A little help and advice please

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by terridiz, Jun 10, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. terridiz

    terridiz Active Member

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    Hello everyone! In 2014 the hubby and I are planning to go with my parents to Europe sometime between August and October. We will be on a London/Paris group tour so I don't know the dates for the itinerary as they aren't out yet. We want to fly into Inverness a couple of days early before joining the group.

    We could fly out of FLL, MIA or PBI we would like to fly into INV for a couple of days then from there into LHR to join the group which will wind up in Paris via rail and then we would fly out of CDG back home. In a perfect world the 4 of us would like to travel business or first on an award ticket on the same flight. We would prefer to not pay fees that are as high as BA. None of us are FF but I am learning about the CC sign up bonuses.

    Ok, so here is where I need the advice with respect to the above information. Which airline should we concentrate on accumulation of miles via CC sign up bonuses that would be most likely allow that itinerary and would have the best possibility for award ticket availability with 4 seats on the same flight?

    I understand that some of the FF experts also offer award booking services. But I read on FT that a few are not responding to inquiries and perhaps may no longer be offering these services even though their web sites are up. Are there any current reputable booking services that you would recommend? Once I know the actual dates of our trip, how much advance notice would an expert award consultant need to increase the chance of success?

    Thanks for any help you can give. My parents have never been to Europe and have never flown first class. We've never flown first class either so we would really like to make this the trip of a lifetime for them if at all possible.
     
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  2. SOLTATIO

    SOLTATIO Silver Member

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    Good for you that you are planning so far in advance and getting the pieces in to place early. That is how great awards are realised. As for CC's, I'm not based in the States, so can't give much advice, but I would advise you to read some of the blogs by the pros and how they use/rate each card. Maybe look at ThePointsGuy http://thepointsguy.com/credit-cards/airline/, or View from the Wing http://boardingarea.com/blogs/viewfromthewing/best-current-deals-offers/, for their recommendations on CC's.
    As for rewards, you could probably contact Lucky from One Mile at a Time at http://pointspros.com/. I haven't used him but I have heard good things. Award seats normally become available at about 330days out from your preferred flying date, so you should try to have the miles ready to book by then. I'm sure some of these pros can give you more advice on that. Also, look at what airlines fly out of you region. If I remember correctly, Miami is an American Airlines Hub so that might be what you are looking at. Or collect points that can transfer to any airline or any Alliance.
    Good luck!
     
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  3. tondoleo
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    tondoleo Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP Terridiz.

    The good news is that by the time you will book your ticket some time in 2013 you will know all that is necessary for your trip.

    AA and BA are in the OW alliance. Both have nonstops to LHR from MIA. BA flies nonstop to INV from LHR.
    AA has a nonstop from CDG to MIA.

    A simple solution would be joining AA and accumulating miles from them via their branded Citibank cc's and from a Amex SPG card. As you may know when your transfer SPG points to AA you get a 25% bonus.

    I suggest you do a lot of research and converse with folks in the BA and AA threads. The F and J product on BA is consdered better than AA. However, in 2014 it may be different.

    Good luck.
     
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  4. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    4 seats in F is going to be difficult. Some might even say impossible.

    Flying into INV might also present a problem, even though I think Lufthansa flies out there. To make this work, you might need to not only adjust your destination, but you might need to adjust your origin (what's known as positioning flights). Depending on the alliance/airline that you choose to concentrate on, you might have better luck flying out of somewhere else (some might say anywhere else).

    My approach -- and it's probably not the best by far -- would be to start bulking up on US miles to use them for Star Alliance awards. They are relatively easy to accumulate between the bonus miles on purchases and promos like the Grand Slam. Hell, if you and everyone involved participate in GS2012 -- assuming there's one this year -- that should be enough for a Low award on United metal around your timeframe.
     
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  5. terridiz

    terridiz Active Member

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    Thank you Soltatio. If Lucky is still doing award booking then I will certainly utilize his expertise. Good to know that I should be looking 330 days out. I have been reading the above blogs, lurking here and on FT and am putting all the advice to good use. I just wasn't sure about which airline would give me the best probability for 4 award tickets. I did get the AA card though since Miami is an AA hub.


    Oh boy, it's looking like we won't be able to avoid the BA fees ugh. We've joined AA and I did get their Citi AA card. SPG is on the list of cards to get soon. I don't want to get caught up not being able to meet the spend, so I am holding off before applying while I finish the spend on the AA Citi card.

    Now, with the above itinerary, since I am flying into one city and out of a different one and have a third in there for good measure, would that be what they call an open jaw or stop over? I am still trying to figure out what those are and how they work. My vague understanding is it requires flying into one city and out of another and can be done (depending on the airline) for the cost of one RT or award ticket. This is exactly why I would want Lucky or someone with a clue to help actually book this :confused:

    Why might it be different? Upgrading planes or because of US Air buying AA?


    THAT is what I am afraid of :( Well I'd like to concentrate whichever alliance will have the airlines that would make this task less impossible ;) Planning to do that with regards to US Air and am hoping they will do a GS this year. Now if only I could get an E-rewards invite from them. If/When US Air buys AA aren't they going to go OW? I thought I had read something like that somewhere.

    Thank you everybody for you advice!
     
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  6. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Some will say that 330 days out is not necessary and might actually not show you availability for some carriers, as a good deal of them don't release award seats that far out. Of course it's a good idea to look early and often, and if you see anything jump in, but it's entirely possible that you might not.

    And again, I have been told that 4 seats is quite the feat, so you might need to consider splitting up -- say 2 in one airline, 2 in another, or even 2 seats one day and 2 the next, since you wouldn't want to do 2 in F and 2 in Y.

    You can meet the spend, trust me. :) If you have to buy washing machines at Sears and reselling them for a marginal loss, or paying fees to pay your car note via chargesmart, you can meet the spend. If you can get the cards, get them and churn. Don't let any spending requirement stop you. :)

    I wouldn't count on a US/AA merger, or even a GS2012. That would be nice to have, but you should assume you're gonna have to find the miles "the hard way".

    And again, because of the fact you need 4 seats, don't be afraid to split up if you need to. Maybe work OW for 2 seats on one carrier and *A for 2 seats on another. Most people would say this is a bad idea (and it is) but considering what you need, that might be the only way for everyone to go at the same time -- and even then that might be iffy.
     
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  7. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    We traveled on BA first last year in first with 4 award tickets using American miles. Your best bet might be to go to LHR first and then due a round trip to INV. Citibank has several different AA cards and you can usually get at least two at a time if you apply the same day. You can also apply for the Amex starwood cards (business and personal) as they usually have decent bonuses and those can transfer to AA at the rate of 1 to 1 or for every 20,000 points transferred you will get a 5,000 point bonus.
     
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  8. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    If you do not get all the miles you need, there are people who book award flights at the rate of two cents per mile. If you need a referral, send me a private message and I will give you the number of a friend who does that on a regular basis.
     
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  9. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Not on BA. I just booked four on a same flight on ba in F during the week between Christmas and New Years. It is possible. However, there will be fees and surcharges. Much of the charges are the London luxury tax, so can't be fully avoided by using other carriers.

    To get that sort of miles count, though, the op should get two BA cards now...one for themselves and one for spouse...to get the 2x100k bonuses. This promo will like end soon. Act today.

    With the 2-4-1, if you can put $30k on each card, you'll get a 2-4-1 coupon good for miles seats. Two cards, two coupons.

    This is probably the easiest way to go from zero to 4@ba f.

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
     
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  10. LizzyDragon84
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    LizzyDragon84 Gold Member

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    The itinerary of FL-INV-LHR and then heading to CDG by train and then flying LHR-FL has both a stopover and a open-jaw in it. A stopover is usually defined as a stop longer then 24 hours along the way to the final destination. An open-jaw is more like a triangle with a side missing. It's flying from City A to City B, then traveling by some other method to City C, then flying back to City A.

    Whether stopovers and/or open-jaws are allowed on an award ticket varies by airline.

    Also, another award booking service that's still accepting clients is the folks over at Upgrd.com (http://upgrd.com/awards/). The folks there have a great deal of travel experience (one of them has worked directly for the Star Alliance) and know the tricks of the trade. They would be another option to consider. Good luck with the trip planning! :)
     
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  11. perryplatypus

    perryplatypus Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP
     
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  12. terridiz

    terridiz Active Member

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    I wouldn't be adverse to splitting up between 2 in F and 2 in J but again that would only be if there's no way around it. I definitely don't want to do 2 carriers.
    I've read a few creative ways of meeting the spend and there is one I am putting to use once per month. Not sure how I would buy and resell a washer though LOL Will look into chargesmart for paying my car though. Thanks!
    Not counting on anything the easy way but will make use of whatever comes along.

    I hadn't thought of that. For a while I was thinking I'd just fly into LHR and then go to INV and back on Ryan air but was afraid the baggage nazis would turn what is supposed to be an awesomesauce trip into a headache :rolleyes: I have a few previous cards cards with Citi and am at their CL limit so the 2 browser thing would not have worked for me. At the time I started doing my homework the 50K offer was gone. I did call in to reinstate some lost miles and was offered a 40K card for 3K spend in 3 months. I applied for it and still had to call the reconsideration number to get approved by moving around my credit with them. I will definitely do the SPG cards.

    Thanks! I will be sending you a PM just in case :D

    That's good to know that it is at least do-able!
    In theory and for some people yes, definitely the easiest way to go from 0-4. There is no way I can make the 30K spend on one card, much less both cards. At the moment I've got 6 cards with Chase having just been approved for the United card 55K plus $50 statement credit and had to call recon for that one and move credit around. I was planning to wait 90 days and apply for the Sapphire Preferred since I have their checking account and the Freedom card, why not make use of the trifecta there. I am planning to use the UR points and United card miles for a straigh forward round trip in 2013 for hubby and I that is a much less daunting itinerary (FLL - EDI) than the 2014 trip with the parental unit. Either way, I still gotta get planning for that 2014 trip. From all the advice I am getting here it looks like I should focus on AA/BA/OW as my best bet for that 2014 trip.

    If I use AA miles to fly BA will we still have the same chances of getting award tix as if they were BA miles and will we avoid the BA taxes/sur charges since we are using AA miles?


    Thank you Lizzydragon for explaining that to me! That makes sense to me now. Hopefully they are allowed on AA. I will look into that. Thank you for letting me know UPGRD is still doing this.

    You are all very helpful and I really appreciate it! Thank you SO much everybody!!!! :D
     
  13. LizzyDragon84
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    LizzyDragon84 Gold Member

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    AA has an odd stopover rule- you can have a stopover, but only at the North American gateway. So for example if you flew FLL-ORD-XXX (xxx being outside of N. America)-LHR, you could stop over at ORD since it's the gateway city but not XXX. You would have to choose between XXX or LHR. So if you want to get to both LHR and INV, you'll have to book a second ticket.

    I'm not sure offhand what the AA rules are on open jaws.

    Thanks for checking out MP and I'm glad we can help clear up some confusion.
     
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  14. TennisPro
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    TennisPro Silver Member

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    NYBanker's advice to get the 100K Chase BA card, one for you and one for your spouse, is excellent.

    You can meet a $30K spending requirement for 0.5%, or $150, by using US Bank VisaBuxx cards.

    Just getting that one card for each of you, and doing the spend, will get you enough for 4 award seats in BA First, on a carrier that actually regularly offers 4 award seats in First.

    AA should have the same inventory of award seats on BA, so it doesn't matter which points you use. Sadly, you can't avoid the BA surcharges by using AA miles.

    You can avoid the surcharges by using AerLingus with your Avios, but getting four award seats will be tough. On BA, it should be relatively easy to get 4 award seats in First. That is the bright side of the hefty surcharges... better availability.

    Here is some more info on the Chase BA cards, and an excellent blog in general...

    http://millionmilesecrets.com/2012/...12-a-different-british-air-100000-mile-offer/

    http://millionmilesecrets.com/2012/...le-credit-card-60000-point-thank-you-premier/
     
  15. terridiz

    terridiz Active Member

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    Thank you! :)


    Ugh, that seems like more hassle than it is worth.


    Thank you! I found some old threads on the VisaBuxx and will definitely look into that as an option.
     
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