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When turning your frequent flyer miles into award tickets for flights, there are many things to think about. After all, you’re worked hard to earn those miles, so who wouldn’t want to get the best value for them. And in the beginning, when you’re first becoming a miles and points enthusiast, there’s a lot to learn about maximizing value when you use your miles. Here are three concepts to understand for getting the maximum value from your miles:
1. You have to understand what’s possible with stopovers. Some people won’t book an award ticket without using the stopover option, when it’s available. In essence, utilizing stopovers means you’ll see more places for fewer miles.
2. Then there’s the concept of open jaws. An open jaw is when you fly into one city and fly back from another city, rather than flying in and out of the same city on your award ticket. Similar to stopovers, an open jaw ticket will let you see more cities for the same amount of miles. Another popular reason to use an open jaw is to avoid fuel surcharges on your award ticket. As an example, this is commonly done when flying to Europe. Flying out of London means paying high taxes, so people often fly into London and out of another European city to avoid paying the high London departure taxes/fees.
3. Off-peak awards let you spend fewer miles on routes during the times the airlines call the off-peak season. This is true for economy, or business class award tickets, so it’s more than season that dictates the mileage necessary for a ticket, rather than the class of service. Of course, you have to be able to travel during the off-peak season to take advantage of these cheaper award tickets.
4. I’ll add a fourth option to consider. Depending on how you think about the concept of getting the best value for your miles, many of us use our miles for experiences we wouldn’t pay cash for, such as traveling in business or first class. That’s a more intrinsic value.
Understanding the possibilities of off-peak awards, stopovers, and open jaws is a good beginning, but then there’s learning about which award programs allow for these options and whether any of this really fits in with your travel plans. Keeping track of all this is just not something I’m good at and I find it to be hard work as well. I’d rather turn it over to a pro, so even though, in theory, I understand all the concepts, I still use Juicy Miles (our affiliate link) to book my award tickets. I can tell them whether or not I’d like a stopover, open jaw, have the time to travel during an off-peak season, and would prefer business class. Then I let them do the heavy lifting of finding me the perfect itinerary.
For me, that’s my assurance policy that I’ll be getting great value for my hard earned miles! If you’ve ever wondered if you’re getting the maximum value for your award ticket traveling, turn the heavy lifting over to Juicy Miles and see what they come up with. If you have any questions, let me know!