What is a "sweet spot?"

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🤦‍♂️ Yikes... Another case of "this can't be real." Southwest is investigating why a passenger was laying inside an overhead bin before takeoff, unnoticed by flight attendants during boarding. Read more from the story here.

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🤦‍♂️ Yikes... Another case of "this can't be real." Southwest is investigating why a passenger was laying inside an overhead bin before takeoff, unnoticed by flight attendants during boarding. Read more from the story here.

Good morning, and welcome back to Daily Drop, the sambal of newsletters.

We’re tasty, have a little kick, and no matter how many times you experience it, you never know exactly what you’re going to get. 😉

✈️ What are “sweet spot” airline awards?

Every once in a while, I’ll drop the term “sweet spot” into a newsletter.

Sometimes, the reason for this is obvious, but sometimes, the sweet spots can be less straightforward.

So today, I’ll break down what makes a sweet spot, how you can tactically find your own sweet spots, and give you a few examples of some… sweet… ones.

Let me start by giving you an example of a sweet spot that I recently booked using Aeroplan points.

Since Aeroplan uses a fixed-price award chart, it’s a great program to illustrate the concept of a “sweet spot.”

Yesterday, I booked this flight from Bandar Seri Begawan to Yangon via Singapore on Singapore Airlines for just 12,500 Aeroplan points.

Aeroplan booking for 12,500 points

I was surprised to see such a low price for nearly six hours of flying, so I decided to consult the Aeroplan award chart.

For flights in this “zone” of the world, this 12,500-point price tag applies to flights between 1,000 and 2,000 miles (see the award chart a bit further down).

A map of the aforementioned flight route

After looking up the flying distance, the combination of flights above clocks in at… wait for it… 1,992 miles total.

That means that if one of these three airports were just nine miles in a different direction, the price of this flight would DOUBLE to 25,000 points.

Aeroplan Award Chart

Essentially, this flight maximizes the value of the award chart by being as close as humanly possible to the upper distance limit.

Therefore, it is a sweet spot.

It also illustrates just how important it is to know your award charts and airports.

Sometimes, flying into a different airport in the same city could make or break one of these distance bands.

For example, the two major international airports in Tokyo (Haneda and Narita) are more than 50 miles apart from one another.

A map of Tokyo, showing the two major airport locations

Many of you know the pain of transiting between these two airports…

If the last example was any indication, flying to, from, or through different airports could completely change the number of points a given flight costs.

For example…

Let’s say you want to fly from Auckland, New Zealand, to Wuhan, China, in business class on ANA, meaning you’ll have a layover in Tokyo.

A map showing the flight route AKL-HND-WUH

If we fly via Haneda airport, the total distance flown is 6,988 miles.

If we use Aeroplan points to book this, we can use the same chart as earlier to determine the price.

Since the flight is BARELY under 7,000 miles, you’ll pay 60,000 Aeroplan points in business class.

An example of two distance bands in Aeroplan's award chart

However, if you were to book the SAME itinerary through Tokyo but fly via Narita airport, the total distance would be 7,021 miles.

In this case, the price would jump to 90,000 Aeroplan points in business class.

So flying the same route through the same city can cost a difference of 30,000 points simply because of where each airport is located in that city.

But sweet spots don’t always need to be this tactical.

Sometimes, “sweet spots” can simply be booking flights using a program with more favorable pricing.

For example, let’s say you want to fly JetBlue’s fancy lie-flat Mint suites from the U.S. to the Caribbean.

JetBlue Mint

Mmmmmmmmm Mint… so nice

Booking this flight with JetBlue itself from Boston to Aruba would run you 91,000 JetBlue points.

Example of a JetBlue Mint booking for 91,000 points

But did you know that Qatar Airways allows you to book JetBlue flights with Avios?

And since you can transfer Avios between airlines, it’s very easy to earn them (even more so than JetBlue points).

With Qatar, you’ll pay just 74,000 Avios for the same exact flight.

Book JetBlue Mint with Qatar for just 74,000 points

If you were to take advantage of a 30% transfer bonus to Avios (which comes around a few times a year), you could book this flight for just 57,000 points, significantly less than what JetBlue charges.

This is another great example of a “sweet spot” award booking.

There are endless examples I could give you, but we simply don’t have time.

For now, I’ll link back to a few other “sweet spots” I’ve covered in the past for you to read about:

When you approach booking an award flight, explore different airports, cities, and programs the way I’ve shown you today.

You might find some sweet spots of your own and save a ton of points in the process!

🚙 Uber is launching an airport shuttle service

Let me introduce you to the newest way to get to the airport… Uber Shuttle.

And actually, this service already exists in Egypt and India, but now, Uber is bringing their shuttle service to New York City this summer (with hopes of expanding to other cities, too).

A woman stepping out of a white sprinter van as an Uber Shuttle

Uber states that this will provide more affordable transportation and will make the process super easy by allowing users to book seats through the Uber app up to seven days in advance.

Here are the deets:

  • Users can book up to five seats from seven days to five minutes before shuttle departure

  • You’ll be able pay for and track your shuttle up to 25 minutes before it arrives, and fares won’t be affected by surge pricing 👏

  • When the shuttle does arrive, just validate your ride by showing the driver your QR code

  • Oh and yes, you can still rate and tip your driver just like any other Uber journey

💡Pro Tip: Remember, if you hold this premium card or its golden sibling, you get Uber cash credits each month which could offset the cost of this shuttle service even more!

🤓 Travel Trivia Tuesday

What airline ranked the highest in terms of customer satisfaction for economy or basic economy?

Only Email Recipients can participate in polls.

Stock image of an airline employee

I don’t think there are any surprises about the winner here… but it’s nice to make it official.

Southwest Airlines has once again secured the top position for customer satisfaction among economy or basic economy passengers, according to a study by JD Power.

The study was based on feedback from 9,582 passengers who flew on major airlines within the previous month. Factors such as staff professionalism, level of trust, and value for money paid for the flight also contributed to the ratings.

I'm curious... Do you agree or disagree with these rankings? If you disagree, I will fight you.

Anyway, check out the link to read more from the study.

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…or you can just buy these prizes from our website if you want to keep us all to yourself. 😉

That’s all for today, folks!

I attribute many of my best award bookings to the exact type of research and investigation I showed you today, so I hope you can dig into these award charts and sweet spots for yourself.

We’ve got even more fun travel content for you this week, so be sure to come back tomorrow!


Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

5.1616° S, 119.4359° E

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