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Save miles with off-season frequent flyer awards

SmarterTravel

Autumn is one of the best times of the year to use miles. Airline load factors drop after Labor Day, and less crowded planes mean more available award seats. If you’ve been frustrated in your attempts to use your miles for winter or summer travel, you may have better luck with a fall getaway.

Fall travelers can also make their miles go farther if they book award travel in the American AAdvantage or US Airways Dividend Miles programs. Both airlines offer special off-peak awards at discounted prices. You can save between 5,000 and 20,000 miles off the regular award rates.

During the month of September only, US Airways offers award tickets between the U.S. or Canada and the Caribbean for 25,000 miles in coach and 50,000 miles in business or first class. Regular peak-season prices are 30,000 and 60,000 miles, respectively.

American has a more robust off-peak award program. Here’s how much you’ll pay for flights from the U.S. and Canada:

  • 25,000 miles to the Caribbean and Mexico between September 7 and November 14 (regularly 30,000 miles)
  • 30,000 miles to Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela between September 7 and November 14 (regularly 35,000 miles)
  • 40,000 miles to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay between August 16 and November 30 (regularly 60,000 miles)
  • 40,000 miles to Europe between October 15 and May 15 (regularly 60,000 miles)
  • 50,000 miles to Japan between October 1 and April 30 (regularly 65,000 miles)

Other destinations may be off-peak at other times of year, so don’t forget to check the American AAdvantage site again. With the miles you save on your fall off-peak travel, you may be able to afford a second trip courtesy of American or US Airways. That is, if you can find an available award seat during the rest of the year.

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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