WASHINGTON - Frequent flyers looking to score some free airfare between now and October should know which airlines are best for redeeming awards - and which are the worst.
Among U.S. carriers, Southwest has the best reward seat availability, according to IdeaWorks, a company that does an annual survey on airline rewards.
So far in 2012, 100 percent of Southwest's reward seats have been available for booking.
In fact, value-oriented airlines - such as Southwest and Air Tran - were rated better on the whole than their more expensive competitors.
Delta and U.S. Airways were at the bottom of the list with just 27 percent and 33 percent of their reward seats available, respectively.
While U.S. Airways was rated poorly, it has shown a moderate improvement from 2011.
United, Jet Blue, Air Tran and British Airways showed improved availability for redeeming awards.
American Airlines, now in bankruptcy reorganization, rated higher than Delta and U.S. Airways, but showed a marked decline from 2011 with availability dropping more than 17 percent.
To conduct the survey, IdeaWorks made more than 6,600 inquiries testing availability on 23 airline websites.
A trend? Points for dollars spent can be more rewarding than points based on miles flown.
See the full report here.
WTOP's Bob Kur contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)