Welcome to the first installment of my domestic award redemption guide - built entirely on Coda! Let’s explore how to maximize value through alliance partner airline programs.
In this doc, I’ll be covering domestic redemptions on U.S. airlines through foreign partner programs, which often represent one of the best uses of bank points. As almost all domestic U.S. airline loyalty programs have already ditched award charts and moved to dynamic pricing, we’ll focus mainly on foreign programs that still has distanced-based pricing. The (non-exhaustive) list of programs are -
Air Canada Aeroplan
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
IAG (British Airways, transferable from Iberia and Aer Lingus) Avios
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Why not cover international options? While it’s true that long-haul premium redemptions are often the most valuable (and the best use of bank points by far), domestic travel is often the much more practical option in this Omicron world. Not only do entry requirements change by the day, some countries where you can get the best value are simply just shut off. For example, you can no longer transit Hong Kong (HKG) on your way to Johannesburg (JNB) for
They’re all partnered with at least one major U.S. credit card transfer partner (American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One Miles) at a 1:1 ratio. We’ll dive into the specifics of these transfers at a later date.
What is Fixed Award Pricing?
You pay a fixed price based on distance traveled. These programs partner with the big three U.S. airlines (American, United, Delta), which means one can book “partner flights”. No need to accumulate SkyMiles, AAdvantage Miles, or MileagePlus points! With the right arbitrage, you can often score mileage award flights at their fixed rate when cash prices are exorbitant - especially apparent for premium cabins. These are referred to as “sweet spots”, where you could often find outsized value for your points and miles. Let’s dive in!
Note that AA rarely releases award space to its partners for Flagship First class, so we will not be covering that here. You’re better off redeeming AAdvantage Miles during Web Special Sales for these flights (which can still command over 50k one way).
Tell me more about Premium Flights?
Domestic lie-flat seats are mostly flown on premium transcontinental flights (the longest, business heavy coast-to-coast routes like LAX-NYC, SFO-BOS etc.) Airlines deploy their latest and greatest products, often on par with international flights, on these routes and often fly their largest widebody aircraft (like the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner, or the Airbus A350). These premium products are referred to by Delta as Delta One, United as Polaris, and American as Flagship (unique in offering both a Business and First class option). In other words, these are true First Class seats that allow you to indulge in luxury and get a good night (or day)’s rest, as opposed to the “first class” seats you find on regional/narrowbody jets that are nothing more than a few extra inches of legroom and a plastic wrapped sandwich.
What if award prices change?
That’s where the power of Coda comes in! You can easily update the numbers (miles required, etc) by
Copy this doc
as a templateand changing the numbers on your own! As always, Your Mileage May Vary.
Do I need to pay taxes and fees?
Yes, in addition to goverment mandated taxes and fees (usually $5.60) some programs charge additional partner booking fees/award surcharges. These can vary by route, so check carefully!
How do you define a domestic flight?
Flights that originate and terminate in the contiguous United States (48 States + D.C.). Hawaii, Alaska, and other U.S. Territories are most likely excluded from these prices.