If you’re paying for an airline ticket, the price is the price. No matter if you’re booking directly through the airline website, or paying through Google Flights, a travel portal, or an online travel agency, you’ll end up paying the same price.
However, if you’re using points and are able to find saver flights, how much you’ll pay will depend on which program you use. That’s because each loyalty program prices flights differently. If a flight has available saver space, its partners (alliance and non-alliance) will be able to book tickets and charge whatever price they want to program members.
I’ll use a flight I was recently searching for as an example. I need a flight from Siem Reap to Singapore and, not surprisingly, the only airline to fly the route is Singapore Airlines. I don’t need a fancy seat for the 2 & 1/2 hour flight so I searched for economy class award availability instead of having to pay the $185.
Looking at Singapore Airlines’ website, they have tickets available for 13,500 KrisFlyer points. Being a partner of every program, it would be easy to transfer points to my account and book the ticket.
But I went one step further and used our Point.me membership to search the same route. While the award search engine found some alternate routings on non-Star Alliance carriers, it showed me the price to book the same ticket with all of Singapore’s partners.
Their best choice was to book the flight through Air Canada Aeroplan for 8,000 miles transferring points from American Express, Capital One or Chase.
However, many other programs offered the same ticket for different prices:
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer – 13,500 + $30
- SAS – 15,000 – $250
- Alaska MileagePlan – 17,500 + $43
- Miles & More – 17,500 + $30
- Aegean Miles + Bonus – 17,500 + $30
- United MileagePlus – 19,300 + $30
- Asiana Club – 20,000 + $30
- Turkish Miles&Smiles – 20,000 + $30
- TAP Miles & Go – 35,000 + $61
Your choice of which points to use may depend on how many you have stored in each program. While I have plenty of United miles in our account after our postponed trip to Japan, I’d have to transfer points from Chase to replace them. I don’t have points in other programs, except for some Alaska miles, so the best bet is to book with Aeroplan.
My main dilemma is which points to transfer to Aeroplan. Since the redemption is worth 1.5 cents per point, all of them are a good value. I can transfer Chase points to Hyatt and I’ve been averaging 2.5-3 CPP for those bookings, so I’ll leave those points alone. I just burnt a bunch of AMEX points to book flights with Singapore Airlines and need to rebuild my balances. That means I’ll use some of the 100K Capital One points I earned with our 2nd Venture X card.
16,000 points plus $120 for two tickets which would otherwise cost $370 is a great deal. I might never use Aeroplan points to book a flight with Air Canada, but who knew they were the best choice to book a short economy flight on Singapore Airlines?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary