When do airlines and frequent flyer programs open their award calendars to book award seats? As we close out of 2022, many of our clients are planning their 2023-2024 travel. This is wise, particularly when it comes to reserving first class or business class flight awards. With so much pent-up travel demand, coupled with airline capacity cuts and inflation, flights are flying fuller and ticket prices are more expensive in many cases than pre-pandemic. By planning ahead and knowing when frequent flyer program award calendars open, savvy travelers can be among the first to check for award seats.
The second component of this strategy is another of our favorite maxims: diversify your frequent flyer points, including holding the majority of them in transferable point currencies (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, AMEX Membership Rewards points, and Citi ThankYou points). That way, if an individual frequent flyer program devalues without notice, you can transfer your points to a frequent flyer program where your points will go farther, and it won't cost you as many miles or points for a redemption.
Without further ado, here's when the award calendar opens for the frequent flyer programs we and our clients use most, in order of calendar opening:
Korean Air Skypass: 361 days
Lufthansa Miles & More: 360 days
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 359 days
British Airways Executive Club: 355 days
Air Canada Aeroplan: 355 days
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: 355 days
Qantas Frequent Flyer: 353 days
United MileagePlus: 337 days
American AAdvantage: 331 days
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 331 days
Delta SkyMiles: 331 days
JetBlue TrueBlue: 331 days
Alaska Mileage Plan: 330 days
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank: 330 days
Emirates Skywards: 328 days
The Award Seat Calendar Opening Date Isn't the Whole Story
Keep in mind that frequent flyer programs don't necessarily release any award seats for a given cabin (especially first class and business class seats) or given route when the award calendar open. It can be nearly impossible to score first class award seats or even business class award seats on certain airlines and routes, even with plenty of availability for paid tickets. Some airlines release more award seats closer to the date of travel: good news for opportunistic and flexible travelers, bad news for anyone who wants or needs to plan ahead, including most families.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some airline frequent flyer programs artificially throttle award availability. For example, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan's award calendar opens 330 days out, but you won't find JAL First Class, JAL Business Class, or even JAL Economy awards more than 325 days out, even though these awards are bookable with other oneworld partners such as British Airways Executive Club and American Airlines AAdvantage.
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