Everybody wants to know which airline has the best frequent flier program, but there's no one-size-fits all answer. Its based on who you fly with most often, where you're going and how do you want to spend your points. Here are some general guidelines about award-bookings rules and fees that may sway your loyalties. Most programs have similar rules and award levels, except for JetBlue and Southwest, which award points- not miles.
Besides fees to make changes or book a ticket at the last minute, you usually have to pay taxes and security fees when you travel on an award ticket sometimes a surcharge of $10-$30 if you book over the phone.
Program Cost to Change Fee to Redeposit Miles Surcharge Days Before Booking
Alaska Air $75 or free within 3 $75 $60 within 3 330
800-252-7522 days of booking weeks of departure
American $100 (no charge to $100 $50 for travel within 7-20 days 331
AAdvantage, change date or time, $100 for travel within 6 days
Continental $50 $50 $50 within 4-14 days 330
OnePass, $75 within 3 days
Delta SkyMiles, $50 $75 $75 within 20 days 331
JetBlue TrueBlue, $45 n/a n/a n/a
Southwest None n/a n/a about 90
United Mileage $100 (no charge for $100 $50 within 7-13 days, 330
Plus, change to date or time) $75 within 6 days
US Airways $100 (no charge for $100 $75 over phone within 14 days 330
Dividend Miles, change to date or time) No charge online
There you have it, you can make your own decisions from here. Each person has different goals, so find the program that works best for you!