I haven’t spoken much about sweet spot redemptions but the gist is that in any award chart, there are certain redemptions that simply defy logic. For example, in Alaska Airlines’ partner chart, you can fly from Canada to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific in First Class for 70,000 Alaska Miles.
The route would be from Vancouver (YVR) so it would look like this:
Note that this is 6,392 miles from YVR-HKG.
You can also fly from Canada to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific and because Cathay is hubbed in Hong Kong, you can stop there for a month or more if you want and then continue onto Johannesburg, South Africa in First Class … for the same number of miles.
The route would be YVR-HKG-JNB and would look like this:
So for double the distance, you pay the same price. That is what is known in Travel Hacking Industry as a SWEET SPOT!
British Airways and Aer Lingus
The British Airways and Aer Lingus award charts are distance based and are supposed to be the same. Logically, the further you fly the more miles it takes.
A particular sweet spot in the chart are flights up to 3,000 miles in distance. You will notice in the chart below, an economy flight under 3,000 miles will cost you 12,500 miles (Blue Class means off peak).
Now notice how much it jumps up if you go over 3,000 miles. 7,500 miles more than Zone 4! So the lesson here is that if you can find two cities that are just under 3,000 miles apart, you can fly the city pair for a very low amount of miles.
So what’s a great city pair to take advantage of that you ask? Well, it’s Boston to Dublin:
Not only are they just under the threshold of the 3,000 mile mark but they also represent a flight from the Continental US to Europe, which you could do for 25,000 miles round trip in Economy (off peak). As a point of reference, a flight on Aeroplan within North America would cost you the same 25,000 Aeroplan points.
This was a great and totally legit Sweet Spot in the BA and Aer Lingus chart.
Well, Aer Lingus has realized that this was a sweet spot and thanks to a HUGE GLOBAL EARTHQUAKE (or greed … one of the two), the two cities are now considered to be in Zone 5 for award redemptions. So now, if you want to fly from Boston to Dublin, you are now forced to redeem more miles to make that same flight.
Notice the sneaky change they made to their award chart:
Poor Form Aer Lingus
The thing that really irks Travel Hackers is that we are forced to play within the rules of the game but airlines seem to be able to change the rules as they go if it suits them. In this particular case, they throw geography and agreed to city distances out the window and make a change that only benefit their bottom line.
It is unclear if BA will follow suit but it’s a good bet.
While this change might not affect Canadians as much as people that live in the Boston area, it may be a harbinger of how loyalty programs will start to find creative ways to devalue your points. So let this be a warning to you. If you have points, make sure to use them. If you hoard them, you are likely to face a devaluation.
Hat Tip to HeadforPoints who broke the story.