In Part One of the series examining Distance Based Award Travel I highlighted that some of the carriers base their travel calculations on total journey length, and some price each leg individually. This makes quite the difference when you are looking at pricing a journey. To understand it better, think of it like this. If a hypothetical journey from Newark to Cancun (CUN) is 1547 miles each way that would make 3093 total for the round-trip.
The carriers that price by adding up each way (British Airways, LAN, Cathay One Way, and Qantas) effectively make large rounding differences to the total price of the journey.
LAN would put that Newark-Cancun journey into its Zone 8: Any Travel with a distance of 1243-3109 Miles would cost 27,000. Despite the total travel being under the 3109 cap, they price out per leg so would double the 27,000 to 54,000! For more on which airlines do and don’t calculate this way check out Part 1 in the series. Exploring Distance Based Award Programs – Part 1 An Introduction to the airlines
Since the carrier award charts go up to 100,000 mile journeys over 15 pricing zones I have decided to split this series up by journey length, so that the data can be more easily digested. It is my belief that all Distance Based Awards can compete until they go beyond the longest one way flight length (currently Newark-Singapore) so I will include all airlines until we start hitting above that, with some leeway to make it around the 10K mileage mark. I feel at this point the award type changes and we cannot continue to compare all players at this point.
There is value in short haul, but let’s not forget if we avoid distance based we can add free one ways
Going into this series I have felt quite strongly that the greatest value in a distance based program is when using very short hops on flights. The reason for this is that the other method for calculation of awards is Regional, and airlines will price it the same to fly from New York to Raleigh Durham as they would to San Francisco. Clearly, if we can pay a fraction of the award price in miles for the shorter hop to RDU then we can explore value in the award. I will also say that I believe there is additional value to be had from the Free One Way that region based awards offer, for more on this check here. Using Avios or AAdvantage for Flying American Airlines in North America and the Caribbean
Complications within this study
This attempt to discern value and present it across all offerings is complicated since all carriers have their own program rules, so as much as possible I am trying to navigate these rules to bring truly comparable offerings. For example, it would be unfair to calculate a program that did not allow one way flights with one that did. That said, the round trip pricing needs to be compared too. The clearest way I can think of to present the data will be to subdivide as follows:
Total Distance: Short Haul, Medium Haul, Long Haul. Within that One Way Journeys (desired by the Passenger) compared separately from Round-trip Journeys. I therefore see the post series continuing as following:
- 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
Furthermore, each carrier has opted to select a different spread of distance miles for its zoning delineation, as such I will break down to the smallest common denominator in order to find truly comparable data. I already am crunching the data, but if there are specific questions or ideas that could make this study better please let me know.
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