A Colossal Challenge: Finding Premium Award Space for 2

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Premium award space is typically difficult to come by, but by no means a tall task. Even as airlines has shifted away from standard award charts, “saver fares” for business class seats can still be sporadically found on United and American Airlines. If you’re truly lucky, Delta might have a few seats. All in all, award space for 2023 seems to scarce when originating out of the United States. Here’s my two cents.

United Polaris Flights to Asia have been extremely hard to find

USA West Coast to Asia

Base in San Francisco, I’ve been trying to find saver award space for two to Asian countries such as Japan, Hong Kong(where I still have family), Taiwan, or Korea. Jen and I have these spots on our bucket list for next year. I don’t mind flying out of another airport other than San Francisco, but so far only Taiwan seems to viable award space for 2. For 88k United Miles you can fly one way from SFO to TPE, but otherwise availability seems rather scarce. This could be attributed to the huge reduction on flights to Asia during the pandemic, so hopefully as more flights are added award space comes back.

These Flights are Pricey

With United being the dominant airline in San Francisco, you would expect to find some save awards for Spring of Fall 2023. After doing a preliminary search, I am already struggling to find award space for 2 people. With the addition of variable, most award flights remaining tend to be exorbitant. 175k United Miles for a one way flight seems excessive, especially when it used to be 70-80k miles for that same flight a few years ago. It’s hard to justify paying over 100k miles for a one way trip so I’m going to continue to try to find saver space.

USA West Coast to Europe

Premium award space is scarcer than ever for next Summer

Europe is under similar strangle. While getting from the West Coast USA to Europe is longer flight, there are several airlines that run non-stop flights out of both SFO(San Francisco) and LAX (Los Angeles) to Germany, France, London, and more. These flights have plenty of space during off peak season(through the end of April) but once May hits, award space is little to none. Don’t be fooled by the 57.5K point business class redemptions with British Airways via American Airlines as those come with a hefty $750 fee as fuel charges are carried over.

Summer availability is extremely scarce across most airlines as the shift from fixed award charts to a more dynamic model has flights priced over 150k United miles for a one way hop to London. Prices like that are simply absurd! Meanwhile even on a good day, summer flights. booked through American Airline’s program will also run you a minimum of 110k miles. Air Canada’s Aeroplan fares no better and I commonly spot fares for over 300k miles ONE WAY. Should we call this a robbery yet?

These Flights Can be Outrageously Expensive

For the price of a peak season flight on Aeroplan, I could potential book two round trip tickets in business from the West Coast USA to Europe. Meanwhile, one-way award flights on U.S. based airlines are also double price if you’re lucky enough to find space. Otherwise, more often than not, a one way award flight will set you back 150k miles or more. A hefty price that seems to be more and more common as airlines shift to dynamic award charts.

Final Thoughts

Planning a trip for two isn’t always easy, but saver award space during peak season and Summer 2023 is next to none. We are still 2 plus months from 2023, yet award prices have already skyrocketed. If you’re looking to travel during peak season, expect to pay double or even triple the cost of a normal saver award ticket. This is also a friendly reminder that as more and more are willing to travel, award space will continue to get scarce. Book far ahead of time if you can!

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