I had a lot of fun working on my Award Maximizer tool last year, creating an easily searchable list of 14 loyalty programs so you can compare the cheapest award prices for a given flight and find rules and instructions for redeeming your miles. However, school has been taking up a lot of my attention since October. I finally sat down last weekend to implement several much-needed updates. To show off the changes I’ve performed an example of searching for an award from San Francisco to Tokyo-Narita.
Although Delta’s award chart is not publicly posted, I made an effort to find and update it with current information that has been reverse engineered by multiple bloggers and on FlyerTalk. This includes the addition of new, higher prices on SkyTeam partners for some routes. SkyTeam prices are only listed for flights that originate in or depart from the continental U.S.; if someone knows where I can find SkyTeam prices for other regions, please let me know.
Singapore Airlines updated their award chart about two months ago with slightly higher prices on some routes it operates with its own fleet. These new prices have been updated, and some irrelevant zones were removed. (For example, Singapore Airlines no longer flies to Sao Paulo.) Language describing the 15% discount for booking awards online was removed previously. There are no changes to awards booked on Star Alliance partners.
Finally, I’ve removed Alaska Mileage Plan awards for travel on Delta and added them for travel on JAL. A small tweak to the Hainan Airlines prices improves the organization of Alaska’s award results when Hainan might be an option. Remember that Alaska has several distinct award charts for each of its partners, so it’s important that you read the routing rules to confirm that a particular option is available. I have no plans to add Virgin America awards since these will be short-lived.
The Award Maximizer is not meant to tell you if award space is available. I’ve provided some walkthroughs to find award space on your own, including lists of which websites are best for finding space on a particular carrier. (It’s not always the one you expect!) But if this is really too confusing for you, then I highly recommend the resources available at AwardNexus. It automates many of the same search processes for a nominal fee. Even someone like me who knows what he’s looking for gets value out of it by saving time.
Updates and new additions to the various instructional guides linked to from the Award Maximizer are also in the works. Most of these have seen minor tweaks as needed, so they aren’t pressing. But I realize that if you dig deep enough you might find something out of date. Again, feel free to recommend more changes that you find necessary!