how far in advance to you do your award booking?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by corz123, Apr 11, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. corz123

    corz123 Silver Member

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    just wondering how good you guys are planning this sort of thing? i'm really bad...super procrastinator :eek:
     
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  2. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    My intl trips are usually done 9M+ out once i know where we want to go and what days we can get off. Then we usually revisit hotels, activities, etc around 6M.
     
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  3. corz123

    corz123 Silver Member

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    do you feel that's the sweet spot in terms of how far in advance?
     
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  4. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Eh that's just what I've found gets me where I wanna go. Sometimes we don't know where we wanna go till 10M out so I start looking and etc.
     
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  5. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    Going to IST, October, we book the hotel first, then the Airline.

    Have not booked airline yet..,

    Hotels easy to change...many times I like to send last night near the airport..early flight out..
     
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  6. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    For the trips I take at the same time, year after year, I plan them as far in advance as the booking system allows. With Delta, I can change or cancel up to 3 days before departure. I've secured some great J awards in the 'low' miles spent category this way. Since my 'usual' trip is to family in Europe, I don't have to worry about accommodations. They are just glad I come!
     
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  7. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    I don't get why you would book hotels first if you can't get there?

    To me it's always the long hauls, then any capacity restricted hotels (usually in 1 or 2 night increments incase we want to change), then its intra area transport + areas; then hotels, then food/stuff to look at.
     
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  8. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

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    I have done my limited number of awards at 330 days out and have had good luck. I've never tried to book an international award last minute, but have done some domestic awards last minute and generally find availability. I was watching space for our last CX awards and a few days before departure more space did open up. I did do a mileage based award this year to SA via Doha (award type no longer available) and that was probably more like in the 250 day range, but that was because Qatar just joined one world so new space was available.

    This thread says its a 330 days out myth etc., but its worked well for me:
    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads...sed-on-usa-date-or-departure-city-date.25460/
     
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  9. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

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    Agreed hotels are easy to change, but it seems like a waste since airline dates are harder to get and very unpredictable.
     
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  10. royce242

    royce242 Silver Member

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    I usually base my trips on what costs me the least amount of miles :)
     
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  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Start looking once you decide when and where you want to go. Book as soon as you find seats; they may not be there tomorrow. I've booked 10+ months out and 10 days out. Just depends on the trip.
     
  12. corz123

    corz123 Silver Member

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    WA wins again! ;P
     
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  13. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    We have a Medical Convention, and staying at Host Hotel, the rooms are limited like FTU,

    We buy the tickets and use miles to upgrade,
     
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  14. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Miles to upgrade aren't the same as award bookings IMO.
     
  15. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    The closest pure award using miles was LGA-ATL-BOM (just before DL cancelled them 777 non-stop) two months before travel. Furthest out was again using Deltapesos but AF JFK-CDG-DEL (with no penalty 4 night stopover in Paris both ways), and that was in July for January flight.

    During the Bermuda-II era, you never got AA miles flying BA, or some such in the early 90s, so I liquidated all my hoarded miles, and that was mid Nov, for a Feb JFK-LHR-BOM on BA.
     
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  16. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    I agree, but if you watch many awards open up at the last minute.

    We do PVG and PEK, and I have seen them open on the day if departure, that is with United. AA does the same thing, to fill the seats.,,

    I start looking 6 months out,
     
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  17. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Same general concept applies, though: If you have a specific destination and dates then start looking as soon as you know what and when it is and book as soon as you see the desired inventory.

    It is much like voting in Chicago: early & often.
    Depends on the program and airlines.
     
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  18. philatravelgirl

    philatravelgirl Silver Member

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    Like others have said depends on destination, timing, airline but I'm only looking for one J ticket and that makes a difference IMO. I usually book 2-3 months out (last trip to Australia was in via Asia, out thru Europe and took a bit more work than had I booked earlier)
     
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  19. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    Obviously too many variables here, as most have pointed out. Some believe that two or three months out is reasonable, some think only several weeks out, as airlines may open up some unsold seats closer to the departure date, and hotels may do similar with an excess of unsold rooms. To be safe, as soon as you know your trip dates, at least start looking at airlines' award charts and hotel availability to have an idea of what's showing for your dates. And it's always best to be flexible with your dates and times, if you have that option.

    For example, early in 2013 my wife and I decided on a UK trip for ten days, and I started looking immediately in February for our planned trip in mid-September, and checked on both airlines and hotels very frequently for availability and costs on different dates. Just before the large devaluation of Hilton points at the end of March, it all seemed to come together for us, as I was able to book our TATL flights on AC for 47,000 miles each (usually 60,000) and an outrageous amount of fuel surcharges, APD fees, and taxes, and got a five star Hilton in London for less Honors points then usual just before their GLON award charts were eliminated.

    I guess the best suggestion would be if you can find something that's reasonable and meets your requirements as to times and costs, jump on it and don't look back or hesitate thinking it may be better a day or week or month later. In most cases the later never comes, as someone else has taken advantage of the find and when you look for it again it's often gone.
     
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  20. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    Best time to book award tickets is 9+ months out or 2 weeks out.
     
  21. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    For both award tickets and upgrades with instruments, airlines (and some hotels too) are using increasingly sophisticated revenue management algorithms to control award/upgrade inventory. In the early days of FF programs, it was common for an airline to release a set number of award/upgrade seats on most flights when the schedule opened for booking (330 days is typical). When those award/upgrade seats were gone, no additional inventory was release in general, although there might have been exceptions when planes were empty close to the travel date.

    Now, however, it all depends on real time estimates of the probability that a seat on a particular route/flight/time/date won't be sold. FF programs try very hard to accurately predict this so that at least seats available at low levels (sometimes called saver awards) are those that would otherwise remain empty or be sold to a non rev. Inventory that requires more miles to book is similarly constantly updated and based on ticket prices currently being offered. Or course, programs that promise last seat available for high mileage levels (sometimes called standard awards, although more award levels are appearing, for example DL has three currently and will have four or five starting next year) are an exception to this. Finally, some FF programs use married segment availability for awards and upgrades as well as fare classes being offered for sale.

    So, IMO the only reasonable "rule" is to attempt to book as early as possible (say 330-335 days for most carriers if you can but check this for the airline operating each flight segment you want/need) and keep checking. It helps if one has elite status and therefore can avoid award ticket change/cancel/refund fees, but here too YMMV depending on your programs. Sometimes you can find great last minute availability if this works for your travel plans, but if you do this, be sure to check hotel availability and rates before committing to a nonrefundable (T-72 hours for DL) award ticket or one that will incur a big fee to change or cancel if you can't coordinate other needed arrangements for the trip.
     
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  22. chitowngal

    chitowngal Active Member

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    Seth take it easy on us Chicagoans. Hey at least we don't have politicians texting pics of their private parts. BTW I knocked on wood after I typed that.
     
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  23. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    Depending on the location it varies for me. If I'm going to Asia or Europe I book as soon as the dates are available then I plan around that. I will look at certain dates to make sure my options are open on the other end. For example we sometimes tag a cruise onto our trips in Europe so the flights need to work for those dates which I check on vacationstogo then if we decide to just stay onshore then it doesn't matter.
     
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  24. blackjack-21

    blackjack-21 Gold Member

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    Well said, and in many fewer words then I could have possibly used in clarification.
     
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  25. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Absolutely agree with MSPeconomist POV. We book our annual AA award travel 330 days out or so. As I've said elsewhere, the sAAver rate is available then, but you may choose not to book that rate when you learn that long-haul travel of 2 connecting flights becomes 4 connecting flights with a SAAver rate booking.

    Also, once you learn about the "sweet spots" for paid airline tickets, you may choose not to use miles for certain bookings. For example, it's no secret that THY has bargain rates from EWR to IST during the winter months. If I were to schedule travel to IST, I'd rather to book such bargain rates, and then use the miles thus accumulated to book award travel with a *A partner, such as UA.
     
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