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Top five award destinations for December

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.

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Some of these flights are running just half-full for good reason: they're dogs. 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 December 2007:

1. Philadelphia

Philadelphia is the sixth most populous city in the U.S. Didn't know that? There's more to this historic city than Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. And according to US Airways, December would be an especially good month to put the City of Brotherly Love on your award itinerary.

2. Florida

Warm weather, anyone?

American has award seats available on its Miami flights. But remember that there are other Florida destinations which would make a nice winter interlude as well, including West Palm Beach (via Charlotte, on US Airways).

3. The Caribbean

Another warm weather play is the Caribbean.

American and US Airways are both showing available seats to destinations throughout the Caribbean, including Aruba, Bermuda, Montego Bay, Nassau, and St. Thomas. Surf, sand, and tropical rum drinks ... what's not to like?

4. Canada

American and US Airways are both listing Toronto as a featured award destination; United has seats to Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto.

5. Paris

Looking further afield, both American and United have award seats on flights to the City of Light. If you have the miles, this might be the time to use them.

Bring a jacket so you can sit at an outdoor cafe with a carafe of the nouveau Beaujolais and watch the Parisians parade by.

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