AwardsBooker helps you to book international first class and business class travel using your own frequent flyer program points or miles.

Thursday
Feb092012

When you find a deal, jump on it!

I wrote in the previous post about how all-of-a-sudden United had opened up business class award space from the West Coast to Sydney. I was able to find up to six business class awards on the same flight. Usually you can’t even find one seat.

It’s possible that United hadn’t intended to offer all that availability and that it was some sort of systems glitch. Maybe they were adding/merging their schedule to Continental’s and forgot to block the business class seats for the November/December time frame.   Oops for them, great for their customers who actually want to use the miles they so diligently earn.

It turns out that it was a limited time offer.  United stopped offering this increased availability a few days ago. I tried doing a dummy booking again and there is nothing to be found.

When you find award availability and it’s almost too good to be true, jump on it. It looks like the seats I actually booked are still good so United is still honoring their goof up – if that’s what it was.  And I have some very happy travelers. 

Monday
Feb062012

Go West my son.

Originally when I started planning the trip there was no award availability using Star Alliance miles going directly to Sydney from the United States. I put on my thinking cap and figured out how to make this happen. The first thing I had to do was get them from a small southern town to Chicago. This was the easy part as almost every day I picked had availability for frequent flyer tickets. The next part was the hard part and required some creative thinking. It turns out that a major asian airline leaves out of Chicago and goes to Seoul South Korea and that same airline goes from Seoul to Sydney and it’s one of the few airlines that offers more than two available award seats when you book award travel on any given flight. So I was able to piece together the Itinerary but there were two plane changes and one was in an asian country.  For three self-admitted country bumpkins that is not an optimal solution. Also on the way back home they would have had to stay a night in Seoul, also not an optimal solution. I mulled this over for a bit and didn’t do anything about it right away because they had time, the trip was still eight months away.

Every so often I would check award availability to make sure that was the only thing open using miles. Then lo and behold sometime last week United opened up award space in Business class from the west coast to Sydney. This is akin to the seas parting and walking to Sydney from the west coast, as in that NEVER happens. I checked several dates and they had availability for three people in Business class on multiple dates going through December, and again that never happens especially for three people traveling together. A couple of emails to the clients later and we had them booked. Total cost, 110,000 US Airways miles and $168 each. If you paid for those tickets the total cost is over $35,000, that is not a misprint. So not only did I get them a more direct route I also saved them about $34,000 dollars. This is how Awardsbooker.com award travel booking service can help you too.

Next posting, now the professionals do it.

Friday
Feb032012

The Sydney success story.

Recently I was tasked to book award travel for five people from the US to Sydney Australia using miles. Now to put this in perspective getting an award flight to Sydney in Business class or Frist class from the US is next to impossible. The airlines know they will sell those seats so they don’t put them out there for award redemptions very often. Sometimes you can get coach but who wants to spend 14 hours flying in coach?

I had two options from the US east coast, going east or going west. Either is a very long trip.  To be able to get all parties to the final destination I had to break up the party traveling. I took the married couple and one of their mothers off west and then took the other married couple east. The main reason for this was that going west only had one plane change and that’s in Los Angeles so it was in the US. Originally I had them going to Seoul Korea but when United opened up Business class seats going direct from Los Angeles to Sydney I snatched them up. The other married couple is going from the east coast to London, then London to Hong Kong (spending a night) and then Hong Kong to Bangkok and finally on to Sydney. Don’t feel bad for them because they’re doing it all in first class flying British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas so getting there is really part of the vacation.

Next posting, some details on how they got these frequent flyer tickets….

Monday
Dec052011

Aeroplan’s Mini Sale on Awards Travel.

It looks like Air Canada’s loyalty program has decided to give us all an early Christmas present. For a limited time you can now book Business class awards at Economy class miles redemptions. You can also book First class awards at Business class miles redemptions. This seems to be an unannounced sale that will last only for a short time and could end at any time.

Aeroplan did a big devaluation of their miles awards chart a couple of months ago. They also started charging fuel surcharges which they didn’t do previously. Aeroplan used to be one of the best loyalty awards programs out there but with these changes I can’t really recommend it anymore. Now with this sale it looks like it might just be worthwhile right now to move your Amex Miles into your Aeroplan account if there is a particular trip you want to take. One example is a business class ticket to Tokyo going through Europe and then back by way of the pacific. This will only set you back 75k miles and about $500 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

If you need help doing this just drop us a line and we’ll be more than happy to do the research and get your trip organized.  Best to hurry though - we don’t know when they are going to stop the sale. 

Wednesday
Nov302011

Another Reason to Avoid BA and London in General

From previous posts I mentioned the devaluation of the BA loyalty program for those traveling outside the UK. I expressed concern over the taxes and fees that are applied to award redemptions and how many times it’s almost as expensive to use miles as it would be to buy the ticket outright. 

Well it looks like it’s going to get even worse on the fees department. The UK will be raising Air Passenger Duty 10% in 2012 with possibly more there after. Read here for all the details.