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Top five award destinations for October

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 October 2007:

1. Chicago
Hot and muggy during the summer and frigid in winter, fall is an ideal time to visit Chicago. And both American and United are signaling robust seat availability during October.

2. New Orleans
According to United, getting to the Big Easy using miles is, well, easy.

3. Mexico
Speaking loudly and clearly to the availability of award seats on Mexico flights, Alaska Airlines is discounting Mexico awards through the end of October. The deal: Save 10,000 miles off the regular 30,000-mile Mileage Plan Coach Saver award from the Continental U.S. and Canada to Mexico, including Cancun, Mexico City, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos.
United is also promoting availability on its Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, and Los Cabos flights.

4. London
Always a popular award destination, London is listed as a recommended award destination by United, from its Chicago or Washington, D.C., hubs.

5. Zurich
Been to London, seen Big Ben? For a completely different European experience, consider a trip to Switzerland. American is featuring Zurich on its HotSpots list, as is US Airways.

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