I have plenty of miles but cant seem to find any flights to use them

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by jhnnytn, Jul 25, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. jhnnytn

    jhnnytn Member

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    I have a lot of miles, plenty. Enough to fly anywhere. They are located on American Express and Alaska Air. I just now realized that I can move the miles from the AMEX to the frequent flyer program of my choice. I used to just use the AMEX points on the AMEX travel site but always thought the prices sucked. I should then be able to book a flight of my choice right? First Class or Business whatever. But it seems like its ALL BLACKOUT. Months of blackout. WTF? I signed up for a bunch of airline programs that I can transfer points to but it seems like most have almost zero flights available for award redemption. I mean swaths of months with no flight for rewards? Is that because I have not transferred over my miles yet? Or because I do not have elite status? Delta seemed to be about the only one with a bit of options. Am I doing something wrong? Please help. The flights I was looking at was FAT to AMS or LAX to AMS or LAX to CDG or FAT to COH on several different times. Summer Fall Winter Spring. I was looking at options all day from many airlines. ANA, Singapore, Air Canada, Alaska, KLM but cant find squat for first class to anywhere international. I did see that I could use Starwood but from amex to starwood to airline was a 3 to 1 conversion then 500,000 starwood points. even though I have the points to do it I know that's a crappy deal. 1,500,000 points? that's $15000 worth of pottery barn gift cards my wife can would want.
     
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  2. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    SPG goes to AA 1.25
    MR BA
    UNITED is easy at the moment,
    Amex is MR...NOT SPG...

    Where is your departure city, and destination, date...
    List your points...

    Work your plan, and be a little flexible, it is not a problem to find a good seat...

    AA has Anytime Fares...and some saver fares in Oct LAX/CDG 50k J lay over in BOS..or 135 LAX/DFW/CHD..anytime...
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015
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  3. Price123

    Price123 Silver Member

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    I would suggest that it may be worth paying the $75 fee for award help and asking someone to help you. If you want a real F experience, don't fly an American airline - try Air France to CDG, Singapore Air to FRA (difficult to find that one I admit) or go to Asia with Cathay, JAL, Asiana or similar. Etihad has good F availability and you can use American miles on them. I also know people who have managed to get Emirates flights with Alaska miles. Have fun and try a few different routes out or go round the world if you have time. If you come to Europe in Fall, why not join the London Do and you might get some advice there too?
    I can find availability to/from LAX to AUH with Etihad in F in October. Also to/from CDG to AUH so you can use 125K AA miles one way in First for that (can put the flight on hold first for up to 72 hours).
    Singapore business class from LAX to NRT to SIN is available in October in business.
    Can't make an itinerary without dates and desires but there are flights out there. I just wouldn't bother with AA, UA, DL, US, BA...
     
  4. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    +1.

    I've been seeing good business class space to Europe on Lufthansa, which you could book using Air Canada or Singapore miles, both of which are Amex MR transfer partners. It is possible that you're not casting a wide enough net when searching for award availability - most airlines' websites can't search all of their possible award partners. (Elite status shouldn't be affecting the search results. Not having miles in the account likely isn't affecting it either.) You might need to search on the partners' websites directly, then call to book. Or, more likely, call to hold, then transfer points, then book.

    Another stumbling block you might be hitting are airline websites that won't show you awards in mixed classes of service - if they can only find Y space on a domestic segment (e.g. out of Fresno, on RJs), they might not show you the itinerary, even though you could find C from SFO to AMS.

    I've also been seeing some decent business class space on Air Canada. Again, you could book that using Aeroplan or Singapore miles, depending on which award chart is better for you. And United's business class isn't so very terrible, especially if you can get the Continental seat rather than the UA seat. It may not be "an experience", but it will get you to Europe in passable comfort.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
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  5. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    If there ever was a classic example of a situation that would benefit from seeking the assistance of a travel blogger who does this sort of thing for a living, your case would be it. Someone like that would not only find you available seats, but he or she would very likely also be able to save you a lot of miles by finding you the best deals.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
  6. jhnnytn

    jhnnytn Member

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    Ok I am not totally familiar with the abbreviations of all the lingo here in frequent flier land but am slowly learning. Just to double check.
    MR is Membership Rewards from Amex right?
    SPG is Starwood points right? So what do you mean by "SPG is 1.25 to AA?" Or "United is easy at the moment?"

    Pretty much I look at my MR points as having a value of about 100 to $1 and use that as a threshold of if something is a value. Anything worse than that and I might as well convert them to gift cards.
    Some ideas I had for travel
    FAT is my departure city.
    Destination ideas
    FAT to SXM in Late December.
    FAT to AMS in the First Week of April
    FAT to AMS in last week of MAY
    FAT to AMS for the month of JUNE
    FAT to SYD in June or next July


    I have AMEX MR balance of about
    3,500,000 on three different cards
    I have an Alaska Air Visa that I have only about
    90,000 miles on but I can start using it more and wrack up about 50,000 a month.

    PRICE123
    Where do I pay the $75 dollar fee for Award Help? AMEX?

    TRAVELTOOMUCH
    When you say "I've been seeing good business class space to Europe on Lufthansa" What site do I go to look at those flights? Air Canada?
    Also when I looked on the Alaska Air Site for mileage redemption but all of the Business of first class options give me only one short leg of the journey in first and the bulk of the trip in coach yet still charging first class price in terms of miles.
    You also state that I should check the partner websites then call and hold. Seems like partners are given the very last in priority for reward tickets. No chance of getting a flight? If I do contact a partner will they let me use my miles from the other partner airline?
    How do I get a United seat? My Amex MR don't transfer to them. I have spent hours looking on the ANA, Singapore, and Air Canada Sites and they all say flights not available for my search. Well I cant say air canada. I think I saw one flight on there. But I cant seem to get ANA or Singapore to show any domestic flights for me. Like FAT to ORD.

    NYCU1K
    How do you go about using the services of a travel blogger?

    Below is a fine example of my Alaska Air search for a flight for next JUN from FAT to SYD. Only two available days and the return date is before the departure date so its not even viable.
     

    Attached Files:

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  7. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Here's a $150 option:
    http://bookyouraward.com/
    It's run by Gary Leff, one of the founders of Milepoint. There are other options, too.

    I'm finding the UA and Air Canada award space on united.com.

    Given the questions you're asking, you will probably be most successful if you pay someone to help.
     
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  8. euromannn
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    euromannn Gold Member

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    I would recommend AA as with the US Airways merger flights have opened up all over Europe and don't lead to fuel surcharges like it did with One World partner BA.

    Also, since I have a Citi AA VISA I get 10% rebate of AA miles award flights.
    DL - worst, in fact the SEA-AMS non-stop route is almost NEVER available year round.
    UA - recently makes US_EUrope minimum 60,000 even if one way in economy.
    US - not a great service airline but partners well with AA.
    BA - AVIOS points are good for domestic travel in US as intl' award flights hit you with fuel surcharges
    AA - 21 day advance purchase is a bit unfriendly but it's probably the best of what's left
     
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  9. euromannn
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    euromannn Gold Member

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    Put you cursor over the acronym and FT will define the airports in upper right corner of web page.
    FAT - Fresno, CA
    ORD - O'Hare (Chicago)
    AMS- Amsterdam
    MR - Mileage RUN

    etc
     
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  10. jhnnytn

    jhnnytn Member

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    Ok I see united at least has some rewards available. But the question is how do I get points from AMEX or Alaska to book rewards at United? Or over to AA for that matter. I know Alaska is partnered with AA but Alaska site does not show very many award flights available for rewards with AA.
     
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  11. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    You transfer the MR points to either Singapore KrisFlyer or Air Canada Aeroplan. Then you book the awards on United flights by calling Singapore or Air Canada (or you can try their websites, but calling will likely work better).
     
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  12. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    SPG points will transfer to AA,

    20,000. SPG will get you 25,000 AA,

    Sounds like a lot of advice from the board...

    If you have 3.5 million, and a 50k mo charge rate, I would spend some time at a FTU, or pay a pro to help me book...till I get the hang if it, even then I have been know to check with a few friends..

    I have 2 million on AA, and. lifetime status, and a few miles on some other airlines...been flying since the 50s, in tail dragers..

    I still ask for help, it is a changing world, lot of great guys on board.
     
  13. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I'm disappointed that the initial response was simply to tell the OP to go pay someone else rather than trying to help them learn. :(

    A few things to consider when searching for award space:
    1) Partners matter. Learn the partners of the programs where you have points and consider the opportunities they present. Also understand which airlines fly where you want to go. Getting to SXM might mean flying from Fresno to LA on United and then switching to Copa to Panama City and on to St. Martin. Or connecting en route to Miami on AA and on to SXM. For Sydney there are a lot of options with Air Canada, Virgin Australia, Delta, United, American and Qantas all flying from North America to Oz and more options with connections in Asia.
    2) Flexibility with dates will matter a lot. You found a flight from FAT to SYD with your MileagePlan points. Maybe use those one way and use another program's points the other direction.
    3) Search starting at the gateway. Find the gateway cities (usually hubs) which have flights where you want to go. For AMS there are 30ish options available (map here). Check them all and then try to work in getting from FAT to the gateway.

    Starting in a smaller market definitely makes it harder. But it is not impossible. And you definitely CAN do it yourself if you want. No problem paying someone, either, but you should at least understand what you're "buying" and make an informed decision.
     
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  14. euromannn
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    euromannn Gold Member

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    I also don't like ti when someone cheapens the thread to go ask to pay someone.

    The goal of the blog is to provide ideas to DIY not just pay people to the task.
     
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  15. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    I didn't see it just as a quick "don't bother us, pay this guy to do it". There was also advice provided, but I can see how it may seem to the OP that we are pushing him off. It seems that he is ready to use the points now, and with the sheer number of points and difficulty in finding award options, and the fact this is all new to him, I see it is a valid option to at least provide. Then as Seth said, he can make the decision. However, we are all here to offer advice and best practices.

    Personally, I didn't realize that service even existed. But I guess you can pay for anything nowadays. :)

    Welcome to MilePoint @jhnnytn.
     
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  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    :confused:!!!

    There is nothing "cheap", IMHO, about directing someone who does not seem to have the necessary expertise to look for it at the appropriate place. That's what one would do in the real life (e.g., someone seeking medical advice would be directed to an appropriate specialist, and not sent to med school!), so why not here? There is no doubt that if the OP has unlimited time and is willing to spend a lot time of in forums such as this, s/he would eventually learn the tricks of the trade. However, from the post, it seems that the OP's need is quite imminent and likely complex and , if that's the case, it would be almost criminal not to offer the most obvious advice, which is to seek the advice of an expert. In fact, by working with a good travel blogger like @gleff, as someone suggested, the OP might decrease the learning curve by months by seeing first-hand how it's done and asking questions.

    To see in the advice to consult a specialist as "cheapening" the thread is to think of ourselves in this forum as infallible "high priests" of the loyalty travel world, but that betrays an almost complete disconnect from the real world, which, believe it or not, still exists out here...:)
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
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  17. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Working with a booking service does not teach one how to solve the problem in the future. And the OP's needs do not appear to be all that complex from these first few posts. And the OP's needs are not imminent; much of the travel suggested is 6+ months away. Perhaps a bit scattered and disjointed, but not complex.

    As for the analogy to medical school, there's no formal training nor certification nor supervisory board the OP needs. Just some information.
     
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  18. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I disagree. The OP would not be asking some of the basic questions that s/he did if s/he had a better grasp of the game. To try to give someone who is new at this (no denigration intended) a crash course in the tricks of mile/point game does not seem to like the best that can be done for him or her, considering the large number of points involved and the potential complexity of the problem. The questions presented are, in fact, quite complex and only someone who has a full grasp of the mile/point game can address them effectively. Just a few issues to consider are: would it best be to use MR points (the currency in which the OP's points seem to be) to buy the tickets or first convert them to some other currency[ies], and which one(s) would give the best return? Then there is the issue of planning a multi-destination travel with multiple carriers and maybe alliances too since one has a currency that's highly flexible. And that's the just the tip of the iceberg. I have been doing big-time redemptions yearly for the last few years and it is not something that can be learned or done well overnight.

    As for one not being able to learn from a blogger, well, that depends on how curious one is and how helpful the blogger wishes to be. For someone like @gleff who runs a website that's specifically designed to be helpful, it would be inconceivable that he would quit being helpful because someone is paying him. Thus, by breaking down exactly what was done, important lessons can be learned by novices who seek help and are curious to know more...
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
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  19. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Thank goodness the OP has plenty of time.

    Learning by reading and studying and asking questions is absolutely possible. Expecting one of the award booking services to explain in detail the entire process is, IMO, unreasonable an unlikely to result in a satisfied customer. But I only say that because I know and work with a bunch of them.
     
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  20. euromannn
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    euromannn Gold Member

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    This how I interpret the issue.

    Possibly when referring to PAY sites one also contributes good ideas.

    Personally, I am on this site and FT to learn the best deals and options to accumulate points but not pay for the tips.
     
  21. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Learning by example is a time-honored didactic method, so I must again disagree. Someone can look at how I have done my redemptions and easily get a sense for how it's done, but that's because I'd already done the hard work.

    Again, consider the large number of points that the OP has and the variety of waters that s/he'd need to navigate to get the most out of those points to appreciate the magnitude of the problem. If the OP has the time, by all means, s/he can frequent milepoint and learn. But if this is something that needs to happen in the very near future, which seems to be the case since s/he's looking for seat availability, turning to an expert is the correct advice: it would save both enough points and time to make the cost of retaining a travel blogger insignificant in comparison.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  22. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Then there are those who come into a lot of points by other means and simply want to find the most cost-effective way to redeem those points, without first having to spend the time to learn how that's done. Paying an expert makes perfect sense.
     
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  23. euromannn
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    euromannn Gold Member

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    To solve this internal argument why don't you just ask the OP what he really wanted from his post then you won't have to defend your methodology.
     
  24. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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  25. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    The first response was mine, and assurance of finding a seat was there.

    There is nothing wrong with paying for advice, and it often save money and time. I question everything anyone post, and the advice that was given was good.

    Anyone can play the game book a trip, and never take it,

    Anyone can invest and win or lose, when you win you made a great decision, when you lose you blame the broker.

    The more you look for award travel the better you will become, and there are many good seats out there...In the real world...

    Everyone did a good job helping him, what he does is up to him,

    My first million took 20 years, the next one was much easier...booked 3 trips today, no problem..

    None of us will make every patient happy, and if we told all of them the truth, they would never come back...so hey do the best you can, and help who you can..

    You guys did good...it is up to the new guy as to how far he wants to go..
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015

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