When I first released my award chart search tool in January, it had just a handful of programs: United, American, Alaska, Delta, and British Airways. But due to popular demand Singapore Airlines and Air Canada/Aeroplan were quickly added, and I also created an “expert mode” that allows you to set custom valuations, comparing not just the number of miles but also how much each award is worth.
To recap, this tool does not search for award space. That would be cool, but it’s a different function altogether. I recommend Award Nexus if you aren’t used to booking your own awards. They’ll help you automate the process and also include some detailed instructions on how to structure your search.
What my tool does do is compare the cost of each award program, assuming award space is available. This is useful for a variety of reasons:
Some programs have the same partners and access to the same award space. However, most programs charge different amounts to reach the same destination.
Some programs have hidden value because they place cities in a region other than the usual choice. Odd region definitions can result in much lower (or higher) award prices.
Some programs charge a similar number of miles, but those miles have very different valuations or different associated fees. This is where expert mode becomes handy.
Two more programs that have good value opportunities are Flying Blue and ANA. They aren’t very mainstream among U.S. travelers, but they are transfer partners of Membership Rewards. That means you can move your points into either program and use them to book awards while possibly spending less than if you relied on the usual offers from Delta, American, or United.
Worried about redeeming your AAdvantage miles for Etihad before devaluation? ANA is also a partner, so the opportunity to fly this Middle Eastern carrier won’t necessarily disappear. And if you’ve ever wanted to fly first class on a SkyTeam carrier, you can do that using Flying Blue even if Delta won’t play ball. More examples can be found by comparing these charts.
Due to the complexity of the ANA chart I have only included the partner awards for the moment. A separate chart for travel on ANA itself is in the works. I also have yet to integrate these charts into expert mode. Please look for them in basic mode for the time being. I also recommend you read the article Travel Is Free wrote about maximizing value from ANA.
Here are the other pending requests. Let me know if I should add to the list:
- Korean Air SKYPASS
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Off-peak and promo awards (requires date input)