3 Basic Tips for Booking International Flights with Miles

3 Basic and Useful Tips for Using Award Miles on International Flights

Author: The Traveling Professor/Friday, July 21, 2017/Categories: Save on Airfare

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There is no doubt that award mile reward programs have become devalued over the years.  What do you expect when credit card companies, auto rental companies and just about everyone else is giving out "free flights" with award mile bonuses.?

Nevertheless, there are still some situations to use award miles wisely when booking international flights:

Never, Ever Book an Award Flight to London or Connecting Through London:  The fees and taxes often associated with an award flight nearly outweigh the cost of purchasing a ticket outright.  For instance, I recently checked the price of a R/T flight on American Airlines between JFK (New York) and CDG (Paris).  Using 45,000 award miles the flight cost $436 with taxes. That's hardly a "free" flight since it can be purchased outright for $448 using no award miles.  On flights not connecting in London, the taxes and fees go down to $84.  In any case, connecting on any flight through LHR is a hassle!

Always Book a One-Way Ticket:  There is no penalty for booking one-way trips with award miles as there is with purchasing one-way international flights on most legacy carriers.  So, always book a R/T award flight with two separate bookings.   Why?  Let's say you have booked a R/T JFK/CDG using one booking for both the outbound and return flights.  Later on, you need to change/cancel the outbound flight only.  Now, because both the outbound and return flights were booked on the same ticket with the same record locator, the entire flight needs to be re-booked by the airline.  It is very possible the return flight may no longer be available with award miles even though the same return flight is being re-booked.  However, if the outbound and return flights were booked on two separate reservations with different record locators, they can be changed/cancelled independently of each other.

Plan Ahead or Book Immediately Before Departure:  Of course everyone is going to tell you plan ahead in order to use miles and that is good advice. However, in some cases, airlines make award flights available immediately before departure and some make more award flights available 30 days in advance of a flight.  BTW, flights become available to book 330 days before departure on most carriers.

Join The Traveling Professor on one of his small group tours to Italy.  He also travels to Scandinavia, Paris, Ireland, Peru and Machu Picchu, Iceland, Austria and Germany.   Sign up for his monthly newsletter to get insider tips.

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