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For airline mileage mavens, Labor Day is the unofficial start date for booking prime holiday and spring-break trips.

Empty seats on a plane

As summer ends, travelers start looking to turn frequent-flier miles into future trips. Photo by Soon.

As summer ends, many travelers begin planning their next year’s worth of vacations—and hunting for the most generous frequent-flier award tickets to get them there.

While new data show how hard that quest can be, there are ways to improve the odds., an automated service that can alert shoppers when award seats open up on particular flights at desired mileage levels, says its average success rate at scoring desired seats has hovered at about 55% to 60% since 2009, said President Chris Lopinto. That’s down from about 70% in 2006 to 2009.

Tags: loyalty, tips