Which airlines give rewards discounts on short-haul flights?

Not flying far? Some airlines require fewer miles for shorter reward flights.

Assuming you’re getting a good redemption value, this can be excellent use of your small miles balance – or small rewards balance on a card that lets you transfer your rewards into travel programs.short haul flights

Before we break down short-haul rewards discounts by carrier, here are some tips for maximizing your rewards on quick flights:

  • Calculate the redemption value: Before you start spending your miles on short-haul flights, make sure it’s a worthy use of your miles. Just because you have 7,500 miles in your rewards account doesn’t necessarily mean you should spend them on a flight from Chicago to St. Louis.

    Follow these instructions to calculate the value you’re getting per point (generally, you’ll divide the cash cost of the ticket by the number of miles needed). If the flight is inexpensive, you might be better off saving your points toward a long-haul flight later. However, if the short-haul flight is expensive (last-minute, perhaps) redeeming for a short-haul rewards ticket may be a savvy move.

  • Keep short-haul flights in mind for your credit card rewards: Some credit cards have flexible rewards programs that allow you to redeem for gift cards, cash back, merchandise and transfers into airline frequent-flier programs. Examples include Chase Ultimate Rewards and the Membership Rewards from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner). The Starwood Preferred Guest card also allows you to transfer points to more than 20 airline partners.

    With these programs, 10,000 points could get you a $100 gift card or $100 cash back. But, if your card partners with an airline that gives mileage discounts for short-haul flights, transferring those 10,000 points (or 7,500 points in some cases) could get you a $200 one-way short flight.

  • Connect to a gateway city: If you live a short flight away from a major international gateway airport, taking a short-haul flight there might allow you to find international rewards space at a lower redemption tier. For example, say you want to fly from Philadelphia International Airport to Europe using AAdvantage miles. Perhaps there’s no SAAver space from Philadelphia, meaning you’d need to book at the AAnytime level (for 47,500 one way). However, if there’s SAAver space out of New York’s JFK International Airport, you could spend 7,500 miles to get from Philadelphia to New York (which is under 500 miles and is considered a short-haul flight by American). Then, you could book the SAAver fare out of New York for 30,000 miles one way.
  • Take advantage of airline partners: Even after its recent devaluation, British Airways’ short-haul flight terms are still the most generous. You can redeem 7,500 Avios for short-haul coach flights under 1,151 miles within the U.S. For American, meanwhile, the cut-off is 500 miles. So, let’s say you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and want to fly American for an upcoming trip. British Airways is a transfer partner for the CSP — and is also a Oneworld partner with American. This means, you can convert your Ultimate Rewards points into Avios and then use them to book an American Airlines flight. If the one-way flight is under 1,151 miles, you can get it for 7,500 rewards miles.

Short-haul mileage discounts by airline

British airways logo

Mileage discount for: Flights under 1,151 miles in U.S. (Under 650 miles in other regions)

Applies to: One-way economy flights

Discounted mileage cost for one way: 7,500 miles in U.S. (4,500 for flights under 650 miles in other regions)

Departing from Chicago, that’s enough to get to: Miami, Florida

Normal mileage cost for one-way domestic economy: 10,000 or 12,500 miles

american airlines logo

Mileage discount for: Flights under 500 miles

Applies to: Non-stop economy flights within U.S. and Canada

Discounted mileage cost for one way: 7,500 miles

Departing from Chicago, that’s enough to get to: Memphis, Tennessee

Normal mileage cost for one-way domestic economy: 12,500

Credit card benefits for short-haul flights: 1,000-mile one-way discount on flights 500 miles or less to certain destinations IF you have an eligible co-branded AAdvantage card.

united airlines logo

Mileage discount for: Flights under 700 miles

Applies to: Nonstop economy flights within mainland U.S., Alaska and Canada

Discounted mileage cost for one way: 10,000 miles

Departing from Chicago, that’s enough to get to: Washington, D.C.

Normal mileage cost for one-way domestic economy: 12,500

alaska airlines logo

Mileage discount for: Flights within one individual state

Applies to: Nonstop economy flights that depart from and terminate in the same sate (includes Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington)

Discounted mileage cost for one way: Starting at 7,500 miles

Normal mileage cost for one-way domestic economy: 12,500 miles

asia miles logo

Mileage discount for: Flights under 600 miles

Applies to: Nonstop flights worldwide

Discounted mileage cost for one way: 10,000 miles

Departing from Chicago, that’s enough to get to: St. Louis

Normal miles cost of domestic one-way economy fare: 15,000-25,000 miles

 
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