Award travel when home airport is not major carrier hub

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by thrashsoundly, Apr 18, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. thrashsoundly
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    thrashsoundly Silver Member

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    I have some basic questions which I haven't found the answers to yet, so I felt like it might increase the knowledge base, especially for us newbies here at MP.

    If your home airport is not a main hub for an airline on which you are planning award travel, how do you account for it? For example, I see lots of examples of award travel to Asia through the west coast (LAX, SFO etc) or travel to Europe through the east coast (YYZ, JFK, IAD etc). So when you want to book an award, how do you easily get to the coast? Is it included in the award booking, or do you have to plan separately for it?

    For example:
    My closest airport is SLC. If I wanted to plan award travel to Asia via CX with my BA award miles with a destination of SIN and perhaps stopovers in BKK and HKG, will I be able to get there from SLC on the standard business award ticket of 100K miles, or is that only good from LAX? To my knowledge, CX doesn't fly out of SLC, so I'd likely have to fly AA to get to LAX first and then jump to CX. Does having to use these two airlines increase the amount of miles needed for this award ticket?

    I hope my questions are clear. I'm just trying to sort it all out in my head right now. Thanks in advance for your answers and comments! :)
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    You need to check the rules of your specific program--the airline whose miles you will use for the award and with whom you will book your award ticket. However, as a very general rule, award tickets include the domestic connections to your international gateway city using partner airlines, assuming that the correct code award seat availability exists for the airline whose miles you are using. In your example, using BA miles means OW alliance, so you would need to use AA from SLC to LAX/SFO, etc., which might mean first routing through their hubs (for example, DFW) using legal routes and legal connecting times (but having too long to connect might mean that it is considered to be a stopover, which might not be allowed or might require more miles).

    If you cannot get award space for the necessary connecting segments, you could purchase a ticket. In this case, you must be sure to allow sufficient time for delays/cancellations as you are travelling on two separate tickets, so that the airlines have no responsibility to rebook you if you miss a flight because your incoming flight arrived late. It can be worth purchasing a few domestic segments in order to use a marvelous award ticket.
     
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  3. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    Be prepared to be flexible in your travel dates. To have multiple segments line up so that you can leave SLC on an award ticket and connect to a CX award redemption flight may require some flexibility on your part. You'll notice that most carrier redemption schedules are country to country so it generally doesnt matter when in North America you are starting your travels, a North America to "insert destination here" ticket will cost you the same whether you are starting from New York or LA and heading west to the orient. Hope it works out. Also, you may want to look at expertflyer.com. It provides a search engine to see if there are award seats on specific flights/dates/airlines. Though its not perfect, and not every airline is listed, it may be helpful to see whats out there especially in your case of flying AA.
     
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  4. thrashsoundly
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    thrashsoundly Silver Member

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    Thanks. I've done the latter before, since SLC is a Delta hub, but continuing on with a paid leg to AKL rather than an award booking.
     
  5. misman
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    misman Gold Member

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    Coming from PHX or ABQ, I usually search in the reverse order. For example, I was needing PHX-OGG on CO a few years ago. I searched for IAH-OGG, and then supplemented that with PHX-OGG; did the same for PHX-SAP/RTB.

    My reasoning is that the hub-destination are generally the more expensive (and also the ones where you want J/F,) so I can always pay to get to the hub, if necessary.
     
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  6. MSPeconomist
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    Last March, I paid for MSP-LAX in order to take a FC SQ award ticket. Of course it was worth it! Since I could get LAX-MSP as part of the award ticket, the one way was booked in fare code M on DL, which earned 150% MQM for a lower price than purchasing the RT would have been, so it was almost a win-win.
     
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  7. travelinmike33
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    travelinmike33 Silver Member

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    For this specific example, you would probably want to pay for SLC to LAX. BA award redemptions cost more miles if you use more than one OneWorld partner. The Points Guy had some good how-tos on his site (thepointsguy.com) for using the BA miles. There are four different award tables for using just BA, just one partner, BA + one partner, and multiple partners.
     
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  8. thrashsoundly
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    thrashsoundly Silver Member

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    I just barely found that - time for more reading and digesting. Thanks!
     
  9. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    Even when you are in a hub airport it sometimes pays to be willing to position for an award.

    When I do award searches I usually look for DC area airports first but also see what I can do out of PHL, EWR and JFK since I know those are easy and relatively inexpensive train rides.

    You don't have the train option out of SLC, but I would adopt the same philosophy and consider a positioning flight on whatever airline is cheapest to get to a CX gateway. That probably means LAX or SFO, but don't rule out JFK completely. Right now for random mid-summer dates it looks like DL will take you non-stop to LAX for $300. F9 flies to SFO for $250 if you're willing to consider the connection. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time if you're taking a positioning flight.
     
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  10. MSPeconomist
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    Another consideration: If you're buying a positioning flight (or using miles from another airline) so that it's on a separate ticket, if you plan to check luggage, try to pick a carrier in the same alliance or one that has an interline baggage agreement so that you can check your bag through to your destination.
     
  11. Concerto
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    Concerto Gold Member

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    I have the same issue with my home airport in that I cannot fly directly from here for all of my award travel to the U.S. So, I hop on a small commuter plane (the "lawn dart", as I call it! :D) and fly 120 miles to the nearest hub airport. Thankfully, I use an alliance airline so my luggage is transferred directly to the customs area for me. Sometimes, this is a PIA but there really isn't much choice when you live in a smaller center.
     
  12. thrashsoundly
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    thrashsoundly Silver Member

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    Thanks for the information everyone. Basically, to summarize what I've found out for other newbies reading this is that if you use your BA miles on OneWorld partners you basically have your choice, one partner or multiple. Multiple partners increase the award milage cost significantly, so in many ways the single partner is a better award value.

    So in my case, it would be better not to schedule my hop from SLC to LAX on my award with the CX travel to Asia, or the miles needed would be huge (multiple OW partners as CX doesn't fly out of SLC). It is likely more economical to find the cheapest way to LAX separately, whether by paying or using miles. Most of the time for me Delta flights over to LAX would likely be the cheapest option (making sure to have plenty of extra time), but I could also get lucky and find another OW partner to simplify luggage transfer.

    Thanks again for the input!
     
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  13. MSPeconomist
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    DL and CX interline, so it should be possible to check the bag through, although with two separate tickets, you'll probably have to politely insist. Be prepared to show the other ticket and receipt,

    As a general rule, the carriers that do not interline are LCC or small regional airlines. The major legacy airlines all interline with each other as a general rule.
     

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