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How Do I Book Award Flights?

Booking award flights is quite simple for the vast majority of US airlines.  Most of the time, all you have to do to see how many points an award flight will cost you is tick the “book with points” box when entering your search parameters.  Then, the results will populate, usually displaying the cost of your flight in both points and dollars.  It’s really that simple!

However, you should beware that just like the cash prices of flights, the points price of flights does fluctuate over time as well.  Just because you see a great deal on a points fare today, doesn’t guarantee it will be there tomorrow!  Oftentimes there are limited numbers of award seats available on flights, so in order to get the best deal, you’ve got to be one of the first to book! 

How Can I Get The Most Value From My Points?

As previously mentioned, most of the time, the point value of a flight on a US airline will fluctuate over time.  This can make it hard to judge how many points you’ll need to take a certain flight.  With dynamic pricing models, you will never be able to tell what the price of a flight will be in the future.  But, what if there was a way you could?  Well, it turns out, there sort of is!

We just so happen to be lucky enough that a lot of foreign airlines still have fixed rewards charts.  This means that you will know ahead of time just how many points a flight will cost.  Additionally, most airlines across the world fall under the umbrella of three airline alliances, Star Alliance, OneWorld, and SkyTeam.  If you’re willing to put in some time, research, and potentially make a couple of calls, you could use these alliances to score insane deals using your points! 

How so?  Well, some foreign airlines will allow you to book flights using points from a US airline in the same alliance.  This means you can take advantage of earning points through flying on a US airline or spending money on your rewards credit card and use those points to book flights through foreign airlines that have fixed award charts! 

For example, you can use miles from Alaska Airlines to book flights with Cathay Pacific (an airline based in Hong Kong).  Alaska miles are fairly easy to come by if you have their credit card, so it makes booking Cathay Pacific flights with them a no brainer!  First and Business class long haul flights on Cathay Pacific can cost $10,000-$20,000 when paying cash, but if you play your cards right, you can book them with points!