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UA FF vs. AA/BA FF miles awards

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Ok its been quite a while since I cashed in a FF award to travel to Europe or Asia. I was going to use my BA FF miles for two tickets to Paris until I saw that they were going to charge me $1,000. Ok so I switched to AA FF miles and these guys wanted $600 each to cash in a ff award trip to Europe. Now I looked on United and these guys were more reasonable- only $50 each to use a ff award to Asia. Can someone explain to me why people would travel on AA or BA with these type of charges for ff mile awards? Used to be that as long as you had the accrued miles the flights were free- now some of these airlines are gouging their best customers - and for me driving me away from AA and BA to United.

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