Award Booking Advice Starts with Choosing Your Frequent Flyer Program Carefully

The April issue of Conde Nast Traveler has a good bit on frequent flyer miles. I haven’t seen the physical issue yet, it’s not particularly available in my current secure undisclosed location, but 10 articles are currently up on their website (my guess it that’s about half the issue that normally winds up online).

So far the two pieces of interest are How to Maximize Your Miles and a related sidebar on the pluses and minuses of various North American airline mileage programs plus American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest for their ability to transfer points to a wide variety of airlines.

In the mileage advice piece, Randy Petersen and I are interviewed extensively for advice. Pick your program wisely so that it meets your destination needs at a good mileage price, with a program that offers good award availability. The best mileage program may not belong to the carrier with the biggest presence at your home airport. Consider earning flexible points where you can transfer to an airline later. Be sure to check partner awards and be creative in your routings.

In the sidebar, I manage to point out United’s Starnet blocking and the limits of Delta Skymiles. I point out “[l]imited premium-class award availability internationally,” suggest crediting to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan when flying Delta, and offer this faint praise as the program’s best feature: “Decent availability of coach award tickets.”

I think that Aeroplan, Continental, and US Airways come out the best in the sidebar. And that using American miles to fly British Airways from Canada, Mexico, and the Carribean is good advice (since the miles can’t currently be used to fly between the US and London on BA). As well that the Alaska Airlines $99 companion certificate from Bank of America is a good tip as well.

Check out the two pieces, and I’ll be interested to see if the article they were considering comparing paid award booking assistance services winds up in the magazine’s current issue or not.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I received the magazine today and read the article. I thought it was actually done quite well, considering that many mag writers usually miss the mark by a mile.

  2. the award booking service comparison chart was in the mag — your service came out extremely well if memory serves! I can’t wait to give you a try when I get all my BA miles sorted out! God bless them and that VISA promotion.

  3. i’ll look into the advice of earning miles with a partner instead of the closest hub (e.g. continental and air canada). however, don’t you lose out on some of the bonus miles esp. once you’re elite?

  4. Great set of articles in Conde Nast traveler. You mentioned crediting Delta miles to Alaska – but what i don’t get is how i would transfer existing delta skymiles to the alaska mileage plan. Is this possible?

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