If you have miles with more than one airline, shop around.
I just got a one way flight going to Europe using miles.
I took American - 50,000 miles for business plus $26.10
If I used my AA miles and went on British Air, it would have cost 50,000 miles for business plus $480.30.
If I had used US Air it would have cost 135,000 miles for business plus $62.50 (half on the rd trip)
BA has huge taxes and fees. US Air charges a whole lot more miles so that even with getting 50% more last year, it is still a bad deal.
Although my updoming domestic trip (SFO or SMF to CMH) did not involve taxes, I found a major difference in miles requirements and flight availability between airlines. I checked one way tickets (for 2) on Delta, AA, US, and United about 330 days prior to the flight. All Delta (80k per ticket) and US tickets were exhorbitant . Both AA and United had First Class available for 25k per ticket, but AA only had availability on US flights through Charlotte. I was able to book United through ORD for 25k per ticket.
Delta seems to only have saver tickets available for roundtrip, and I find these to only become available within 6 months of the travel dates.
Beginning in 2015, Delta will have one way flights. Travel people have said that Delta has the stingiest ff program in the business and I had agreed till I acquired US Air miles. I am not sure what the merger will bring but I really hope that AAs program is the one to survive.
British Airways adds "fuel surcharges" to flights booked with AA miles and a number of other partners at a totally insane level. You might as well just buy a ticket considering the cost ($) plus FF miles used They do it on their own flights as well if you book with Avios. However, one can fly on AA from LAX to HNL for 25K Avios round trip in coach which is reasonable. If you have Ultimate Reward points (Chase), Membership Rewards points (AMEX) or SPG Starpoints these can all be transferred to British Airways Avios. Amex offers a bonus on Membership Reward points transferred to British Airways Avios (20 - 50%) from time to time. SPG adds a 5K bonus if you transfer 20K points to any airline that is a transfer partner and British Airways is on the list. From time to time I wish that I lived near LAX instead of Austin (well, maybe a little).
BA got sued recently for fuel surcharges-massive-they imposed on award tix and then didn't back off when fuel prices dropped. (Now they call them fees) In addition, the UK heavily taxes premium cabin seats. Recently, we booked (2) bus class award tix JFK-BKK. On BA, the taxes/fees would have been $1985/ticket--yes-per ticket. (BTW, thats as much as an econ. ticket alone). Cathay-a much better airline-was $75.00/ticket.
Guess what? We went with Cathay! (Same number of miles for both as this was a One World award.)
Its funny now that US is part of One World. I search for international awards. Part of the game is just seeing availability-now when its BA availability, I don't care. I am not using them even though they are right out of BWI. This situation gets a lot of play on Flyertalk. Word is getting around.
When I looked around back in January for Business Class award tickets to Europe this summer I found that on UA it would cost 150,000 miles + $26/person as the saver award tickets were not available. So I scrolled down to partner flights and found round trip in Business on LH and AC for 100,000 miles + $52/person, bingo....booked.
Most European airlines fuel and taxes are higher much like BA however; it would appear LH is not yet in that same boat or at least wasn't when I booked our tickets.
Shop around, great thread californian!!