Help me to help you!

Today I have a big headache and I'm rushing to get packed and jump on a plane back to The Netherlands.

So…let's try it differently. Is there any question you would like answered? 

Any question you have on loyalty programmes or systems you're trying to understand, I'll try my best to answer (…unless another reader answers it before me!)


About Tim

Tim is an engineer and a nerd who analyses every travel deal, travel hack. He has travelled to around 90 countries and also speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

More articles by Tim »



    • I don’t use Award Nexus so can’t give the best answer. But it looks like it depends on how many award tickets you expect to book. For the $130 option I’d expect at least 4-6 trips out of it.

      Don’t forget they have 30 refund if you’re not satisfied with it…

      Copying from their page:

      “Award Nexus may be right for you, if:

      you value your “free ticket” highly ($1000+ USD per international trip)
      you value your time and attention
      you like being in-control and being aware of full range of options”

  1. We are looking to go to Zimbabwe in the summer of 2015. There are four of us, so I think coach is going to be our realistic goal. Although we have the most AA miles and could fly out of DFW or AUS, I think United miles out of Houston is actually going to be our best bet to avoid big fuel surcharges. Am I on the right track? Any tips I need to consider?

    • Ahh…just realized you are Europe-based! I’m not always good about heckling which BA blog I’m reading. If this is out of your scope, please ignore.

    • Yes you’re on the right track. The problem with Zimbabwe is that only 1 oneworld airline flies there — British Airways, so you will have to pay fuel surcharge. There are many more Star Alliance carriers going to Harare. You should save your AA miles for a different trip I reckon.

  2. I’m curious if you have any strategies for Australia based FF’ers. I’m relocating from the US to Oz shortly and could use the advice. Redemption sweet spots, best programs, etc… Thanks!

  3. thanks for the post. i am trying to get a family of 3 to either europe or asia this summer in business or first from lax. i can’t find award availability anywhere. any thoughts on how i can find availability?

    • Which airline do your miles belong to? For searching, in most cases I tend to use a mixture of American Airlines’ search engine, ANA and KVS Tool. I’ve never had to book on Skyteam so don’t really know what’s best on that one I’m afraid!

  4. Hi , what is the best use of miles (united or star alliance) to get round trip from EWR or JFK to GOT? Thanks

    • The following Star Alliance carriers fly nonstop from their hubs to both NYC and GOT: Brussels Airlines (Brussels), Lufthansa (Frankfurt), SAS (Copenhagen and Stockholm). I hope at least one of those options should be ok for you!

  5. I have to fly to Marco in early June, in coach on AA/Cathay. I don’t have any status with the airline yet. Any tips?

    • Where is Marco, what fare bucket is your ticket and which airline is your marketing carrier? (not necessarily the one who flies the aircraft)

      • Sorry, autocorrect got me. I am going to Macau, an SAR of China. The classes for the ORD to HKG legs are Economy H going over and Economy K returning. I can live with plain old economy on the short legs from ORD to and from my home city, but that flight from ORD to HKG is brutal on my legs.

        • another couple of quick questions before my full answer: Do you have any status with other airlines or alliances? And are you booked in the the AA flight numbers or CX flight numbers?

          • I don’t have any other statuses and am booked on American flight numbers. I have about 14,000 American miles saved. Thanks for you interest and attention.

          • Unfortunately if you want good seats you’d have to pay for advanced selection as you don’t have any status with any airlines, nor enough miles to upgrade.

            I reckon the best option for you is to simply credit your miles to AA as normal. After this trip you’d get an extra 15000 or so, which would bump your balance to nearly 30k.

            Additionally, if all your segments are booked under AA flight numbers, and you have at least 4500 more miles within 90 days of your first segment of the trip, and you would use it enough, I would consider doing the American Airlines Platinum Challenge. See the Oneworld section of this page:

  6. Hi and thanks for asking! My husband and I have an amazing trip planned to Europe in the fall. We need to get from the Paris (starting location is fairly flexible) area down to Israel mid October (at or around the 17th) and are trying to use points/miles if possible. I’ve struggled in finding a decent one way flight to Tel Aviv. We can use my BA avios, American, United, Alaska or UR transfer points or pay cash if the price is right. Your input would be appreciated. I’m still learning about the ins and outs of BA Avios and can’t seem to make the routings work to avoid the high fuel surcharges. I can use American points to fly El Al, but there is no award space open. United shows open award space on terrible night only flights. Your help on this would be very much appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hi Theresa, could you give me an idea of your flexibility, for instance whether you are prepared to do a transit somewhere? If so, that opens up a few more opportunities…

    • It’s 35k to 60k miles round trip in economy, 100k in business and 125k in first using US miles. The 20k miles you are referring to is using AA miles one way. This is a “Your Miles May Vary” case. Most of the influential points/miles contributors like to talk about redemptions in premium cabins where there has been a clear price rise in recent times because premium seats are costing more miles.

      If you tend to use your mileage for economy class redemptions, then you won’t feel much of a difference.

  7. I currently have Marco Polo Gold and would like to know with which skyteam and staralliance airlines I could leverage a skyteam elite (preferably elite plus) or staralliance gold status match.

    I’m also wondering when I fly two airline groups, whether the status of one group is respected on the other group.

    Example 1: Checking into a Skyteam Elite Plus economy flight which connects to a generic economy staralliance segment without staralliance status. Will my Elite Plus luggage allowance be checked in through to staralliance, or will staralliance reject my luggage?

    Example 2: Checking into a generic skyteam economy flight which connects to a staralliance gold economy flight. Will the star alliance luggage allowance apply to the skyteam leg?

    • With Marco Polo Gold, you might be able to do a status match with China Airlines, though it probably won’t be to Skyteam elite plus.

      Don’t expect status to carry through across alliances. I have never heard anyone get extra luggage allowance because their competitor gave them some!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.