Awards

LifeMiles Quadruples Award Ticket Cancelation Fees In Some Markets

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I’m a big fan of the LifeMiles program for the great premium cabin Star Alliance award opportunities they open up. However, there’s no denying that the program has some quirks. Fortunately with a bit of planning, it’s possible to avoid some of the downsides of the program.

One of LifeMiles’ unusual policies is that historically they’ve charge $50 to cancel an itinerary, but $150 to change an itinerary. That’s the opposite of most airlines — most programs charge at least as much to cancel an award itinerary as they do to change one. But LifeMiles has historically charged three times as much to change an itinerary as to refund it.

Well, that’s no longer the case, and it looks like LifeMiles has recently changed the costs to redeposit award tickets in some regions.

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5 Fantastic Uses Of United Miles

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There are numerous ways to use United miles, and you can do some really fun stuff with stopovers and open-jaws.

For the purposes of this post I’m going to keep it simple and highlight the one-way prices for some of the “sweet spots” in the United award chart, along with a couple of regions where I find United miles to be particularly useful.

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I Made An American Agent’s Night By Redeeming Miles

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I’m on a bit of a crazy trip at the moment (I’m excited to eventually share the reasoning), and am enroute from Asia to Europe. Long story short, I saw a flight with four Cathay Pacific first class award seats, which is exactly what we needed. This was two days before departure, and not a single seat was taken in the first class cabin at the time.

For those of you not familiar with Cathay Pacific, they have just six first class seats on the 777. Typically they make up to one award seat available in advance, and then closer to departure they’ll often release more seats. You often see an extra seat, and sometimes even see two seats closer to departure.

However, four seats at a time — and more specifically, a completely empty first class cabin two days before departure — is extremely rare.

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Great Deal: Get 25% Off Iberia Business Class Awards

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Through February 14, 2017, the Iberia Avios program is offering 25% off select economy and business class awards. The promotion is valid for travel in the following markets:

— To/from Madrid to Zurich, London, Wien and Moscow (valid for travel through June 14)
— To/from Madrid to Bogota, Medellin, Johannesburgo, Miami, New York, Boston, Chicago, Panama, Shanghai, Mexico and Lima (valid for travel through June 14, except the month of April)
— To/from Madrid to Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires and Havana (valid for travel May 1 through June 14)

The offer is valid for new bookings only. The promotion is only valid for travel over off-peak dates, which means that the following dates are excluded: April 7-18, April 21-24, April 28-29, May 2-3, May 6-8, and June 9-12).

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Caution: Lots Of Phantom Swiss First Class Award Availability

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Swiss is one of the most restrictive airlines when it comes to making first class award seats available. Only elite members in the Miles & More program can redeem miles for Swiss first class. Unfortunately non-elite Miles & More members, and elite members in other programs, can’t redeem miles for the product.

At least that’s usually the case. Last June there was a glitch where Swiss first class award space was temporarily bookable using partner airline miles, and it’s an opportunity that many of us took advantage of. I decided to fly from Zurich to Los Angeles in November in Swiss first class, and had a great flight (though I’m not sure Swiss is so exceptional as to warrant how protective they are of the product).

As noted by View from the Wing and several OMAAT readers, at the moment there’s a lot of Swiss first class award availability showing through United’s website. I know this probably got some people excited, given what a rate opportunity this is.

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How To Redeem The Fewest Points For An Air France First Class Ticket

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There are a lot of amazing first class products in the world, though they’re not all created equal in terms of how difficult it is to redeem miles for them. Some first class products are wide open with miles, like Korean Air first class. Others are quite difficult to redeem miles for, like Singapore first class and Lufthansa first class.

Then then there are products that are almost completely off limits when redeeming miles. For example, Swiss first class is only available to Miles & More Senator members and above, while Air France first class is only available to FlyingBlue elite members, and only at the flex cost (which is expensive).

However, earlier I wrote about how I really want to try Air France’s new La Premiere product, as I think it’s the only great first class product I haven’t yet flown. With that in mind, in this post I want to take a closer look at the best ways to snag a seat in Air France La Premiere.

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Finally: FlyingBlue Now Lets You Redeem Miles 360 Days In Advance

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Well here’s some great news for Air France and KLM FlyingBlue members, and not so great news for those with partner program miles that they want to redeem for travel on Air France and KLM.

Different airlines open their award “calendars” at different times. Some airlines make award seats available a year out, while others make award seats available only about 10 months out. But there’s even more to the equation when you’re redeeming on partner airlines — there’s the time that the airline with which you have miles opens up their award calendar, and also when the airline you want to actually fly with opens up award seats.

FlyingBlue (the loyalty program of Air France and KLM) has had one of the most restrictive award booking windows. FlyingBlue members have only been able to redeem miles at most 305 days before departure, regardless of which airline they’re looking to fly.

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Check Out The Air France FlyingBlue Promo Awards For February!

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One of the best uses of Air France/KLM FlyingBlue miles is booking their Promo Awards.

FlyingBlue publishes these every month, and they offer 20-50% off select award tickets on Air France and KLM metal.

Back in the day Promo Awards would consistently be for 50% off and would have a good number of options in business class, though unfortunately they’ve devalued the promotion somewhat since then, and the discounts are now pretty consistently for 25% off. That’s still good, just not as good.

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A Transpacific Flight Where You Can Get A First Class Seat For Business Class Miles

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Did you know there’s a transpacific flight where you can redeem miles for a business class ticket but get a first class seat?

Specifically, I’m talking about China Airlines’ flight between Vancouver and Taipei, which is their only remaining flight to North America operated by a 747-400.

I suppose this is a very low yield route, given how they choose to sell the plane. China Airlines’ 747 features 12 first class seats, 49 business class seats, and 314 economy class seats. However, rather than selling first class as first class and business class as business class, the airline sells first class as business class, and business class as premium economy (with service corresponding to business class and premium economy).

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An Aer Lingus Business Class Award I’ve Never Seen Available Before

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I’m hoping to fly Aer Lingus soon, as they’ve greatly improved their business class product since I last flew them. They now have fully flat beds in business class, free wifi, pre-flight dining in Boston and New York, an arrivals lounge, etc. They’re also a fun and quirky airline, which I appreciate.

In general the best ways to book awards on Aer Lingus are through British Airways Executive Club and United MileagePlus. Finding awards from the East Coast to Ireland isn’t too tough, while finding awards from the West Coast to Ireland is extremely difficult.

Aer Lingus flies from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Dublin — only a couple of times have I ever seen award availability in business class out of SFO, while I don’t ever recall ever seeing business class awards out of LAX.

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Jet Airways Awards Are Now Bookable On Delta’s Website!

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India-based Jet Airways changed up their North America routes early last year, given that the airline has been bleeding money for a long time. The airline used to have a mini-hub in Brussels, and operated flights from Newark and Toronto to Brussels, with connecting flights to Delhi and Mumbai.

In theory it seemed like an efficient network, since the flights were timed so that travelers could transfer from Newark and Toronto to either Delhi or Mumbai, and vice versa. Unfortunately the bigger problem was that without nonstop flights between North America and India, they didn’t really have a competitive advantage over any other airline offering one stop service between the regions.

So they changed up their strategy, and eliminated Brussels as a hub. They discontinued flights to Newark altogether, and kept operating a flight to Toronto, except via Amsterdam instead of Brussels. As part of this, the airline launched a strategic partnership with Delta and KLM, with extensive codesharing.

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American Is Increasing Standard Economy Award Rates To The South Pacific

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American has just informed me that in February they’ll be adding additional AAnytime reward levels for travel between North America and the South Pacific. As some of you may remember, a few months back they raised some AAnytime reward levels for travel in premium cabins in this market. Here’s their statement regarding this change:

“In February we’ll be adding additional reward levels to our AAnytime fares in the South Pacific. The levels will apply to the main cabin on flights to and from Sydney or Auckland. As you’ll remember in September we introduced higher levels in the premium cabins in the South Pacific. There will be no changes to MileSAAver.”

We don’t yet know the exact dates these changes will kick in, though I’m told on some dates awards in economy will cost as much as 150,000 miles one-way. As it stands, American has the following award rates for travel in economy between the U.S. and South Pacific:

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What Happened To Etihad’s U.S. Award Charts?

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Several weeks ago, Etihad stopped displaying many of their partner airline award charts on their U.S. website. If you click on many of the individual partner award pages in the “spend miles” section, you’ll see the following message:

“Unfortunately, due to US DOT requirements we are unable to present this page to the United States of America. Apologies for any inconvenience, if you require further help please contact us guest@etihadguest.com.”

So, did Etihad pull a Delta and decide that there’s no need to be transparent with customers and publish award rates? Nope. Instead this is an innocent mistake, though it could quite easily be solved.

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Wide Open Peak Season American Business Class Awards To Australia!

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Finding premium cabin award seats between the U.S. and Australia can be extremely difficult, in particular in the high season. While we sometimes see a decent amount of space in the off season, it’s very rare to see saver level premium cabin space in December, etc.

Well, at the moment American has a lot of business class award availability between Los Angeles and Sydney.

The space seems to be available starting in November through the end of the schedule, which as of now runs through December 13, 2017. Many dates have up to five business class award seats available. For example, here’s what availability looks like for two business class award seats for the last month of the schedule:

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