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Miles & Points for Beginners: Crafting a Dream Redemption

Miles & Points for Beginners: Crafting a Dream Redemption

So far in our Miles & Points for Beginners series, we’ve spent a lot of time looking at earning points.

The truth is that earning points through welcome bonuses and credit card spending is the easy part. Redeeming credit card points effectively is much more challenging.

Trying to find the flights you want can be incredibly frustrating, as you’ll have to contend with the intricacies of award availability, fixed versus dynamic pricing, and more hurdles that we’ll go over in this article.

However, when you finally lock in the exact flights that you were dreaming of at a fraction of the cost compared to paying cash, it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling.

By far the biggest barrier when you want to redeem points for an aspirational flight is award availability.

One of the most important factors to know about Miles & Points is that just because a seat is available to purchase with cash doesn’t necessarily mean that you can book it with points.

Airlines will often withhold available unsold seats from award bookings in the hopes that they can sell them for cash. This is especially true with business class and First Class award seats, and particularly with the most desirable products.

While most airlines will have at least a couple of award seats available on every flight, a few airlines actually guarantee a minimum amount of award availability.

British Airways is one such airline that guarantees a minimum number of award seats on every flight, outlined as follows for flights to/from London Heathrow:

  • Eight seats in economy
  • Two seats in premium economy
  • Four seats in business class
British Airways guarantees at least four business class (Club World) seats are available to book with points on every flight

In other words, you can predict with 100% certainty that there will be the above numbers of seats available to book with points on every British Airways flight. Once they booked up, the airline may or may not release more, and there’s no guarantee.

When an airline releases an award seat that can be purchased with points, it can be booked from that airline’s own loyalty program, and most of the time, it can also be booked from partner airline loyalty programs.

For example, a United “Saver”-level award flight can be booked with United MileagePlus miles, but can also be booked with Air Canada Aeroplan points or Avianca LifeMiles, because all…

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