Best Airlines for Redeeming Miles

Here’s what you need to know

Which are the best airlines for redeeming frequent-flier air miles and points?  If you think they’re all the same, think again. They’re drastically different.

We were planning a trip earlier this month (decided on Copenhagen!) and looked at United/Continental, American Airlines, and Delta, and found drastic differences. United was great, and Delta was terrible. I thought these were just my personal experiences, but the Wall Street Journal just posted research from Switchfly – Best Airlines for Redeeming Miles, which supports that as an overall trend. Southwest was the best.

The worst among U.S. airlines: Delta Air Lines and US Airways. Those two had no seats available at the lowest mileage level on about two out of every three inquires, or worse

In our search, United was great, with tons of flight times and flights to CPH for just 30k miles. American Airlines had the same mileage threshold for some times but not enough . They made you burn a day on each side of the trip by flying to London at inconvenient times and not being able to leave same day. In the below chart, you’ll notice AA towards the bottom of the list. Delta was dead last:

What it means for you:

If you have a choice on where to accrue miles, this visual is clear where your “miles” go farther (terrible misnomer. How have we let airlines get away with calling their loyalty programs as miles?).

Assuming you don’t fly enough to get preferred treatment, here’s what you need to know:

  • United (which recently bought Continental, and thus merged OnePass into their MileagePlus) is easily the best choice for international rewards from the United States.
  • Avoid US Airways, Delta, American Airlines.


  • Southwest is the “gold standard.”
  • JetBlue lives up to their lofty reputation as well.
  • AirTran is a nice surprise.

Full article at WSJ – Best Airlines for Redeeming Miles


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