Just back from Europe. Booking awards flights during the Summer was not an easy task. We really had to get creative with the itinerary but we did it. In the past I’ve been shut out on using Avios to book short hops. And now I’m trying to book travel during spring break…again good luck to me unless I want to spend 60k/ticket.
So what are your tips for planning travel and using miles? Is there a site that suggests routes and dates that have more award seats?
Be flexible and keep checking are the only tips I have. I booked a trip last September to go to Paris this past July. We had to fly into Amsterdam and out of Geneva to get two business class tickets around the dates we needed. I’m working on spring break now, but the airlines know the calendar, too, and there’s little available at the lower miles level. I finally found a routing through Toronto for a Caribbean trip … just a little out of the way from Houston. I booked those flights but will check back frequently for something better.
I think there some tools (expertflyer ?) that can check specific routing and alert you if something becomes available, but I haven’t used any of them.
Know which routes to check, be flexible if possible, check early and often.
My wife and I have a round the world trip booked for next year through Paris and Hong Kong, all on AA miles, all F saver awards. It took about 2 months to book everything from when the schedule first opened up. Also, if you can lock in something decent or a class lower than you want, book it and keep checking for something better to open. Airlines will usually open up more space as the departure date gets closer and some like Cathay religiously open up award space a few days before departure.
There are award booking services out there that will monitor space and even book your ticket for you. I have not used these services but they are generally priced in the $100-$200 per passenger range.
It depends on where and when you want to go. It’s easy to generalize. I almost booked 2 seats HKG/ICN on Cathay using my BA Avios points in November. And believe it or not, I did a dummy booking using Avios to fly AA LAX/HNL. Both flights are November departures. Jay is right about one thing YMMV (your mileage may vary).
2 RT F tickets to Maldives via Singapore on Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines (intra asia in biz not first)
2 RT Biz tickets to Rome/Venice/Paris on Alitlalia and Air France
2 RT Biz tickets to Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui
and next year’s awards so far:
2 RT F tickets to South Korea and Vietnam via Asiana (intra asia is biz, not first)
2 RT Biz ticktes to Amsterdam, Naples and Rome via Air France and Alitalia
But I put enough time in accruing and redeeming miles that its like a second job.
Flexibility is key for saver tickets, which I don’t have. Also, I need 3 award tickets and usually at peak times in summer, spring break or holidays when my daughter is out of school. Those are tough. F & J to popular destinations during peak times is hard enough for one person, 2 is very difficult, 3 next to impossible. And I won’t fly out of my way just to sit in F or J. The only times I’ve been successful is last min tickets for one person due to a family emergency. I’ve given up on the miles game as I just don’t have the flexibility in my schedule and fly with my family. I won’t split us up on different metal just to use miles.
Now, using points for hotels have been much easier. As long as I can get 2 cents or above for hotels, I’m happy.
We’re flying home from Tokyo next spring. I wanted 3 saver awards on AA in Business. No luck, even after trying every day for a month. It finally dawned on me to try various combinations. What I eventually booked was 2 seats in first, and 1 seat in business to DFW. Now before you start patting me on the back, it was next to impossible to get those seats on the same flights. It took me every day for a week until something opened up with a decent routing. There were many bad options >>> NRT/DFW/CLT or MIA to LGA.
My wife and I will fly home DFW/ EWR, and my adult daughter will fly DFW/ LGA. We had flexibility and patience. We’re flying off-peak.
That’s exactly what I mean. You are a miles vet and have played this game for a long time. Look how hard it was for you who knows all the tricks and can fly off peak and has flexibility. I remember Weinberg asking about possible saver award seats in F or J going from LAX to CDG, but he wanted a direct flight and his schedule wasn’t flexible. That’s almost impossible unless you got super lucky and booked a yr in advance.
NRT->DFW is a great find for 2 F and 1 J seats. It’s the transpac or transatl that matter for me sitting up front or up top. I can do a domestic flight sitting in cattle car as long as my family has the whole row since my 7 y/o daughter doesn’t take a lot of space and personal space is less an issue sitting with family. But, the person in front of me better not recline their seat…lol, j/k, I don’t mind if he/she reclines, I’m one of the ppl that thinks it’s their right to recline if he/she wants to.
Well it won’t help most of you but Etihad’s programme is excellent, much easier to earn and spend miles than other airlines I have come across (I’m sitting on nearly 2m miles across different programmes).
Using AA miles on Etihad is a nice option and availability is usually pretty good. I was hoping to Fly Etihad CDG to HKG via AUH but the schedule just didnt work out, flying QR’s new A380 in F and CX J via DOH instead.