The number one frustration with airline miles is that after you’ve racked up lots of miles on an airline, there are no cheap mileage awards available for when you want to go.
The problem stems from the fact that when looking for mileage tickets most websites don’t tell you that you have other airline alliance options.
The real solution that needs to be implemented is an alliance wide award search tool.
The only thing that I know of that currently comes close is ANA’s Star Alliance wide mileage search.
Until then you have a few work-arounds:
1. Call up each partner airline.
2. Join the mileage program of the partner airline that you wish to check and you’ll have online access to their inventory.
3. Call up the mileage desk of the airline that you have miles on and have them check alliance partner availability.(It’s extremely hard to find an agent who can competently check this)
Another caveat is that many airlines also have earning and redemption possibilities with airlines not in their alliance, so be sure to look up on each airline’s website to know what those are as well!
Below is a list of the 3 global alliances, and their primary members.
Air New Zealand
Lot Polish Airlines
SAS Scandinavian Airlines
South African Airways