Navigating Your Way Through The Fees To Cheaper "Free" Miles

Hurray, you’ve got some free airline miles to use! The bummer part? Carriers are adding more and bigger surcharges on those frequent flyer miles. There are ways to get the most from your miles, however, without offering up too much of your cash in fees.

SmartMoney hands out a few tips on how to navigate the fee-ridden skies, which is handy, because those extras are adding up.

For example, last year United increased its maximum fees for booking awards tickets from $500 to $600 each way on international routes, while Spirit added fees of $15 to $100 for booking award seats close to the date of departure this year. That’s as far as six months out, it says.

Hey, at least reward seat availability is up by about 7%! So, how do you save?

Go off-peak: Just like normal airfares, flying when everyone else isn’t is a great way to lower your mileage rates. You could shave off a few thousand miles, in some cases, as many programs base the number of miles needed for a flight on the current fare prices.

Fly with a partner airline: Some travelers will avoid fuel surcharges by booking an award ticket with a favorite carrier’s partner instead of that carrier itself. How now? To wit: British Airways charges fuel surcharges on reward tickets, but its partner American Airlines doesn’t.

Book early: Some airlines assess a “close-in” processing fee if you book reward travel within a few weeks of departure. Those rates vary by airline, but it’s a good idea in general to book early. But hey, looking to score a reward seat at the last minute can always work out as well, as some carriers open up seats with just weeks to go.

For more tips, check out the source link below.

How to Save on ‘Free’ Airline Tickets [SmartMoney]