How to Maximize Travel Points and Use Air Miles

I’ve written thousands of blog posts over the years, and no matter how hard I try to keep things organized it’s natural that some very helpful posts will fall through the cracks.

This page includes an assortment of some of the posts I think are most helpful, or that I’m frequently asked about. I’ll try to keep this a current resource, but this is by no means meant to be comprehensive.

Beginners Guide To Miles & Points
What’s The Point?
How Loyalty Programs Work
Credit Cards and Credit Scores
Types of Miles & Points
Identifying Your Travel Goals
How Alliances Work
Credit Card Strategy For Beginners
Earning Miles & Points
Hotels Matter Too
What’s Next?

Redeeming Miles

Star Alliance

How To Book One-Way Award Ticket Using ANA Miles
How To Use ANA Award Search Tool
How to redeem United miles for travel on EVA Airways
How To Book One-Way Award Ticket Using ANA Miles
Austrian Business Class Award Availability Trends
Singapore KrisFlyer Suites Class Saver Award Availability
Booking Aeroplan Awards Without Fuel Surcharges
Understanding United’s Open Jaw Rules
How predictable is Lufthansa first class award space?


How To Redeem American AAdvantage Miles
Are Upgrades With Avios Still A Good Deal?
American Airlines Award Routing Rules
How To Use British Airways Award Search Tool
Adding Free One Way Award Within UK on British Airways
Search OneWorld Award Space Using
How to redeem British Airways Avios points (reader question)
How to redeem the British Airways companion certificate (issued with the British Airways Signature Visa Card)
How to use British Airways Avios points for travel on Aer Lingus (and avoid fuel surcharges)
How to search LAN award space on British Airways website even when they don’t want to show you space
How To Search Etihad Award Space Using American AAdvantage Miles
Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank One-Way Awards
Qatar Airways award availability trends
No Change Fee To Upgrade American Award Ticket


How (And Why) To Use Alitalia Miles
How Delta Prices Award Tickets
How To Redeem Korean Air SkyPass Miles
Booking Korean Air SkyPass Awards Online

Other Airlines

How to search Etihad award space
Short Alaska Miles? How To Top Off Account
Redeeming Alaska Miles For Emirates First Class
Best Uses Of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles

Helpful Tips

When Do Airlines Open Award Seats?
Mixing Airlines On Mileage Award Tickets — What’s Allowed?
How to go about changing award tickets
How to deal with airlines that only release award space close to departure
Which Airlines Release Last Minute Award Space?
Using Barclaycard Arrival Miles To Subsidize Fuel Surcharges
Stopover rules on award tickets
Airline Award Ticket Change Fees
Cathay Pacific First Class: 747 or 777?

Difficult Destinations

How To Book An Award Ticket To The Maldives
How To Use Miles On Flights To Tahiti
London Hotels On Points
Is It Safe To Travel To The UAE?
Can You Redeem Miles To Cuba?
How To Book Flights To Iceland In Summer
Visit Denali National Park Like A Local During Road Lottery
How to use United MileagePlus miles for travel to Australia
How to get to Iceland on an award ticket this summer
How to get Tahiti and Australia on the same award ticket…
Redeeming Singapore KrisFlyer Miles To Australia
How to get to Australia in the high season


Save On Last-Minute Bookings With Hotel Tonight
How to convert American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood points to Hilton Honors at a favorable ratio
How to maximize 2013 Starwood Platinum renewal gift
How To Transfer Starwood Points Between Accounts
How To Combine Club Carlson Points
5% Cash Back on Hyatt Stays

Travel Tips

My Secret To Living Out Of A Carry-On
How To Find Mistake Fares And Fly For Cheap
What To Do During Weather Delays
Thoughts On Traveling With Infrequent Travelers
How To Consistently Sit Next To An Empty Seat On A Plane
Using Google Flights To Find Cheap Fares
How to use ITA to find mileage run fares
Tips For Maximizing Airline Schedule Changes
How to know whether your Lufthansa flight will feature the new first or business class cabins
How to reserve seats 2A & 2K in Cathay Pacific 777 first class
How to score an upgrade on a flight…
How to prevent United miles from expiring (for now)
How To Tell If An American Flight Is Overbooked
Understanding the UK Air Passenger Duty (and how to minimize it)
How To Maximize Promotions
How To Choose A Frequent Flyer Program
How To Maximize International First Class Travel


Allied Passport & Visa — for passport renewals and foreign visas
Award Wallet — for tracking miles and points
Credit Karma — free credit score
Credit Sesame — free credit score
PointsPros — my travel and award consulting service
Silvercar — car rentals that don’t suck [use referral code BSCHLAPPIG for $25 discount]
Virtuoso — for luxury hotels and bespoke experiences

Travel Technology

Internet In China: Staying Connected While Traveling
How To Share Inflight Wifi Between Multiple Devices
9 Travel Gadgets I Have In My Carry-On
Using Amazon Prime Video’s Download Feature While Traveling
Review: T-Mobile Simple Choice International Plan
International Data Plans: XCom Global vs. Tep Wireless
Best Camera For Frequent Traveler?

Credit Cards

Pay Any Bill By Credit Card — For A 1.99% Fee
Best Credit Cards For Everyday Spend
How to get approved for credit cards as a college student (reader question)
Which Credit Cards Are In My Wallet?

General (lighthearted) Advice

How to get hotel rooms cold
How to make your carry-on smell like your favorite toiletry brand
How to crush my dreams in five minutes flat…
How to deal with a neo-Nazi in first class on Lufthansa?
How to make any (somewhat intelligent) TSA agent crack a smile…
How to handle difficult bump situations

If you need help beyond these tutorials, check out the Ask Lucky page for easy answers, or consider utilizing my travel consulting service.

Maps throughout OMAAT generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz

  1. Appears to be fused link on this one to previous entry: Understanding United’s Open Jaw Rules

  2. Hi Ben,

    Thinking about booking an award travel on AA early next year and currently have miles on USAirways. Since the loyalty programs will be merged early next year, how do you think that the merge is going to affect award travel. In other words, do we expect AA to increase the number of miles for an award travel to Europe. Thinking about business class which is currently at 50K each way.

  3. @ John — I don’t know the timeline, but yes, I would expect that award rates will go up once they merge programs.

  4. Hi,

    i need to change my award flight (Hong Kong to Vienna flying cathay pacific and Qatar airways). I can see on the BA site that there is availability on my chosen date but when i call us airways (who my points and original booking is with) they can’t see any availability. My question is does BA have some awards availability that US doesn’t have? will the flights become available to us later? Thanks Helena

  5. @ Helena — They should have access to the space. I’d recommend hanging up and calling again, as chances are you just got an incompetent agent.

  6. Hey Ben,
    does AA show Cathay first-class seats on the website or do I have to call them? Haven’t found a single Cathay F Seat out of Chicago/SF/ or LAX.
    Any tips for booking Cathay First?

    Love your trip reports. Safe flights!

  7. @ Cris — You have to call. You can search space on BA/QF site and AA should have access to same space, but it must be booked by phone. They tend to release space either last minute or far in advance, so that’s your best shot at booking the space.

  8. Hi Lucky,
    I want to fly on points from DC to Copenhagen return Bergen Norway to DC. Now I need to make a layover because there isn’t an award fare to Copenhagen. Any suggestion on the best country to layover to best maximize the use of the award fare?

    PS I’ve looked for your service PointsPros but can’t seem to find them?

  9. Hi Lucky,
    I’m trying to fly on United with miles. I know I’ll just need to get to Europe and then from a point to Copenhagen. Thanks for the advise.

  10. @ Margaret — Well Star Alliance carriers have hubs in Brussels, Vienna, Frankfurt, Munich, and Warsaw, so those are some of your best options for stopovers enroute.

  11. Hello Lucky,

    Quick questions on lounge access. Currently United Mileage Plus Gold status. Have the following trips next week in economy class. Please confirm:

    1. Will my partner and I have lounge access at the departing airports
    2. If yes, can we access all Start Alliance lounges?

    SFO – LHR – United Airlines
    LHR – WAW – Polish Airlines
    WAW – IST – Polish Airlines
    SAW – ASR – Turkish Airlines
    ASR – SAW – Turkish Airlines
    IST – CPH – Turkish Airlines
    CPH – SFO – SAS


  12. @ JL — As a Star Alliance Gold member you and a guest should have access at all airports. Enjoy the trip!

  13. Hi Lucky & Co,

    with the redeem-1-get-1-free going away, the, it seems Club Carlson is coming out with a promotion every other day! I remember there is a 30k pts after a stay? can you give a summary of their current promos, this will help us quickly plan & leverage our pts and stays in next few days.


  14. hi ben,

    your site is a great read! but 1 question pops up in my head everytime..

    i am based in netherlands/germany. as i see your based in the US which makes things easier with credit cards and earning awards.

    am i also able to do all this from the netherlands/germany.. or is it more difficult doing what you do from a european country?

    kind regards,

  15. Flying AA BNA-KOA with overnight LAX. I know I have to collect my bags for hotel stay, but will I be charged baggage fee again when I recheck next day?

    Can you also tell me which terminal AA will depart for KOA?

  16. I got a question? I have a 950.00 minus the change fee refund credit from United for a canceled flight, I am to use it with in a year but I will not be able to use it. I don’t want forfeit the cash value. Do you have any way around this?
    I saw a post that said I could book a new flight now in a unrestricted class. Then I could cancel the flight and get a full refund. This sounded good but when i walked through the on line process it said the refund would be in the original form of payment. I hope i am explaining this right? It would work this way 950.00 refund, minus 150.00 change fee, new unrestricted fare would be 1,950.00. That includes the refund. If I cancelled and ask for a refund would i get the 1,950.00 back or just the the money I had to pay extra for in the new ticket? Thanks in advance if anyone can help me.

  17. Hi Lucky,

    I have one request.

    Can you provide information on Indian Credit Cards and Miles with Indian Airlines ? or How to gain advantage being in India?


  18. Is there a faster way to achieve gold status with a new Marriott Bonvoy card? We’ll never make 25 nights by the end of a year? We’re flying Emirates next May & have joined both reward clubs.

  19. Hi Lucky
    Thank you for all the tips over the years that I have been reading. I am not sure if you ever wrote about this, but we just had a reluctant experience with United Airlines. I was able to utilize my miles from my Capital One card to purchase 1st class tickets SFO-Washington DC – Baltimore International. We arrived at the airport early to take advantage of the United Lounge since we were flying first Class. To our surprise, since we were flying to Baltimore and not Boston or Newark, we were not allowed in the club and were told that we could purchase a pass for $59 ea.

    Previous flying 1st class on AA we were admitted no problem to the Admiral’s Club.

    I generally do NOT fly United, but I figured that 1st class would be an exception. I need to stress that the flight and crew were wonderful even though we had to stay on the tarmac both departing and arriving back to SFO for over an hour (our gate was given away because we were delayed due to weather in Baltimore). But, I think I will try to fly any other airline when I am able to because of their treatment of us not able to utilize the lounge.

    It used to be that if you had a first class ticket you were automatically admitted and able to use the services, but they wanted me to join the Polaris Club, United Member, or purchase entry. This is not very customer service oriented in my opinion. Can you give me insight into this measure?

    Again as always, I read your blog every time you send it out and find it enjoyable. I just wish I had the time to travel.

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