How to Calculate Award Miles Earned From Flights
Maximizing (ROI) return on investment is a main focus of my travel rewards booking methodology. If I leave money (or rewards) on the table, it means I'll probably have to spend more out of pocket to achieve a specific travel goal in the future. We don't like this. I look at money and rewards as the tools I have available to me so it's extremely important to understand which instrument is the right one for each situation and how to use it. Some situations call for cash because the amount of value you'd earn in points, miles or even status hugely outweighs the utility of the value of the money you're spending. In this post I'll show you how to calculate award miles earned from flights. To be clear, this is redeemable miles not elite qualifying.
Related: Earn Alaska MVP Status with One Trip
So How Do You Figure out How Many Miles You'll Earn
When you purchase a paid flight you often have a choice of airline loyalty programs with which you can credit the flight to depending on the airlines specific partnerships. If you are going to credit the frequent flier program of the airline you purchased the flight from, you'll earn according to that specific airlines scheme. Generally, in order to calculate award miles earned for a partner marketed flight the total is based on the following:
- Flight distance in miles,
- booking class and
- Multiplier (i.e. award mile earnings as a percentage of the miles flown for the specific fare class) and any applicable bonuses like enhanced earning rates for elite members
I know it sounds complicated (believe me, I do) but it's pretty easy if you know where to look and use the tools below. Before you can figure out the number of miles you'll earn you'll need to know the booking class of your ticket and the distance flown. (Since booking classes vary from one airline to another you'll have to get this information from the airline.) Tip: It's usually the first letter of the fare basis code.
The following tools can be used to help make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to earning award miles on revenue flights. It can be a long and complicated process to figure out how many miles a flight will earn and which airline you should credit the flight to due to airline alliances and partnerships and the vast number of fare codes used by airlines
- Wheretocredit.com– Where to Credit shows you the number of miles you'll earn for a flight on any frequent flyer program based on the airline and booking class code.
- Milecalc.com– Gives you the number of flight miles between airports for multiple segments at a time.
Let's look at an example:
This flight on from JFK to LHR on British Airways is in booking class O and it's 6900 miles flown round trip. If you plug the info into the where to credit calculator, you'll see the award miles earned as a percentage of the miles flown for all the different loyalty programs. So if you're trying to see how many miles you would earn by crediting the flight to American Airlines, you would multiply (6900 x .25). You would earn 1725 AA miles.