© Mason Vranish / Alamy

Managing Your Loyalty Programs

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After years of letting travelers accrue rewards-program miles while placing restrictions on how to spend them, airlines are finally devising creative new ways to help you use them for tickets. In an industry first, Alaska Airlines began allowing travelers to use miles for one-way rewards in 2007; American followed in 2009, with more airlines expected to join them. Delta now allows its SkyMiles members to use miles to pay for the total ticket price or just part of a fare (10,000 miles = $100). Similarly, Qantas lets travelers chip in with cash if they don’t have quite enough miles to buy an entire flight.

T+L Tip: Cash in for a ticket. You’ll be less likely to be held hostage to blackout dates, award-availability restrictions, or double payments for busy days.

Best Trip-Planning Tips

Managing Your Loyalty Programs

After years of letting travelers accrue rewards-program miles while placing restrictions on how to spend them, airlines are finally devising creative new ways to help you use them for tickets. In an industry first, Alaska Airlines began allowing travelers to use miles for one-way rewards in 2007; American followed in 2009, with more airlines expected to join them. Delta now allows its SkyMiles members to use miles to pay for the total ticket price or just part of a fare (10,000 miles = $100). Similarly, Qantas lets travelers chip in with cash if they don’t have quite enough miles to buy an entire flight.

T+L Tip: Cash in for a ticket. You’ll be less likely to be held hostage to blackout dates, award-availability restrictions, or double payments for busy days.

© Mason Vranish / Alamy

Best Trip-Planning Tips

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