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It’s not pretty, but at least you’ll know…

Earning miles is very exciting. Miles are not mythical creatures, they are – at the very least, savings on future tickets. But they’re not quite what they used to be. One of the most pressing questions for travelers hoping to amass a jackpot of miles, is how many they’ll earn from their flights. We’ve got a simple way to calculate miles earned on any flight, down to scientific precision.

an airplane flying in the skyMoney Airlines

American, United and Delta award miles from their own flights purely based on money you spent, so there’s no calculation involved. If you fly on these airlines and earn miles on these airlines, you’ll see exactly how many miles you’ll earn when booking your ticket. For everyone else…

a city with lights and a mountain in the backgroundStep One: Distance

The first thing to figure out is how far you’re going. Use GCMap.com to plug in all your segments, giving a precise calculation. You simply enter the airport codes, with a dash in between. So… like JFK-NRT-SYD, would be the code for New York to Tokyo to Sydney. Write that number down.

a bed and chair in a planeStep Two: Rates

As you hopefully already know, you’re not stuck only earning miles with the airline you actually fly. In most cases, you can earn miles from any partners of the airline you fly. So if you’re flying Delta, you could earn Virgin miles – and so on. Each airline will award different rates for different tickets on different airlines. To find out: use WhereToCredit.com If you have elite status with an airline, be sure to figure out if there are any bonuses to factor in.

a sign with arrows and directionsStep Three: Decisions

WhereToCredit.com will show you how many miles your ticket will earn, based on the booking class. We’ve discussed lots about finding your booking codes here. You must decide (in advance of your flight) which program you’d like to credit your miles to. Look for programs with good earning rates and even better rates for redeeming miles, for the trips you’d like to take.

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Step Four: Math

Now you know exactly how far the distance of your flights totals, and the rates at which the airline you’ve chosen to earn miles with will reward you. Multiply the earning rate times the distance flown to get an exact miles calculation. As you’ll soon figure out, the higher the cabin you’re booked in – the more miles you’ll earn. And before you ask, nope, you won’t earn any miles on flights booked entirely using points.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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