Million Mile Secrets reader, Ken, commented:
Tips for Planning Award Travel
Ken is on the right track for planning round-trip award flights to Tahiti. The main reason is because he collects transferable points in the 3 of the 4 flexible points programs, including:
The only flexible points he’s not collecting are Citi ThankYou points.
I’ve written how folks who collect transferrable points have many more options for redeeming them. Because you can choose to transfer your points to dozens of different loyalty programs.
This can be especially helpful for award flights because so many airlines are part of alliances like oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam. So you can transfer points to one airline. But book award tickets on any airline that’s part of the same alliance. Team member Keith used this trick to book award flights for his around-the-world honeymoon.
When you have a trip in mind and want to research award flight prices, you can look at the award flight charts for different airlines.
Note: Certain airlines, like Delta, do not publish an award chart. So you’ll have to search specific flights on the airline’s website to find the cost.
Or consider using these tools, which can quickly show you award flight costs between two cities.
- AwardAce Shows You How to Use Your Miles & Points
- Pointimize: A Tool to Find Available Award Night & Flight Cost Information
- Save Time Searching for the Cheapest Award Seats With This Tool!
Keep in mind, these sites do NOT show award flight prices for every airline. But they can be a good starting point!
Award Flights to Tahiti
Before checking award flight prices, I like to search Google Flights to see which airlines fly on a certain route.
For example, I searched non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Tahiti.
The results show there are flights on Air Tahiti Nui or Air France.
For reader Ken’s situation, I know Air France is the best option because he can transfer his points from AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest to Flying Blue, the frequent flyer program for Air France (and KLM). Points from these flexible programs, as well as Citi ThankYou, transfer to Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio.
And Air France happens to offer the cheapest round-trip coach award flight option for this route. Prices start at 60,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip per person.
Prices can vary depending on your travel dates. But planning ahead can help! Because I found lots of open award seats at the low-cost prices in March 2018.
And there are return flights back to Los Angeles for the same number of miles.
Keep in mind, you’ll pay ~$130 in taxes and fees when you redeem Flying Blue miles for an award flight. So 3 round-trip coach award flights will cost 180,000 Flying Blue miles (60,000 miles per person X 3) + $390 in taxes and fees ($130 X 3).
But that’s better than paying $3,000+ in cash for the same flights!
Reader Ken collects transferable points with:
To achieve his travel goal of booking 3 award flights to Tahiti, he can transfer points from the 3 programs to Flying Blue, the frequent flyer program for Air France (and KLM). Then, book a round-trip coach award flight for 60,000 Flying Blue miles per person plus taxes & fees.
And if you collect Citi ThankYou points, you can also transfer them to Flying Blue for the same flight.
Remember, having travel flexibility and planning in advance can help significantly with booking award flights on popular routes.
Thanks for the question, Ken!