Sunday, April 7, 2013

Earning and Using Frequent Flyer Miles - Part 4

This week's short post will discuss the basics of how to find available frequent flyer flights for the various Airline Alliances.  In part 3, I discussed the significance of the alliances so look there if you are a newbie or if you want a refresher.  You can also look at the introduction in part 1 and how to get more information in part 2.

It isn't always easy to find available flights that can be booked for miles.  Obviously, it is in the airlines best interests if you use money instead of miles so the options are there, but most don't go out of their way to make it simple.

Here is a breakdown based on Alliance:

  • Star Alliance
    • Star Alliance makes it the easiest.  Go to and on the home page, click on "search by award travel" and a new menu will show up.

Put in the dates you want to fly and click search.  Here is what comes up for traveling from NYC to Tel Aviv (TLV) from July 24th to July 35th.  You will get a list of every flight on any airline in the Star Alliance that fits your criteria along with how many miles it costs in Economy, Business and First.

Notice that there are two categories for economy, business and first.  One is Saver and one is Standard. They get you the same seat, but savers are a lot cheaper and are therefore not as common.  If you are flexible in when you want to travel, here is how to do it.  

Right on top of the flights, there is a color coded calendar with that looks like this:

If you want a saver award in Economy, you need to click on a date that has a yellow or green color.  I will click on July 7th and here are the new sets of flights that come up.  When you scroll down you can find flights that are saver awards that cost only 40,000 miles each way, instead of 75,000 each way for the same flight.

This flight is not a direct flight.  It is much more difficult to find a direct flight that is in the saver category, but you would do it the same way, except you would click on "non-stop flights only" on the homepage.

If you have united miles you can book these flights directly through the united website, if you miles from another star alliance partner you can use the united site to find the flight you want and then call up your airline and have them book it for you.

  • Sky Team Alliance 
    •  More difficult than for star alliance.  There is no way that I am aware of that you can see every available flight.  Here is how to spread the greatest possible net.  Sign up for a free KLM Flying Blue frequent flyer miles account or sign in
    • Click on the "Flying Blue" tab and put in your destination as before and here is what it comes up with:

You can see on the chart that it is frequently only 25,000 each way, but there is a $270 surcharge each way which adds a significant cost.  Once again, if you have flying blue miles (mostly like from Starpoints) you can book from here and if you have another airline's miles (Delta, for example), you can use this as a guide before you call up Delta.

  • One World Alliance 

    • The best way to find flights on one world is through  Join here for free (unless you are from Australia or New Zealand, in which case there is a fee - sorry) Don't bother with American Airline's website, even if you have miles with them.  Go to quantas first and then call up American Airlines and tell them which flight you want.  
    • On the dropdown menu at the top click on "Award Flights"

Click on "Book Now" under "Partner Classic Awards" and you will be able to find flights on many different airlines and use that information when you call up the airline you have miles with.

You can do the same thing with British Airways and once again, you need to join the British Airways Frequent Flyer program for free.

In part 5, we will get to the easiest way to earn Frequent Flyer miles.