How to book an award ticket?

Q: What is an award ticket?

Award tickets are tickets you pay for (at least partially) with airline miles. Tickets are usually changeable and fully refundable (against a fee if you are no elite flyer with that airline).

The airline makes parts of its inventory to award redemptions. Each airline has a different set of rules which seats can be booked

Q: Why book on partner airlines?

Each of the main airline alliances (Star Alliance, Skyteam, OneWorld) has a number of partners. In an award tickets you are usually free to combine any carrier that has seats available for your flight. You can mix & match them unlike revenue tickets. Often partners have a better product or a better availability.

Q: How many miles are required?

The airline's loyalty program that holds your miles determines the miles needed (usually zone based or distance based). This is the airline you have to call to book an award ticket.

Search for example 'delta award chart' or 'united award chart'.

Q: What are fuel surcharges?

While the idea used to be to give you a free ticket for your miles – airlines have found a way to introduce charges just like in regular tickets. Fuel surcharges are no taxes – they go directly into the revenue of an airline. Some loyalty programs charge enormous fuel surcharges almost making it as expensive as a regular ticket. However this usually depends on the airline used and the distance.

Q: What is Ultimate Rewards (Chase) and American Express Membership Rewards?

Both are bank rewards programs that transfer miles into airline or hotel programs. These programs are a good tool since they give you great flexibility as you can transfer miles into any program.

Q: What are Starpoints?

Starpoints is the loyalty currency of Starwood hotels and unique in the hotel loyalty arena usually transfer with a good ratio (1:1) to many airlines.

Q: Where can I find availability?

Since there are no smart booking engines to book your award (like the ones you use when booking on expedia.com) you will have to do more legwork yourself. First you need to learn about routes that might be available. You can use plug in your flight dates into expedia.com and it will often come up with a direct route.

For each alliance there are free and paid tools to look up availability.

Star Alliance:

united.com (Look for Award Travel)
ANA Search tool (confusing but highly accurate, needs at least 1 mile in an account)
Expertflyer (paid tool, only for certain airlines)

Skyteam:

delta.com (shaky and allows no multi-day search for partners)
Expertflyer (paid tool, only for certain airlines)

OneWorld:

ba.com (follow 'Spend Avios' link)
Expertflyer (paid tool, only for certain airlines)

Q: Can I just make up any route?

While you can usually make up a route is has to adhere to a set of rules by the airlines' loyalty program. You won't be troubled usually if you plan a normal round-trip ticket but as many ambitious Flyertalkers have stretched the limits of awards more rules have been introduced in the recent years.

Q: How do I actually book such a ticket?

Some airline engines make it easy to use the ticket directly online. Do this if it works for your trip it's easy and fast.

For most tickets you have to call the service center and lay out your case. Every airline is different and each agents is different so be prepared for

We can help you book award tickets. Contact us at award booking add mightytravels dot com.

We have different subscription options available for our service that include award bookings.

Mightytravels Silver Membership $299/year

– Two award tickets we will book for you every year (Terms & Conditions apply)
– Fare deals newsletter with our daily deal analysis
– Quarterly best Credit card advice

Mightytravels Gold Membership $499/year

– Up to four award tickets we will book for you every year (Terms & Conditions apply)
– Fare deals newsletter with our daily deal analysis
– Quarterly best Credit card advice
– Q&A with our experts on credit card strategies

Mightytravels Unlimited Membership $899/year

Unlimited award ticket bookings for all members of the same household
(Terms & Conditions apply)
– Fare deals newsletter with our daily deal analysis
– Quarterly best Credit card advice
– Q&A with a dedicated expert on credit card mile accumulation

Contact us at award booking add mightytravels dot com.

Here's an example of a typical customer experience:

1)
Before – flight to Europe in summer $1,400, flight to Asia in winter $1,200 – both in Economy on United, both on-time but the long flights were miserable – total spend $2,600 for two trips per person

After with a Silver Membership- signed up for 4 credit cards during the year – flew to Asia in Business Class (Cathay Pacific to Asia) and Europe on United – excellent memories and slept 12 hours in each flight – cost is under $200 for teh flights and $299 for teh membership – that's a savings of $2,000 and a much more pleasant travel experience

2)

Before – family of four goes to Europe in summer and Asia in winter – $5,000 in flight costs for each trip, rough flights with the kids not being their best on the boring long flights

After – with MightyTravels both adults sign up for 6 credit cards, enough miles to get for everyone in business class to both destinations with a stop-over in the Caribbean – kids are delighted by the movie entertainment and space – cost is under $1,000 for all 8 tickets + Mightytravels Platinum Membership, that's a savings of 80% plus a much improved travel experience

Get your membership today at membership add mightytravels dot com.