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 by discounting award flights to lower-demand destinations.
Some of these flights are running just half-full for good reason: they're dogs. Winnipeg in February? 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.
(While not all airlines currently offer hot spot lists, the suggestions of those that do should be a fairly good proxy for award availability on other airlines.)
The top five picks for August 2008:
1. San Juan, Puerto Rico
2. Toronto, Canada
Also on both airlines' lists of recommended award destinations: Toronto.
Canada's largest city is also that country's business and culture center—a great place for an urban adventure.
Looking for a south-of-the-border experience? There's always Mexico.
Monterrey is one of American's featured award destinations this month. And US Airways has no fewer than eight Mexican cities on its list: Cancun, Guadalajara, Guaymas, Hermosillo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta.
4. London, England
Award availability to London continues to be the surprise story this summer. Apparently the combination of high airfares and a weak dollar has undermined demand for London flights, creating an unusual opportunity for mileage users to visit one of the most popular award destinations during what is typically high season.
Both American and US Airways feature London on their lists.
5. Venice, Italy
And for those looking for something a bit more exotic, how about an award trip to Venice on US Airways?
Treat yourself to a plate of fegato alla veneziana (Venetian-style liver and onions) at an outdoor trattoria alongside the Grand Canal. Or, if liver isn't to your liking, there's seafood and pasta, pasta, pasta.