An Overview of Airline Award Charts

Every airline does reward redemptions differently. Here's a handy guide to get you started.

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

It’s always exciting when you’ve finally saved up enough airline miles for an award flight. Whether you’re looking to stretch your miles by flying economy or want to splurge for a first-class ticket, the amount you’ll pay will vary by airline.

While many U.S. airlines have ditched fixed-rate award charts in favor of dynamic pricing, some still hold on to this legacy. Let’s take a look at all of the different airline award charts so you can maximize your redemptions.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska will charge you varying quantities of Mileage Plan miles based on which airline you’re flying, the cabin class you’re in and the distance of your flight. Along with being part of the Oneworld Alliance, Alaska Airlines also has individual partnerships with airlines, providing plenty of redemption options.

Alaska’s website features an interactive award chart that can be filtered by airline, region and class of service. Awards start at just 5,000 miles, though you won’t be able to book all of these awards online. Flights on Cathay Pacific, for example, must be booked over the phone.

🤓Nerdy Tip

When booking Cathay Pacific, you can ask that the call center booking fee be waived since these flights cannot be booked online.

While many of Alaska’s award flights on partner airlines have fixed rates, the number of points needed for Alaska Airlines operated flights will depend on both distance and demand.

American Airlines

Like Alaska, American Airlines operates a semi-dynamic award chart with prices that fluctuate based on fare class, demand and distance.

There are four levels of pricing that you’ll encounter when looking to redeem your AAdvantage miles: MileSAAver Off Peak, MileSAAver, AAnytime Level 1 and AAnytime Level 2. Each of these levels correspond to increasingly expensive redemption rates, with MileSAAver Off Peak flights costing the fewest miles.

American Airlines also offers Web Special awards, which are found exclusively on their site and are cheaper than the published award charts.

Keep in mind that once booked, these flights are not changeable, though you are able to cancel your ticket and reinstate your miles for free.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines has done away with its award chart entirely, which means you won’t be able to plan out your award redemptions in advance. In order to see how many Delta SkyMiles your ticket will cost, you’ll need to do a search based on your specific travel plans.

Delta does offer a price calendar, which will allow you to view a month’s worth of prices for a specific origin and destination.

Frontier Airlines

A popular budget carrier, Frontier Airlines uses a region-based award chart that varies according to demand, with the minimum number of required miles listed.

There are three levels of pricing: Value, Standard and Last Seat (elite members only).

You can use your Frontier Airlines miles for flights starting at just 10,000 miles, though be aware that, with few exceptions, Frontier Airlines charges fees to book flights less than 180 days in advance.

You’ll also need to pay a $75 award redeposit fee to reinstate your miles in the event of a canceled flight, with the exception of Last Seat award flights.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines also uses a region-based award chart that varies with demand and fare class. One-way Hawaiian Airlines inter-island flights start at 7,500 HawaiianMiles, but you can also fly all the way to Korea or Australia starting at 40,000 miles.

Certain customers are eligible for discounted redemption rates. Pualani elite members, Premier Club members, Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® cardmembers and Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® cardmembers all qualify for reduced award costs on main cabin flights.

You can also use your HawaiianMiles to book award flights on Hawaiian’s partner airlines. But while you can find partner award charts on its website, you’ll have to call Hawaiian’s service center to book them.

JetBlue

JetBlue, which services countries throughout North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Europe (London), does not use an award chart. Instead, it ties the cost of award flights directly to the cash price of the ticket.

You can find flights for as little as 500 TrueBlue points, and although the airline doesn’t have a calendar function, it will show you five days worth of results at once.

Southwest Airlines

Renowned for free checked bags and no change fees, Southwest, like JetBlue, ties the cost of its award tickets to the cash rate of its flights.

Southwest has a robust monthly fare calendar that makes it easy to spot low fares.

As with cash flights, Southwest doesn’t charge any fees to cancel your Rapid Rewards flights, and your points will automatically return to your account.

Spirit Airlines

Another budget airline, Spirit Airlines revamped its reward program in early 2021. Like others, Spirit doesn’t use an award chart; the cost of your award flight will depend on the cost of the ticket in cash.

Despite this, no matter how cheap your flight may be, Spirit flights begin at a rate of 2,500 Free Spirit points.

Similar to Frontier, you may face a redemption fee depending on how far in advance you book your flight. In Spirit’s case, the fee only applies if you’re booking fewer than 28 days to departure.

United Airlines

United Airlines did away with its fixed-rate award chart in favor of dynamic pricing, which will vary based on demand, fare class and the airline you’re flying.

United often charges less for its own flights than partner-operated flights, even when they’re going to the same place. This means you can save a significant amount of MileagePlus miles by flying on United.

However, you’ll pay less for Saver level awards than you will for any other awards; these will be clearly identified during your search for flights.

Final thoughts on airline award charts

Earning and using your airline miles can be a complicated process; each airline will charge a different number of miles for flights, and many have switched over to completely dynamic pricing. That being said, understanding airline award charts and how to use them can help you redeem your miles with ease.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.