Nobody Asks: What’s the Award Ticket Will Cost You the Most Miles for the Shortest Distance?

I know that everyone is trying to get the best value for their frequent flyer miles, but I was wondering what was the absolute worst way to use your miles for a flight.

Before I answer, I realize that there are two ways of looking at this. One is saying what’s the most miles you could spend in lieu of spending the least amount of money. That’s less interesting to me because fares change all the time.

Instead, I wanted to know what’s the least distance you can travel for the most amount of points. I have no idea why I wanted to know this, but there ya go. Drumroll please:

For a business class award ticket using Delta Skymiles on SkyTeam partner Kenya Airways’ flight 550 from Brazzaville to Kinshasa, you’ll be using 100,000 miles for a 16 mile flight. A coach ticket will cost you 60,000 miles for an intra-Africa award on the 16 mile journey. Even for Skymiles, that’s impressive.

If you were looking for the worst value from the U.S., Continental Airlines’ Ft Lauderdale to Bimini flight will cost 35,000 miles in coach for a 61 mile, 30 minute trip. Solid.

(correction: an earlier version of this post said you could use Skymiles for high-level award tickets on partners. As Gary pointed out in the comments, you can only use Skymiles on low-level award tickets.)


  1. Jared, partner awards can only be booked at the low/saver level. Delta cannot book a ‘high’ award on Kenya Airways.

  2. This is actually a good topic to research, for the purpose of finding the lowest value possible for miles, to justify an FMV valuation for a 1099 given for earning miles for a checking account, won in a prize etc. Keep the horrible redemptions coming! :)