It’s always exciting when you’ve finally saved up enough airline miles for an award flight. Whether you’re looking to stretch your miles by flying economy or want to splurge for a first-class ticket, the amount you’ll pay will vary by airline.
While many U.S. airlines have ditched fixed-rate award charts in favor of dynamic pricing, some still hold on to this legacy. Let’s take a look at all of the different airline award charts so you can maximize your redemptions.
Alaska will charge you varying quantities of Mileage Plan miles based on which airline you’re flying, the cabin class you’re in and the distance of your flight. Along with being part of the Oneworld Alliance, Alaska Airlines also has individual partnerships with airlines, providing plenty of redemption options.
Alaska’s website features an interactive award chart that can be filtered by airline, region and class of service. Awards start at just 5,000 miles, though you won’t be able to book all of these awards online. Flights on Cathay Pacific, for example, must be booked over the phone.
Nerdy tip: When booking Cathay Pacific, you can ask that the call center booking fee be waived since these flights cannot be booked online.
While many of Alaska’s award flights on partner airlines have fixed rates, the number of points needed for Alaska Airlines operated flights will depend on both distance and demand.
There are four levels of pricing that you’ll encounter when looking to redeem your AAdvantage miles: MileSAAver Off Peak, MileSAAver, AAnytime Level 1 and AAnytime Level 2. Each of these levels correspond to increasingly expensive redemption rates, with MileSAAver Off Peak flights costing the fewest miles.
American Airlines also offers Web Special awards, which are found exclusively on their site and are cheaper than the published award charts.
Keep in mind that once booked, these flights are not changeable, though you are able to cancel your ticket and reinstate your miles for free.
Delta Air Lines
Delta does offer a price calendar, which will allow you to view a month’s worth of prices for a specific origin and destination.
There are three levels of pricing: Value, Standard and Last Seat (elite members only).
You can use your Frontier Airlines miles for flights starting at just 10,000 miles, though be aware that, with few exceptions, Frontier Airlines charges fees to book flights less than 180 days in advance.
You’ll also need to pay a $75 award redeposit fee to reinstate your miles in the event of a canceled flight, with the exception of Last Seat award flights.
Hawaiian Airlines also uses a region-based award chart that varies with demand and fare class. One-way Hawaiian Airlines inter-island flights start at 7,500 HawaiianMiles, but you can also fly all the way to Korea or Australia starting at 40,000 miles.
JetBlue, which services countries throughout North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Europe (London), does not use an award chart. Instead, it ties the cost of award flights directly to the cash price of the ticket.
You can find flights for as little as 500 TrueBlue points, and although the airline doesn’t have a calendar function, it will show you five days worth of results at once.
Southwest has a robust monthly fare calendar that makes it easy to spot low fares.
As with cash flights, Southwest doesn’t charge any fees to cancel your Rapid Rewards flights, and your points will automatically return to your account.
Another budget airline, Spirit Airlines revamped its reward program in early 2021. Like others, Spirit doesn’t use an award chart; the cost of your award flight will depend on the cost of the ticket in cash.
Despite this, no matter how cheap your flight may be, Spirit flights begin at a rate of 2,500 Free Spirit points.
Similar to Frontier, you may face a redemption fee depending on how far in advance you book your flight. In Spirit’s case, the fee only applies if you’re booking fewer than 28 days to departure.
United often charges less for its own flights than partner-operated flights, even when they’re going to the same place. This means you can save a significant amount of MileagePlus miles by flying on United.
However, you’ll pay less for Saver level awards than you will for any other awards; these will be clearly identified during your search for flights.
Final thoughts on airline award charts
Earning and using your airline miles can be a complicated process; each airline will charge a different number of miles for flights, and many have switched over to completely dynamic pricing. That being said, understanding airline award charts and how to use them can help you redeem your miles with ease.
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