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New routes can multiply your miles and help you find awards

SmarterTravel

Do you ever wish that you could have a strategy for anticipating which flights would offer bonus miles or have better-than-average award availability? If so, we’ve got a tip for you: keep an eye out for new routes. While this strategy won’t work every time, read on to find out how you can use the news to your advantage.

Multiply your miles

In order to promote new routes, airlines often offer special bonuses or discounts on those flights. According to Martin DeLeon, media spokesperson for Continental Airlines, “Continental normally offers bonus miles on new routes. We do this to raise awareness of and excitement for the new service, and to encourage participation in our OnePass frequent flyer program.” We currently list 15 bonus mile deals for Continental flights in the SmarterTravel.com frequent flyer section, and most of those are for new service.

Not every new route on every airline will have an associated bonus, but when an airline announces new service, you should pay attention because a bonus might follow. Look on an airline’s website for news, then check SmarterTravel.com’s frequent flyer section for the latest bonus offers.

Find an award

New routes are also a good clue to flights with better-than-average award availability. DeLeon told us that Continental loads airfares into its reservations systems at midnight prior to the announcement of the new route. Sometimes flights are available for booking the weekend before the new routes are made public. When you read that an airline has introduced service, you’ll know that those flights have only been open to bookings for a few days. Most likely, any awards available on those flights haven’t been snapped up yet.

Plus, sometimes airlines will offer award discounts for new flights. For example, Continental is offering 50 percent off the price of an economy award ticket on its new service to Bristol, England, and Belfast, Northern Ireland. Not only will you have an easier time finding award seats, but you’ll spend fewer miles as well.

Use the news

You won’t always be able to predict when an airline will offer a bonus, but keeping up with industry news will certainly give you a better idea of where to look. And if you do manage to book a flight on the first day of service, keep an eye out for celebratory events. You might get a piece of cake and some punch in addition to your bonus miles.

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