In the third installment of the Distance Based Award Travel series I will be comparing the options for short haul one way flights. Certain carriers from the mix of Distance Based Award airlines do not allow one way bookings, lets start with a recap of who does and who does not:
Allows One Way Award Travel
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific (uses increased cost model compared to Round Trip)
Does not allow One Way Award Travel
It is worth noting that the airlines that do not allow One Way awards can be booked Roundtrip, and then you don’t take the return leg – however if you book a round trip and don’t take the first, outbound leg then the return leg will be cancelled. There may be times when it is worth dropping the return leg, as we dig into the award charts.
One Way Short Haul Options
Below are the collective charts for BA, Cathay and Qantas, they all allow a one way reservation
What you will see here is that British Airways Avios program is by far the leader, especially for the shortest hop flights. These are simply the best form of value from a distance based award. A route that I have used these on would be New York to Toronto, incredible value at just 4500 Avios.
The observant reader might notice on of the key differences between the programs in the chart above: the zones for each carrier are segmented at different places. This is where we will go on to find value sweet-spots in the future. Due to these differences it is unfair to flat out compare zone 1,2,3 between the different carriers and we instead are required to normalize the table as per below, so that we can truly compare on a flight by flight basis.
British Airways remains the winner for Short Haul One Way Travel, but the interesting tipping point, which I highlighted in red above is for flights between 1152-1200 in length, where Cathay First Class has caught up from being the worst performer (by almost double the price at 1-600 mile journeys) to joint first. The reason for this is that British Airways cuts their Zone 2 22500 First Class Awards at 1151 Miles, where as cuts their Zone 2 30000 First Class Awards at 1200 Miles.
Whilst this is generally insignificant at this point it is a trend that we can track, and if you were to fast forward to the long haul tickets you will see that Cathay overtakes British Airways for value for journeys that are longer than 7000 Miles – Cathay has much broader mileage spreads and you can hit a 7000 mile flight with them at their Zone 5 (105,000) whereas British Airways chops up into many more zones and it takes them up to Zone 9 to allow travel of 7000 miles, costing 150,000 in First.
Conclusion – for short hop one way awards British Airways wins on miles required. One thing I haven’t explored yet and would be interesting would be to confirm YQ fee requirements from the different partners to see if booking with Qantas or Cathay on notoriously expensive routes (from fees and surcharges to the award ticket) such as anything heading to the UK from the US would be more beneficial.
- Exploring Distance Based Award Programs – Part 1 An Introduction to the airlines
- A look at Distance Based Award Travel Part 2 – Breaking down the study
- Distance Based Award Travel Part 3 Short Haul (up to 2000 Miles) One Way Options Compared
- Distance Based Award Travel Part 4 Short Haul (up to 2000 Miles Each Way) Round Trip Options Compared
- Medium Haul 2,001-6,000 Mile One Way Awards Compared
- Medium Haul 2,001-6,000 Mile Round Trip Awards Compared
- Long Haul Over 6,000 Mile One Way Awards Compared
- Long Haul Over 6,000 Mile Round Trip Awards Compared
- Long Haul Over 10,000 Mile Round Trip Awards Compared