The most recent issue of Money Magazine highlighted an interesting study on the availability of reward flights on five major airlines. The study looked at 6160 web booking inquiries for 20 routes between a sample pair of cities.
In other words, it wasn’t exhaustive an exhaustive study, but it should still give a pretty accurate picture of the ease of redeeming frequent flyer miles on the different airlines.
Here’s a rundown of the results, ranked by domestic availability.
As someone who lives near a Delta hub, I find these results a bit depressing. At the same time, I’ve had pretty good luck redeeming miles in the past, though I’ve had to be a bit flexible in terms of departure times.
What I’d really like to see is a similar study broken down by departure city, as I really only care about how hard it is to get a ticket out of the airport that I use. I suspect that the results would vary dramatically by location.
Anyway, as I’ve previously noted, this is one of the big reasons that I dislike travel rewards. They’re just so much harder to redeem than cash-based rewards, which can be spent anywhere on anything.