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When is the best time to book airline tickets with points?

To the point Here's everything you need to know about the best time to book a flight with points!

The best time to book an airline ticket with points is when it becomes available on the booking calendar.

Indeed, to find the most coveted award tickets, you have to be lucky, have a lot of flexibility or master the system!

Avion en vol

Date of availability by company

Knowing the best time to book is crucial especially to people:

  • who travel during high demand periods (spring break, summer vacation, construction holidays, holiday season, etc.)
  • who travel in groups or with their families
  • who want business or first class products

Since the changes to the Aeroplan program, all available seats can be purchased with points for flights with Air Canada. The best time to book is the same as for tickets paid in cash, therefore depending on market fluctuations.

So, I advise you to book early, especially if the moment you want to travel is a popular one.

However, this does not apply to other partner airlines that can be booked with Aeroplan points.

Each carrier releases a limited number of “award tickets” while all of their available seats are available for cash.

So, for a group wishing to go to Munich for the Oktoberfest, for example, you will have to watch for the award tickets release more closely!

The number of days to remember

Each carrier plans its calendar release between 300 and 365 days in advance.

It is therefore very important to know when the airline unblocks its calendar: this is the best time to book because you have access to all available award tickets.

Loyalty program Release
Aegean Airlines 362 days
Aer Lingus AerClub 330 days
Aeroflot Bonus 361 days
Aerolineas Argentinas Plus 330 days
Aeromexico Club Premier 330 days
Air Canada Aeroplan 355 days
Air China Phoenix Miles 355 days
Air France/KLM Flying Blue 359 days
Air India Flying Returns 331 days
Air New Zealand Airpoints 350 days
Air Tahiti Nui Club Tiare 331 days
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 330 days
Alitalia MilleMiglia 331 days
American Airlines AAdvantage 331 days
ANA Mileage Club 355 days
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club 361 days
Austrian Airlines Miles & More 355 days
throughLifemiles 360 days
British Airways Executive Club 355 days
Brussels Airlines Miles & More 360 days
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 360 days
China Airlines Dynasty Flyer Program 355 days
China Eastern Miles 365 days
China Southern Sky Pearl Club 365 days
Copa Airlines Connect Miles 330 days
Croatia Airlines Miles & More 355 days
Czech Airlines OK Plus 361 days
Delta SkyMiles 331 days
EgyptAir Plus 355 days
El Al Matmid 362 days
Emirates Skywards 328 days
Ethiopian Airlines ShebaMiles 328 days
Etihad Guest 330 days
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands 360 days
Fiji Airways Tabua Club 352 days
Finnair Plus 331 days
Garuda Miles 331 days
Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club 362 days
Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Miles 330 days
Iberia Plus 330 days
Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank 330 days
Kenya Airways Flying Flue 336 days
Korean Air SkyPass 361 days
LATAM Pass 330 days
LOT Polish Miles & More 355 days
Lufthansa Miles and More 360 days
Malaysia Airlines Enrich 360 days
Qantas Frequent Flyer 353 days
Qatar Airways Privilege Club 361 days
Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer 360 days
Royal Jordanian Royal Club 361 days
SAS EuroBonus 330 days
Shenzhen Airlines PhoenixMiles 361 days
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 355 days
South African Voyager 335 days
SriLankan Airlines FlySmiles 361 days
SWISS Miles & More 339 days (Economy) and 300 days (Premium)
TAP Portugal Miles & Go 360 days
THAI Airways Royal Orchid Plus 340 days
Turkish Airlines Miles 356 days
United MileagePlus 337 days
Vietnam Airlines Lotus Miles 330 days
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 331 days
Virgin Australia Velocity 330 days
Xiamen Air Egret Miles 361 days

How to calculate the best time to buy an award ticket?

To determine the best time to book an award ticket, this day calculator is an excellent tool to use. Simply enter the start date, then subtract the number of days corresponding to the program used.

Also, consider the time difference when you want to book with a program from another country than your own. Finally, the premium seats are not necessarily released at midnight.

You should do some testing to find out the best time for your situation.

What to do if you miss the release

Tickets that can be booked with points are limited on Star Alliance partners. However, over time, changes and cancellations will make some seats vacant again.

So if you have missed the moment, you will need to use a tool such asExpert Flyer to track fluctuations in availability.

Companies that sometimes release last minute award tickets are:

  • ANA
  • Austrian
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Japan Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SWISS
  • United

Special features for some programs

You are constantly refreshing your browser on the famous date, but the desired flight does not show up?

Some airlines do not allow the purchase of certain award tickets through partner loyalty programs, or make them available only at the last minute.

For example, First Class (and even Business Class) award tickets on Singapore Airlines are only available to KrisFlyer members. On the other hand, economy class flights can be found on Aeroplan.

Secondly, the Air France “La Première” seat is only open to Flying Blue elite members. Therefore, you need to have Flying Blue points and status!

The best time to book in these programs is also when the award tickets go on sale.

The transfer partners will be essential to take off on the wings of some airlines with a glass of Champagne.

Finally, there are carriers, such as Lufthansa, that release First Class award tickets in the two weeks before the flight for partners. Yet their frequent flyer program members can get their hands on these coveted seats long before Aeroplan members can.

Tips for booking early

Understand how to use two calendars

In order to find the best time to book a points ticket, you often have to play with two calendars:

  • that of the company operating the flight
  • that of the company with which you plan on using the points

Although Aeroplan‘s calendar opens 355 days in advance, you’ll have to wait before you can book a flight on Etihad Airways since its schedule is only available 330 days before departure.

Taking advantage of the best time to book an airline ticket with two calendars

In my guide to Qatar Airways Qsuite, I detailed the multiple programs one can use to book this seat with points. The programs mentioned in the article are:

Loyalty program Release
Alaska Mileage Plan 330 days
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 360 days
American Airlines AAdvantage 331 days
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank 330 days
British Airways Avios 355 days
Qatar Airways Privilege Club 361 days

The best time to book the Qsuite is when the Qatar Airways calendar is released, which is 361 days in advance. Especially if your group would like to sit together in the four-person compartment.

Qsuite – voyage en groupe 2

By using Asia Miles points (360 days) versus Alaska Mileage Plan points (330 days), you get a 30-day head start on those coveted seats.

In addition to the best time to book an airline ticket, you should also consider the type of points you can earn, the number of points required for your destination and the price of taxes to be paid.

Conclusion

In the field of travel hacking, being able to book award tickets for the flights you want is very important. Since these seats are as limited as VIP seats at a show, you need to know the best time to book.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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