Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points just became more flexible with a new flight award option called SPG Flights. SPG members can now redeem points for the entire cost of a flight (including taxes and fees) on hundreds of carriers, both domestic and international. The tickets are booked as cash tickets from the airline’s perspective, not as award tickets.
There are no flight blackout dates, but the number of points required for flights during high demand travel times may be higher. On a sample roundtrip flight between New York and Chicago, the point range for a roundtrip coach flight award was between 20,000 points and 50,000 points, meaning the price of the flight was between $215-$670. When we researched a flight between San Francisco and New York (JFK) for a little more than a month out, the cost came in between 30,000 and 50,000 points in coach on your choice of eight airlines, between 145,000 and 295,000 points in business class on your choice of five airlines and between 155,000 and 275,000 points in first class on your choice of three airlines. SPG members already have the ability to convert 20,000 points into 25,000 airline miles with partner airlines, but the new program offers the ability to redeem points for airline tickets on most major carriers worldwide, even those airlines that don’t partner with SPG. Plus, the point requirement includes the cost of taxes and fees, except for international departure taxes and other applicable taxes and fees that are charged at the airport. If you change your flight or if the flight is cancelled by the airline, you will be working directly with the airline as if you had bought the ticket with cash and will be required to pay any change fees directly to the airline. Once the SPG points have been redeemed for an award flight, they cannot be reinstated.
A definite benefit when using SPG Flights is that you can earn miles on the flights booked. However, members are instructed to contact the applicable airline to verify. Read more about SPG Flights in this month’s cover story.