Award Booking Service Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by mapenn, Nov 12, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. mapenn

    mapenn Silver Member

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    My wife and I would like to get from STL to the Philippines over Christmas break to help my friends and their church in the aftermath of the typhoon. I've got moderate amount of points in UR, MR, AA, and Delta. But that kind of award booking is way outside my comfort zone! Can anybody recommend a reputable service for me? Or just some free advise :)
     
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  2. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    I can't help with the award booking service recommendation, but free advice I can offer. (And it's worth every penny you're paying for it! ;))

    You say you want to fly over Christmas break. Just how much flexibility do you have during that period? Award tickets are a lot easier to book (especially Saver tickets) if you can be flexible about your departure and return dates.

    Both Delta and United offer flights to Manila (either directly, or via their partner airlines). Delta only allows round-trip awards, while United offers one-way awards as well, which offers a bit more flexibility. United's award booking engine is very easy to use, while Delta's is the opposite. Why not try the award booking engine on each airline's website first and see what comes up when you search STL-MNL before you rush off to use an award booking service? The key is to find out what international departure city each airline uses for the trans-Pacific part of the award, and hunt for that segment first. You may also find that they don't fly directly into MNL, so you may be looking for (for example) LAX-NRT, then (after you find that flight) tacking on the STL-LAX and NRT-MNL segments.

    Good luck!
     
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  3. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    Post rough point balances, the date range you would like to travel, how much flexibility around those dates you have, and your time/comfort demands. i.e. if someone finds a 47 hour to destination route in coach does that help you?

    Dec. is peak travel time but I'm sure we can help you.
     
  4. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

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    For example, One Person could leave ORD to either Tokyo or ICN (Seoul) on Sunday the 16th arrive on the 17th and then either fly Tokyo -> ICN -> Manila or ICN -> Manila on the 18th, depending on where you overnight, via UA miles. But unfortunately (or maybe luckily) on the ICN -> Manila segment only business is available, so it would take a business class award. With a mandatory night in either Tokyo or Seoul, and that gets you to Manila, so I guess you also need to know your destination if it’s not Manila…
     
  5. mapenn

    mapenn Silver Member

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    Thanks for the offers of help!

    @iolaire -- What I have to work with is: AA(110,000), Delta(75,000), United(60,000), ChaseUR(120,000), AMX MR(110,000). Also have enough Southwest points to stage myself at any US airport if it would help. The window of time I have is probably Dec. 18 - Jan. 3. If I could get 5 nights on the ground during that timeframe, it would be great. Manila would not be my final destination, but I figured I could get a cheap flight from there to Davao Int'l, which would get me closer to where I need to be.

    @moongoddess - you're right, United was the easiest to navigate. I was hopeful that I could find something on AA, but I don't think I am seeing all of the possible partner flights. For example, I know that Philippine Air is a partner, but how do I access their inventory using my AA rewards?

    I guess that is the part of this I don't fully understand. I can plop 130,000 points down right now for a United round trip ticket - and I would be OK with that because it gets me where I need to be in the middle of the busy season. BUT am I missing out on a better value? Maybe something that would allow me to bring my wife along as well? I have not ventured out into international travel yet, so don't want to make a stupid mistake! :)
     
  6. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    Generally for AA awards you can sign up for a free BA account and use that to search, then you have to call into try to get the AA agents to find the same space. I'll do some searches for AA using various oneworld accounts/methods (AA = oneworld) via the paid KVStool. The results look bad for AA. Maybe someone else can come up with options...
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  7. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    It looks like if you search segment by segment on United you can chain together a route that works (because you can go via the EU on united). In coach (low price) I see united ORD - MUC on the 16th, then fly to ICN (via a connection) and on to Manila night of the 18th. I think you could do this route in first/business for ~60-70k one-way if that interests you.

    You will then need to call up united and pay the phone booking fee, and try to get an agent that will string together the route so you get it at the low price. Feel free to explain your mission to the agent so they work hard to make it work with you.

    Try to do the same for your return.
     
  8. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    You may need to call AA in order to find out Philippine Air availability. Unfortunately, looking for award space on oneworld carriers isn't as straightforward as it is for *A carriers (although it's miles ahead of SkyTeam!)

    As for award booking services, I've not used him, but I've heard good things about Gary Leff's service (bookyouraward.com), should you decide you need the help.
     
  9. mapenn

    mapenn Silver Member

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    @iolaire and @moongoddess - you guys were right - AA really didn't have anything. The lady on the phone was real nice, though!

    Delta is actually the easiest to book in this case, with a pretty straight forward route. And United has a good route that I was able to piece together with their partner airlines - thanks to your suggestions! They would work out to about the same number FF miles. The United flights would be a much more comfortable, although the travel time is quite a bit longer. I'll have to act fast to secure something! Need to talk to the boss next....
     
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  10. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Sounds like you have a plan coming along rapidly. Great! And you saved $500 or so by not needing to resort to a booking service, which is also nice.

    And may I say that your use of miles is truly inspiring? Right now the people in the Philippines need all the help they can get, and it's wonderful to see a discussion of award ticket booking that doesn't revolve around beach vacations for a change.
     
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  11. mapenn

    mapenn Silver Member

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    Well, I pulled the trigger! As it turned out, Delta was the way for me to go. This is perfect for me because I have had a hard time finding a way to use my Delta points - so I won't really miss them! I did transfer over a chunk of MR points - and that was a simple, instant process. The Delta website was giving me, without having to drill-down search, my best options right up front. Calling the Delta rep confirmed that for me, so I felt confident that i was not using up any more points than necessary. Actually, right before I pulled the trigger, an even better route popped up in the list of choices for just a few thousand additional miles. I feel a little guilty flying business class to a mission trip, but it really wasn't that much more and I have a better chance of being somewhat rested when I arrive back home to my kids and wife on Christmas eve.

    I think the beauty of this "hobby" is that it allowed me to be in a position where I can give money AND travel across the world to lend a hand. Thank you guys for the encouragement and advise!
     
  12. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Glad to hear you got the ticket you needed! And flying business class isn't selfish in the slightest, or an indulgent use of miles: the better rested you are during the long flight, the more effective you'll be when the plane lands (both in the Philippines, and later at home).

    I couldn't agree more. Collecting miles is about getting us where we need to go when we need to go there.
     
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  13. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    Very cool on all fronts. Hoping your trip is hugely meaningful--I'm sure it will be. Safe travels!
     
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  14. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    Don't feel guilty about flying business. You will be much more effective on the ground if you have a relaxed restful trip. Godspeed on your mission :)
     
  15. mapenn

    mapenn Silver Member

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    One credit card that has come in real handy for this trip has been the Barclay's Arrival card. I am using it's cash redemption benefit to pay for the little inter-island flights that me and my friends will be taking. It's only $50-$80 here and there, but it's nice to know that those expenses are covered. Also my annual "free" night with IHG came due last week, so I was able to cover the housing I needed in Manila for one night. What a cool hobby, eh?
     
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  16. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Indeed, it's a very cool hobby. Especially when it lets you do more good than you'd otherwise be able to afford to do. :D
     
  17. Alex (Easy Award Booking)

    Alex (Easy Award Booking) Member

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    Hi All, I have just set up a new site aimed at Canadian and to overcome those high Aeroplan fees. www easyawardbooking com. We specialize in Aeroplan awards however can book other awards as well. We will work over mountains to get you the perfect award
     

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