When You Need A Last Minute Flight, It’s Still Miles To The Rescue

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After hearing havdala last Motzei Shabbos, my uncle’s mother, Mrs. Fraida Nathan, returned her soul to heaven.

I’m the default “travel agent” for my family, so I set off to see what could be done about getting a flight from Cleveland to Chicago for the levaya on Sunday afternoon for myself, my mother, and my grandfather.

Last minute paid tickets weren’t prohibitively expensive, but are still between $200-$300 each way.


While the value of miles is not what it used to be (I sure miss the days of wide open 4.5K BA Avios tickets!), it can still beat paying cash.

Skiplagged is a good option for last-minute flights, but I’d still rather use miles.

United had awards for 15K miles, which they now brand as a saver level award (up from 10K for a short-haul saver award before they deleted their award charts):



But as any DansDeals reader will know, the trick is finding partner airlines that can book that flight for fewer miles.

Alas, Lifemiles often blocks award tickets from being booked for travel within 24 hours:


However Air Canada had availability for just 6K miles, plus $34 in tax and fees. Still, that’s a very solid deal. You can transfer miles from AMEX, Chase or Capital One to Air Canada instantly.

For November, you can even get a 30%-40% bonus for transfers from Chase to Air Canada, dropping the price to 4.3-4.6K miles for a short-haul award ticket.


Best of all, Air Canada doesn’t require you to jump through hoops to change your mileage number to United.

I got upgraded to the last first class seat, which I handed over to my mother. I sat in the exit row with my grandfather with an empty middle seat thanks to the person assigned to the middle sliding over to the open aisle seat across from us.

Of course I still had to deal with Jewish mother’s guilt. 馃榾


For the way home United didn’t have saver award space:


However, American had a reasonably priced 9K flight home and the upgrade came through on that as well:


Do you use miles when you need a last minute flight?

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38 Comments On "When You Need A Last Minute Flight, It’s Still Miles To The Rescue"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren鈥檛 provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


What鈥檚 the cancellation policy for AC? And how east is it to get the points redeposited? What about for lifemiles?

A updated post covid chart would be nice!


You would have to call them to cancel. AC customer service is non existent, and I have actually found Life Miles easier to deal with than AC. However, Life Miles policy is that you can cancel within same day, NOT 24 hours. So from the time you book you have until the clock strikes 12 to cancel for free.


-1 You can cancel AC online within 24 hours I just did it 2x in the past week


There is another solution to putting your United MileagePlus number when booking with LifeMiles. When I book the flight, I click add a passenger (as if I’m booking for someone else) and then I put in my name and for the LM number I just put 000000000, and when the ticket is booked it doesn’t show any frequent flyer connected to the itinerary. You can even save this “double” profile as a saved traveler on your account to make it easier for the future.


Nice! Thanks for sharing! Does this also work with other airlines?


Besuros Tovos.

Recently, I’ve found alot of last minute “Web Specials” available on AA (not on partners, though).


I booked last minute flight JFK-LHR for 18.8k capital one points transferred to flying blue with a 20% transfer bonus making it 22.5k points. Booked on Virgin Atlantic. Paid fare was $1604.80


Haven’t really had a need for last minute flights, but I’ve started to really up my game of booking very far out when the sky is the limit in terms of availability. Kind of regret not using my miles this way in the past; for example, already snagged business seats for all of us (2 adults, 2 kids, 1 baby) on international flights for an August 2023 summer vacation.


Can u book last min with lifemiles by calling them?


Booked 12.5K AA JFK-LAX Friday morning on the way to the airport. Cash wouldv been $400ish. PSA – can’t book with points within 2 hours of takeoff


I assume that was booked directly on American?


Yes. Web special


Yep, just had the same thing with the family member who passed away on my wife side so Saturday night I had to fly her out last minute and paid 11,000 miles each way instead of $240 that it was going for on American Airlines which was the cheapest non budget airline.


I always try to use miles for last minute travel. If United is an option and the fare is showing Saver Award I will always turn to AC or LM to book it. Although not EVERY Saver Award is available on partner airlines.
If AA is an option, and if there is Saver Award availability, I turn to BA or Qantas to book it. Always check both as the availability or lack thereof on one does not preclude the other.


Kibud Av V’Em at 30,000 feet


I have a Lifemiles ticket on UA and TK metal and have tried everything I could imagine, but failed, to change the FF number from Lifemiles to Miles&Smiles (TK) with which I have status. What are those hoops that I can jump through to change the FF number on a Lifemiles issued ticket?


Take away of the story:
Another great reason to accumulate miles and status. If used properly (as Dan did with his first class seat) it can lengthen your life.


I just tried to look on Air Canada for flights, but got this message:
It is not possible to search for flights which have both an origin and a destination in the United States.
What’s the workaround to see the united flights?


You need to check the box that reads “Book with points AEROPLAN”. After checking this box you can search for award availability everywhere, including United flights within US.


Nice! Thanks Dan how you teach us all the games with miles, next time you’re trip should be for simchos 讘砖讜专讜转 讟讜讘讜转


And nobody offered their condolences to @Dan and his family hamokem yenachem eschem…

Everyone is so fixed on the miles and flight deal






how did yo get upgraded on the American flight? I thought they only offer upgrades for paid flights!?


No. They offer even for awards.

AA dude

Only AAdvantage Executive Platinum members get upgrades on awards


Bde, how are you related to the Nathans? Uncle’s mother? I can’t follow considering the kids (Shnier, Yosef….) are your age, I’m still trying to process the Uncle’s mother relationship and your age/generation. Anyways, may all your future trips be for simchas.

AA upgrades

AA offers upgrades on web specials? I just flew today and was not added to the list鈥
Is there a minimum status for that? Good not enough?


Is there a chart that exists which shows the main carriers and which airlines partner with them and allow points/miles bookings? For example, United would have Air Canada as a potential option. Even better would be one that goes one step further showing which credit cards are transfer partners with the partner airline.


Nearly every post on this website has that list


Cleveland to Chicago is the perfect distance that it’s just starting to become worth it to fly, depending on how perfect the flight timing is for your schedule, how far you live from airport and how far your destination is from airport, and how frequent the flight schedule is on alternate airlines in case of delay or cancellation. A few months ago, when flight operations were in meltdown, driving would’ve been almost a no brainer for the degree of predictability it offers (although also very much not guaranteed). At this point, flying starts making sense again, assuming the other pieces fall into place to make it the most logical mode of transportation. Obviously, this depends on having a driver capable and willing to drive 11 hours in a day. It also ignores that distinct pleasure only a travel person can relate to and understand, of finding that perfect HC (if that’s your taste and you’re not nervous about jeopardizing your status) or miles flight that cuts 75% off retail, and then finding that perfect partner to get a bargain compared to the carrier metal mileage program.


I’ve been accumulating amex points (green card) now i need to book ticket from israel. is there a way to benefit from those points?


what is the best way to search for air canada award flights?


Do you book your return flights through Air Canada too?