How I Saved 60% By Comparing 3 Award Options For The Same Flight

by joeheg

When searching for an airline award flight, it’s a good idea to explore various loyalty programs to find the most efficient way to use your points. Each program has its own unique method for calculating the points needed for an award, so comparing different programs can help you maximize your mileage.

Even for someone like me, who regularly covers this topic, it can be challenging to keep up with the frequent changes to award charts and program rules. To make the process easier, I use, an award search website, to compare the points required by each program for a specific flight. However, even with this tool, it’s still important to conduct additional research to ensure you’re getting the best deal. This was the case when I recently searched for a domestic flight with American Airlines.

Finding the best flight

When searching for flights, my initial approach involves using a search engine like Google Flights to compare airlines, flight times, and prices. Although I typically don’t intend to purchase a flight outright, this step provides a helpful starting point. Once I identify an airline that allows me to use points for a ticket, my next move is to explore rewards.

I begin finding a flight that’s bookable with multiple programs, which indicates the presence of saver space. This refers to flights for which an airline has opened up award space to both alliance and non-alliance partners. Flights with saver space can be booked for the lowest number of miles, allowing me to compare programs and secure the best deal. I found a flight on American Airlines that was showing up with multiple oneworld partners. I first went to to verify the flight.

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A ticket in Economy class starts at $222, while an award ticket for the same flight costs 12,500 AAdvantage miles plus taxes. That’s a value of 1.73 cents per point, which isn’t bad, but I wanted to do better.


a screenshot of a computer

Checking oneworld alliance partners

Previously, British Airways was my go-to program for booking short American Airlines flights. For a flight between 651 and 1,151 miles, you’d have to pay 9,000 Avios plus taxes. However, since I’ve been trying to burn through my AAdvantage points, I missed the devaluation in December 2023, when British Airways increased the price for these flights to 11,000 Avios.

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The price for 2 tickets would be 22,000 Avios plus $11.20. That brings the cents per point for this award ticket to 1.96. Now we’re getting somewhere.

What about Alaska MileagePlan?

I’m still getting used to Alaska Airlines being a part of oneworld. That’s why I never think about checking with them when booking flights with American Airlines. But now that MileagePlan has updated the points charts for most of the awards, there’s some great value for short-haul flights in the Americas.

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The same flight from Orlando to Austin only costs 7,500 miles. The fees are higher because Alaska tacks on a $12.50 charge when booking with an airline that’s not Alaska. Even with the higher cash price, this award clocks in at 2.79 cents per point. If you were looking at the First Class seat, you’d get a value of 3.25 cents per point.

Needless to say, I booked the flight with Alaska MileagePlan. As a bonus, I’ve had these points in my account for over 12 years, since I signed up for the Alaska credit card. I had dreams of using them for some First-Class flights to Asia but those trips never happened.

Final thoughts

By searching different partners, I found three different award prices for the same flight. Instead of paying 12,500 AAdvantage points, I was able to pay only 7,500 Alaska miles for the same flight. That’s why it pays to know about airline alliances and to search multiple programs when there appears to be saver award space.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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