Because when it comes to redeeming points and miles for flights, not all airlines are created equal.
This year, the company conducted a survey to rank 20 of the world’s best airlines by looking at the carriers’ available inventory for domestic round-trip coach seats for 25,000 miles or points, which is considered the standard. Compared to last year, 13 airlines had better overall availability for 2019, although three programs—Air Canada, Qantas, and Delta—were found to have decreased their offerings. The companies with the biggest gains? British Airways and Korean Air, which had seat availability jump up 17.9 and 15.4 points, respectively.
Top of the charts overall is Southwest, whose awards are set to correspond directly to what the cash price of a fare would be. IdeaWorks even found that the Dallas-based airline had flights cheaper than 25,000 points on all of the flights it searched, reports the Wall Street Journal. JetBlue, whose TrueBlue program took third place in the rankings, offered seats for 25,000 points round-trip on 98 percent of conducted searches.
American and United, though farther down the rankings, have nonetheless seen program improvements: Both had coach seats on offer on roughly 85 percent of searches, with United’s seat availability hopping up 9.3 points over 2018, and American’s inching up 1.9 points.
The two highest-ranked international carriers, Etihad and Turkish, had availability rates of 99 and 98 percent, respectively. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad was new to the survey this year, while Turkish’s seat availability improved three points over its 2018 numbers.
Here are the highest-ranked frequent flier awards programs, including their seat availability:
- Southwest, 100 percent
- Etihad, 99 percent
- JetBlue, 98 percent
- Turkish, 98 percent
- Air Canada, 95 percent
- Singapore, 94 percent
- Lufthansa/SWISS/Austrian (shared rewards program), 92 percent
- Qantas, 85 percent
- United, 85 percent
- American, 84 percent
Still not sure about how to get started with points and miles? Read up on AFAR’s guide to navigating rewards, from the best airline credit cards to restrictions that could keep you from earning elite status on certain carriers.