cards and has even made a few redemptions, but from the conversation it was clear that there was a lot about our world she didn’t know.

I gave her one homework assignment that I thought would greatly improve her grasp on miles. Maybe the headline is a little strong that completing it will make her an expert, but it will certainly grant her a lot of expertise and put her on a path to being an expert.

The assignment: book Cathay Pacific Business Class from Miami to Hong Kong with American Airlines miles.

Here are the things she will learn by doing this one simple exercise:

  1. Where to search Cathay Pacific and American Airlines award space
  2. How to search ba.com
  3. How to search aa.com
  4. How to book an AA award
  5. American Airlines award booking rules
  6. How to use Wikipedia
  7. How to lead a phone agent
  8. What rules are the same and different with different types of miles
  9. A lot more

Here are the steps she will need to follow, which will teach her all the preceding things.

  1. Figure out where Cathay Pacific flies in the United States by searching Wikipedia.
  2. Figure out how to get to those places from Miami, also on Wikipedia.
  3. Figure out where to search Cathay Pacific award space (and what space there that American Airlines miles can book.)
  4. Figure out where to search American Airlines award space and what cabins she can connect to Cathay Pacific Business Class.
  5. Figure out how to actually book or put on hold the space she has found.

To complete those steps, first she should probably read the Beginning of the Award Booking Manual I released.

  • From Concept 5, she’d learn that she can search Cathay Pacific award space anywhere that it is searchable, and American Airlines should have equal access to that space since generally airlines release their Saver award space equally to all partners.
  • From Concept 7-4, she’d learn that she can connect American Airlines domestic First Class to Cathay Pacific international Business Class for no extra miles.
  • From Concept 6, she’d learn that she must find Saver space on all legs.

Then she can check out my series on redeeming American Airlines miles. In part three, I list where to search award space on all American Airlines partners. She’d learn to search Cathay Pacific space on ba.com, and American Airlines space on aa.com. Here are tutorials on searching aa.com and ba.com.

She could learn which routes to search by reading up on how to use Wikipedia for award searches.

Then she’d actually do the award searching and booking.

I didn’t specify dates. Maybe that will make her search around and try to find the best availability patterns, a very useful thing to know when timing how far in advance to book. She might notice that Cathay Pacific Business Class award space in most available 10-11 months out…

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.41 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.05.47 PM

…and within a few days of departure.
Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.35 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.07.32 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.35 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.07.16 PM

She’d also pick up a few tricks for searching ba.com like always specify one passenger no matter how many are flying because it is the rare website that tells you how many award seats are available in each cabin if you just search for one person. (Note that when there is no number of seats listed, there are 8+ available seats in that cabin.)

On aa.com, she’d learn to specify “non-stop only” on her search results to narrow in on what she wants more quickly. And she could find results like this that line up with search results from ba.com.
Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.10.38 PM

American Airlines flight 1510 lands at 12:35 PM at JFK on October 13. That lines up perfectly with the 2:50 PM departure of Cathay Pacific 831. She has found an itinerary that matches her goal.

There may be even better itineraries that connect in Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, Boston, or San Francisco. Hopefully she’d check all of those to get even more experience searching.

As a side note, if she had done what most beginners do, and gone straight to aa.com, a seemingly logical place to start with American Airlines miles, she would have “learned” there was no Business Class award space from Miami to Hong Kong on October 13. Doing it the right way detailed in this post, though, she found the space easily.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.22.20 PM

Now on to booking it.

She will learn that if you can’t book an award online, you always call the airline whose miles you want to use. This award can’t be booked online with American Airlines miles because Cathay Pacific space isn’t on aa.com.

She would call American Airlines at 800-882-8880, and if she just asked the agent to find her space from Miami to Hong Kong, she’d probably learn that that is very slow and might not even work. The agent might not find what my friend found. She’d learn just to lead the call and tell the agent that she had found specific space that she wanted to book, and she would read the date, cabin, and flight number of the American Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights to the agent.

She’d learn that with American Airlines awards, you can book immediately or put them on a five day hold. She’d learn that the phone fee is waived for American Airlines awards that cannot be booked online.

Are these rules the same for every type of miles? Nope.

If she tried to book China Southern award space with Delta miles, she’d see what rules are basically the same for all awards, and what rules vary. And then she’d basically be an expert on miles and points with the caveat that there is always more to learn.

Bottom Line

The best way to learn about miles and points is through dummy bookings. Give yourself a goal booking, try to do it, and google MileValue posts when you get stuck. Try to do this with all types of miles until you have a good handle on each one.

Congrats! Now you are an expert on redeeming miles which automatically makes you an expert at deciding which miles to accrue.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

6

United.com was redesigned last fall. Most of the changes were neutral or positive, but one was atrocious. As I wrote in “New United.com Will Make Award Searches Much Harder,” United removed the nonstop calendar.

For years, when you checked “Search for award travel” and “Nonstop” on the search screen…

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.25.02 PM

…the resulting calendar let you see award space on nonstop flights for two months at a glance.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.30.25 PM

This was hugely valuable if you only wanted to fly the nonstop flight or if you were searching segment-by-segment.

With the new United.com, you could still check “Nonstop,” but your request was ignored. You were shown a calendar of award space from the origin you searched to the destination you searched including connecting flights. At the time, I complained: “To find out which days have First Class award space on the nonstop flight, I’ll have to click all 61 dates individually. What an insane waste of time when United has the technology to show me all 61 dates’ space at a glance as evidenced by the old site’s calendars.”

The change was so terrible for award searchers that my subsequent post “Trick to Make the Old United.com Load” was one of the most viewed of 2015 because it allowed you to access the old United.com and the old nonstop calendar.

Enough of the history lesson, United listened to our many complaints and retweets and fixed the problem!

Proof

The nonstop calendar works again. If you perform an award search and check “Nonstop”…

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.25.02 PM

…you get a calendar of award space on the nonstop flight only.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.25.47 PM

Without even having to click a specific day, you know whether the nonstop flights for two months at a time have award space in economy and/or premium cabins.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.25.52 PM

Example: Houston to Auckland

For instance, here is the award space from Houston to Auckland in March and April. (I didn’t check “Nonstop.”)
Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.30.25 PMHere is the award space on the nonstop Air New Zealand flight from Houston to Auckland, which just started opening up Business Class award space this week. (I did check “Nonstop.”)
Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 2.30.57 PM

There are many fewer days with award space on the nonstop flight. The first calendar included itineraries with connections in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are fine itineraries if they are what you want, but annoying to see if you don’t want them. Now if you don’t want to see connections, you don’t have to!

Bottom Line

Award searchers (like me with my MileValue Award Booking Service) rejoice!

United.com brought back the nonstop calendars which can save you 60 clicks by showing you two months worth of nonstop award space at a glance.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

One of the main reasons why people who don’t know how miles work think that miles are a scam is because they searched award space in the wrong place! For instance, they wanted to use American Airlines miles and searched AA.com. While that sounds logical, that’s often the wrong place to search. BA.com is often the better place to search.

Knowing how to use BA.com is crucial for making award bookings with British Airways Avios and American Airlines AAdvantage miles. As I noted in Where to Search Award Space for All American Airlines Partners, there are many AA partners that are searchable on ba.com but not aa.com.

BA.com shows space on airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar, Royal Jordanian, S7, SriLankan, and TAM, which is all of Oneworld. Note that BA.com does not show its non-Oneworld partners like Aer Lingus and Alaska Airlines.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 8.23.23 PM

How Do You Search BA.com for Award Availability?

First, you need to sign up for the British Airways Executive Club to be able search. The link is on the top right of ba.com.

ba.com

Next, you must log in.

After logging in, you will be taken to a page that displays your account information. Along the left side of the screen is a box with a drop down menu where you must select “Book with Avios.”

drop down british

Directly below this box is another box where you type in the details of your potential award trip. The Class dropdown doesn’t matter much because award space in three cabins is shown on the results screen. Segment-by-segment searching is often the best way to yield positive results.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 8.36.45 PM

If you’ve selected a route British Airways flies, a screen will pop up asking if you want a stopover. Always select “no.” Because of the way Avios awards price, there is never an advantage to booking a stopover.

no stopovers

Once you select “no” or if you’ve queried a route not served by British Airways, you’ll be brought directly to results.

british results

The results are displayed by airline. British Airways is at the top. Next are direct flights on any airlines. Finally, connecting itineraries are shown.

If your day comes back with no results, you can click on the nearby dates one at a time on the tab at the top of the results screen or move one week at a time.

week ba

To get more info on a flight, click the linked flight number, and a new window will open with pertinent info including the aircraft and flight duration.

ba pop up

To see the price of an award including taxes and fees, bubble in the class you want to fly in.

ba select

The price in Avios plus the cost of all taxes/fees/fuel surcharges will be displayed in red. Underneath will be a link to see more pricing options if you would like to pay fewer Avios in exchange for more cash.

pricing options

For more information and analysis on Cash & Avios options available on Avios award bookings, see Cash & Avios Analysis.

The old version of BA.com used to show you price breakdown of the dollar amount, but the updated site does not. You can put your desired award flight info into ITA Matrix for those details instead. Read this prior post to learn how to use ITA matrix to view and translate the price breakdown of a ticket.

If you want to book the award you found with Avios, enter your credit card info, and you are all set. If you want to book the itinerary with American Airlines miles, note the flight dates, numbers, cabins, and taxes. Call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 and feed the agents the flights you found.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

0

I run the MileValue Award Booking Service. We use your miles and your goals to book your dream trip. How does it work? And how can you use an award booking service properly?

  1. Choose one award booking service when you know the who, where, and when
  2. Fill out the submission form thoroughly
  3. Be responsive to email
  4. Enjoy your trip
1. Choose one award booking service when you know the who, where, and when
2. Fill out the submission form thoroughly

There are several award booking services of varying quality. I recommend the MileValue Award Booking Service 😉 because we have been in business for four years, know the ins and outs of every program, are highly responsive and motivated, and we only get paid when we find your dream trip.

While we are happy to give advice about which Business or First Class cabin is the nicest, we don’t like to give destination advice because everyone’s travel tastes are different. Figure out where and when to go on your own. When you know that, fill out our new client form, found here.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 7.13.32 AM

The most important question on the form is “What flexibility do you have with your cities, dates, and cabins?” Since award seats are not available on every flight, the more flexibility you have, the more likely we can book you something. I think some people are afraid to give flexibility because they want to make sure that their top choices are searched first. That’s why I added the next line: “We will start with your desired cities, dates, and cabins and only use your flexibility if necessary.”

It’s the absolute truth. Tell us in advance your perfect trip and any flexibility you have. We will start with perfection and work out from there through your flexibility.

There are two important caveats about filling in the form:

  1. Don’t fill in the form until 11 months before your desired trip. That’s as far out as most miles can book an award.
  2. Don’t contact more than one award booking service at the same time. It is unfair to make many people work when only will be paid. If some other booking service failed you, feel free to contact us, but we want to be the only ones working on the award at a given time.
3. Be responsive to email

After we get your submission, we follow up with an email to get on the same page with you. That emails sets conditions for a successful award search, so that we are all on the same page. We base the conditions on what you said when you submitted the form. Typical conditions might look like this, with my comments for this blog post in parentheses:

+ 2 passengers (we read this off the form)
+ business class for all legs over 3 hours (you said Business Class, and we write it like this because we don’t want a short hop on a one-cabin plane to derail the whole award)
+ St. Louis to Santiago, Chile roundtrip (we read this off the form)
+ Departing October 19 to 21 (October 20 preferred), returning October 31 or November 1 (see, we really do start with the date you indicated as the ideal–October 20–and work our from there)
+ Maximum of 2 layovers in each direction (we aren’t going to send you a six-stop award and call it a success)
+ Maximum layover of 4 hours (If it is an award to a major city with lots of frequencies, this is a common term. If you want to go to a secondary African city, maybe the maximum possible layover is higher.)
+ Government taxes only, no fuel surcharges (This term is almost always present. If you ask for something that absolutely always has fuel surcharges like Singapore Suites, we will let you know here.)
+ Saver award seats (This term is always present. You came to us to find Saver awards.)

Once we agree on the terms, payment is due when we find an award that meets the terms. We typically won’t collect payment until after the award is booked, but the payment is payable upon finding a bookable award that meets the terms.

The obvious takeaway is that you should not contact us unless you really want to book. If you just want to see what’s out there, but aren’t sure you want to book, we are not the right service.

Once the client agrees to the terms of the search, we search and present the client options that meet the terms until the client selects one that he likes. Since award space changes all the time, the faster you answer our emails the better.

Finally we place the award on hold (typically and ideally), describe step-by-step how to book the award, or book it for the client and have him reimburse us the taxes. If we put the award on hold, we provide the confirmation number and telephone number to call to book the award.

4. Enjoy your trip

You’ve redeemed for the highest value award possible to maximize your miles and minimize your out of pocket expenses like taxes and fuel surcharges. You’re probably flying Business Class in a flat bed to a place you’ve always wanted to go.

Relax and pat yourself on the back for contacting the MileValue Award Booking Service.

Bottom Line

When you want to book an award, and it is less than 11 months before your preferred dates, fill out the submission form to become a client of the MileValue Award Booking Service.

(I know a lot of people are just subscribed to email to receive posts and never visit the actual website. You too should click the link above and fill out the form on the site. Do not just reply to the email full of daily posts.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

3

Open jaw awards are valuable because they allow you to see two cities for the price of one. You can always book American Airlines awards to include one or even two open jaws, right on aa.com.

So, what is an open jaw anyway?

An open jaw happens when the origin of one direction of an award does not match up with the destination of the other. An open jaw can take three forms, the key being that it’s never a complete round trip:Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 1.06.35 PM

  • An open jaw can be a mismatch of the destination of the outbound and the origin of the return. You fly from Houston to Atlanta, then travel by car from Atlanta to Baltimore, and finally fly from Baltimore back home to Houston.
  • An open jaw can be a mismatch of the origin of the outbound and the destination of the return. You fly from Houston to Atlanta, and then fly from Atlanta to Baltimore before returning home to Houston via car.
  • There can be two open jaws; one at the destination and one at the return. You fly from Houston to Atlanta, drive from Atlanta to Baltimore, fly from Baltimore to New York, and finally drive home from New York back to Houston.

An open jaw is always at an endpoint and is NOT a hole in the middle of the trip. For instance, New York to London, then continuing Paris to Johannesburg. Then returning to New York is a hole, not an open jaw.

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For more read, What is an Open Jaw? How Can an Itinerary Have Two Open Jaws?

Step-by-step booking process

Booking an open jaw on aa.com is very easy. Here are the steps.

1. On the aa.com home page, click “Advanced search” underneath the normal search function.

1st step booking open jaw on aa

2. Choose the AAdvantage Award tab and multi-city bubble. Fill in your desired itinerary.

2nd step booking aa open jaw

3. Choose a date for your first leg with MileSAAver award availability in the cabin you want.

3rd step booking aa open jaw

4. Choose the date of your second leg. The legs do NOT have to be in the same cabin.

4th step booking aa open jaw

5. You will now be presented with multiple itineraries on each date. Choose the one that suits you best for the outbound.

5th step booking aa open jaw

6. Choose the time table for your second leg by clicking on the Flight 2 box on the left side of the screen.6th step booking aa open jaw

7. The final screen will show the total cost of your trip in miles as well as additional fees, taxes, or fuel surcharges. If you want to confirm the booking, sign into your AAdvantage account if you haven’t already and fill out the rest of the necessary personal details.

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Other Options for Booking an Open Jaw

American Airlines allows one way bookings for half the price of a roundtrip. When an airline allows that, you can always include one or two open jaws per roundtrip just by booking one way awards.

For instance, instead of booking Houston to Atlanta, Baltimore to Houston as one award as shown above, we could book each of those as a one way for the same total price.

What are the advantages of booking as a single open jaw award?

You will save a few minutes on award booking, and if you need to cancel or change the award, you will pay one cancellation/change fee instead of two.

What are the advantages of booking as two one way awards?

You can book one way when it has award space and the other way when it has award space, if both ways don’t have space at the same time.

United? Delta? Alaska? Etc?

United, Delta, Alaska, and most airlines allow one way bookings, meaning you can book an open jaw or double open jaw roundtrip as two one way awards. All three also allow open jaws to be booked as a single award online.

Bottom Line

You can easily book an open jaw on aa.com in seven steps. Consider one for your next trip to see two cities without backtracking for your return.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

In January, I’ll be in the United States, and I’ll need to get back down to Southern South America. It would be fun to break the trip up with a few stops because there is a lot to discover in the Americas.

If I book a United Three One Way Award (read this if you don’t know what that is) I can stop two places along the way for as long as I’d like in addition to my final destination.

Some places on the top of my list right now are Guatemala to see parts of the country I missed my first time, especially Semuc Champey; northern Colombia to see Cartagena, Parque Tayrona, and hike to the Ciudad Perdida; and Santiago, Chile because it is one of the few South American capitals I haven’t seen. Santiago could also be a jumping off point to Easter Island, which I would like to see one day.

I played around on united.com and came up with two possible itineraries for myself. Both start in Los Angeles where my award that flies an Etihad A380 in First Class ends. Both awards end in Buenos Aires. I plan to spend a few months early in 2016 in Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro.

Option 1: Stop in Guatemala City and Santiago

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Award space is very good on the LACSA (part of Avianca/TACA) direct flight from Los Angeles to Guatemala City in economy and Business Class.

Award space is very good from Guatemala to Santiago (and really throughout the Americas) on Copa flights connecting in Panama City.

Award space is spotty, but available on some days, on the Air Canada tag flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires. If booked in Business Class, you get a flat bed for the approximately 90 minutes you are in the air.

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With just the last leg in flat bed Business Class, the award is 50,000 United miles.
Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 3.16.58 PM

With the whole thing in economy, the award is 42,500 miles.
Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 3.21.33 PM

This means that United considers Santiago to be the destination of the award. Los Angeles to Santiago is 30,000 miles in economy and Santiago to Buenos Aires is another 12,500.

Option 2: Stop in Colombia and Santiago

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 4.34.42 PMI would actually want to stop in Baranquilla or Cartagena and not Bogota, but I was getting errors trying to book that online. I believe they would be bookable by phone, but I still haven’t tried.

United’s computer thinks the destination here is Bogota, so the award is 40,000 miles total in economy, 20,000 from Los Angeles to Bogota and 20,000 more from Bogota to Buenos Aires.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 4.07.24 PM

Interestingly, the award has two connections in Panama City without issue.
Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 4.07.18 PM

Option 3: Stops in Guatemala and Colombia, making Santiago the destination

I could even make all three stops. In this scenario, my destination would be Guatemala. The stopover would be in Colombia and the destination of the “return” would be Santiago, so the award would cost 37,500 United miles. There’s a similar award here.

Then I could book Santiago to Buenos Aires on LAN with Avios for 7,500 Avios + $30 or 2,500 Avios + $83. I’d choose the 2,500 Avios option.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 4.27.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 4.27.35 PM

Bottom Line

Why go from Point A directly to Point B when miles excel at offering bigger trips?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

1

There is fantastic flat bed Business Class award space for two people on Delta flights to Europe next summer for the Level 1 (on the former, now deleted chart) price of 62,500 SkyMiles each way. That’s a fantastic value with Delta miles, which are the least valuable major mile.

To search for direct award space on Delta flights next summer for two people, I performed searches that looked like this–notice that I ticked “Non Stop” and “Delta Only.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 6.22.46 PM

To Europe

New York to London: 32/35 days at Level 1 Price
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 6.22.58 PM Atlanta to London: 27/35 days at Level 1 PriceScreen Shot 2015-11-04 at 6.23.21 PM

Detroit to London: 20/35 days at Level 1 Price
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 6.23.36 PM

Detroit to Munich: 22/30 days at Level 1 Price (doesn’t operate on Saturday)
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From Europe

There is great space at the Level 1 price leaving London, but the taxes of about $300 per person make that a bad deal for me. There is good space on other routes too. Ignore the taxes of 178 euros. I searched one way, and Delta adds fuel surcharges to awards originating in Europe (roundtrips and one ways). As part of a roundtrip or open jaw from the United States, there would be no fuel surcharges.

Rome to New York: 27/35 days at Level 1 Price
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Other Routes, but Not All

There are other routes not mentioned in this post that have good award space. Find one that works for you. This isn’t, however, some general free-for-all on all Delta award space to Europe. Some routes have little-to-no award space to/from Europe in Business Class.

Amsterdam to Atlanta: 5/35 days at Level 1 Price
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 6.29.13 PM

 

Connections

You can connect in Delta economy or Delta First Class to these flights for zero extra miles as long as you find Level 1 award space on the domestic flights (12,500 for economy and 25,000 for First). You can connect on Air France, KLM, or other European SkyTeam flights throughout Europe in economy of Business for zero extra miles also if you find Saver award space. Here’s how to search segment-by-segment.

 

Bottom Line

Delta miles are the least valuable because of a slightly expensive (secret) award chart and a general lack of availability. However, right now there is great availability in Business Class for two passengers to and from Europe. Jump on it because it probably won’t last.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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