This month’s Inside Flyer cover story is about award redemption. They tested several airline programs across several routes, both online booking engines and call centers, at various points in time to get real data on how programs rank in satisfying member needs.
A key takeaway is that the USAirways website is terrible, always call. But more generally, just because the web doesn’t show availability with any program, try the phone. Very few websites check more than the most traditional flight routings, and even fewer offer good details on partner award availability.
American’s program fares well as it always does. United didn’t do as good a job at redemption as its results two years ago, which is consistent with my own experience as well (though nothing beats Star Alliance awards for Asia).
Despite the article reporting some succeess redeeming for business class awards via Northwest Worldperks, I wouldn’t press my luck there. Continental, Delta, and Northwest really are subpar on award redemption.
Here’s my general advice on award redemption.