Here you are. Ready to book your dream award trip, but you don't have status on the airline. What to do?! Rules: Know your airline's partners. This will be invaluable. Not all partners are members of the alliance to which your airline belongs. For example, Delta and Alaska Airlines are partners, but Alaska is not a Skyteam member (Alaska also partners with most OneWorld members as well). Be flexible. As we progress we will need maximum flexiblity. If you are set on specific dates you might have more difficulty. One day can make all the difference in availability. Be creative. No one says you have to fly out of your home airport. Sometimes you can find availability flying out of another non-hub airport. Be persistant. Things change constantly so be prepared to devote some time to finding your ticket. No one said it would be easy! If you don't have the time there are some excellent services run by MP members that can help you for a fee. I won't plug them, but I welcome them to plug their services if they want. Application: So let's apply this to a semi-fictional trip from Denver to Paris using Delta for July-August. The calendar shows just medium mile days. So let's apply number 1 and 3. Delta is a partner with Air France and KLM. Both of them have heavy service to Montreal (French-French connection). In my real booking this was significantly lower than flying from DEN, but in the end not low enough. That didn't help us too much, but we aren't stopping there. Now we look at some other routes. Knowing many of the routes I eliminate backtracking to the west coast for now and look at major cities to the east. I avoid New York due to congestion issues and the cost for tickets to those gateways. Checking ORD we can see that if we initiate number 2 above and move our dates by 2 days on either end we will hit low days. However now we run into Delta's IT failures. The view by price doesn't work (the calendar) but the view by schedule does. Now we have to excercise number 4 above and start checking flights. I didn't like what I got choosing the first two options, so I just have to start playing with flights. I can also call Delta and give them dates and let them do some of the search for me. Then book online while you are on the phone with them. For my real booking I ended up flying DEN-DTW in coach, DTW-CDG in AF Business class, CDG-MSP in coach (op-up to Biz Elite), and MSP-DEN in coach. All for 115,000 miles. Not the best, but it worked well for me.