How Many Miles Will it Take?

Many of us have collected miles in a number of frequent flyer programs.  Most of mine are concentrated between American and United/Continental.  So when I’m planning a trip, I want to make sure that I utilize those miles most effectively.  There are many things to consider when considering that:

  • What airports am I willing to travel from and to?
  • What time of year am I traveling?
  • Do I want to stop in multiple cities during my trip?
  • What type of ticket do I want (ecomony, business, first)?
  • How many tickets am I trying to redeem miles for?
  • Am I flexible with my dates?

Which airline you choose to redeem your miles on will depend on how you answer those questions.  An easy example of this can be illustrated using the recent changes to the British Airways frequent flyer program.  If I want to travel from NYC to Raleigh, NC, it will cost me a minimum of 25,000 miles round-trip if I use American Airlines miles.  However, if I use British Airways miles, it will only cost 9,000 miles round-trip.  Another example is flying between NYC and Hawaii.  It will cost 35,000 miles (in the off season) on American and 40,000 miles on Continental/United.

There is a free on-line tool called that can help you get an idea of how many miles you will need by frequent flyer program.  It doesn’t give you information about high and low seasons, but it’s a great start.  It also won’t give you information about more complicated award tickets, like if you wanted to do stopovers.  You can search between 2 cities and individually choose which programs you want to compare (or leave it blank for all of the programs that they have information on).

Searching between LaGuardia and Honolulu

Search Results


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