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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

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.

24 January, 2018

Frankfurt (FRA) to Chicago (ORD) with Miles from Amigo (Avianca Brasil) / Star Alliance

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.

24 January, 2018

Tokyo (NRT) to Seoul (ICN) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

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.

17 January, 2018

Shanghai (PVG) to Hong Kong (HKG) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

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.

17 January, 2018

London (LHR) to Frankfurt (FRA) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

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.

17 January, 2018

Cape Town (CPT) to Johannesburg (JNB) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

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.

17 January, 2018

Casablanca (CMN) to Johannesburg (JNB) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

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.

17 January, 2018

Chicago (ORD) to Champaign / Urbana (CMI) with Miles from United Mileage Plus

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.

17 January, 2018

Los Angeles (LAX) to Zurich (ZRH) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

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.

7 December, 2017

Boston (BOS) to Zurich (ZRH) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

Various option to get to Switzerland from Boston with Star Alliance, the direct Swiss flight easily topping the list, at only CAD 7 in fees. Avoid the redeeming with Lufthansa through Munich (MUC) if you want to avoid the very high fees (CAD 677 for the one-way to Zurich). Using Turkish Airlines with a connection in Istanbul is quite inexpensive at CAD 15.


7 December, 2017