Award Booking Guides

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Are you ready to use the miles & points that you’ve collected? Booking your first trip with miles is an exciting reward for taking the time to pursue this hobby!

Booking domestic flights is relatively straightforward.  All you have to do is search on the airlines’ websites, and select the option to use miles.  Don’t forget that it’s best to book several months in advance.  You can get flights later than that, but you’ll have to be flexible.  For example, you may have to leave town on a Tuesday instead of a Friday.

However, it can be more challenging to book international trips using miles & points. But I’ve put together some step-by-step guides that will make it easy!  And if you want to save time, you can hire an award booking service to do the work for you.

British Airways New First Class

You Have the Miles, Now Get Ready for Some Big Travel!

If you really want Big Travel with Small Money, international flights are the way to go.  That’s because you have the opportunity to book luxurious First Class and Business Class seats that would otherwise be very expensive!

When you’re taking long international trips, it’s best to book segment-by-segment.  It’s like putting a puzzle together.  And when you’ve completed it, you get an amazing trip!

Complete the Puzzle to Unlock Your Next Destination!

Complete the Puzzle to Unlock Your Next Destination!

Why Are International Flights Tough to Book?

1.   Multiple Segments

Segments are routes the airlines fly for your trip. For example, if you want to fly to Paris, a segment might be New York to London, and then London to Paris. International flights often include multiple segments.  Matching up dates and times on several segments can get complex.

2.   Airlines Don’t Always Show Partner Award Seats

You can often use your miles to book flights with partner airlines.  However, it can be difficult to find partner award seats.  That’s because not all partner award seats show up when you search online.

For example, the American Airlines site doesn’t show Cathay Pacific award seats.  But you can find Cathay Pacific partner availability on the British Airways or Japan Airlines website.  And once you find award seats for your dates of travel then you have to call American Airlines to book the flight.

3.   Agents

For the most part, airline booking agents aren’t motivated to help you.  It doesn’t help the airline if you get the highest dollar value out of your miles.  Agents have a lot of customers to help throughout the day and their goal is often just to move onto the next customer as quickly as possible.

Award Booking Guides

In these step-by-step guides, you will learn airline award booking rules, routes, partners, and how to get the most value for your miles.

You can also check out my Ultimate Guide to AMEX Membership Rewards points for all the ways to get to Europe and India with AMEX Membership Rewards points.

Airline Award Flight Booking Links

Sometimes you have to dig through various websites to find the award booking page.  Here’s a list of direct links to save you some time (some airlines may require you to log-in first):

US Airlines
Non US Airlines

Paid Award Booking Tools

These sites charge for services that can help you book your trip like a pro.

Award Booking Services

It can take hours to book multi-segment award tickets.  I enjoy this part!  But not everyone does and not everyone has the time.  If you need some help you can use an award booking service.

And I’ve put together a list of some award booking services & their prices.

A reader wrote about their experience with award booking services and offers 6 Tips for Using Award Booking Services.

You can use these Award Booking Guides to help turn your travel plans into a reality!  

We enjoy hearing about the trips our readers take.  So follow us on Twitter and Facebook to send us your travel photos and tell us how Big Travel with Small Money has changed your life!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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10 responses to “Award Booking Guides

  1. Hi,
    I have some BA Avios saved up…I must not be doing something right because whenever I look for tickets to Europe or even within the US, it says its going to cost over 80,000 avios for 4 tickets in the US or 200,000 avios for 4 tickets to Europe including $2000 taxes and fees (and that is NOT going through London and whether I choose on BA or other airlines)! Please help!

  2. I spent close to a full weekend looking myself for award tickets to no success. I decided to try an Award Booking Service. They were able to find me something within 24 hours. I would like to know other peoples experience with award booking services. I use and I was more than happy with their service I am not sure how they compare to others.

  3. I booked a round trip to Europe earlier this year through United. I noticed that the operating airline was Lufthansa for my outbound flights and United for my return flights. Is it best to use my Lufthansa Miles and More account for my outbound flights and my United Mileage Plus account for my return flights?

    What’s the best way to maximize mileage earnings?

  4. Hi everyone!
    I do find hard to redeem air miles. It’s always frustrating to spend hours searching online and not getting any seats. I decided to try an award booking service. I chose Travel Consulting Hub and they were great. I got a free Skype consultation, super professional staff and everything was done very quickly! They even send me an eGuide to my destination based on my own preferences!
    Best of all, unlike other sites, the $180 fee included 2 passengers, me and my wife! You should try for yourselves!

  5. I am brand new to Million Mile Secrets and of collecting miles and points. I am very excited about this. Our goal is to go to Italy and France in September of 2017, for our 30th anniversary. We have made a good start collecting points and miles. We will be booking through United/Star Alliance. Here is my question…how to I convert all of the miles and points I am collecting from all my different cards into United miles?? We have quite a few United miles already but what do I do with the points I have collected from my Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture? And any other cards I may get in the next few months? How do I funnel all of them to United? Help!

  6. Hi:
    I would like to use united miles for following travel in August 2016

    Please advise what route and how to book award ticket.

  7. After spending weeks trying to fly my Husband to the Maldives as part of a surprise 10 year anniversary present I gave up…I sent an email to, Alex contacted my back within a couple of hours and let me know not to give up and that he would ensure to find me some amazing flights. After a couple of emails back and forth we had some flights I could not even believe. He was able to get my Singapore Airlines Suites on the way out and Etihad First Class Apartment on the way back….And I thought the best I would get is Business Class. Amazing Service A+

  8. I am trying to use award miles to book a flight to Paris, and it is telling me that in addition to the 60k miles (one way, for two people), it is still going to cost $640. What are these charges?? Is this what I can expect? It doesn’t seem like much of a deal.

    I used miles to book round trip tickets to Peru last year, and paid less than $100 for two round trip tickets.


  9. Mix class award flights
    When searching for business class award flight to Switzerland JAX – GVA I do not find any awards. When searching individual flight segments, I find coach awards for the connection flight to IAD (Dulles) but when searching for business class awards from IAD to Geneva, I did find some business class awards.

    My question is could I get a mix class award paying business class points (both segments under one reservation) if I called the airline and gave them the appropriate dates and flights. Currently looking at United flights?

  10. I am writing to give a giant recommendation for Kam at Award Advocate!
    I have a very demanding job and did not have time to learn how to book a complicated trip to Thailand (first trip from credit cards points!).
    He was INFINITELY patient, always available and helped book a trip of a lifetime for me and my two boys to Thailand (complete with amazing hotels and inner country flights!)!
    He is amazing! Well worth the money!