Who doesn’t love sweetspots? Sweetspots are award chart anomalies that seem to provide incredible value in exchange for relatively few points or miles…
Occasionally, however, actually booking that sweetspot is far more trouble than it is worth. Here are a few examples.
Choice Privileges – Preferred Hotels and Resorts
When you think of Choice Privileges, you almost certainly don’t think “luxury”. But Choice Privileges has a partnership with Preferred Hotels & Resorts, a collection of over 650 independent hotels around the world. Not every Preferred Hotel can be booked using Choice Privileges points, but many can.
Award prices range from 25,000 – 55,000 Choice points per night. And now that you can convert 1 Citi Thank You point into 2 Choice points, this is potentially an amazing use of your Citi points…
What’s the Problem?
Actually booking your desired stay. First of all, you need to find availability – and hopefully not see this…
Then you need to call Choice Privileges. This might require several rounds of “Hang Up And Call Again” to find an agent who actually knows how to book Preferred Hotels. There aren’t many…
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles – Star Alliance Partner Awards
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs.
Domestic flights are a particular sweetspot with Miles & Smiles. Especially in the United States, where no distinction is made between Hawaii and the continent. Theoretically, you can book flights for 7,500 miles each way in Economy and 12,500 miles each way in Business Class (or domestic First Class). Since you can convert Citi Thank You points to Turkish miles on a 1:1 basis, this is theoretically another great use of those points.
What’s the Problem?
Actually booking your award flights.
Your first hurdle is finding the saver award space that United is willing to provide to its Star Alliance partners. Assuming that you have found a possible candidate via Aeroplan or ANA, you won’t actually be able to book it online – the special Star Alliance award booking tool has been broken for months.
To book an award flight, you must call the Turkish Airlines call center, where many of the agents won’t be able to find the partner award space for you. And there are further hurdles to completing your award booking, including an online payment system that often fails.
Believe of not, the better option is to visit a Turkish Airlines sales office in person. Of course, unless you live close to an airport served by Turkish Airlines, this won’t be a practical option – very few city center offices still exist.
And if you need to make any changes to your reservation, you almost certainly will need to visit a ticket office.
Iberia Plus Awards on Partner Airlines
I’m also a big fan of Iberia Plus.
Unlike many other frequent flyer programs, Iberia Plus uses a distance-based award chart. And since there are many short, but expensive routes in the United States operated by Alaska and American Airlines, this opens up sweetspots such as:
- flights under 650 miles –> 6,000 Avios each way in Economy
- flights between 1,151 and 2,000 miles –> 22,000 Avios each way in Business Class (domestic First)
- flights between 2,001 – 3,000 miles –> 13,000 Avios each way in Economy
What’s the Problem?
Two problems really… The first is convincing Iberia Plus (online or a phone agent with weak English language skills) to recognise many smaller, non-hub airports. These might be the exact high-cost, low-distance routes you want to use Avios to book.
The second problem is that Iberia Plus awards on ALL partner airlines (except British Airways) are completely NON-CHANGEABLE and NON-REFUNDABLE. You might think that your plans are firm, until they aren’t…
Anybody who considers themself to be a “travel hacker” will spend a lot of time considering “sweetspots”. This is especially true when you collect “transferrable” award currencies such as credit card points.
Some sweetspots, however, look a whole lot better on paper than in practice…