Point Hacks reader Shanti commented on a post on our Facebook page with this question:
When I’m on the Velocity site doing a search, why can’t I ever find awards under a million points to Los Angeles? Some seats show as sold out and the others are really expensive!
This is a really common question we get. So here is an easy-to-read guide to help you understand the difference between saver and standard awards. We’ve got examples from six frequent flyer programs.
- Saver = cheaper but less availability
- Standard = more expensive but more availability
‘Saver’ level awards are the ones that everyone is hunting for to get the best deal.
Velocity Frequent Flyer
Terminology: [Class] Reward = saver; AnySeat [Class] = standard, e.g. Business Reward, AnySeat Business
No one should be paying over a million points for a flight—that’s ridiculous. However, that result is a very common one when searching for Business Class flights to the US. Therefore, you’ll want to aim for a Business Reward seat rather than AnySeat Business.
In the Melbourne – Hong Kong example below, it’s the difference between paying 59,500 points + $135 in taxes and almost ten times that!
It is more likely you will see higher prices and/or award availability sold out in Business Class on long-haul routes such as Australia to the US. This is especially the case during peak holiday periods such as Christmas-New Year.
To get around this, try booking a year ahead and look at alternative routes, e.g. Australia to the US via Asia.
Read more: How to redeem Velocity points to the US
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Terminology: Classic = saver; Any Seat = standard
If you want to use Qantas Points to make a redemption, I would strongly recommend clicking Use points in the search box (rather than Use money, points or both). That way you’ll avoid getting priced a really expensive award.
It’ll show you the award calendar and then when you click on a date, it will only show if seats are available at the cheapest level:
The price is quoted at the bottom of the screen.
However, if you do prefer to see your points options against revenue fares, then click Use money, points or both in the search box. Then you’ll see not only Classic award availability (if any) but also how much revenue tickets are going for.
In the example of this Business Class ticket from Brisbane to Tokyo—plus nearly all conceivable cases—it makes much more sense to pay 60,000 points + $271 in taxes. Compare that the equivalent of the nearly $3,500+ cash fare for almost 500,000 points when you toggle Use points.
Read more: Best uses of Qantas Points
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Terminology: Saver = saver; Advantage = standard
KrisFlyer has two levels of award pricing for Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights. (Partner flights price at only one level.)
You’ll want to aim to redeem a Saver award unless you can’t take the risk of being on a waitlist and need the certainty of booking an Advantage award.
Saver awards are 30-50% cheaper than Advantage awards, but sneakily, Advantage pricing is listed first in the award chart, so make sure you scroll to the second page for the cheaper pricing.
Read more: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer guides
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Terminology: Standard = saver; Choice = standard; Tailored = even more expensive
Asia Miles has three levels of award pricing.
Standard is the one to aim for, with Choice a good ‘choice’ if you really need to be on that flight or must access award space a week earlier.
Read more: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles guides
Terminology: GuestSeat = saver; OpenSeat = standard
There is a big difference between these two types of awards. You can see that in this example that the OpenSeat pricing is more than triple the GuestSeat pricing.
GuestSeats price at a fixed amount dependent on distance, and OpenSeats price at the revenue value of the ticket, which fluctuates according to demand.
United’s loyalty program moved to a dynamic pricing model in November 2019 for United flights and April 2020 for partner flights. There is now no differentiation between Saver and Standard pricing. Rather, pricing reflects the demand for that particular flight.
Here are some tips to help you pay the least amount of points:
- Look at the first column of your search results, which will probably be the cheapest pricing at the Saver level
- If not available and you have date flexibility, then look at dates around your original search and see if you can find Saver availability on them
- If not, you may be able to go on a waitlist for those flights
- Worst case scenario, if you really need that specific flight, then you can book at the Standard award rate knowing that you have exhausted the other possibilities
Do you have a travel-related question?
- Search the Point Hacks website using the Looking For Something? box (located to the right-hand side of any post) to see if we have already answered your question in a post.
- You can post your question in the Questions & Answers section of our website and someone from the Point Hacks community, whether another reader or one of our team members, will hopefully be able to help you out.