Award Booking Guides

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!

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Happy to help folks in need of an award booking service. We don’t charge a deposit to look for you.


My son and family just moved to Cedar Park Tx, now I need to find the cheapest flights and hotels to see them on a regular basis, looking forward to all your help.

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!

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?

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.


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