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Partner Award Redemptions

A beginner question I get a lot involves the three airline alliances (OneWorld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam) and how you use your miles on one airline to book a an award flight on another.  There are also “redemption partners” – which are airlines that have a special agreement for their members to be able to redeem awards on the other airline.

What Can You Redeem Where?

For the purposes of this article, they are all the same.  If you fly one of the big three airlines in America, you have a range of redemption partners. Let’s look at your options for each of the Big Three.

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American Airlines: Part of OneWorld which includes: airberlin, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, S7 Airlines (Russia), SriLankan Airlines, and TAM Airlines.

Beyond OneWorld, you can *also* redeem your American AAdvantage miles on Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, Cape Air, Etihad Airways, Fiji Airways, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines (Inter-Island only for redemptions), Seaborne Airlines (Puerto Rico)

Delta: Part of SkyTeam which includes: Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia Airlines, TAROM,  Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.

Delta’s non-Skyteam partners are: Air Tahiti Nui, GOL Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.

United Airlines: Part of the Star Alliance which includes: ADRIA Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAP Portugal, THAI, Turkish Airlines

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How to Search Partner Award Availability

Now that you understand that if you collect miles in one (or more!) of the big three those entire alliances and transfer partners are options for your miles redemptions, you’ve opened up a world of new possibilities.

But here’s the very important thing to know: Not all partners will show up on an airline’s online award booking – and the Big Three have some of the worst availability of Saver (low) level awards of any airlines. So your best bet to maximize their value is on partner airlines. Which means you need to know how.

Based on the Alliance that your airline is in, here are the sites to use to check availability:

OneWorld: BA.com (the British Airways website)

SkyTeam: Air France and Delta

Star Alliance: Air Canada (or United.com)

Singapore / Etihad – directly on their websites

Keep in mind, you do not transfer miles from one airline to the other. You simply are booking an award on that partner’s planes using the miles you have. For example, if you wanted to book a JAL (Japan Airlines) flight, you can use your American Airlines miles. Since JAL won’t show on the AA.com website, you would need to call American and they can redeem your miles for award flights on JAL, subject to award seat availability from JAL.

What Will it Cost?

The program’s miles you are using governs the price you will pay.  In the above example, let’s say you wanted to fly JAL from New York to Tokyo. Japan is in the AAdvantage partner award chart as Asia Region 1

One way in Economy: 35,000 miles

One way in Business: 60,000 miles

One way in First: 80,000

It doesn’t matter what JAL charges for their awards. It could be more or it could be less. But if you are using your AA miles, it’s AA prices that you’ll pay.

Of course, this opens up arbitrage opportunities when you have a variety of airline miles or transferable points, as you can choose the program with the lowest rates on the flights you want.

I’ve made a short video to help guide you through the next part – how to search for availability and then make the booking with the airline on which you have miles.

Note that there may be cases where availability simply cannot be checked online. There are more advanced tools for that, like Expert Flyer, but this is an intro-level post.

Let me know if you have any questions! Ask me here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

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I got "in the game" in 2003 and since then I've collected literally millions and millions of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I've flown around the world in first class seats that would cost $29,000 using frequent flyer miles and a few bucks in tax. And I've stayed in some of the finest hotels - all for free! A few years ago I realized many of my friends actually thought I was paying for these!! So I started sharing my tips. It's long been a passion, but when I hosted a session on Miles and Points at this year's South by Southwest festival, my love of the game intensified and this blog was born.

8 COMMENTS

  1. This was very helpful but I do need some assistance. I have been trying to book SMF to KOA and I see from award hacker that Singapore Airlines has the best redemption. When I go to Singapore Airlines and search for this route they say “there is no flight available for the criteria you have selected. Please change the search criteria and try again”. I have searched for numerous dates yet nothing comes up – I am totally flexible with this trip. I would like to see what is available – how do I find it? Any suggestions?

    • AwardHacker will only show you theoretical best awards – but not availability.

      Look who the operating carrier is and search availability there. Saver level.

      If actually available you could call Singapore to book by phone.

      • I realize Awardhacker does not show availability. I cannot find availability for ANY date on Singapore airlines website. Am I doing something wrong when searching on Singapore? Shouldn’t there be SOME date available when they show SMF to KOA with this airline on Awardhacker? I have asked several people this same question and I am not really getting the answer I need. Can anyone else try to search for this route on Singapore and advise? I’m just a little frustrated…

        • They do not show all routes online. Singapore doesn’t fly that itinerary so without knowing what airline it’s on I can’t help more.

          • If Singapore doesn’t fly that route why does Awardhacker show it does? It says to go to Singapore’s website to book the flight. I’m just trying to figure out the process…

          • Now that I look more closely it says AS – Alaska Airline but to go to Singapore to book. So how do you locate these flights on Singapore’s website? I appreciate your assistance on this!

          • In that case Alaskaair.com would need to show the lowest level awards as available and then you could call
            Singapore to book. It won’t be available online.

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