Award Booking

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I ran a simple search the other day, and got a different problem with a different solution for the outbound and the return.

The Plan

I was just running a search from Chicago to Sydney roundtrip. I was expecting to route from Chicago to Vancouver to Sydney.

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It’s only a little more flying than routing through San Francisco or Los Angeles, and Air Canada’s flight out of Vancouver has much more award space than United’s flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles, especially in Business Class.

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Searching the Hardest Leg First

I found dates that worked on the direct flight from Vancouver to Sydney roundtrip first because I always start with the hardest leg in my searches. (If you don’t know the hardest leg, start with the longest leg.)Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 11.07.54 AM

These flights cost 160,000 United miles + $131 in Business Class. As a refresher, United charges more miles to fly partners in premium cabins than to fly its own premium cabins. United would charge only 140,000 miles roundtrip in United BusinessFirst and 160,000 miles roundtrip in United Global First to Australia.Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 11.08.01 AM

The Full Search

Knowing which days had award space in Business Class on the Air Canada flights, I searched the entire Chicago to Sydney award roundtrip on those days on The calendar at the top of the search results told me there was Saver economy and Business Class award space on the day I searched.

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Yet the results showed only Saver award space in economy. And the results only featured United flights. No partner options were offered.
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Solution 1: Display 50 Flights

You can often get new and better results from just by asking it show you more results.

I clicked on Advanced Search at the bottom of my results.
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At the bottom of the Advanced Search page, I toggle the Number of Flights to Display to 50.Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 11.10.46 AM

Re-running the search brought results that featured the Business Class flight from Vancouver to Sydney.

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After selecting the outbound, though, no results were found with the Air Canada Business Class segment for the return even though, again, the calendar said I should find some and I asked 50 results to be displayed.

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Solution 2: Segment-by-Segment Searching

For the return, the way to find award space was segment-by-segment searching. I already had found award space from Sydney to Vancouver, landing November 17 at 7:35 AM.

I searched Vancouver to Chicago and found award space on a few flights.

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I could select the 10:30 AM departure in economy if I valued getting back to Chicago quickly or the 1:41 PM if I wanted to fly Business Class on the four hour flight.

Here is a post on Segment-by-Segment searching with a full example.

Since I couldn’t get to show the full Sydney to Vancouver to Chicago return, to book these flights, I’d need to put something on hold then call in to United and feed the agent the flights I’d found.

Bottom Line on doesn’t display all possible connections, sometimes says there’s no space on flights with space, and sometimes says there’s space on flights with no space.

It’s not as good as or–click the links for how and why to search those sites–at displaying Star Alliance award space. If you decide to use–to redeem United miles or because it is the easiest site to use–be aware of possible errors and solutions.

Bonus: Free One Way

This roundtrip United award could include a stopover or a free one way before or after the main award to/from Chicago to/from anywhere else in Canada or the continental United States.

See Free One Ways on United Awards

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American Airlines offers some of the most generous off peak awards in the world. Off peak awards are discounts (ranging from 20-30%) on economy awards with MileSAAver award space, the capacity-controlled space that we like to book.

To Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Central America, American Airlines charges just 15,000 miles one way seven months out of the year. Two roundtrips cost only 60,000 miles.

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Two Roundtrips to Peru

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Just meeting its minimum spending requirement puts you at 53,000 miles. A little more spending gets you to 60,000 miles and two roundtrips.

When are Off Peak Awards Available

Off peak awards are available to the Central America and northern South America for most of the year, including most of winter, spring, and fall.

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What Do They Cost

If you fly between January 16 and June 14 or September 7 and November 14, you can take advantage of a 20% discount on MileSAAver awards and pay only 15,000 miles one way or 30,000 miles roundtrip to Central America and Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

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Where Does American Fly in the Region

American has the strongest route network to Central and South America. Here are the flights from Miami to cities in the off peak region.

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Here are the flights from Dallas. There are no destinations served from Dallas that are not served from Miami.
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Unique to American Airlines, you can usually book off peak awards on either American flights or its partners flights. By contrast US Airways off peak awards require booking on US Airways flights only. See Master Thread: Off Peak Awards for more information.

One exception to American’s largesse is off peak awards to Central America, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Off peak awards to these countries must be booked on American Airlines flights.

That means that adding on a connecting segment on a partner will increase the price to the normal MileSAAver price of 17,500 miles one way. For instance, adding Lima to Cuzco in Peru onto an American Airlines award that would otherwise cost 15,000 miles makes it cost 17,500 miles. It still might be worth it to pay 2,500 miles to get the segment onto your award, but be aware of this rule.

You can connect from your home airport to Miami or Dallas to start the award for zero extra miles as long as the connecting flights have award space in MileSAAver economy and are operated by American Airlines. If they are operated by US Airways, the price jumps to 17,500 miles that direction.

How to Search for Award Space

Nothing fancy here. Search on for award space from your home airport to your destination. There shouldn’t even be a need for segment-by-segment searching because is pretty good at displaying even long layovers on awards like these if necessary. Here’s how to search

Award space is generally excellent to these destinations during off peak dates. If it isn’t available on the dates you want, don’t despair, American Airlines open a lot of MileSAAver and off peak economy award space one month before departure.

Getting the Miles

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. It also comes with a ton of other benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, a 10% rebate on awards, two lounge passes, and more. See my full review.

If you open the card and meet the minimum spending requirement, you’ll have 53,000 American Airlines miles. Spend $7,000 more on the card at your leisure, and you’ll have 60,000 American Airlines miles.

If you normally spend $2,500 per month on a card, getting to 60,000 miles will take only four months. If you spend only $1,000, this will take 10 months. No matter what, sometime in 2015, you should easily get to 60,000 miles.

With that 60,000 miles, you can book two roundtrip (or open jaw) tickets to Central America or northern South America during off peak dates.

You’ll even get a 6,000 mile rebate a few weeks after the booking from the 10% rebate that comes with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.

Take your friend on a dream trip. Open one card, collect 60,000 miles on it including the 50,000 mile sign up bonus. Then book you and a companion an award trip to Central or South America. Head to Ecuador to see the Galapagos, Peru to see Machu Picchu, Colombia to trek to the Ciudad Perdida, Guatemala to see Semuc Champey, or wherever your dream trip is.

Is there an easier way to get two tickets to an exotic destination? Share it in the comments.

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Bri wrote in her Free Credit Card Consultation:

2 passengers, to Lima, Peru. Anytime in July 2015 (hopefully stay 2 weeks). I would love to fly business class but I would like to err on the side of opening just 1 card, if possible. My friend is willing to also open a card. I’m thinking American Airlines or the US Airways offer, since its 50,000 miles, but I don’t know if that’s the best use of miles to get to South America and if there’s notoriously low availabilities for South America during the summer

I was expecting to suggest the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months or the US Airways card with 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase also. After all, I had suggested the American Airlines card to everyone as the Way to Get to Machu Picchu with Miles.


But as is often the case, I ran a quick search to see what award space I could find. I ended up finding award space every day in July to Lima, but not with American Airlines miles.

United miles are the ticket for Bri. I replied:

There is award space every day for two passengers from IAD-LIM, usually with an option to connect in El Salvador, flying TACA/Avianca, or Panama City, flying Copa. It is easily searchable and bookable at Each way is 20k in economy and 35k in Business, so opening one card is enough for one way in each cabin.

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Most days have economy and business class award space available.

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Outbound award space, green means economy and business class space available for 2 passengers
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Return award space, look at all that green

United isn’t releasing Saver space on itineraries via its daily flight from Houston. Instead, you fly on Copa and TACA/Avianca.

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The return offers the same kind of itineraries.

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Suggested Card

The best card to get United miles is the United card. Right now the public offer is 30k miles after $1k spending in the first three months plus 5k miles for adding an authorized user.

If you log into your United account, you may get a 50k offer after spending $2k in three months instead plus the same 5k miles for adding an authorized user.

If you don’t get that offer, you can probably get matched to that offer by applying for the public offer, then writing Chase a Secure Message saying you saw the 50k offer (it has been at Houston Airport in the last month) and asking to be matched to it.

In all cases, the $95 annual fee is waived the first 12 months.

If you get the 50k offer, that should be 57,000 United miles after spending $2,000, which is enough for one way to Peru in economy and one way in business class.



Bri and her friend can get to Lima next July for under $100 in taxes by opening one credit card each. It wasn’t the card she (or even I) expected to suggest. This is a cautionary tale to always start at the end and perform an award search before you apply for a credit card. Or just have me do it for you with a Free Credit Card Consultation.

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I think miles and points are one area where you don’t have to spend hours per day to get great results like flying some of the world’s nicest First Class products or taking your family of four on vacation for pennies on the dollar.

Easy enough to get here

You could probably cut the amount of time you spend on this hobby to 20% of your current input and still get 80% of the results. (Not that you’d necessarily want to do all of that because this is fun!)

Here’s are four ways I’d shave off huge amounts of time, while still getting most of the results.

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If you’ve somehow made it until two days before Thanksgiving without booking a flight and would like to book one, there is award space available.

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What? You were expecting a picture of the other turkey? (from Google Maps)

I did searches on transcontinental routes with two airlines and found good award space, even premium award space for travel over Thanksgiving weekend.

This is interesting whether you still need to book an award or plan to book holiday travel this year or in the future.

  • What award space pattern did I find?
  • What miles have no extra fee for booking right before departure?

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As you read this, I’m 35,000 feet up on my way to Medellin, Colombia.

I was in Tucson over the weekend for a tennis tournament, and I didn’t have any exit flight booked. I really wanted to return to Colombia because I had enjoyed Bogota so much and heard even better things about Medellin, but award space didn’t appear to be available for a Monday departure from Tucson to Medellin.

I used two tricks and a little bit of creativity to come up with a Saver award, save myself $75 in fees, and give myself a chance to hang out with a buddy I haven’t seen in a few years.

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  • What were my two tricks?
  • How did I save $75?

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An actual improvement to!

Previously, you could search award space one month at a time with a calendar on, but that calendar only took into account award space on Delta flights. Because much of the Saver award space available to people with Delta miles is available on partner airlines, that meant that in practice, you really had to search one day at a time to get the full picture. See “A Major Problem with and the Only Solution.”

The nearly useless used to display

Now, multi-day award searches can display a grid of +/- 3 days, and do take into account partners. This is a big improvement in my mind. It will certainly save me a lot of time when I am booking awards for clients of my Award Booking Service.

  • How does the new search work?
  • What airlines are searchable on
  • Why should you still call in to book most Delta awards?

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United miles are the best to Europe, though the routes with gold mine award space for Summer 2015 might surprise you. For Summer 2014, I wrote Route from the US to Europe via Canada for Better Award Space, and I decided to check back in on some of our old favorite routes to see if they were again gold mines for 2015.

The answer is a resounding yes. For next summer, there are a number of Air Canada routes with award space for two people every day, often with 2 award seats in economy and 2 in business.

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Routing through Canada is actually a shorter trip than connecting in the United States because the direct flights from most of the United States to Canada pass over Canada. According to the Great Circle Mapper, routing through Calgary only adds about 100 miles and Toronto about 300 miles over the direct Los Angeles to London flight.

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Air Canada award space is searchable and bookable on with no fuel surcharges. It is easy to connect to the space form the United States on Air Canada or United flights. Air Canada Business Class varies slightly by aircraft, but always features a fully flat bed at least 6’3″ long and always features at least some rows where all seats have direct aisle access.

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Air Canada Business Class
  • Which routes from Canada to Europe have award space for two passengers every day this summer?
  • How many United miles are required to book from the United States to Europe in economy and Business Class?
  • How can you book these awards (with one trick to make things easier if necessary)?

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Virgin Atlantic is a London-based airline that serves or has plans to serve 12 American airports. Virgin Atlantic releases a ton of award space in Upper Class between the United States and Europe in the last days and weeks before departure.

Detroit begins 6/1/15, Atlanta begins 10/27/14
Detroit begins 6/1/15, Atlanta begins 10/27/14

You can book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class with Delta miles. Delta currently charges 125,000 miles roundtrip to Europe in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.

Last week, I looked at some of Virgin Atlantic’s new flights and asked whether booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class was the best use of SkyMiles.

Starting January 1, 2015, you’ll be able to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 62,500 Delta miles one way. Delta does not collect fuel surcharges on Upper Class flights.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is among the world’s best business classes because it features a fully flat bed, direct aisle access from every seat, an onboard bar, and fantastic lounges, especially in London.

I was daydreaming about flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class home from Europe next summer, and I wondered: Does Virgin Atlantic release a lot of last minute award space on its routes?

I figure that if I am in Europe, and I do want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class home, I’d book the ticket at the last minute to maintain maximum flexibility.

  • Does Virgin Atlantic release a lot of last minute award space on its routes?
  • How can you search and book Virgin Atlantic award space?
  • How can you save money when booking Virgin Atlantic award space?

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I recently received an email about changes to the Virgin Atlantic route network.

Virgin Atlantic is a London-based carrier that is not a member of any of the three major alliances, but does have a partnership with Delta.

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Using 125,000 Delta miles for a roundtrip in Upper Class from anywhere in the United States to anywhere in Europe is a fantastic use of SkyMiles.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Marketing

I checked a few of the Virgin Atlantic routes for award space for May 2015 and found award space nearly every day on one route, many of those days featuring two award seats in Upper Class, bookable with Delta miles with no fuel surcharges.

Virgin Atlantic serves 11 cities in the United States from London and the rest of Europe from there.

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  • How is award space in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?
  • How can you book it with Delta miles?
  • How can you greatly reduce taxes on awards that involve Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?

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Yesterday’s post on the Coolest Thing You Can Do with 60,000 Miles was a hit, so I thought I’d follow up with how you can create your own THINK BIG itineraries with miles.

The basic premise of that post was connecting far-flung regions into a single trip by taking advantage of under-priced awards between the regions. In that vein, I’ll post some under-priced awards between international regions from the American Airlines chart today and United chart tomorrow.

AA Award Chart, Spot the Value
AA Award Chart, Spot the Value

Why American and United awards? Because they can be booked as one way awards, and these THINK BIG trips allow you to see more by booking a series of one way awards.

I’m including the cheapest one way international awards between non-American regions only because the cheapest international awards from the United States are better known.

Hopefully seeing cheap ways to get between East Asia and Australia or Europe and the Maldives will spur you to THINK BIG and come up with a really creative trip that incorporates both places.

1. First Class: 40,000 Miles Between Europe and India, Maldives, Middle East

or 30,000 miles in Business Class

American groups the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and the Maldives into one region, and then it under-prices many awards to and from the region!

Between Europe and the Middle East, India, or Maldives is only 30,000 American Airlines miles in Business Class and 40,000 miles in First Class.

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Key routes to consider are Dubai to London on a Qantas A380 and Abu Dhabi to London with Etihad. Both feature absolute world class First Class products for the same price as you’d expect to pay for domestic First Class to Hawaii!

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7hr30min of A380 First Class for 40,000 miles

You can use these under-priced awards to get between Europe and Asia on a round-the-world trip.

  • What are the other top five under-priced awards on the American Airlines chart?

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Cathay Pacific is a Hong Kong-based member of oneworld with a mind-blowing First Class and a top-notch business class.

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Cathay Pacific First Class Bed

Cathay Pacific flies from six North American cities to Hong Kong (and from there to the rest of the world), plus Boston to Hong Kong starts in May 2015.


Cathay Pacific flies 777s between the United States and Hong Kong, which have only six First Class seats. Because of that, you rarely see more than one First Class award seat per flight.

But lately Cathay Pacific has been increasing its capacity to the United States so much that there are occasional flights with award space available for two out of the First Class cabin’s six seats.

  • What are the new routes/services from the United States to Hong Kong?
  • What is the pattern for Cathay Pacific First Class award space?
  • Which flights have two seats?
  • What are the best miles to book Cathay Pacific First Class award space?

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US Airways is now pricing roundtrip awards as the sum of two one ways. This can save you up to 50,000 miles per roundtrip awards.

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This award will now cost the one way price of Chicago to Hong Kong plus the one way price of Shanghai to Chicago

You still can’t book a one way award with US Airways miles for half the price of a roundtrip, but this is a baby step in the right direction!

Even as the US Airways program and the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with a 40,000 mile sign up bonus on first purchase are set to disappear in early 2015, the program is improving!

  • What does it mean to price an award as the sum of its one ways?
  • How can this change save you 50,000 miles on a single award?

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Until late last year, getting to Europe in business class was much easier than it has been lately, especially for traveling parties of three or more. In December of last year, Austrian Airlines stopped releasing business class award space until about three months before departure. This made advance business class award redemptions for larger parties much more difficult.

In the past I’ve booked families of four to Europe and even to the Middle East on Austrian Airlines, and it is a very solid and comfortable flat bed business class product. See my full review for my thoughts on the onboard chef concept and the comfort of the bed.

Minced veal patty, potatoes, and veggies in Austrian Business Class

I was very excited several weeks ago to discover that Austrian Airlines was again releasing business class award space as soon as the schedule opens for up to four passengers.

  • Where does Austrian Airlines fly?
  • What kind of business class product do they have?
  • What miles are best suited for travel on Austrian Airlines
  • How good is award availability?

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Recently, I posted about how we can get amazing value from the fact that the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program considers Hawaii to be part of the same region as Central AmericaWe can also use this sweet spot for great value on travel to South America too!

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On the Singapore Airline’s award chart, it costs fewer miles to fly between Hawaii and South America, routing through the continental United States, than it does to fly directly between the continental United States and South America.

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Adding Honolulu to Houston lowers the price of Houston to Buenos Aires

On the Singapore award chart:

  • Continental Unites States to South America: 60,000 miles roundtrip in economy
  • Continental Unites States to South America: 100,000 miles roundtrip in business
  • Hawaii to South America: 50,000 miles roundtrip in economy
  • Hawaii to South America: 80,000 miles roundtrip in business

This is great news for people that live in Hawaii or South America, but it is just as good for people who live in the continental United States!

People who live in the continental United States can use this sweet spot to get a complete vacation to South America and two half trips to Hawaii, all on one award redemption, for fewer miles than simply booking a roundtrip award between the continental United States!

Singapore miles are some of the easiest to get, since Singapore is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, and Starwood Preferred Guest.

  • What are the relevant rules and tricks for this award?
  • What variations on this award could we book?
  • How can you book this award?
  • What about using United miles?
  • How can you get Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles?

Singapore Award Rules

As I laid out in my last post on Singapore sweet spots, the Singapore Airlines’ relevant award rules include:

  • Singapore does not allow a stopover on one way awards.
  • Singapore Airlines allows six segments per award.
  • Singapore allows one free stopover per roundtrip award and up to three additional stopovers for $100 each.
  • Singapore allows one open jaw per roundtrip award.
  • Singapore collects fuel surcharges on many awards, but no flights you would use for this award have fuel surcharges. United flights to Hawaii and South America and Copa and Avianca flights between the United States and South America are all surcharge free.

We’ll examine each of these rules in relation to an example routing. You can view Singapore Airlines’ full routing rules here.

Example Routing

To illustrate the sweet spot between Hawaii and South America, I am going to give an example itinerary for someone based in Houston.

For only 50,000 Singapore miles in economy or 80,000 miles in business plus $100 plus taxes, we can book:

  • Honolulu to Houston (free one way #1)
  • Stopover for months
  • Houston to Buenos Aires
  • Buenos Aires to Houston (roundtrip award)
  • Stopover for months
  • Houston to Maui (free one way #2)
Singapore Sweet Spot 1
Main award to Buenos Aires in blue, free one ways to Hawaii in green and red

One Way vs. Roundtrip

We have a valid round trip booking, ensuring we are not tripped up by the rule that we may not have a stopover on a one way award.

Number of Segments

We use five segments on our proposed award, which is less than the limit of six that Singapore Airlines imposes on their award redemptions:

  1. Honolulu to Houston
  2. Houston to Buenos Aires
  3. Buenos Aires to Houston
  4. Houston to Los Angeles
  5. Los Angeles to Maui

Due to the rule that we can only have six segments included on the booking, to take advantage of this sweet spot, your home airport must have direct flights to either Hawaii or South America so that you stay under six segments. All United hubs in the continental United States and all cities with direct Avianca flights to Colombia satisfy this requirement.


We have two stopovers (one free and one for $100). The first is between our flight from Honolulu to Houston and our flight from Houston to Buenos Aires. The second is between our flight from Buenos Aires to Houston and our flight from Houston to Maui via Los Angeles.

Our time spent in Buenos Aires is not considered a stopover because Buenos Aires is the destination of our round trip award.

The stopovers can be as long as we want them, subject to the fact that United only releases award space to Singapore up to 331 days out, and we need to book all our flights at once.

Open Jaws

We have one open jaw (starting the trip in Honolulu and ending the trip in Maui), which conforms to Singapore Airlines routing rule that allows one.

Award Variations

We’ve laid out a fantastic itinerary. However, there are some changes that we could make to the award to better suit our particular circumstances.

  • We could put together a similar award for the same number of miles in reverse if we wanted two half trips to South America and one roundtrip to Hawaii.
  • If, on our trip to Maui we wanted to stopover in Los Angeles, we could pay an additional $100 dollars for the privilege of an additional stopover.
  • If we wanted to minimize our cash out of pocket and not spend $100 for a second stopover on the route, we could book the flights from Houston to Maui within 24 hours of our arrival in Houston from Buenos Aires. We could either combine the two vacations into one big one or treat the flights to Maui as dummy flights and not fly them.

How to Book the Award

You’ll be using Singapore Airline miles to book flights on its Star Alliance partners: United, Avianca, and Copa. The easiest place to search for award space on all three is I searched for the example award for these dates:

  • Honolulu -> Houston (September 2014)
  • Stopover
  • Houston -> Buenos Aires (November 2014)
  • Buenos Aires -> Houston (November 2014)
  • Stopover
  • Houston -> Maui (April 2015)

Singapore phone agents will have access to all Saver award space you see when searching without signing in to your United account. (Logging in will show extra Saver space that is available only to people with a United credit card or elite status. Singapore can’t book that space.)

Like always, write down the flight numbers, dates, and cabins, so you can feed them to the Singapore customer service representative when you call to book your ticket. Remember, getting to Honolulu before the start of this award and getting back to Houston after arriving in Maui will not be included in this award. I’ve written a lot about the best ways to travel to Hawaii with miles and you can find those posts here.

The Search

While award space was available enough to make the trip work with some flexibility in economy, there was no availability at this time in business.

I started searching in chronological order with Honolulu to Houston in September 2014. Since I knew that there are direct flights on this route, I checked the box on the United search interface to only search nonstop flights.

Singapore Sweet Spot 2

Singapore Sweet Spot 3

There is availability every day except Saturdays in September on the red-eye flight back to Houston.

Singapore Sweet Spot 4

Next I searched the Houston to Buenos Aires route in November. Again, knowing that there was a direct flight offered on this route, I checked the box to search only for nonstop flights.

Singapore Sweet Spot 5

Singapore Sweet Spot 6

The availability for this route was very limited in November, but there were still some options.

Singapore Sweet Spot 7

Next I searched the return flight from Buenos Aires to Houston in November. My goal was to find a flight that gave us a 10 day vacation in Buenos Aires. Again, knowing that there was a direct flight offered on this route, I checked the box to search only for nonstop flights.

Singapore Sweet Spot 8

Singapore Sweet Spot 9

Luckily, there was good availability, especially in the later part of the month, allowing us to spend exactly 10 days in Buenos Aires.

Singapore Sweet Spot 10

Finally, I searched the Houston to Maui route in March 2015. This time, knowing that there was no direct flight offered on this route, I did not check the box to search only for nonstop flights.

Singapore Sweet Spot 11

Singapore Sweet Spot 12

While the availability in the beginning of the month is not good, there is a lot of availability in the latter part of the month.

Singapore Sweet Spot 13

Calling Singapore

We’re flying United and we’re searching, but we have to call Singapore to book since we’re using Singapore miles.

Singapore’s US call center is open 24 hours a day. The number is: (213) 404-0301. There is no telephone booking fee. Always clarify with the agent whether she’s quoting a price in US dollars or Singapore dollars.

As always, if an agent cannot book a flight for you or prices it at a higher price then you are expecting, simply hang up and call back for another representative.

After feeding the agent the flights I’d found, he quoted a price of 50,000 Singapore miles plus $186. That represented $86 in government taxes and $100 for the second stopover. As noted above, Singapore does not collect fuel surcharges on United flights.

Comparison with United Miles

Using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles is also a better bet for flights to South America than using United Airlines miles, Singapore Airline’s Star Alliance partner and the operator of most of the flights we’ll look at booking to take advantage of this sweet spot.

For flights flown on United, United charges 60k miles in economy or 120k miles in business roundtrip between Hawaii and South America and 60k miles in economy or 110k miles in business roundtrip between the mainland US and South America. Plus, we can’t pay $100 for a second stopover using United miles.

Getting Singapore Miles

Getting Singapore miles is extremely easy now.

Citi ThankYou Points transfer 1:1 in 22-36 hours to Singapore miles. If I had all four types of points in this section, transferring ThankYou Points would be my first choice. This is the best ThankYou Points transfer partner, and the other options like redeeming the points for 1.25 cents each toward any flight aren’t nearly as valuable.

To get 55,000 ThankYou Points after spending $5,000 over 15 months, start with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 6.41.45 PM

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

The card also offers 3x points on dining and entertainment and 2x points on travel. (These categories flip flop on April 19.)

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

This card has a $125 annual fee that is waived the first year, but you will have to pay it once in year 2 to get the full 50,000 point bonus.

SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Singapore miles in about a week. Like all SPG 1:1 transfer partners, for every 20,000 points transferred, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles. Try to transfer in exact 20,000 Starpoint increments to maximize this 20,000:25,000 transfer ratio.

You can earn Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express.

Chase Ultimate Rewards earned from the Ink Plus and Sapphire Preferred transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Points from the Freedom can transfer to any of those three cards‘ accounts and from there on to Singapore.

Ultimate Rewards are the only one of the four points that also transfer 1:1 to United miles, so people with Ultimate Rewards should definitely bookmark this post that compares awards using United and Singapore miles.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Any Gold, Platinum, Green, EveryDay, or corporate card will earn Membership Rewards.



Singapore Airlines has placed Hawaii and Central America in one region. Singapore Airlines charges less miles to fly between the Hawaii/Central America region and South America, routing via the continental United States, than it does to fly directly between the continental United States and South America.

If you live in the continental United States, you can use these facts to combine multiple Hawaiian and South American vacations into a single award for fewer miles than if booking them separately.

Singapore miles are easy to rack up since the airline is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase and American Express.

Hopefully booking a similar award to the one laid out in this post will be easy for you. If not, hire the MileValue Award Booking Service to book your dream trip (or trips in this case!) for you.

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