Wondering where to go with all those frequent flyer miles? If you know where to look, the airlines will help you choose flights with seats readily accessible to mileage program members.
In response to the outcry from mileage collectors frustrated by the lack of available award seats, the airlines are attempting to steer program members in the direction of flights which are good prospects for would-be award travelers, both by listing destinations with plenty of empty seats (hot spots) and occasionally discounting award flights to lower-demand destinations.
Some of these flights are running just half-full for good reason: They're dogs. Nassau during hurricane season? Thanks, but no thanks.
But among the throwaways are some real gems. Following are five award destinations the airlines are promoting for the coming month that merit special attention and are well worth your miles.
The top five picks for June 2009:
The City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, is the hub of the country's fourth largest urban area. And as the nation's early capital, it was a central player in American history.
Among the must-see sights: Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed), and the Liberty Bell (rung to announce the reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the opening of the First Continental Congress in 1774, and after the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775).
Fun fact: In pre-Revolutionary days, Philadelphia was, for a time, the second largest city in the British Empire, after London (another featured award destination this month—see below).
After communing with the ghosts of William Penn and Benjamin Franklin, take time to treat yourself to one the city's signature cheesesteak sandwiches.
Canada, Oh Canada? That was last month. This month, it's Canada, Go Canada!
United lists no fewer than 11 Canadian cities on its June hot list: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec City, Ontario, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg. And to further emphasize the availability of award seats to Canada, United is also discounting coach awards to Canada, from the usual 25,000 miles down to 20,000 miles.
American is promoting Montreal and Toronto as award hot spots for June as well.
Proof positive that demand for travel has fallen off a cliff during this recession, United has plenty of award seats to one of the most popular of all summer vacation cities, London.
Cash in those frequent flyer miles for a trip to see Big Ben and the Tower of London while you can.
4. Sao Paulo
Thoughts of Brazil typically revolve around the storied beaches of Rio—Copacabana and Ipanema. For a more urban travel experience, think Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city.
Sao Paulo is an enormously diverse city, with significant influences by immigrants from Italy, Portugal, Africa, Germany, and Japan, among other ethnic groups. Hungry? There are more than 60 different cuisines offered at the city's 12,000-plus restaurants.
American and United will get you there.
5. Buenos Aires
And finally, we recommend yet another South American award destination: Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Home of the tango and Jorge Luis Borges, Buenos Aires ranked second in Travel+Leisure's 2007 "Top 10 Cities."
You'll find award seats on both American and United.