Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > MilesBuzz
Reload this Page >

Which airline has best overall rating for cashing in points for a ticket?

Which airline has best overall rating for cashing in points for a ticket?

Old Jun 12, 03, 12:29 pm
  #1  
doc
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 46,816
Which airline has best overall rating for cashing in points for a ticket?

From January 2003 to early June, the best overall rating for cashing in points for a ticket went to US Airways and its Dividend Miles program, with users reporting a 76 percent success rate. The next highest rating went to Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus program, 69 percent, followed by Southwest Airlines, 68 percent, America West, 65 percent, Lufthansa, 64 percent, Alaska, 64 percent and American's AAdvantage, 62 percent.

The average success rate for the more than 40 programs on which judgment was passed on award redemption was 57 percent.

Success in winning an upgrade -- a sought after prize for frequent business travelers -- finds a slightly different set of winners. U.S. Airways tops that list at 84 percent, followed by Alaska, 72 percent, America West, 71 percent, Northwest, 68 percent, United, 68 percent, Aer Lingus 67 percent and American 64 percent.

The average success rate for an upgrade was 62 percent.

http://biz.yahoo.com/rc/030612/column_travel_1.html
doc is offline  
Old Jun 12, 03, 1:25 pm
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Danville, CA, USA;
Programs: UA Plat & 1MM, Marriott LT Gold, HHonors Gold, Hyatt Explorist & IHG Plat Amb
Posts: 12,074
Subjective ratings based on my own personal experience over the past 15 years (mostly non-status as well):

Southwest: 100% - never had a problem finding a seat on any flight, regardless of lead time.

United: 90% - occasional adjustment of itinerary by 1-2 days, but rarely a problem, even when booking travel on *A or to Hawaii.

American: 90% - never a problem for domestic tickets, even when using USAir miles.

Delta: 80% - similar to American and United.

Continental: 30% - Rarely has flights available when I need them, domestic or international, unless booked many months in advance. Additional points subtracted for failure to notify me that they had cancelled return flight from London (weeks earlier)until my check-in for outbound flight.

USAirways: 10% - Never able to book domestic flights even when there are many connecting options and 1-2 week time window. Finally found success for an offseason PHL-MAD flight, and even then only after several callbacks. Worst of the worst.

IMO, Continental and USAir miles are almost worthless for free travel, particularly to Europe outside winter months.
Boraxo is online now  
Old Jun 12, 03, 1:38 pm
  #3  
Founder of FlyerTalk
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Posts: 6,538
At first i was thrown off by the ratings for Southwest, but then realized that some members rendering their experiences factored in the few blackout dates that Southwest has (they must have been when the member wanted to fly and/or the expiration of the award (which was only valid for one year).
Randy Petersen is offline  
Old Jun 12, 03, 3:19 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Posts: 2,545
story says:
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Cashing in frequent flier points for an upgrade or a free flight has become tougher with inventive promotions multiplying the non-flight ways to earn points, flooding the pool of potential travelers.</font>
What is the writer basing this on? This statement is not attributed to anyone... Is there evidence to support this?

Only reason I'm wondering is that redeeming my Jaguar miles for an AA ticket to Alaska was extremely easy, even when many others were cashing in their own BA miles at the same time.
jmartin is offline  
Old Jun 12, 03, 3:32 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Programs: AA PLT 2MM
Posts: 559
I'm surprised at the results; my experience seems to parallel Boraxo's.

Southwest: 100% - always with just 12-48 hours' notice.
American: 90% - adjustment of itin by a day or two.
US Airways: 0% - I don't fly US much anymore, but have a few miles sitting around; try as I might, I haven't been able to find usable open dates for a 40K Europe award.
danang is offline  
Old Jun 12, 03, 3:33 pm
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: n.y.c.
Posts: 13,361
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by jmartin:
What is the writer basing this on? This statement is not attributed to anyone... Is there evidence to support this?
</font>
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">One clue to which carriers offer point savers the best chance of cashing in can be found on the Web site operated by Randy Petersen, publisher of Inside Flyer magazine. The site -- http://www.webflyer.com -- includes a section in which readers can log their success rate by carrier for both upgrades and free flights.</font>
It have always wondered about the sample size on the upgrade/reward travel statistics, upon which this article is based. I remember in the past seeing several airlines with 100% upgrade success rates for a random sampling of months.
nerd is offline  
Old Jun 12, 03, 3:43 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Cleveland
Programs: AF/KLM Plat For Life/UA Million Miler-PremEx For Life/SPG Gold
Posts: 5,054
I would be curious how Randy and Company monitor WHO submits their upgrade/award success rate.

The airlines could conceivably submit their own shills to juice up their success rates.

While it would certainly be a more complex process, having people submit their flight info (#, date, pax name, etc.) might insure the integrity of this weblfyer tool.

Irrespective, a less than perfect tool is better than no tool at all!!
beaubo is offline  
Old Jun 12, 03, 3:45 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Posts: 860
It would be nice to see a comparison of domestic vs. international comparison. People redeeming Thai and Southwest miles are probably looking at totally different things.

It's also funny to see Southwest with an 85% upgrade success rate for March of 2003. It makes me really question the validity of the user responses.

Also, there are variations in what you can get. With Northwest, they'll gladly mix and match mileage requirements, letting you get the cheap ticket on the outbound, with the higher mileage for the return. With United, you have to go for either saver or standard for the whole trip. American will make you pay if you try to redeem an award within 14 miles of travel, thus reducing the value, even if there is availability.
L Dude 7 is offline  
Old Jun 12, 03, 3:45 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Cleveland
Programs: AF/KLM Plat For Life/UA Million Miler-PremEx For Life/SPG Gold
Posts: 5,054
And badabada-bing...my 1000th post!!!

A badge of honor....or shame....or simply irrelevant!
beaubo is offline  
Old Jun 13, 03, 8:13 am
  #10  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Reno, NV (RNO)
Programs: AA Platinum, AS MVPG, UA, DL, HHonors Gold, Marriott LTP, Hyatt, IHG
Posts: 4,697
In the 17 years I've been a member of at least one FF program (starting with AAdvantage back in 1986), I have to say that in general my experiences most closely mirror Boraxo's assessment with a few differences noted below. I have redeemed or tried to redeem awards on AA, UA, CO, US, DL, AS, and NW.

Here is my view:
AA: 95% By far the best. They always seem to have something available where I want to go and when I want to go. Almost always exact date, although times may vary.

UA: 90% but declining. Again, very similar to AA but a tad more difficult. From the looks of things, award availability seems to have declined a fair bit in the last two years, but that may be due to everyone trying to get out the door at the same time due to UA's financial troubles.

US: 70% and may be improving. I've had decent luck in redeeming US awards, although I have not tried for any international flights.

DL: 70% Limited experience, domestic only, but OK success. Usually have to vary dates by a few days.

CO: 30% Absolute worst and no improvement in sight. International and Hawaii BF is nearly impossible no matter when you call. Even domestic coach is extremely difficult unless you want to pay ExtortionPass double miles. For these reasons I value my CO miles at less than 1 cent each. With the DL/NW/CO alliance, I will delight in using my 400K CO miles on the other two carriers.

AS and NW: I have very limited experienced with these two, but both have been positive. From the times I have checked availability at their websites, I would estimate them at around 80-85%. AS is probably a bit better than NW.
MileKing is offline  
Old Jun 13, 03, 8:24 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: N. Virginia
Posts: 294
[QUOTE]Originally posted by MileKing:

Here is my view:
AA: 95% By far the best. They always seem to have something available where I want to go and when I want to go. Almost always exact date, although times may vary.

UA: 90% but declining. Again, very similar to AA but a tad more difficult. From the looks of things, award availability seems to have declined a fair bit in the last two years, but that may be due to everyone trying to get out the door at the same time due to UA's financial troubles.

I agree entirely. Almost always get first choice on AA; exceedingly more difficult on UA/UAX even as 1K/UGS (though UGS will call inventory desk).
isleplease is offline  
Old Jun 13, 03, 10:46 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Posts: 860
Seeing general availability would be more useful with trip information.

I've never had problems getting UA flights on my desired days. However, I'm usually shuttling people between ORD-SFO or ORD-SMF. With the large volume of nonstop or connecting flights on those routes, odds are pretty good. However, I bet it would be much different if I was trying for something such as GSP-PSP. Similarly, ORD-CDG in the winter is probably a breeze, while in the summer it is probably very difficult. And for airlines, I'm sure it would be much easier to get MSP-AMS on Northwest than on any other airline, though this doesn't imply that NW has better availability.

Another useful figure would be FF flight vs. paid flight. If a domestic flight is selling for $1800, I wouldn't expect much inventory. If its selling for $200, I'd expect availability - but probably would just purchase a ticket unless there were a large number of miles to burn.
If I need a specific flight that is selling for $2000, then a 50000 award appears to be a bargain. If I have to search a few days before and after my day, then it is not such a good deal.
L Dude 7 is offline  
Old Jun 13, 03, 10:57 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: San Jose, CA, USA
Programs: UA 1P
Posts: 366
What's interesting to me is that some airlines allow you to check for award travel availability on their web sites even if you don't have enough miles in your account (BA, UA, CO, NW...).

Others (AA, DL(?) ) won't let you do it.

Why?
GeorgeF is offline  
Old Jun 16, 03, 5:18 pm
  #14  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: MCI
Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 46,888
My personal experience:

US - 90% domestic, 30% int'l. All US award travel for me is premium cabin because I no longer hold an elite status. I have found entire months booked up to Europe - even in October 2002, I could not get any award seat in Envoy to Europe with 5 months' advance notice.

AA - Near 100% domestic, 75% int'l. Sometimes have to tweak my routing for domestic, but not dates. Sometimes have to move my int'l dates by 1-2 days, but can usually make it work. I always book Y domestically, and a mix of classes int'l.

UA - 75% domestic, Near 100% int'l. I've been very lucky with UA to Europe, always booking in business class. I usually get my date on the first try, or I move my itin by one day, waitlist for my date, and eventually get it. Only domestic problem with UA has been Hawaii. They seem to be very tight with awards, even with a lot of advance notice and even outside of the busiest months. Still, with some work, I got E+ award seats to Lihue a few weeks ago.
pinniped is offline  
Old Jun 17, 03, 12:34 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Phoenixville, PA
Posts: 2
My vote is for US Air and the international flights.Last year I booked one seat from Phila to Amsterdam in May without a problem. This year I am cashing in 180,000 for two seats from Phia to Melbourne, Australia for a November-December 2003 trip, summer in that part of the world. First class from Phila to LA and business to Melbourns. I tried for Qantas but with the new United/US Air sharing, I had no problem with dates or seats.
JM1973 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread