Flight-by-Flight Intel

We collect anecdotal information about award flights, organized by destination pairings and frequent flyer program. The information we're interested in is:
  • What are the fees and surcharges that travelers needed to pay in order to book their award flight?
  • How was the availability of a given route(s) when it came to booking the award flight?
  • Are there tricks that program members used in order to optimize their redemption?
  • Which specific flights were used for the award ticket? Are some flights better than others?
  • How does this award ticket compare to other programs and how does it compare to a ticket bought with cash?
  • Are there specific sweet spots in the award tables that one should try to take advantage of?
  • Are there exceptions to the award tables where our calculations are not accurate?
  • What was your overall experience with a particular award ticket?
  • Was it worth cashing your miles in for a given flight?

Let us know if you have intel you would like to share; we're happy to link to your trip reports too! You can on the "comment" button for any of the miles calculations. Or you can just email us through the contact page. We're happy to link to your sources as well.

 

 

Frankfurt (FRA) to Chicago (ORD) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

24 January, 2018

The one-way first class redemption with Lufthansa from Germany (FRA) to Chicago (ORD) has very reasonable fees of only CAD 150. This is a great deal for Lufthansa's first class cabin. The award fees for the return flight from ORD to FRA on the same LH flight, however, are priced much higher at CAD 631!

An alternative would be a redemption with Swiss, with one connection in Zurich, which incurs fees of only CAD 27 for the trip starting in the USA.
Roundtrip in Economy60,000
Roundtrip in Premium Economy75,000
Roundtrip in Business110,000
Roundtrip in First Class140,000
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Frankfurt (FRA) to Chicago (ORD) with Miles from Amigo (Avianca Brasil) / Star Alliance

24 January, 2018

The one-way first class redemption with Lufthansa from Germany (FRA) to Chicago (ORD) has fees and surcharges of only USD 370. This is a great deal for Lufthansa's first class cabin. The first class seats on the Lufthansa flights usually become available about 12 days before the travel date.

Roundtrip in Economy110,000
Roundtrip in Executive170,000
Roundtrip in First Class220,000
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Tokyo (NRT) to Seoul (ICN) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

17 January, 2018

According the an article in SF Gate the direct Asiana flight from Tokyo to Seoul represents a sweet spot in  the United award chart. The one-way flight can be booked for only 8,000 miles!

Link to the article.
Roundtrip in Economy (if direct available)16,000
Roundtrip in Economy30,000
Roundtrip in Business60,000
Roundtrip in First Class80,000
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Shanghai (PVG) to Hong Kong (HKG) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

17 January, 2018

According the an article in SF Gate the direct Air China flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong represents a sweet spot in the United award chart. The one-way flight can be booked for only 8,000 miles!

Link to the article.
Roundtrip in Economy40,000
Roundtrip in Business90,000
Roundtrip in First Class130,000
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London (LHR) to Frankfurt (FRA) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

17 January, 2018

According the an article in SF Gate the direct Lufthansa flight from London to Frankfurt represents a sweet spot in the United award chart. The one-way flight can be booked for only 8,000 miles!

Link to the article.
Roundtrip in Economy (if direct available)16,000
Roundtrip in Economy30,000
Roundtrip in Business50,000
Roundtrip in First Class70,000
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Cape Town (CPT) to Johannesburg (JNB) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

17 January, 2018

According the an article in SF Gate the direct South African Airways flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg represents a sweet spot in the United award chart. The one-way flight can be booked for only 8,000 miles!

Link to the article.
Roundtrip in Economy (if direct available)16,000
Roundtrip in Economy35,000
Roundtrip in Business60,000
Roundtrip in First Class80,000
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Casablanca (CMN) to Johannesburg (JNB) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

17 January, 2018

Star Alliance has very good coverage of the African continent with three local airlines in the program: South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Egypt Air.

The long journey from Casablanca in Morocco to Johannesburg (a distance of almost 5,000 miles) can be redeemed by Mileage Plus members for 20,000 miles one-way in economy, a sweet spot in the United awards table according to the article below:

Link to the article in SF Gate.
Roundtrip in Economy40,000
Roundtrip in Business90,000
Roundtrip in First Class120,000
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Chicago (ORD) to Champaign / Urbana (CMI) with Miles from United Mileage Plus

17 January, 2018

There are some good direct short-haul (under 700 miles, direct flight) redemptions available in North America, especially if there is no competition on the same route from other airlines. One such example is the Chicago - Champaign (Ill.) itinerary. One-way can be booked for 10,000 miles.

Link to the article in SF Gate.
Roundtrip in Economy Saver20,000
Roundtrip in Business Saver50,000
Roundtrip in Economy Everyday65,000
Roundtrip in First Class Saver70,000
Roundtrip in Business Everyday100,000
Roundtrip in First Class Everyday140,000
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Los Angeles (LAX) to Zurich (ZRH) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

7 December, 2017

There are many possible itineraries to travel from Los Angeles (LAX) to Zurich (ZRH) on Star Alliance carriers. The fees and surcharges also vary widly!
  • One of the most attractive options we have found is to travel from LA to Boston (BOS) with United (UA) and then getting on the Swiss (LX) flight to Zurich. Total fees for the one way ticket were only CAD 7. The same can also be done by getting on the Swiss flight in San Francisco (SFO).
  • The one-way fees are also rather low (CAD 14) on an all-Turkish (TK) itinerary through Istanbul (IST).
  • Also very attractive are options that use SAS (SK) as the cross-Atlantic carrier, for example Los Angeles-Stockholm-Zurich for CAD 19 in total fees.
  • A connection in Canada with an all Air Canada (AC) route costs quite a bit more CAD 233.
  • The most expensive options we saw were with Lufthansa, where fees can be over CAD 500 for a one-way award ticket.
Roundtrip in Economy60,000
Roundtrip in Premium Economy75,000
Roundtrip in Business110,000
Roundtrip in First Class140,000
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San Francisco (SFO) to Zurich (ZRH) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

7 December, 2017

There are many possible itineraries to travel from San Francisco (SFO) to Zurich (ZRH) on Star Alliance carriers. The fees and surcharges also vary widly!
  • The most attractive award redemption would be the direct Swiss (LX) flight to Zurich (ZRH). The fees for the one-way to Switzerland are only CAD 7.
  • But connecting to the Swiss (LX) flight in Chicago (ORD) is also very interesting as the fees do not change, despite the connection, ie. CAD 7.
  • Also very attractive are options that use SAS (SK) as the cross-Atlantic carrier, for example San Francisco-Copenhagen-Zurich for CAD 30 in total fees.
  • Using United (UA) to get to London Heathrow (LHR) and then Swiss to Zurich  incurs fees of CAD 39.
  • A connection in Canada with an all Air Canada (AC) route costs quite a bit more: CAD 259.
  • And finally a route consisting of Air Canada and Lufthansa flights can be as almost CAD 700 for a one way, e.g. through Montreal (YUL) and Frankfurt (FRA).
Roundtrip in Economy60,000
Roundtrip in Premium Economy75,000
Roundtrip in Business110,000
Roundtrip in First Class140,000
  Share Your Knowledge

 

 

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We are tracking the following 78 frequent flyer programs:
AAdvantage [AA only] Aer Lingus AerClub Aeroflot Bonus / SkyTeam Aerolíneas Argentinas Plus Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance Air Algérie Plus Air Caraïbes Préférence Air Mauritius Kestrelflyer Air Tahiti Nui Club Tiare Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Alfursan (Saudia) Amigo (Avianca Brasil) / Star Alliance ANA Mileage Club Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) Asiana Club BalticMiles (AirBaltic) British Airways Executive Club / oneworld Caribbean Airlines Loyalty Clubs Club Premier (AeroMexico) Delta SkyMiles / SkyTeam Dynasty Flyer (China Airlines) / SkyTeam Eastern Miles [dom] (China Eastern) Egyptair Plus / Star Alliance Emirates Skywards Etihad Guest EuroBonus (SAS) Eurowings Boomerang Club EVA Air Infinity MileageLands Finnair Plus Flying Blue (Air France, KLM) / SkyTeam Flying Returns [int'l] (Air India) FlySmiles (SriLankan Airlines) GarudaMiles Gulf Air Falconflyer Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club [dom] Hawaiian Miles Iberia Plus Icelandair Saga Club JAL Mileage Bank [int'l] Jet Airways JetPrivilege [dom] JetStar Classic Flight Rewards [QFF] King Club (Kingfisher Airlines) Korean Air Skypass Kuwait Airways Oasis Club LATAM Fidelidade Multiplus / oneworld LATAM Pass LifeMiles (Avianca, TACA) / Star Alliance Mabuhay Miles (Philippine Airlines) Malaysia Airlines Enrich / oneworld MEA Cedar Miles Meridiana Club Miles & Bonus (Aegean) / Star Alliance Miles & More (Lufthansa)  / Star Alliance Miles & Smiles (Turkish Airlines) MilleMiglia (Alitalia) / SkyTeam OK Plus (Czech Airlines) / SkyTeam Oman Air Sindbad Miles PhoenixMiles [dom] (Air China) Privilege Club (Qatar Airways) Qantas Classic Awards [QFF] Royal Brunei Royal Skies Royal Orchid Plus (Thai Airways) S7 Priority SAA Voyager / Star Alliance Safar Flyer (Royal Air Maroc) ShebaMiles (Ethiopian) Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Sky Pearl Club [dom] (China Southern) TAP Victoria topbonus (airberlin, NIKI) Tunisair Fidelys UIA Panorama Club United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance Velocity Frequent Flyer (Virgin Australia) / Redemption Table 1 Vietnam Airlines Golden Lotus Plus VIPorter Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Xiamen Airlines Egret Club [domestic]