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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.

Auckland (AKL) to Tokyo (NRT) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

The two most attractive and available options to travel on a Star Alliance award ticket from Auckland (AKL) to Tokyo (NRT) with Aeroplan miles are:

  • An all Royal Thai (TG) itinerary with a connection in Bangkok (BKK), fees for this are CAD 31 one way.
  • A Singapore Airlines (SQ) and ANA (NH) route connecting in Singapore (SIN) for CAD 60 one-way.

7 December, 2017

San Francisco (SFO) to Zurich (ZRH) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

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).

7 December, 2017

Philadelphia (PHL) to Minsk (MSQ) with Miles from SAA Voyager / Star Alliance

The SAA customer center quotes USD 1,084 for a flight on Lufthansa business class between Philadelphia and Minsk in addition to the miles for the award ticket.

29 November, 2017

Moscow (SVO) to Salt Lake City (SLC) with Miles from Delta SkyMiles / SkyTeam

The SkyTeam carriers between Moscow and Salt Lake City are Aeroflot and Delta Air Lines with a connection in LAX.

Read the report on traveling to the FIFA World Cup in Russia with miles here:

28 November, 2017

Salt Lake City (SLC) to Krakow (KRK) with Miles from Flying Blue (Air France, KLM) / SkyTeam

Even though Salt Lake City (SLC) is a Delta Air Lines hub, it made more sense for these frequent flyers to use FlyingBlue miles to get to Krakow (with one stop in Amsterdam) -- ie. only 25,000 miles instead of 30,000 miles with the Delta program for the one-way journey.

Read the report on traveling to the FIFA World Cup in Russia with miles here:

28 November, 2017

Warsaw (WAW) to Sochi (AER) with Miles from Flying Blue (Air France, KLM) / SkyTeam

FlyingBlue Classic Awards can be used one-way and are a great value (14,500 miles) for the itinerary from Warsaw (WAW) to Sochi (AER), using Aeroflot (w/ stop in Moscow).

Read the report on traveling to the FIFA World Cup in Russia with miles here:

28 November, 2017

Toronto (YYZ) to Panama City (PTY) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

Both Air Canada Rouge and Copa Airlines offer direct flights between Toronto (YYZ) and Panama City (PTY). The fees between the two carriers vary greatly, however. The round trip with Copa incurs total fees of CAD 124 (CAD 56 for YYZ-PTY and CAD 68 for PTY-YYZ), whereas the fees on AC Rouge total CAD 344  (CAD 151 for YYZ-PTY and CAD 193 for PTY-YYZ).

The itinerary between Toronto and Panama can also be completed through a multitude of connecting points in Canada, the USA and the Caribbean. Surcharges vary based on the carrier.

24 November, 2017

Vancouver (YVR) to Sydney (SYD) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

There are various flight options to redeem the Vancouver to Sydney itinerary with Aeroplan miles. The round trip on the direct flight with Air Canada incurs CAD 536 in surcharges (but the leg from SYD to YVR is only CAD 104). An all United itinerary (e.g. through LAX or SFO) has total surcharges of CAD 222 (both legs have approximately the same surcharges). And an all Air China itinerary through Beijing (PEK) or Shanghai (PVG) incurs fees of CAD 200.

9 November, 2017

Phoenix (PHX) to London (LHR) with Miles from American Airlines AAdvantage [oneworld / Partners]

Careful when booking your AAdvantage award tickets between Phoenix and London! Depending on the carrier you are booking, the fees could be as high as USD 520 for the round-trip.

Read the story of an Arizona family:

2 November, 2017

New York (JFK) to Istanbul (IST) with Miles from Miles & Smiles (Turkish Airlines) / Star Alliance

An award ticket in business class between New York and Istanbul in the "capacity controlled" level for Star Alliance carriers would be a great alternative to a redemption for the same with United Mileage Plus points (where you'd spend an extra 50,000 miles). 
However, you may need some flexibility with your travel dates:

28 August, 2017