December award travel to NZ?

Discussion in 'Alaska Airlines | Mileage Plan' started by seaflyguy, Feb 20, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. seaflyguy
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    seaflyguy Silver Member

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    For December 2012, Mrs Seaflyguy and I are planning a trip to NZ -- neither of us has been to Aus/NZ in the summer, and plus she usually gets a free week off from work around the holidays, so the timing is perfect. I have plenty of miles with UA, but have been assuming I'd use AS miles for two QF tickets in F or C -- LAX-SYD-AKL-SYD-LAX. I did a test run to see if I could get a ticket for this coming holiday season, waiting until T-330 days and then calling the MP international desk. I gave them a fairly wide window, but there weren't any QF seats in F or C. They also checked FJ, CX, DL, and KE -- nothing on any of them. So...

    Should I relax and assume that seats will open up -- preferably on QF, but CX or KE would work -- sometime during the 11 months prior to my trip? Or am I fooling myself thinking I can get F or C seats to NZ over the holidays? (In that case, backup plan #1 is to use UA miles; backup plan #2 is to do a South American trip instead.)
     
  2. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Australia and New Zealand are the toughest award there is. December is peak high season. So this will be tough.

    Currently the best premium cabin availability is V Australia LAX-BNE. Not something you'll redeem AS or UA miles for, but if you happen to have any Skypesos laying around...

    The QF DFW-SYD (which flies via BNE in one direction) has pretty decent availability.

    Of course no promises about what availability will look like for December 2012.

    A few possible strategies if you cannot get what you want straight away

    * Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and somewhere close to New Zealand assuming that Hong Kong - Auckland isn't available to pair up. Then you'll either wind up completing the trip with another award or paid travel or continue checking on the space to open up for Hong Kong - Auckland and pay to change later.

    * Two awards... say CX to Bangkok and then a separate award using United miles on Thai.

    * United miles. Air New Zealand inventory in business class seems to open up exactly 60 days prior to travel during high season.
     
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  3. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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    Yep, its the time of year that the ex-pats all fly home for Christmas. It is the great family get together, since Aussies and Kiwis don't do Thanksgiving. If you've got some flexibility with your schedule, then you should try to fly on Christmas Day or Dec. 26th. Or sometime before Dec. 20th.

    The other thing that may be making your booking tough is the internal legs. Lots of Aussies will be flying to New Zealand in early January, since it is the start of their summer holiday (most take all of January off). There aren't a lot of simple options here, but you might like to just see Australia or just New Zealand.
     
  4. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    Part of your problem is QF releases seats approx 360 days before departure. By the time 330 days rolls around, the best award seats have already gone.

    Other less obvious airlines to try (if you have miles with a partner airline) include LA (SCL-AKL-SYD), CZ new service CAN-AKL (starts April 2011), TN PPT-AKL.

    FJ often has reasonable availability, but not during Oz/NZ holidays.
     
  5. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    I don't believe this is an issue with Alaska miles, though.

    American won't book seats until 330 days from travel.

    Alaska doesn't publish its own flights until that time, but they will book partner flights much further out. I've booked Cathay and BA seats using Alaska miles > 350 days out. Haven't happened to do it with Qantas but assume it would work the same way.

    Note also that Alaska won't even charge a change fee to add-on Alaska connecting flights later if you book the partner flights before the Alaska schedule is available.
     
  6. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    That assumes members actually look ~ 360 days before date of travel, rather than waiting as OP indicates until 330 days.
     
  7. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    "Look what Milepoint Can Do For You"

    Maybe we need to start a list when airlines that load their inventory, and separately a list of airlines that will allow booking awards on partners when inventory is released (eg AA won't allow it on BA before 330 days but AS will).
     
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  8. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    Fabulous idea. Please refer to release days in advance of travel thread.
     
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  9. seaflyguy
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    seaflyguy Silver Member

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    Thanks for all the great advice. The key thing I'm going to do is start looking at T-360 days (or even a bit earlier) versus T-330 days. Hopefully I can grab two award seats when they first appear (if they appear at all). If that doesn't work, I'll book space to HKG on CX and keep checking for award seats HKG-AKL. Finally, if that doesn't work, I'll switch to UA miles and look for NZ seats at the 60-day window.
     

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