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This blog became famous because I was the first to articulate how to book free one ways on United and US Airways awards.

A free one way is a one way trip to or from your home airport that is tacked onto another award for no extra miles. Free one ways cut your flight bill in half for a second trip without adding to the price of the first trip!

American Airlines killed free one ways on its awards in April 2014 by nixing all free stopovers because free one ways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport. Delta killed its free one ways on January 1, 2015 with the elimination of free stopovers on its awards (though in return, we do now get to book one way Delta awards.)

What’s the current state of free one ways with major frequent flyer programs?

If you get confused during this post, please read my Introduction to Free One Ways.

Alaska Airlines

Free one ways are possible on one way Alaska Airlines awards. That means you can book two free one ways per roundtrip awards.

Alaska has an amazing group of partners:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Horizon Air
  • AeroMexico
  • Air France
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways (fuel surcharges)
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Fiji
  • KLM
  • Korean
  • Qantas
  • Ravn Alaska (flights within Alaska)
  • PenAir (flights within Alaska)

Unfortunately you must book only one partner each one way award (you may add Alaska Airlines flights as well.) And unfortunately most Alaska Airlines awards need to either start or end in the United States.

Abide by those rules, though, and enjoy some amazing free one way opportunities.

For full details, see Free One Ways on Alaska Airlines Awards.

American Airlines

Free one ways are impossible on awards booked with American Airlines miles. Free one ways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport, and American has eliminated the chance to take any free stopovers on awards.

British Airways

Free one ways are impossible on awards booked with Avios. Every flight on an Avios award has a mileage cost (determined exclusively by its distance and the cabin you book.) If every flight has a cost, there’s no way to get one for free as a free one way.

Delta Airlines

Free one ways are impossible on Delta awards since stopovers were eliminated on January 1, 2015.

United Airlines

Free one ways are possible on both international United awards and awards between the mainland and Hawaii. Free one ways are not possible on awards wholly within the mainland United States and Canada.

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Roundtrip award from Los Angeles to Honolulu with a later free oneway to Newark

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 9.24.16 PM

You can either have a free one way BEFORE your main roundtrip award TO your home airport or AFTER your main roundtrip award FROM your home airport.

United’s routing rules are pretty lenient for free one ways. You can do some amazing backtracking. You can also do “cheap one ways” where you fly the extra leg to a distant land and pay far fewer miles than you “should.”

You will get a lot of errors trying to book free one ways on united.com because united.com’s multi-city search tool is broken. Don’t despair. Find all the space you need with one way searches, then call in to book.

For full details, see Master Thread: Free One Ways on United Awards.

US Airways

Free one ways are possible only on international US Airways awards.

US Airways only allows one stopover OR one open jaw on awards, and you ordinarily need both on a free oneway. Because of this limitation, free one ways are only possible on US Airways awards:

  • before your main roundtrip award
  • to your home airport
  • with a corresponding dummy leg(s) to where the free oneway began
  • after the main award
  • within 24 hours of landing at your home airport

That might sound a little more complicated than it is. Check out Master Thread: Free Oneways on US Airways Awards for an easy explanation.

While American and Delta killed its free one ways recently, and free one ways have never been possible with Avios, free one ways are still possible on awards booked with United, Alaska, and US Airways miles.

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December 31, 2014 is the last day to book a free stopover on a roundtrip Delta award. That means it is the last day to book a free one way on a Delta award.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 12.06.42 AM

January 1, 2015, stopovers will be eliminated on Delta awards. Free one ways require a stopover at your home airport, which means that free one ways will be eliminated. Here are the awards I am most looking forward to booking one way.

Overall I think this trade off is good because Delta miles have access to the worst award availability, making one way bookings even more valuable than they would be if space were more plentiful.

Today and tomorrow, book your roundtrip Delta awards with a stopover for travel through November 2015. Here are the rules for free one ways on Delta awards.

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Update on 9/23/14 to Remove Reference to American Airlines award stopovers and free one ways, which are no longer possible.

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to visit, and judging by the number of inquiries I get about booking awards to Hawaii, it’s clear that many people agree. There are a number of cheap ways to get there that I’ll list in order.

1. Allegiant Air $358+ roundtrip- Allegiant Air is a super-low cost carrier that announced flights to Hawaii that will start in November. Flights to Honolulu from Bellingham, Eugene, Fresno, Las Vegas, Monterey, Santa Maria, and Stockton; and flights to Kahului from Bellingham begin in November. The flights are as cheap as $308 roundtrip, but a carryon will cost $50 roundtrip and a checked bag is $70 roundtrip. Additionally if you want to select your seat or board early, you have to pay extra.

But if you live in one of the cities serviced by Allegiant, don’t mind a middle seat for five hours, and can travel with only one bag, $358 roundtrip to Hawaii is the best deal in my opinion.

One key caveat is that Allegiant flights don’t earn any frequent flier miles or credit of any kind. Since normally flying from the west coast to Hawaii earns about 5,000 miles, and I value 5,000 miles at around $85 depending on the carrier, Allegiant flights must be $85 or more cheaper than the legacy carriers for this to be a good deal. Since the legacy carriers want $600+ from the west coast to Hawaii right now, Allegiant easily meets the criterion.

You can always pay for your Allegiant flights, bag fees, seat fees, and food with a Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®. Then you can redeem Arrival miles to remove those purchases from your statement. You could even use your Arrival miles for an airbnb stay in Hawaii or interisland flights.

2. Avios Award 25,000+ Avios and $11+ roundtrip- I love that Avios is a distance-based award chart. Flights like the west coast to Hawaii cost only 12,500 Avios each way plus taxes. For 25,000 Avios and $11, you can fly on AA planes from LAX to the four major Hawaiian airports.

Alaska Airlines has way more gateways on the mainland to the four major Hawaiian airports. For 25,000 Avios and $36, you can fly from Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, and Seattle to Hawaii. The extra $25 on Avios awards comes from the fact that awards on Alaska Airlines can’t be booked on ba.com, and calling BA incurs a $25 phone fee.

Avios is also the best option for anyone who lives close to one of the airports mentioned in this section, since a short hop flight only adds 4,500 Avios and $2.50 to the price each way. That means Tuscon to Los Angeles to Lihue roundtrip would be 34,000 Avios and $16.

Avios can be used for oneway awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, it’s still a good idea to go oneway for 12,500 Avios and use another oneway deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a oneway award from Honolulu to LAX with Avios.

3. Hawaiian Airlines Award 35,000 miles and $11- Hawaiian Airlines awards start at 35,000 miles for Hawaiian Airlines branded card holders. The normal price is 40,000 miles. While this price is no cheaper than an American Airlines off peak award to Hawaii, I think it’s a better deal because Hawaiian Airlines miles are worth less than most programs’ miles. (The reason Hawaiian miles are worth less is their lack of partners, junk long haul first class product, and lack of destinations.)

Hawaiian also has the only direct flight from Honolulu to JFK, which at 35,000 miles and $5 is a fantastic value in terms of low cost and getting a direct flight. The other flights Hawaiian operates from Honolulu to the mainland go to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

Hawaiian miles can be used for oneway awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, this can be combined with a oneway Avios deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a oneway award from LAX to Honolulu with Hawaiian miles. The post also includes information on the very useful mile pooling allowed by Hawaiian.

4. Star Alliance options from as little as 35,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 60,000 miles in First.

See this post.

 

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My absolute favorite awards are the ones I’ve booked for family and friends. Helping them fly for (nearly) free is a great pleasure that can’t be replicated. Recently, my sister came to me asking for advice on the cheapest ways to fly from Boston to Paris this summer. She has zero miles and a tight budget. Staring at $1,500+ flights on Kayak.com, the trip wasn’t looking promising.

Main Award
Boston to Paris roundtrip with a later free oneway from Boston to Atlanta

Luckily, with the help of my AAdvantage miles, I was able to find her nonstop flights from Boston to Paris during the peak of summer travel. In addition, I helped her add a free oneway home for Thanksgiving, saving her additional money and hassle.

How did I find the award space? Was the free oneway easy to add to the itinerary? What’s the method to booking two seemingly tough awards on the same itinerary? Is there a secret way to save 10k miles on this trip?

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Here’s the goal:

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 6.03.35 PM

The goal is for a New Yorker to get a one way award to Europe in the height of summer for only 20k miles, which is a 10k mile discount plus a free oneway from Los Angeles to New York, a 12,500 mile value.

We want to pay 20,000 American Airlines miles for two flights that “should” cost 42,500 miles.

(This trick doesn’t just work for New Yorkers. It works for people who live in every city that has an American Airlines flight to London. And it doesn’t just work if you want a free oneway from Los Angeles. It works for free oneways from most of North America including Canada, Mexico, and Hawaii.)

Cities with AA Flights to London
Cities with AA Flights to London

So how can we accomplish our goal in 10 clicks?

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I was nervous that free oneways might be eliminated by United upon its new chart taking effect yesterday. There was a cryptic comment on the new award chart that stopovers on certain awards might require extra miles.

Free oneways rely on a stopover at your home airport to pull them off. If certain free stopovers were eliminated, free oneways could have been eliminated with them. For more info on free oneways, see:

Are free oneways still possible on United awards?

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I got an email from a reader that demonstrates a common point of confusion about stopovers on American Airlines awards. Hopefully my answer will illuminate for everyone how American Airlines stopovers work, so that you can enjoy free oneways to Hawaii on your next international American Airlines award!

Hello Scott.  I am trying to book a flight from Paris – Atlanta (stopover) – Honolulu.

When I look at one-way Paris-Atlanta, I see several AA flights with minimal taxes and surcharges.

But when I change the search to multi-city, Paris-ATL-HNL, there are no longer any AA flights available on the Paris-ATL leg – just British Airways flights with almost $400 in taxes.

The AA flights no longer show up as a choice.  Should I call in to AA and would that trigger a fee?

Many thanks for your blog – I read it every day and have learned so much in the past year!

What’s the answer to this reader’s question? How can she get a free oneway to Hawaii?

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Currently, the following United award (Newark to London, returning Paris to Newark) would cost 60k miles in economy.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 12.43.18 AM

Add in a stopover in Newark on the return, and a later one way trip to Jamaica and the price drops 2,500 miles to only 57,500 miles in economy!

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 12.43.36 AM

 

Unfortunately, this deal I first wrote about last year dies in six weeks! I’m a bit sad this deal will be dying even though I’ve never used it, and it’s pretty niche.

Learn more about negative priced one ways and how I killed them!

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Or: Save 10k Miles by Adding a Free Oneway

Summer airfare–during our summer or theirs–to Southern South America usually tops $1,000 per person in economy.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 12.33.39 AM Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 12.34.40 AMBut you can get to South America this summer for only 20k American Airlines miles one way.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 12.31.11 AM

All the legacy carriers–Delta, United, American, and US Airways–charge 60k miles roundtrip on Saver economy awards to Southern South America, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

American and United let you go one way for half the price while US Airways and Delta charge 60k miles for one ways.

American is even more generous with two off peak windows during which you can fly to Southern South America for only 20k miles each way:

  • March 1 – May 31
  • August 16 – November 30

Off peak awards are great because they represent a way to stretch your miles for even more trips. The problem is that peak time is peak time for a reason. The two off peak windows are almost half the year, but they leave out the best time to travel to Southern South America–December through February for their summer–and the most convenient time for Americans to travel–our summer.

Luckily, there is a way to fly to anywhere in Southern South America from New York, Dallas, or Miami for only 20k miles one way all year round! And you’ll get a free oneway to boot!

If you don’t live near New York, Dallas, or Miami, you can still use a version of the tricks in this post as long as where you live has a direct American Airlines flight to one of those cities.

How can you go to one of my favorite regions in the world during the best time to visit for only 20k miles one way?

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Last month I wrote about using American Airlines’ distance-based Explorer Award chart to save miles and add stopovers traveling to Europe. Check out Get a Roundtrip Business Class Award to Europe with Three Stopovers for 90k American Airlines Miles before proceeding. This post compares that Explorer Award option with a “regular” award option.

On a roundtrip from New York to Eastern Europe, I was able to add three stopovers and save 10k AAdvantage miles (90k vs. 100k) on the cost of a roundtrip business award.

Old Award

I didn’t go through with this award because it might not best use of miles. I could book a better award instead which opens up the potential for three vacations on one award. It’s slightly more expensive but adds tremendous value!

What’s better than a 90k Explorer Award to Europe? How did you maximize your AAdvantage miles? Does the new award include great free oneways?

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By using the principles of free oneways and an incredible sweet spot on the US Airways award chart, you can save up to 70,000 miles on your next US Airways award booking to Asia.

I’m flying Turkish Airlines Business Class on My Next US Airways Award

US Airways charges ordinarily charges 120k miles roundtrip in business class to India or Thailand and 160k in first. We can cut that to 90k miles roundtrip in business class to South or Southeast Asia and 120k miles in first!

What is this awesome sweet spot on the US Airways chart? How do we take advantage of it? Can I really save up to 70,000 Dividend Miles per person by taking advantage?

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I recently booked my friends a roundtrip award to Chile and Argentina, so that they can explore Patagonia next January for only 50,000 American Airlines miles each.

Lake District of Patagonia near Bariloche, Argentina

The award should have cost 60k miles each, but I saved them 20k miles by applying the same trick I used in the post 20k Miles to All of Europe All Summer, and I also added two free oneways onto the award, so that they already have half of their next vacation to Hawaii booked.

Here’s a visual representation of the award from gcmap.com that shows the free oneways from Chicago to Dallas and from Dallas to Honolulu in red and the main award in blue.

This Anatomy of an Award illustrates:

  • How to trick aa.com into giving you the off peak price all year round
  • How to add two free oneways to an American Airlines award

How did I book this award for my friends? How can you?

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American Airlines has released award space in first class on its three-cabin 777 from Los Angeles to Miami on 18 days in April 2014 including the last 11 days. But you would never know that from searching aa.com for the award space, where no first class award space shows up on the route at all in April 2014.

What’s going on with aa.com, how can you get an accurate reading of American Airlines award space, and are any other routes affected?

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Two months ago, thexfactor emailed me to tell me that he’d booked something online at aa.com that was against one of the rules I laid out in The Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards.

His discovery greatly increases where you can take a free oneway when booking American Airlines awards online. I’ll break down what my research has uncovered about the new possibilities and give a little background on free oneways on AA flights.

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