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Best airlines for reward seats

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#1 reader



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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:18 PM





Ready to cash in some of your frequent-flyer miles? You're in luck.


The chance of getting an award seat has improved from several years ago.


Availability is now about 74 percent, according to the CarTrawler Reward Seat Availability Survey, which was released Wednesday. Eight years ago, award tickets were available 66 percent of the time, and 71 percent by 2013.


"Five years ago it was a pretty ugly sight," said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks Company, which conducted the study for CarTrawler.


Airlines want loyal customers so it is in their interest to make award seats more available, Sorensen said.


Airlines also generate revenue from selling frequent-flyer miles to banks when customers with co-branded or rewards credit cards use those cards, another reason for keeping those travelers happy, spending and returning to the airline.


Major airlines have made it more difficult for many travelers to earn miles by flying. Instead of the old model of rewarding travelers for how far they fly, they now reward them based on how much they pay for their tickets.




#2 ggobkk



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Posted 17 May 2018 - 05:58 AM

Looks like American has significantly improved.  As I understand the survey, it tested both long haul and commuter award availability on major routes.  To date the best value for my miles has been for international business class.  

#3 PeterRS



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Posted 17 May 2018 - 12:45 PM

I pay very little attention to this sort of poll. Fact is they are only as good as the specific questions they asks and the specific routes they check. My experience has been that long haul non stop biz travel between the UK and Thailand is very difficult unless dates are locked in up to 10 months ahead. Sometimes availability is better with a plane change en route. But then the problem can be lengthy delays. I once had an 8 hour connection in Dubai. Even with biz class this was exhausting and a waste of the extra miles.

#4 paulfort



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Posted 18 May 2018 - 06:04 AM

When I first started flying to Thailand normally twice a year from London about 14 years ago, As the cheapest and I felt a change of flights preferable to such a long trip in economy,  I used Gulf air changing in Bahrain, booking in economy, but after a few flights reached their loyalty higher tier and whilst the change of flights became a pain in the neck, benefited from lounge access and probably every 5th or so flight got an upgrade at the gate in to business (usually on the Bahrain to Bangkok leg)   in addition to there very occasional planned miles upgrade but that was not very generous. I have since used Jet a bit via India, their miles upgrade gives you an upgrade from economy in to business after about 3 to 4 return trips, but Mumbai was stressful  for a change of flights!

More recently I have enjoyed EVA direct from LHR to BKK normally traveling in their premium economy "Elite" cabin, but once at their "Infinity Miles" star alliance silver level the rewards stack up quick giving an upgrade from Elite which I found pretty good into Business "Royal Laurel" which is excellent  after only a few flights, so much so that now I am booking their Royal Laurel going out and Elite on return, which yes does cost a lot more but the miles rewards will stack up even faster and for me at 6ft 2" means I can look forward to both legs (well at least my outward trip!) Needless to say lounge access at both ends just a further added bonus so would suggest well worth the effort and signing up to their loyalty program !  

#5 GWMinUS



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Posted 18 May 2018 - 08:06 AM

I can see that both American and United are in the middle of the list.

Once got a "free" trip on United traveling to the Philippines.

But it was not really worth it.

Had to change to ANA in in Japan. Arrived at 11PM and the flight to Manila was not until 7AM the next day

Had to cough up for a short term nap in the Airport Hotel.

On the return flight from Manila, ANA tried to bump me.

I had to show them all my onward flights on United to my home airport.

I was the last passenger they put on board.

After that I cancelled my United Credit Card and said, NEVER AGAIN!!

#6 vinapu



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Posted 18 May 2018 - 09:48 AM

My best reward when flying to Asia  is fast connection at cheapest price and for quite a few years I don't bother with collecting miles as my loyalty is to my wallet.

#7 reader



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Posted 18 May 2018 - 06:06 PM

Used to be a loyal Dela customer until they pulled out of BKK and began partnering with some mainland China carriers. I, too, now shop by price and favorable arrival and departure times on the more dependable carriers.


For a while the three major mid-east carriers were offering great business fares but all three have since jacked up prices. Qatar has now adopted first-class pricing for its biz class product and is highest in the industry into BKK from most US locations.


On next trip I'll be using ANA for second time. I think the Japanese handle transit passengers very efficiently at Naraita and Haneda.


I avoid British Air, AIr France and Lufthansa because of frequent job actions that could disrupt a trip.


Although I have not flown Cathay Pacific, they have some great short duration flights out of many US and Canada locations that all connect in Hong Kong.



#8 z909



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Posted 19 May 2018 - 05:20 PM

I kind of see the attraction of points for frequent travelers with legacy airlines & in particular, for those who make frequent business trips, with the employer paying for the flights and the employee picking up the points.    I presume the latter point is what oils the wheels of this strange system.


For the rest of us, as far as I can see, points have no relevance.


Last year, I made one long haul business trip and one long haul holiday flight.   Total 4 flights, or 2 returns.

I think it was about 6 short haul holiday flights and 4 short haul business flights, all with low cost carriers & no points.


I've never bothered researching this, but if I use the same airline alliance (another word for cartel), exactly how many long haul flights do I need in a year, before the points become useful ?     Bear in mind, I would purchase the lowest cost ticket for any class of travel.


Also, for long haul flights, the choice of carrier may be very limited.   From home, I have 5, possibly 8 candidate international airports within easy travelling distance.  5 airports within 1.25 hours, including Heathrow, which remains one of the busiest international airports.    

Yet, for any DIRECT route, there will be a limited number of options.   To Bangkok, it is 3 airlines.    

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