There are certain sweet spots on various award charts and if you are taking domestic flights in Japan then you might want to surely check these sweet spot award redemption for flying on ANA Airlines using United Airlines miles or Japan Airlines (JAL) using British Airways Avios.
Using United Airlines Miles:
United Airlines charges only 5,000 miles for an award flight for a distance of 800 miles or less when travelling solely within Japan. For more than distance of 800 miles it charges only 8,000 miles. Also the pricing is based on distance between source and destination on not "segment" based. This is a steal if there is award availability.
ANA Airlines also charges 5,000 miles for one way award for a distance of 600 miles or less but it's distance calculation is based on segments and thus may not be as useful as United Airlines redemption. Also ANA pricing varies based on the season where as United has a fixed pricing.
See the sample availability for Osaka (ITM) to Haneda (HND) airport and you will see amazing price of just 5k miles for the award although the cash price might be upwards of $100+. Also it is easy to book the flights online on United Airlines website and taxes are $0+.
Using British Airways Avios:
British Airways Avios charges only 4,500 miles for distance of 650 miles or less and there is minimal taxes and fees (~$2-$3) when booking flights on Japan Airlines (JAL). For distance of 651 miles to 1150 miles it charges 7,500 miles.
Japan Airlines has zone based redemption for domestic travel as well. Here is the award chart. Also the redemption starts at 5,000 miles (during promotion period) and is based on zone of travel. British Airways Avios is much easier to accumulate through multiple transfer partners such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, SPG, Citi ThankYou Points and Diner's club where as Japan Airlines only transfer partner in USA is SPG.
You can see the sample availability for Osaka (ITM) to Haneda (HND) airport which you can book for just 4,500 British Airways Avios. Also it is easy to book the flights online and taxes are ~$2+.
So if you are travelling to Japan make sure you use this options to get around Japan rather then spending $100+ for short haul flights.
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Ever wondered, which airline flies which route and what are the flight options for the given city? Would that not be much easier if there was single source or page listing all the flights departing a airport? or showing flight details between two city pair?. Although no single website exists which could satisfy this needs there are several resources which could help you find that info. Below are some of the useful websites which can help you get that info, which would help you finalize that missing puzzle of your successful award or revenue travel.
Currently in beta flightconnections will help you find what are the "destinations" served from the airport of your desire and if you key in source/destination pair the available airline/flight options between those two airport/city pair. Of-course you could click on one of those airlines and go to one of their "affiliate" booking web-page, but at least you get the info you need.
Open Flights is like a wikipedia of flights. As it is open-source it is maintained by community of volunteers, and thus would have good info albeit some of the info might be wrong. The interesting part is you could view or list flights from a given "airport" or "city" and the data could be either seen as a map or read as a list. You can even sort the data as well as filter per the "airlines". As seen from below snapshots!
This tool would be useful if you know the source and destination as well as the dates of your travel and want to know all the available flight options. So, although limited compared to open flights or flightconnection it is still useful as it can quickly list all the options on various airlines as can be seen from below search.
This website requires a little more info before spitting out the route-map but it is useful if you are looking for a route map by "region" or "airline". You could plug in your short-listing criteria and get set of route-maps which are available. You can see a simple search for American Airlines below yields links to various route maps by region as well detailed info on the "hubs".
Airline Route Mapper
Airline route mapper is another tool which was created by flyertalk member cockpitvisit. You need to download this tool but it does list a fairly comprehensive and updated route map. So, if you are one of those who do lot of search and do not mind installing this tool on your laptop/desktop then this is for you.
Apart from above there is a route map (which might be a little limited in its usage but still useful) for One World Alliance routes which can be found here and Star Alliance routes which can be found here.
Most of the airlines would charge 12.5k miles for one-way travel within the Continental USA at saver level in coach. Thus a round trip travel would come at 25k miles. This would be a good redemption if you plan to fly from east coast to west coast or vice-verse. But what about a short distance travel of let's say from LAX-SFO or DFW-IAH? You would still have to spend 25k miles for this trip unless you have "British Airways Avios" at your rescue. Here is why you should consider using British Airways Avios for these trips.
1. British Airways do not charge any surcharge for flights originating and ending within United States (including Hawaii).
2. The award chart for British Airways is distance based starting at only 4500 Avios for distance of 1-650 miles. Thus for LAX-SFO or DFW-IAH you would only pay 4.5k Avios miles as oppose to 12.5k miles on American Airlines. You can calculate the Avios needed by using this link.
3. British Airways is One-World Alliance member and thus you can redeem the reward on any of the One-World Alliance member or any other British Airways partner airlines. Thus in the U.S.A. you can redeem Avios on American Airlines as well as Alaska Airlines when there is an award available at saver level with them.
4. There is no close-in charges for booking ticket within the 21 days window of flying, thus it is useful for booking last minute flights as well.
Additionally below are other benefits which are "by-mistake" I suppose and could end up any time:
1. When you cancel the award ticket online the cancellation fee is less of the taxes you paid or $40 fee. Thus for your award travel if you paid only $5 as taxes, that is what you will lose when you cancel the award and the Avios will return back to your account.
2. You get priority boarding on American Airlines for any award booked using British Avios.
Although there are few "cons" below which you want to look out for:
1. British Airways Avios are charged segment based. Thus if there is no direct flight from SFO to LAS on any of the partner airlines and you have to fly SFO-LAX-LAS you will need to pay 9k Avios each way as these are considered two separate segments.
2. As the distance increases the cost of award ticket would go up and thus could be a bad redemption. For e.g. east coast to west coast travel might cost much higher Avios compared to 12.5k American Airlines or Alaska Airlines miles
3. Not all the partner (e.g. Alaska Airlines) and One-World Alliance member flights are bookable online, and so you will need to shell out $25 per passenger per award telephone booking fee as well as deal with their bad telephone booking staff and the long hold time which is often associated with the telephone booking.
4. The reward can only be booked for One-World and partner airlines if they are available at saver level only.
But overall as stated if you are looking for short distance flights or flight to take on short notice and if the seats are available on saver level, there is no better value than using the British Airways Avios. Also if you have got excited about Avios and want to start collecting them, there is an awesome offer going on for British Airways Credit Card from Chase which currently offers 50k bonus avios after $1k spend on the card for $95 annual fee and would be something you might be interested in.
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