Not all airlines are the same when it comes to short-haul flights. It’s possible flights from Los Angeles to San Francisco will require the same amount of miles or points as flights from Los Angeles to Miami. Below are great short-haul options and their respective transfer partners.
Best Short-Haul Airlines
United offers saver award flights for 10,000 points for travel on itineraries that are 700 miles or less. While this isn’t a huge discount compared to standard award, it’s always nice to save some valuable miles. Some example routes less than 700 miles are from Los Angeles to San Francisco, New York to Boston, and Denver to Dallas.
Transfer Partners: Chase (1:1), SPG (2:1)
In late 2015, when American released their new award chart, they introduced reward flights less than 500 miles for 7,500 AAdvantage miles. Some great routes less than 500 miles are New York to Washington and Philadelphia to Detroit. I’ve never flown those routes, but have flown 7,500-mile routes many times when traveling from California to Phoenix.
Transfer Partners: SPG (1:1 or 1.25:1 when transferring in increments of 20,000)
British Airways is a great option for short-haul travel both in the United States and internationally. Although they got rid of their 4,500 short-haul routes domestically, I book most American short-haul routes via BA because I can avoid the $75 late booking fee and save some miles! You can book American flights with British Airways Avios when there is “Mile SAAver availability”, you can learn more about the process here. Internationally you have great short-haul options such as London to Dublin for only 4,000 Avios and fees!
Delta offers 5,000-mile flights on routes such as Seattle to Portland and 5,500 miles on routes such as Los Angeles to Las Vegas, along with select others. Delta has devalued their program a few times in recent years so, unfortunately, these redemptions don’t always make sense value wise.
Transfer Partners: American Express (1:1), SPG (1:1)
Virgin offers some great short-haul rates on routes such as Las Vegas to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Seattle. I’ve seen flights between Los Angeles and Seattle for as low as 2,000 points in economy and 8,000 in first class. Virgin is one of the highest rated American carriers and, like Southwest, offer a different experience than most commercial airlines.
Transfer Partners: American Express (2:1), Citi (2:1, until Jan 22, 2017), SPG (1.25:1 when transferring 20,000)
You can often book Southwest flights for far fewer than 5,000 points. I have flown routes such as LAS-LAX and LAX-PHX for well under the 5,000-points mark, the example below only requires 2,193 rapid rewards points! Just remember that Southwest’s Wanna Get Away fares are only available if you book more than 14 days in advance.
Transfer Partners: Chase (1:1)
The Bald Thoughts
All the programs mentioned above are viable options for short-haul flying in 2017. Unfortunately, Virgin America is losing Citi as a transfer partner as a result of the Alaska-Virgin merger. It was announced recently that, as a result of the merger, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Alaska via Virgin America at a suitable ratio of 1:1.3.
When it comes to short-hauls, I mostly fly American because of the limited options at my home airport. Since I book last minute, I book using British Airways Avios to avoid the $75 late booking fee! If you’d like to learn more, you can read all about it here.
What’s your favorite airline for short-haul redemptions?