Sunday, January 13, 2013

Maximizing Award Miles


Have you joined a frequent flyer program and signed up for those bonus points through a credit card issuer yet? Now let’s get started on accumulating award miles. Here’s what I mean when I say, “it’s time to start playing the game”. Go to the airline website directly when booking your flight for your next destination. For example, in searching for a flight from San Francisco to Madrid, the schedules will be displayed based on the criterion you picked: price or schedule. Compare each flight.  Then look for the “Total Award Miles” and use that as your basis for comparison. But it doesn’t mean you have to waste time or sacrifice comfort to maximize your award miles. So make sure that the following criteria are comparable.
  • Flight Time
  • Number of Stops
  • Travel Time
  • Price
  • Fare Class Code
  • Aircraft
The 'fare class' code can be used to determine if the ticket is upgradable. Each carrier assigns its own ‘fare class code’.  If a flight is operated by another carrier or alliance carrier, finding what the code mean could take additional time to research. So you can ignore it initially. As a paying passenger, I would also ignore ‘aircraft’ as a criterion when comparing flights. But it’s an important criterion when it comes to redeeming miles or when upgrading to 1st or Business Class (another travel rewards program topic).

The following illustration shows that the cheaper flight actually gives you 666 more award miles (all other things being equal).

from
$1,463

 
Depart:
8:00 a.m.
Wed., May. 22, 2013
San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Arrive:
4:43 p.m.
Wed., May. 22, 2013
New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty)
Flight Time:
5 hr 43 mn
Award Miles/
Premier Qualifying*:
2,565 /100%
Flight: UA212
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Fare Class: United Economy (T)
Meal: Meals for Purchase
No Special Meal Offered.
 
Change Planes. Connect time in New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) is 1 hour 2 minutes.
Depart:
5:45 p.m.
Wed., May. 22, 2013
New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty)
Arrive:
7:45 a.m. +1 Day
Thu., May. 23, 2013
Brussels, Belgium (BRU)
Flight Time:
8 hr 0 mn
Award Miles/
Premier Qualifying*:
3,681 /100%
Flight: UA40
Aircraft: Boeing 767-400ER
Fare Class: United Economy (T)
Meal: Dinner  
Change Planes. Connect time in Brussels, Belgium (BRU) is 1 hour 15 minutes.
Depart:
9:00 a.m.
Thu., May. 23, 2013
Brussels, Belgium (BRU)
Arrive:
11:30 a.m.
Thu., May. 23, 2013
Madrid, Spain (MAD)
Flight Time:
2 hr 30 mn

Travel Time:
18 hr 30 mn
Award Miles/
Premier Qualifying*:
818 /0%
Total Award Miles:
7,064
Flight: UA9975
Operated by Brussels Airlines.
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Fare Class: Economy (T)
Meal: Snacks for Purchase
No Special Meal Offered.

from
$1,495

Depart:
7:00 a.m.
Wed., May. 22, 2013
San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Arrive:
8:27 a.m.
Wed., May. 22, 2013
Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Flight Time:
1 hr 27 mn
Award Miles/
Premier Qualifying*:
337 /100%
Flight: UA478
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Fare Class: United Economy (S)
Meal: None  
Change Planes. Connect time in Los Angeles, CA (LAX) is 1 hour 33 minutes.
Depart:
10:00 a.m.
Wed., May. 22, 2013
Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Arrive:
6:28 p.m.
Wed., May. 22, 2013
New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty)
Flight Time:
5 hr 28 mn
Award Miles/
Premier Qualifying*:
2,454 /100%
Flight: UA1244
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
Fare Class: United Economy (S)
Meal: Meals for Purchase
No Special Meal Offered.
 
Change Planes. Connect time in New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) is 1 hour 52 minutes.
Depart:
8:20 p.m.
Wed., May. 22, 2013
New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty)
Arrive:
10:05 a.m. +1 Day
Thu., May. 23, 2013
Madrid, Spain (MAD)
Flight Time:
7 hr 45 mn

Travel Time:
18 hr 5 mn
Award Miles/
Premier Qualifying*:
3,607 /100%
Total Award Miles:
6,398
Flight: UA62
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
Fare Class: United Economy (S)
Meal: Dinner


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