Podcast: Tips for booking Positioning Flights | Frequent Miler on the Air Ep253 | 5-3-24


Sometimes you book an award ticket that requires you to do some positioning in order to catch that flight – for instance if the flight doesn’t depart from your home airport. There are a few best practices to keep in mind when booking these “positioning flights”, which we’ll discuss in today’s Frequent Miler on the Air episode.

Watch the full episode below, or listen on your favorite podcast platform. You can click the timestamps below to navigate directly to a specific part of the episode within YouTube.

For a transcript of this episode, click “Watch on Youtube” on the video below, then click the “…more” link in the video description. This will expand full video details. Scrolling down past the timestamps and chapters, you’ll see a “Show Transcript” button. If you’re an Apple Podcast listener, you can touch and hold a podcast episode to reveal an option to view a transcript.


(01:08) – One reader writes in: “If you have Platinum Honors, I would rank the BofA Premium Rewards Elite card the highest for Priority Access by far. The airline credit offset is very easy to use and you get them all at once so there’s no obnoxious coupon book”… (Mail Bag)

Card Talk

(03:20) – BOA Premium Rewards (not elite) card (Card Talk)

Learn more about this card: https://frequentmiler.com/boaPR/#Goto

Revisit Frequent Miler on the Air Episode 204 here: https://frequentmiler.com/how-would-we-spend-1-million-dollars/

(04:57) – Bank of America Premium Rewards Elite card (Card Talk)

Learn more about this card: https://frequentmiler.com/BOAPremiumRewardsElite/#Goto

(11:17) – Cardless launching two Avianca LifeMiles cards (Card Talk)

Mattress Running the Numbers

(12:35) – Marriott Homes & Villas 50K (Mattress Running the Numbers)

Award Talk

(16:12) – Transfer bonuses (Award Talk)

(21:29) – United increases prices on partner biz class awards within Europe & Asia (Award Talk)

(24:06) – Nick: able to change Aeroplan award (Award Talk)

(29:50) – Daily Getaways (Award Talk)

Main Event: Tips for booking Positioning Flights

(32:26) – Award discovery tools like PointsYeah DayDream Explorer tool and Seats.Aero make it easy to find awards such as “business class for 4 from “North America” to “Europe”

(36:22) – Avoid checking bags!

(37:37) – Departure positioning tips: what NOT to do

Read Greg’s mad dash story (What NOT to do) here: https://frequentmiler.com/my-award-alert-flight-change-and-a-risky-layover/

(40:33) – Day before is best

(41:36) – Non-stop is best (less chance of delay)

(41:56) – If not night before…. book primary positioning flight with long airport layover

(43:15) – Useful to have lounge access for layover

(46:02) – Book freely cancelable alternate positioning flight

(49:20) – If back-up positioning flight isn’t an option, consider booking back-up for entire one-way trip

(50:18) – Best options for free last-minute cancelations

(56:48) – Back to Greg’s story. How he somewhat protected myself:

Question of the Week

(1:08:29) – Are there any certificates (like companion certificates) that disappear when you cancel the card?

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Music Credit – Beach Walk by Unicorn Heads

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tim grable

On $100K+ invested with BOA / Merrill Edge or Merrill Lynch to get the higher rewards %. Can you combine personal and business funds to get the 100k. Or is it personal or business accounts? Or is it just personal funds?

Greg The Frequent Miler

Just personal to get platinum honors on the personal side. You can also get platinum honors on the business side with $100K of business investments


Alaska Companion Fare: So I have done this multiple times and as recently as this past January, but I have booked AS CPs that are tied to my wife’s AS personal card and paid using either my own personal AS card or biz AS card. So the certs are not directly tied to the card that issued the cert or the person. I also booked an AS CP in February that came from an AS biz card that was closed last fall, paying a new AS biz card opened in January.


I can confirm that we paid 160,000 points (really less using the 30% transfer deal) and $0 for our 7 night Virgin cruise leaving out of Barcelona this Fall. no taxes or fees


, re: Alaska Airlines Companion Fare:

If you no longer have your BofA AS CC, you can pay for the full AS CF with AS travel bank funds. To get AS travel bank funds, you can book a few dummy AS flights, wait 24 hours, then cancel the flight and have the travel funds added to your AS wallet.

When using your AS CF, on the payment screen, check the box to use your AS travel bank funds.

If you later change your AS CF to a cheaper combination of flights, you can get the difference credited to your AS travel bank funds.

If you instead change your AS CF to a more expensive combination of flights, you have to pay with a credit card, even if you have AS travel bank funds available. I believe you can pay with any CC, it doesn’t have to be an AS CC.

Also, if you completely cancel an AS CF trip, you lose your AS CF. Contacting customer service may help you get a a new one, but that is not guaranteed.

Let me know if you have any questions.


You mentioned not checking luggage for positioning flights. Since that could be a deal breaker, another option is to pay for a luggage service if you really want the flight. Maybe you only need it in one direction and can check the bag on the way back, so the cost might be worth it. There’s a citi offer for “luggage forward” this month.


As a practical matter, as you note, the BofA Premium Rewards / Elite are best used for cash back on unbonused categories. IF one has Platinum Honors, you’ll see the 2.625 percent rate with no foreign transaction fees. But, as you note, Platinum Honors requires $100k in assets at BofA or ML.

On the other hand, Alliant Credit Union has a 2.5 percent cash back card with no foreign transaction fees. No real strings attached. Not unlimited — $10k per month maximum at the 2.5 percent rate. But, for most people (non-MSers), this card should be fine. For most people, the extra 0.125 percent on their likely level of spending isn’t worth the hassle of an additional investment account (at ML).

And, even if one has *only* $50k of annual domestic unbonused spending, compared to the Citi Double Cash, the pure cash back difference is only $312. But, with the Citi Double Cash, one has the flexibility of potential airline transfers. No strings attached. Is the hassle of an additional investment account really worth the $312 in additional cash back? Not in my book.