Tired of shuffling through the fine print of frequent flyer programs when spending your miles? Instead of falling for the airline’s trap of spending double miles to redeem on prime flights, opt for these little known opportunities to cash in miles with the best return on investment.
It is commonly recognized that one mile is worth one penny. Spending 25,000 miles on a sub-$250 is not worth it given the additional taxes and fees. These bargain deals help to max out the value of one cent per mile.
1. American and United offer one-way Flex awards as low as 12,500 miles. One-way tickets are often more expensive than a roundtrip. Remember that American awards booked under 21 days in advance incur a $50 surcharge while those less than a week incur $100. Elite tier members of AAdvantage are spared the fees. United, however, no longer has a last-minute booking surcharge. For example, a one-way ticket on Oct. 29 between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Des Moines costs $380 nonstop on American. Booking a one-way award for 12,500 miles plus the $50 fee highlights the mega savings of this offer. http://www.aa.com/i18n/urls/flexawards.jsp
2. Until recently, US Airways recognized Russia to be in Asia rather than Europe allowing travel between Moscow to Shanghai (for example) in Business Class for only 30,000 miles. First Class, only 40,000 miles. This loophole has been adjusted, but new anomalies in their country designations have emerged. For example, US Airways considers Thailand to be in North Asia while other airlines consider it South Asia making it available for cheaper redemptions. US Airways also charges the least to the South Pacific. A Business Class ticket is only 110,000 miles where as United and Delta charge 150,000 miles. For example, a Business Class ticket between New York and Sydney in mid-November goes for between $7,000 and $18,000. US Airways’ 110,000 mile price is an amazing deal. (See how you can buy miles on USAir and get one free for each one purchased, through Nov 15, 2010).
3. Bopping around the South Pacific? US Airways offers roundtrip awards within this region for only 25,000 miles in Economy Class. Not enticing enough? Consider that a trip between Perth or Melbourne and Fiji or the Cook Islands can cost almost $1,000 in the back of the bus. For Business Class, US Airways charges only 30,000 miles to redeem on partner Air New Zealand. American has a similar roundtrip deal with domestic travel on oneworld partner Qantas for 10,000 miles in Economy and 17,500 miles in Business Class. Air New Zealand charges $3,000 for a mid-November Business Class seat between Perth and Auckland. Qantas charges $3,500 for the same route.
4. Intra-Hawaiian island hopping is easy thanks to 10,000 mile roundtrip flights redeemed through United or US Airways. These are on partner Hawaiian Airlines and can spell huge value when sale fares are not on offer. A mid-November reservation between Hilo and Kahului, Maui can cost between $200-300. United does not charge a last-minute award booking fee adding to the value of this offer.
5. African cities are often expensive to travel between and the reliable airline choices can be limited. Continental offers a 25,000 mile Economy Class redemption award between any African city via Star Alliance partner South African Airways’ Johannesburg hub. Frequent African continent travelers will immediately recognize the savings potential as a Nairobi-Luanda ticket in mid-November costs between $800 and $1,500 in Economy Class. Open jaw awards are permitted and recommended to boost the value!