Podcast: Where to find hidden award flights | Frequent Miler on the Air Ep246


There’s a reason why people get frustrated with award booking – because earning the miles or points for your award is just one piece of the puzzle. Actually finding the awards is an entirely new puzzle and not all the tricks to this process are very intuitive or obvious. Don’t worry though – Greg and Nick are seasoned treasure hunters in this hobby. If award flights are hidden treasures, they’re the guys out on the beach at 6 am with their metal detectors.

In episode 246 of Frequent Miler on the Air, they talk about different “hidden” opportunities to find great award availability for even those more elusive international lie-flat awards. Watch the full episode here, catch it on your favorite podcast platform, or click the timestamps below to navigate directly to a specific point within YouTube.


(01:13) – Advantage shopping portal vs AAdvantageHotels…when do these bookings’ miles post…check in date or purchase date?

(05:36) – I noticed that you are not doing the mattress running the numbers segment – any particular reason?

Card Talk

(08:00) – Amex Platinum consumer card is dropping SiriusXM from digital entertainment May 8

Learn more about this Amex Platinum change here: https://frequentmiler.com/siriusxm-to-be-removed-from-eligible-services-for-amex-digital-entertainment-credit/

(11:50) – The American Express Business Platinum card 250K offer is still available in a roundabout way.

Read more about the steps for finding that offer here: https://frequentmiler.com/incredible-250k-welcome-offer-for-the-amex-business-platinum-targeted-link/

Crazy Thing

(16:14) – United triggers a flight as “supposed to be a paper ticket” upon check in…

Award Talk

(22:33) – Hyatt will be losing SLH partnership on May 15

Learn more about the Hyatt/SLH partnership ending here: https://frequentmiler.com/hyatt-slh-partnership-ending-5-15-24-important-things-to-know/

(25:12) – New Alaska award chart slowly going live and expected to be complete by 3/31/24.

Read more about the Alaska award chart slowly going live here: https://frequentmiler.com/huge-alaska-announces-unified-award-charts/

(29:14) – Bilt adds Alaska as a partner

(30:00) – Bilt loses AA as a partner in June

Read more about Bilt’s loss of AA as a partner here: https://frequentmiler.com/bilt-losing-american-airlines-as-transfer-partner-in-june/

(35:09) – Ritz upgrade success (again!)

(36:33) – Delta’s new companion certificates really work as advertised

Read more about Delta’s enhanced companion certificates here: https://frequentmiler.com/delta-companion-certificates/

(38:17) – Delta: update about extending elite status with MQM rollovers

Read more about the last ever Delta MQM rollover here: https://frequentmiler.com/the-last-ever-delta-mqm-rollover/

(40:45) – Award search tool comparisons, including award discovery tools

Read more about award exploration tools here: https://frequentmiler.com/a-new-breed-of-award-discovery-tools/

Main Event: Where to Find Hidden Award Flights

(45:17) – Opportunities to find great award availability when you otherwise strike out trying to book international lie-flat awards…

(46:20) – Aeroplan has better award space for Singapore Airlines than Singapore itself

(48:05) – JetBlue Mint, book with Qatar Avios

See our video about how to find and book JetBlue Mint flights to the Caribbean using Qatar Avios: https://frequentmiler.com/jetblue-mint-to-the-caribbean-for-26000-avios-where-and-how-to-find-it/

(50:12) – ITA booked with Virgin Atlantic miles (widely available as of the last time Nick looked…)

(52:04) – Hawaiian Air has very good award space to Asia

(54:00) – Emirates: Book lower class of service and upgrade with points at airport

(55:32) – Flying Blue: Don’t trust the calendar

(57:57) – AA, Flying Blue: often get much better pricing by flying to/from smaller airports

(01:01:18) – Many airlines (Eva Air, Qatar, Etihad, Lufthansa, BA, Virgin, Turkish, etc) offer better award availability to their own members

(01:10:33) – Book good-enough refundable flights and wait until close-in to find great flights.

(01:14:04) – Sometimes cash (or pay with points) is best option

(01:19:39) – Read our post about how to find great deals with Google Flights: https://frequentmiler.com/how-to-find-incredible-flight-deals-with-google-flights/

Question of the week

(01:19:56) – We review a unique case study where verification details delayed a credit card so long that a new application was required…but in that time, the bonus increased…

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Music Credit – “Ocean Deep” by Annie Yoder

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Priya Das

“Thank you for this insightful article on finding hidden award flights! Navigating the world of airline rewards can be daunting, but your tips offer valuable strategies for uncovering hidden gems and maximizing travel savings. From exploring alternative routes to leveraging partner airlines, your recommendations empower travelers to unlock more value from their loyalty programs. A must-read for anyone looking to stretch their travel budget and explore new destinations. Keep up the great work!”


Coincidentally, I was walking to the mailbox to pick up my seventh letter from Barclays along with at least 10 calls on a Wyndham Earner Business card over the past 3 months when you read your question of the week. Perhaps not as unusual or unique as it sounded to you. It gave me a chuckle, though. Misery loves company!

I debated letting it die and putting in a new application at the higher bonus, but given the low earn on u bonuses spend, I don’t think it’s worth it even before ignoring the painful application process.

Owen Strain

In the episode you mentioned Marriott’s award calendar as not being misleading like Air France or Hyatt… but unfortunately it suffers from similar issues.

Sometimes the award calendar will show that a night is available for an amount of points that corresponds to the cheapest room type, but then you click through and only a more expensive room type is available.

Worse yet, I’ve had instances where it shows availability and it’s not until you actually try to book it that it tells you there’s no availability.

The property where I’ve run into this the most is the St Regis Bora Bora, especially while trying to find nights at or below 100k to use an 85k cert.


I’m surprised you didn’t mention that the only way to book F is with Singapore Air’s own loyalty program.


Hey guys, a further small issue about AAdvantageHotels. On the podcast Greg mentioned that they’re a great way to get last minute LPs to requalify for status (the AA status year ends the last day of February) as long as you’re able to check into the hotel you book.

AAdvantageHotels has a 100% history of paying the LPs for pre-paid stays regardless of whether you actually stay or not. Of course, you pay for the stay either way, but they reliably post the miles and LPs a week or two after the stay. The LP earning rate varies wildly between hotels, and even different dates at the same hotel, but it’s often possible to find bookings where you’re “paying” 2.5 cents or less per mile + LP. While that’s not a price I’d normally buy miles at, if you’re close to an elite level — or, even more so, a loyalty point reward level where you might get, for instance, two SWUs — it can easily be worth it.

Also, you talked about Emirates upgrades-at-the-airport which are not capacity controlled — any available seat is available for upgrading with points. a few thoughts:

  1. From experience it absolutely does work to transfer the miles from (for example) Amex while standing at the counter to get the upgrade.
  2. If you’re planning to go this route, pay attention to the economy fare you book. There are three and, while they’re all upgradable, the number of points required is different. For me, the sweet spot was the second level up (Saver, one level up from Special). The fare difference was maybe $70, but the upgrade difference was (I think) 50k versus 78k. I was happy to pay $70 more to save 28k Amex points.
  3. You can use your miles to upgrade someone else, even if they’re not on your itinerary. I was traveling with a friend on a separate booking and I upgraded the both of us.