Airline Peak & Off-Peak Award Charts: The Ultimate Guide [2021 & 2022]

Peak Travel

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Commercial aviation is one of the most seasonal industries in the world. Typically, the busiest time of the year for airlines is from May to October.

Of course, this varies depending on the exact destinations, countries, or even cities that you visit. That being said, customer demand plummets in the winter months from November to March, especially when visiting Europe.

Airline revenue ticket prices fluctuate wildly thanks to revenue management departments, crazy algorithms, and seats sold. The same is generally true for airline award tickets. As a result, many major airlines have chosen to adopt a binary award pricing scheme, whereby there is an off-peak set of dates priced cheaper than the remaining peak dates.

In this guide, we’ll be taking an in-depth look into every major airline’s seasonality charts and discussing the nuances of each program with the ultimate goal of minimizing the number of points you’ll use for award flights.

Why Is Understanding Peak/Off-Peak Seasonality Important?

Travelers with flexible plans ought to book flights during off-peak when possible in order to spend fewer miles.

You’ve already worked so hard to earn your points and miles, so why spend any more than absolutely necessary?

By planning trips around off-peak award dates, you’ll extract the maximum value from your points and miles. There’s a minimal amount of work in understanding what constitutes peak and off-peak dates for each airline you want to fly on, but it’s all worth it in the end!

This guide is not about variable award pricing, which itemizes mileage and award prices based on distinct levels. Instead, we’re going to be talking about the major airlines that have specific peak and off-peak travel dates.

Airlines That Have Peak/Off-Peak Award Charts

Before talking about each individual airline, keep in mind that some airlines adopt different seasonality policies depending on what route you fly on, while others have a simple binary system.

Let’s look into the airlines and dissect their peak and off-peak award charts.

Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus logo
Image Credit: Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus is Ireland’s flag carrier. Aer Lingus is owned by the same company that owns British Airways, IAG. Its frequent flyer currency is known as Avios.

Each calendar year, Aer Lingus publishes its off-peak and peak periods. The off-peak periods constitute two-thirds of the year, whereby you can book award flights for fewer Avios.

Additionally, Aer Lingus has a distance-based award chart along with peak/off-peak pricing. You can redeem Aer Lingus Avios for great value, especially if booking during off-peak dates.

Aer Lingus’s off-peak dates for 2021 and 2022 are as follows:

  • January 7, 2021 – March 25, 2021
  • April 12, 2021 – June 11, 2021
  • September 6, 2021 – December 15, 2021
  • January 6, 2022 – April 7, 2022
  • May 1, 2022 – June 9, 2022
  • September 5, 2022 – December 15, 2022

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus’s peak dates for 2021 and 2022 fill the remainder of the calendar:

  • January 1-6, 2021
  • March 26, 2021 – April 11, 2021
  • June 12, 2021 – September 5, 2021
  • December 16, 2021 – January 5, 2022
  • April 8-24, 2022
  • June 10, 2022 – September 4, 2022
  • December 16-31, 2022

Now that we’ve pieced together the seasonality, let’s talk briefly about how many points you’d save by booking off-peak. Here’s Aer Lingus’s award chart for one-way flights:

ZoneOriginDestinationsOff-Peak EconomyPeak EconomyOff-Peak BusinessPeak Business
Zone 1BelfastBirmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Leeds Bradford, London, Manchester4,0004,500N/AN/A
CorkAmsterdam, Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Paris4,0004,500N/AN/A
DonegalGlasgow4,0004,500N/AN/A
DublinAberdeen, Amsterdam, Birmingham, Bordeaux, Bristol, Brussels, Cardiff, Donegal, Doncaster, Dusseldorf, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kerry, Leeds Bradford, London, Manchester, Nantes, Newcastle, Newquay, Paris, Rennes4,0004,500N/AN/A
ShannonBirmingham, Bristol, London, Paris4,0004,500N/AN/A
Zone 2BelfastPalma6,5007,500N/AN/A
CorkAlicante, Barcelona, Faro, Geneva, Lisbon, Malaga, Munich, Nice, Palma 6,5007,500N/AN/A
DublinAlghero, Alicante, Barcelona, Berlin, Bilbao, Bologna, Copenhagen, Faro, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Lisbon, Lyon, Madrid, Marseille, Milan, Munich, Murcia, Nice, Palma, Perpignan, Pisa, Prague, Pula, Salzburg, Santiago de Compostela, Stuttgart, Toulouse, Venice, Verona, Vienna, Warsaw, Zurich6,5007,500N/AN/A
ShannonBarcelona, Faro, Malaga6,5007,500N/AN/A
Zone 3BelfastAlicante, Faro, Malaga8,50010,000N/AN/A
CorkDubrovnik, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife8,50010,000N/AN/A
DublinAgadir, Athens, Bourgas, Brindisi,  Budapest, Catania, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Izmir Lanzarote, Malaga, Naples, Rome, Santorini, Split, Tenerife8,50010,000N/AN/A
ShannonLanzarote8,50010,000N/AN/A
Zone 4DublinRhodes10,00012,500N/AN/A
Zone 5DublinBoston, Chicago, Hartford, Minneapolis, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Washington13,000

20,000

50,000

60,000

ShannonBoston, New York
ManchesterNew York
Zone 6

DublinLos Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle16,250

25,000

62,500

75,000

ManchesterBarbados, Orlando

Suppose you wanted to fly from Miami (MIA) to Dublin (DUB) in Aer Lingus business class on September 18, 2022. Assuming you find availability on this date, you’ll be traveling on off-peak dates, meaning you’ll pay 62,500 Avios one-way as opposed to 75,000 Avios (the peak season price).

Let’s also suppose that the departing segment of your trip falls on peak dates while the returning flight falls on off-peak dates. In this case, you’d simply pay the peak price one-way and the off-peak price the other way.

Aer Lingus’ system is pretty straightforward, but you can save up to 12,500 Avios each way by planning your off-peak travel accordingly.

All Nippon Airways

All Nippon Airways
Image Credit: All Nippon Airways

All Nippon Airways’ Mileage Club loyalty program is a fantastic overall program. Although its online user interface is somewhat dated, ANA has so many fantastic redemptions that you can’t miss out on.

ANA Mileage Club takes some time to learn about, but once that time is invested, you’ll find yourself digging up value redemption after value redemption.

Hot Tip: You can start racking up ANA miles pretty easily by following our guide on how to earn lots of ANA Mileage Club miles!

You can only book round-trip award bookings with ANA, so bear that in mind, too.

Most airlines split up their peak/off-peak dates into a simple binary system, whereby a date is either a peak or off-peak date. ANA has 3 seasonality periods — low season, regular season, and high season.

ANA uses seasonality only for ANA flights. Seasonality does not apply to partners like United Airlines. The following is a chart that depicts the most updated seasonality dates for flights between Japan and Europe/North America until early 2023:

ANA Seasonality Periods202120222023
Low Season (L)January 5 – February 28
April 1-27
January 4 – February 28
April 1-26
January 4 – February 28
Regular Season (R)March 1-31
May 10 – July 22
August 23 – December 19
March 1-31
May 9 – July 21
August 22 – December 18
March 1-31
High Season (H)January 1-4
April 28 – May 9
July 23 – August 22
December 20-31
January 1-3
April 27 – May 8
July 22 – August 21
December 19-31
January 1-3

Keep in mind that there are different seasonality periods depending on what regions you’re flying to/from, and even for domestic flights. You can find out more here.

For flights between North America and Japan, here’s the round-trip award chart:

Cabin ClassLow Season PriceRegular Season PriceHigh Season Price
Economy40,00050,00055,000
Premium Economy62,00072,00077,000
Business75,00085,00090,000
First150,000150,000165,000

So, if you choose to fly on ANA business class round-trip from New York City (JFK) to Tokyo (NRT) departing on January 10, 2022 and returning on January 31, 2022 you’ll pay the low season price — an incredibly low 75,000 ANA miles.

On the other hand, flying during high season on the same route will cost a decent 90,000 miles. This represents a 20% hike in prices just for flying during different times.

Bottom Line: In order to figure out the price you’ll pay for a specific ANA flight during a specific date range, you’ll need to figure out the seasonality of the route first. Then, you can figure out the award price by matching the award chart pricing with the correct seasonality and route. Keep in mind that this only applies if you intend on using ANA miles on ANA flights. 

American Airlines

American Airlines
Image Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines does offer off-peak awards, and these off-peak awards are often fantastic deals. However, American Airlines only does this for economy flights.

Additionally, qualifying tickets include partner airlines and aren’t limited to flights operated by American Airlines. That being said, American Airlines has off-peak economy tickets for many regions, and these tickets are called “MileSAAver off-peak.”

Hot Tip: In order to minimize your out-of-pocket costs at the hands of fuel surcharges, try to plan your travel solely on American Airlines flights. 

Here’s the exact breakdown of flights, separated by region.

RouteMileSAAver Off-Peak DatesMileSAAver Off-Peak CostMileSAAver Cost
Contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada to HawaiiJanuary 1 – March 12, 2021
August 11, 2021 – November 18, 2021
November 24, 2021 – December 10, 2021
20,00022,500
Hawaii to Contiguous 48 U.S. states and CanadaJanuary 7 – March 19, 2021
August 18 – November 27, 2021
December 3-25, 2021
Contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada to Caribbean, Mexico, and Central AmericaApril 21 – May 20, 2021
September 9 – November 18, 2021
12,50015,000
Contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada to EuropeJanuary 10 – March 14, 2021
November 1 – December 14, 2021
22,50030,000
Contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada to Asia Region 1 (Japan/Korea)January 1 – April 30, 2021
July 1 – November 30, 2021
32,50035,000
Asia Region 1 (Japan/Korea) to Contiguous 48 U.S. states and CanadaFrom Japan:
January 16 – April 19, 2021
May 2-31, 2021
September 1 – December 31, 2021
From Korea:
January 16 – May 31, 2021
September 1 – December 31, 2021
32,50035,000
Contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada to Asia Region 2 (China and Hong Kong)January 1 – April 30, 2021
July 1 – September 30, 2021
October 11 – November 30, 2021
32,50035,000
Asia Region 2 (China and Hong Kong) to Contiguous 48 U.S. states and CanadaFebruary 1 – May 31, 2021
September 1-19, 2021
October 2 – December 31, 2021
32,50035,000
Contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada to South America 1January 16 – June 14, 2021
September 7 – November 14, 2021
17,50020,000

One thing that is important to note is the fact that the travel direction matters in order to determine whether a flight will be priced off-peak. As you can see, the off-peak bookings will save a small number of miles, usually around 2,500 miles.

The catch is you need to find MileSAAver award availability in order to get off-peak pricing on American Airlines flights. Additionally, there aren’t off-peak rates for the remainder of routes, which include flights between the South Pacific, Alaska, Canada, within the continental U.S., and South America Region 2.

Bottom Line: American Airlines offers off-peak pricing for economy flights, and these include partner airlines. You can save a small pile of points by booking during off-peak dates. Try to stick to American Airlines flights in order to reduce your taxes and fees as much as possible. 

Asiana Airlines

Asiana Airlines
Image Credit: Asiana Airlines

Asiana Airlines has deservedly garnered a great reputation with its loyalty program Asiana Club. In addition, Asiana Airlines continues to be a top airline of choice to earn miles on, thanks to its attractive (and niche!) ways to redeem for maximum value.

Asiana Airlines has off-peak and peak pricing only for its own flights. It also has different peak season dates departing on your exact route. Lastly, you can avoid peak season surcharges if you’re an Asiana Club Diamond Plus or Platinum member for both award bookings and upgrades.

Asiana Airlines charges 50% additional miles for flights during high season, so you’ll absolutely want to avoid flying during popular times. Here is the peak season chart for 2021 and 2022:

RoutePeak DatesOff-Peak Dates
International flights departing from the AmericasMay 14 – July 4, 2021
December 7-31, 2021
May 13 – July 4, 2022
December 7-31, 2022
Every other date
International flights departing from non-Americas locationsJanuary 1-3, 2021
February 10-14, 2021
February 27 – March 1, 2021
April 30 – May 5, 2021
July 23, – August 22, 2021
September 17-26, 2021
December 24, 2021 – January 2, 2022
January 28 – February 22, 2022
February 26 – March 1, 2022
May 5-8, 2022
June 1-6, 2022
July 22 – August 21, 2022
September 8-11, 2022
September 30 – October 3, 2022
December 24-31, 2022
Every other date
Domestic South Korea flightsJanuary 1-3, 2021
February 10-14, 2021
February 20 – March 1, 2021
May 1-5, 2021
May 15-19, 2021
July 24, 2021 – August 22, 2021
September 17-22, 2021
December 31, 2021 – January 1, 2022
January 30 – February 2, 2022
February 14 – March 1, 2022
May 4-8, 2022
June 3-6, 2022
July 25, 2022 – August 19, 2022
September 9-12, 2022
October 1-3, 2022
December 30-31, 2022
Every other date

The award chart for Asiana Airlines flights is as follows for one-way flights:

Type of TicketRouteEconomy PeakEconomyBusiness PeakBusinessBusiness Smartium Class PeakBusiness Smartium Class
NonstopDomestic Flight7,5005,000– – – – 
Korea ⇄ Japan, China/Northeast Asia22,50015,00033,75022,50037,50025,000
Korea ⇄ Southeast Asia30,00020,00045,00030,00052,50035,000
Korea ⇄ Southwest Asia37,50025,00056,25037,50067,50045,000
Korea ⇄ US, Oceania, Europe52,50035,00078,75052,50093,75062,500
Connecting via South KoreaJapan ⇄ China/Northeast Asia33,75022,50045,00030,00052,50035,000
Japan, China/Northeast Asia ⇄ Southeast Asia41,25027,50052,50035,00063,75042,500
Japan, China/Northeast Asia ⇄ Southwest Asia45,00030,00060,00040,00075,00050,000
Japan, China/Northeast Asia ⇄ US, Oceania56,25037,50082,50055,000101,25067,500
Japan, China/Northeast Asia ⇄ Europe56,25037,50082,50055,000101,25067,500
Southeast Asia ⇄ Europe63,75042,50093,75062,500116,25077,500
Southeast Asia ⇄ Southwest Asia52,50035,00078,75052,50097,50065,000
Southeast Asia ⇄ US, Oceania63,75042,50093,75062,500116,25077,500
Southwest Asia ⇄ US, Oceania71,25047,500105,00070,000131,25087,500
Oceania ⇄ US78,75052,500120,00080,000150,000100,000
Oceania ⇄ Europe78,75052,500120,00080,000150,000100,000

For example, let’s say you want to fly from Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) via Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on Asiana Airlines, using Asiana Club miles, departing on July 3, 2022, and returning on August 10, 2022. The first segment is the peak season, while the returning segment is during the off-peak season.

Furthermore, these flights have Business Smartium Class installed, which is Asiana’s best long-haul business class seat. This means that you’ll pay 150,000 miles plus 100,000 miles for the returning flight during off-peak season. You’ll definitely want to be careful to avoid peak season if you can since a 50% price hike is huge.

Bottom Line: Asiana Airlines raises prices for peak season award tickets by 50% across the board. Therefore, if flying on Asiana Airlines while redeeming Asiana Airlines miles, you should book off-peak tickets when you can. 

British Airways

British Airways
Image Credit: British Airways

British Airways employs a distance-based award chart with multiple zone brackets. In addition, there’s off-peak and peak pricing. British Airways also has multiple award charts, but British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus are the only airlines eligible for off-peak pricing.

British Airways’ peak and off-peak dates for 2021 and 2022are as follows:

Off-Peak Dates:

  • January 7 – February 11, 2021
  • February 16-18, 2021
  • February 23 – March 25, 2021
  • April 15, 2021
  • April 20 – May 26, 2021
  • June 1-3, 2021
  • June 7 – July 3, 2021
  • July 6, 2021
  • August 10, 2021
  • August 17, 2021
  • September 7 – October 14, 2021
  • October 19-21, 2021
  • October 26-28, 2021
  • November 1 – December 11, 2021
  • January 12 – February 4, 2022
  • February 6-10, 2022
  • February 15-17, 2022
  • February 22-25, 2022
  • February 27 – March 25, 2022
  • April 4-6, 2022
  • April 11-13, 2022
  • April 20 – May 26, 2022
  • June 1, 2022
  • June 7-10, 2022
  • June 13-16, 2022
  • June 20-23, 2022
  • June 27-July 3, 2022
  • July 5-6, 2022
  • July 12-13, 2022
  • July 19-20, 2022
  • July 26-27, 2022
  • August 1-3, 2022
  • August 8-10, 2022
  • August 15-17, 2022
  • August 22-24, 2022
  • September 7-9, 2022
  • September 12-16, 2022
  • September 19-23, 2022
  • September 26 – October 14, 2022
  • October 19-20, 2022
  • October 25-28, 2022
  • November 1- December 9, 2022
  • December 14, 2022
  • December 26, 2022

Peak Dates:

  • January 1-6, 2021
  • February 12-15, 2021
  • February 19-22, 2021
  • March 26-31, 2021
  • April 1-14, 2021
  • April 16-19, 2021
  • May 27-31, 2021
  • June 4-6, 2021
  • July 4-5, 2021
  • July 7 – August 9, 2021
  • August 11-16, 2021
  • August 18 – September 6, 2021
  • October 15-18, 2021
  • October 22-25, 2021
  • October 29-31, 2021
  • December 12-13, 2021
  • December 15, 2021 – January 11, 2022
  • February 5, 2022
  • February 11-14, 2022
  • February 18-21, 2022
  • February 26, 2022
  • March 26 – April 3, 2022
  • April 7-10, 2022
  • April 14-19, 2022
  • May 27-31, 2022
  • June 2-6, 2022
  • June 11-12, 2022
  • June 17-19, 2022
  • June 24-26, 2022
  • July 4, 2022
  • July 7-11, 2022
  • July 14-18, 2022
  • July 21-25, 2022
  • July 28-31, 2022
  • August 4-7, 2022
  • August 11-14, 2022
  • August 18-21, 2022
  • August 25 – September 6, 2022
  • September 10-11, 2022
  • September 17-18, 2022
  • September 24-25, 2022
  • October 15-18, 2022
  • October 21-24, 2022
  • October 29-31, 2022
  • December 10-13, 2022
  • December 15-25, 2022
  • December 27-31, 2022

British Airways’ peak and off-peak calendars consist of wide bands, but they also contain multiple single date occurrences for off-peak dates. Once you’ve identified the seasonality of your travel dates, you’ll want to figure out how much your flight will cost.

To accomplish this, you’ll also need to figure out what the total distance of your flight is. Great Circle Mapper is a valid resource to gauge your flight distance.

Zone (Miles)EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
Off-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeak
Zone 1 (1-650)4,0004,5005,7506,7507,7509,00015,50018,000
Zone 2 (651-1,151)6,5007,5009,50011,25012,75015,00025,50030,000
Zone 3 (1,152-2,000)8,50010,00012,75015,00017,00020,00034,00040,000
Zone 4 (2,001-3,000)10,00012,50020,00025,00031,25037,50042,50050,000
Zone 5 (3,001-4,000)13,00020,00026,00040,00050,00060,00068,00080,000
Zone 6 (4,001-5,500)16,25025,00032,50050,00062,50075,00085,000100,000
Zone 7 (5,501-6,500)19,50030,00039,00060,00075,00090,000102,000120,000
Zone 8 (6,501-7,000)22,75035,00045,50070,00087,500105,000119,000140,000
Zone 9 (7,001+)32,50050,00065,000100,000125,000150,000170,000200,000

Let’s take an example flight from Boston (BOS) to London-Heathrow (LHR) in British Airways first class on March 15, 2022. Since this date falls into the off-peak category and the flight distance is 3,265 miles according to Great Circle Mapper, you will pay 68,000 Avios for this flight. This represents a savings of 12,000 Avios compared to a peak flight.

Hot Tip: See our guides on the top ways to earn lots of British Airways Avios, and then make sure you’re redeeming them for the best value possible!

Iberia

Iberia
Image Credit: Iberia

Iberia is Spain’s flag carrier. The airline happens to be owned by the same company that owns British Airways and Aer Lingus (discussed in earlier sections of this guide), but interestingly, the peak and off-peak calendars don’t match when using Avios from different frequent flyer programs.

Additionally, Iberia uses peak and off-peak dates for flights on Iberia, Iberia Express, and Iberia Regional/Air Nostrum. For all other airlines, a different award chart will apply and seasonality is not used.

The 2021 off-peak and peak dates are as follows:

Off-Peak Dates:

  • January 13, 2021 – March 25, 2021
  • March 28-30, 2021
  • April 6-29, 2021
  • May 2, 2021
  • May 4-24, 2021
  • May 27-28, 2021
  • May 30 – June 9, 2021
  • June 12-17, 2021
  • September 13 – October 7, 2021
  • October 10-11, 2021
  • October 13-21, 2021
  • October 24-28, 2021
  • November 2-4, 2021
  • November 8, 2021
  • November 10 – December 2, 2021
  • December 5-7, 2021
  • December 9-11, 2021
  • December 13-15, 2021
  • December 21-23, 2021
  • December 28-28, 2021

Peak Dates:

  • January 13, 2021 – March 25, 2021
  • March 28-30, 2021
  • April 6-29, 2021
  • May 2, 2021
  • May 4-24, 2021
  • May 27-28, 2021
  • May 30 – June 9, 2021
  • June 12-17, 2021
  • September 13 – October 7, 2021
  • October 10-11, 2021
  • October 13-21, 2021
  • October 24-28, 2021
  • November 2-4, 2021
  • November 8, 2021
  • November 10 – December 2, 2021
  • December 5-7, 2021
  • December 9-11, 2021
  • December 13-15, 2021
  • December 21-23, 2021
  • December 28-29, 2021

Since Iberia uses off-peak and peak pricing only on its own flights, we’re going to be referencing the award chart for Iberia flights only.

Here’s the Iberia Avios award chart for flights on Iberia:

DistanceEconomy BlueFull Fare EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
MilesOff-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeakOff-PeakPeak
0 – 6504,5005,0006,7507,500N/AN/A9,00010,000
651 – 1,1507,5008,25011,25012,500N/AN/A15,00016,500
1,151 – 2,00010,00011,00015,00016,500N/AN/A20,00022,000
2,001 – 3,00011,00012,50016,00018,750N/AN/A21,25031,250
3,001 – 4,00017,00020,00022,00028,00025,50035,00034,00050,000
4,001 – 5,50021,25025,00027,75035,00031,75043,75042,50062,500
5,501 – 6,50025,50030,00033,25042,00038,25052,50051,00075,000
6,501 – 7,00029,75035,00038,75049,00044,25061,25059,50087,500
7,000+42,50050,00055,25070,00063,75087,50085,000125,000
Exceptions
Air ShuttleN/AN/A6,2506,250N/AN/A13,50013,500
Madrid-London6,5007,5009,75011,250N/AN/A12,75015,000

For example, if you’re planning on flying in business class from San Francisco (SFO) to Madrid (MAD) on September 23, 2021, then you’ll be paying for an off-peak business class award for a flight that spans 5,811 miles. This corresponds to a 51,000 Avios price, which is significantly cheaper than the 75,000 Avios for a peak award.

Korean Air

Korean Air
Image Credit: Korean Air

Just like its main competitor airline Asiana Airlines, Korean Air uses peak and off-peak pricing. Korean Air SKYPASS is a fantastic program to redeem miles on, with plenty of options ranging from Korean Air first class to Etihad First Class Apartments.

Although there aren’t very many ways to accrue Korean Air miles from transferable points, there are still great ways to earn lots of Korean Air SKYPASS miles.

Korean Air employs a region-based award chart. Also, one-way flight redemptions are only allowed on Korean Air. For all partners, you must book round-trip if you want to use miles.

Hot Tip: Korean Air is one of the few airlines that still operates the A380. Check out our review of Korean Air’s A380 first class.

To determine whether or not your flights fall into peak season, you’ll need to know the route and the travel dates. Peak dates for Korean Air are:

OriginDestination2021 Peak Dates2022 Peak Dates
KoreaKoreaJanuary 1-3, 2021
February 1-15, 2021
February 20 – March 1, 2021
May 1-5, 2021
May 15-19, 2021
July 24 – August 21, 2021
September 18-23, 2021
December 31, 2021
January 1, 2022
January 29 – February 3, 2022
February 20 – March 1, 2022
May 4-8, 2022
June 4-6, 2022
July 23 – August 21, 2022
September 8-13, 2022
October 1-3, 2022
December 31, 2022
Korea, Africa, Europe, Middle East, Africa, OceaniaKorea, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Oceania, Africa, North AmericaJanuary 1-10, 2021
February 5-6, 2021
February 10-14, 2021
July 9 – August 15, 2021
September 17-25, 2021
December 29-31, 2021
January 1-10, 2022
January 28 – February 6, 2022
July 16 – August 7, 2022
August 20 – September 4, 2022
September 8-12, 2022
December 29-31, 2022
North AmericaKorea, Asia, Oceania, North America, South AmericaMay 17 – June 29, 2021
August 1-14, 2021
December 9-22, 2021
May 13-15, 2022
May 19 – June 28, 2022
August 8-14, 2022
October 7-9, 2022
December 9-21, 2022

Korean Air’s round-trip award chart is as follows (one-way awards are half the price):

RoutesSeasonEconomyPrestigeFirst
Domestic within KoreaOff10,00012,000
Peak15,00018,000
KoreaJapan, China/Northeast AsiaOff30,00045,00065,000
Peak45,00065,00095,000
Southeast AsiaOff40,00070,00090,000
Peak60,000105,000135,000
Southwest AsiaOff50,00090,000115,000
Peak75,000135,000175,000
North America, Oceania, Europe/Middle East/AfricaOff70,000125,000160,000
Peak105,000185,000240,000
JapanChina/Northeast AsiaOff40,00060,00090,000
Peak60,00090,000135,000
Southeast AsiaOff50,00070,00090,000
Peak75,000105,000135,000
Southwest AsiaOff60,00090,000115,000
Peak90,000135,000175,000
North America, Oceania, Europe/Middle East/AfricaOff70,000125,000160,000
Peak105,000185,000240,000
China/Northeast AsiaSoutheast AsiaOff50,00070,00090,000
Peak75,000105,000135,000
Southwest AsiaOff60,00090,000115,000
Peak90,000135,000175,000
North America, Oceania, Europe/Middle East/AfricaOff70,000125,000160,000
Peak105,000185,000240,000
Southeast AsiaSouthwest AsiaOff70,000125,000160,000
Peak105,000185,000240,000
North America, Oceania, Europe/Middle East/AfricaOff85,000150,000190,000
Peak125,000225,000285,000
Southwest AsiaNorth America, Oceania, Europe/Middle East/AfricaOff95,000170,000210,000
Peak140,000255,000315,000
OceaniaNorth America, Europe, Middle East/AfricaOff110,000195,000240,000
Peak165,000290,000360,000
Southwest AsiaSouthwest Asia*Off25,00045,00060,000
Peak37,50067,50090,000

*Direct flights only

If flying from New York City (JFK) to Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on Korean Air first class on December 17, 2022, your flight will fall into peak season. For this, you’ll pay 120,000 Korean Air miles one-way compared to 80,000 Korean Air miles for off-peak travel.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic
Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic employs off-peak and peak seasons for Virgin Atlantic flights only, so they are not applicable to airlines like All Nippon Airways. Furthermore, Virgin Atlantic splits up seasonality calendars between Caribbean routes and all others.

For Caribbean routes, the 2021 and early 2022 off-peak season consists of the following date ranges:

  • March 8-28, 2021
  • April 20 – July 13, 2021
  • September 6 – October 14, 2021
  • October 27 – December 10, 2021
  • March 7-16, 2022

On the other hand, Caribbean peak dates are:

  • January 1 – March 7, 2021
  • March 29 – April 19, 2021
  • July 14 – September 5, 2021
  • October 15-26, 2021
  • December 11, 2021 – March 6, 2022

The rest of Virgin Atlantic flights follow these off-peak dates:

  • January 6, 2021 – March 25, 2021
  • April 20 – June 18, 2021
  • September 6, 2021 – October 14, 2021
  • October 27 – December 10, 2021
  • January 6 – March 26, 2022

Lastly, the peak dates for Virgin Atlantic’s non-Caribbean flights are:

  • January 1-5, 2021
  • March 26 – April 19, 2021
  • June 19 – September 5, 2021
  • October 15-26, 2021
  • December 11, 2021 – January 5, 2022

Flights on Virgin Atlantic can be significantly cheaper if planning during off-peak dates. Here’s the Virgin Atlantic award chart for one-way, off-peak season bookings:

Route To/From U.K.Economy ClassicPremiumUpper Class
U.S. — Northeast (Boston, Newark, New York-JFK, Washington, DC)10,00017,50047,500
U.S. — Midwest and South (Atlanta, Miami, Orlando)12,50022,50047,500
U.S. — West (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle)15,00027,50067,500
Africa, China, and Hong Kong12,50022,50057,500
Caribbean10,00017,50057,500
India10,00017,50037,500
Tel Aviv9,00016,00028,000

And here’s the Virgin Atlantic award chart for one-way peak season bookings:

Route To/From U.K.Economy ClassicPremiumUpper Class
U.S. – Northeast (Boston, Newark, New York-JFK, Washington, DC)20,00027,50057,500
U.S. – Midwest and South (Atlanta, Miami, Orlando)22,50032,50057,500
U.S. – West (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle)25,00035,00077,500
Africa, China, and Hong Kong22,50032,50057,500
Caribbean20,00027,50067,500
India20,00027,50047,500
Tel Aviv11,00020,00033,000

Let’s take an example flight from London-Heathrow (LHR) to Las Vegas (LAS), which is on the U.S. West Coast. If you book a flight during peak season in Upper Class, you’ll pay 77,500 miles, as opposed to the off-peak price of 67,500 miles.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are a lot of airlines that have unique peak and off-peak season policies. For the most part, airlines tend to limit the price variation from seasonality to their own airlines. For example, Asiana Airlines levies peak surcharges only on flights operated by Asiana and not on any other carriers.

An exception to this would be American Airlines AAdvantage, which makes off-peak pricing in economy available on partner airlines such as British Airways.

Keeping track of peak dates and booking travel flexibly to avoid peak season is a recipe for conserving your hard-earned points and miles. As a result, you’ll want to confirm that you’re getting the best value redemption prior to committing to a flight.

Now, you have a one-stop-shop for a guide on the airlines that carry peak and off-peak policies for award bookings. Happy booking!


Frequently asked questions

What time is off-peak for flights?

Off-peak travel times vary by airline, route, and dates. Each airline has defined separate date ranges for off-peak seasons where a flight will cost fewer miles.

What is Economy MileSAAver?

Economy MileSAAver is American Airlines’ economy ticket that uses the fewest miles. If you want to maximize your savings, you’ll want to travel in Economy MileSAAver off-peak, which is even cheaper than Economy MileSAAver.

What is off-peak travel?

Off-peak travel is defined as traveling at a time where there is less than maximum demand. Some off-peak travel ideas would be to fly to Europe during the winter months of January through March.

What is peak travel?

Peak travel is defined as the period of travel in which there is maximum demand. You’ll often see large crowds, expensive hotel prices, and more expensive airplane tickets.

Is off-peak cheaper than peak?

Off-peak is almost always cheaper than peak travel. Because airlines don’t expect to sell out their seats, they release “cheaper” seats that you can use miles for. Also, the mileage price is cheaper during off-peak compared to peak. The exact discount varies from airline to airline, so you’ll need to reference one of the airlines above to figure out how much cheaper it is to travel during peak dates with points.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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