Good thread, markis10.
Note that this thread can be adapted to book any class of Any Seat Award at Classic points level. There is no trick in the technique per se, just in luck of finding such a fare.
It should be noted that in order to be ready for this kind of thing, one must be able to calculate the Classic points cost of a routing and class before they arrive. The "minimum" as stated on the flight selection page (written in red) is only the minimum points (Classic cost) for the cheapest award (i.e. the most direct option in Red e-Deal Economy).
In order to determine the Classic award cost, one can pretend to book a Classic award, find the same routing / class, select it to get the cost, and then go back and proceed to book the ASA. It should be noted that not all Classic routings shown will appear on in the ASA selection and vv. Don't ask why - I don't know.
As for the cash cost after you reduce an ASA from 100% points to minimum points + cash, that will represent one or two things:
- The taxes/fees/surcharges levied for the award (i.e. just as if you had booked a Classic award), and
- (possibly) a "supplement" which is due to the fare bucket of the seat which you are purchasing as an ASA.
For example, for Red e-Deal, there are fare buckets O, N and Q, and as they are stated that is in increasing order of price. If you get the cheapest Red e-Deal as an ASA, you'll pay the smallest cash contribution possible (which should match that of a Classic Award). If not, you'll pay a bit more if it's a higher fare bucket.
In cases where you have to pay a fare bucket "supplement", you'll need to rationalise and decide whether it's still worth paying it in addition to the regular taxes/fees/surcharges.
Note that for Economy ASAs, you'll need to pick the cheapest fare bucket (e.g. Sale, Red e-Deal, or perhaps different if international market) to have any chance of getting a Classic priced award.
The same can apply for Business, except Business typically has fewer buckets so not as variable. In addition, for Business or First awards, especially international, the fare bucket with reasonable (Classic) prices is usually Business Saver or First Saver (not full Business or full First) - these typically have cancellation policies and they will not necessarily be the lowest bucket in their fare type anyway. However, in most cases they can still be great value!