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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.

Toronto (YYZ) to St. John's (YYT) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

Fuel surcharges and fees for the direct Air Canada flight between Toronto Pearson (YYZ) and St.John's (YYT) are CAD173.

22 September, 2014

Agana (GUM) to Sydney (SYD) with Miles from Miles & More (Lufthansa) / Star Alliance

Even though Guam (GUM) and Sydney (SYD) are grouped in the same Oceania zone in the Miles & More program, redemption flights can actually not be redeemed within the same zone because there is no direct Star Alliance flight between GUM and SYD. When connecting via another zone, additional mileage fees will be charged.

22 September, 2014

Sydney (SYD) to Saipan (SPN) with Miles from Miles & More (Lufthansa) / Star Alliance

Even though Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands (SPN) and Sydney (SYD) are grouped in the same Oceania zone in the Miles & More program, redemption flights can actually not be redeemed within the same zone because there is no direct Star Alliance flight between SPN and SYD. When connecting via another zone, additional mileage fees will be charged.

22 September, 2014

Taipei (TPE) to Washington (IAD) with Miles from United Mileage Plus / Star Alliance

This route may be redeemed by applying United Mileage Plus' lower "saver" rates (not the Star Alliance rates) even though TPE is not a United destination (but there is a regional partner airline -- EVA in this case -- that serves TPE). As long as the major long-haul flight is on UA and the regional flight is in a lesser cabin on a partner airline. So the return trip between IAD and TPE may be redeemed for 160,000 in first class.

28 August, 2014

Zurich (ZRH) to Prague (PRG) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

30,000 miles for the short distance from Zurich to Prague is not a great miles deal. However, direct Swiss (LX) flights are available between the two destinations so that the surcharges are relatively low (approx. CAD 70).

18 August, 2014

Zurich (ZRH) to Toronto (YYZ) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

Flights on US Airways are no longer available in Star Alliance, so that the option through PHL is not available anymore. However, it is now possible to book this destination one way which allows better optimization of the redemption miles. For example you can book one leg in business and one leg in economy and thus only pay 75,000 for the return trip.

18 August, 2014

Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

According to flightfox.com traveling from Toronto to Sydney compares favourably to their internal Aeroplan benchmark, which is 1.4 cents per mile. Typically this flight will sell for about CAD 1,700, so a 90K redemption (plus CAD 227 in fees) is a good deal.
And a much better deal is if you can get redemption tickets in business class for 135 K plus CAD 239 in fees. This flight will typically cost approx. CAD 6,300 in cash.

11 August, 2014

Zanzibar (ZNZ) to Nairobi (NBO) with Miles from Flying Blue (Air France, KLM) / SkyTeam

The airfrance.us website online booking engine shows an award fee of 15,000 miles in economy for this route and fees of USD 200. This is for the short-haul flight with SkyTeam partner Kenya Airways (KQ).

2 July, 2014

Marrakech (RAK) to Casablanca (CMN) with Miles from Safar Flyer (Royal Air Maroc)

The one-way rate for this route is 5,500 miles in economy and 10,000 in business class.

2 July, 2014

Toronto (YYZ) to Sao Paulo (GRU) with Miles from Aeroplan (Air Canada) / Star Alliance

Using Aeroplan miles to fly to Brazil from Canada from a miles value point of view is a great option for a couple of reasons :

  • Flights departing from Brazil cannot charge surcharges, so that even the direct Sao Paulo - Toronto flight with Air Canada does not have fuel surcharges added to the award ticket fees.
  • For the flight to Brazil from Canada there are a number of options with United Airlines (through Washington, Chicago, Houston, Newark), which also avoid fuel surcharges.

1 July, 2014