Is it possible to book "free" trips during peak seasons?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by jmhuth, Jul 5, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. jmhuth

    jmhuth Silver Member

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    Just wondering if you all have had an luck booking flights/trips during spring break (or peak seasons). Looking to go on family vaca next april, but don't know if this will fly using rewards.... Kids in school so would rather not take them out.... Although, if that's how you must play the game, I think going somewhere fabulous & taking the kids out of school would be worth it!! If booking during "peak seasons" is a no, what time of year do you all find the best deals? Any tips are appreciated!!
     
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  2. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    I think it depends where you want to go and which class?
    Some places are better for award trips in peak seasons, that would be C or F tickets to usual business cities. Businessmen generally don't travel so much during vacation periods so the front of the bus is usually more open.
     
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  3. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I would think a lot would depend on the rules and practices of your school(s), as well as the ages of the kids and how well they're doing.

    While business cities are easier around vacation periods, you should consider which destinations and hotels would be suitable for your family. A city business/luxury hotel isn't likely to be kid-friendly. Also some cities--notably Paris--close down during major vacation periods (August).

    To get award tickets during prime vacation periods is largely a matter of planning ahead and booking your space as soon as it is available. The trick of looking at the last minute is likely to fail at such times. If you don't have flexibility, you must plan ahead and prepare to pay more (miles/points as well as money). However, getting award tickets for a whole family on the same flights is likely to be a challenge at almost any time.
     
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  4. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    I would think it would depend on when your kids' school break is. In my experience, spring breaks vary a lot from school to school with the peaks usually being the week before and after Easter. If their spring break is not close to Easter, it should be much easier to book.
     
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  5. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Start looking as early as possible would be my advice...as in now is already a little late for next April, but still should be relatively open. Be flexible with dates/destinations and you'll find the whole experience far simpler. What programs do you have miles in and how many miles do you have in them?
     
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  6. MSPeconomist
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    Most college spring breaks are a week in March. Depending on the destination, this could be a problem, although I would think that families would generally stay clear of famous spring break places for college kids, such as Cancun or Aruba, but Florida airports could well attract both--i.e., beaches versus Disney, or different cruise ships out of MIA/FLL
     
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  7. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    Surprisingly, the spring breaks vary dramatically by region. I find them occurring anywhere from about the 15th of March through to Easter week (meaning the week after Easter Sunday). When Easter is later in April, they really get spread out and you might find awards a little easier. Those years when Easter is early, the breaks are more condensed and thus all air availability is much more difficult and pricey.
     
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  8. jmhuth

    jmhuth Silver Member

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    I just started w/ the credit card promos, so right now, we have 150,000 AA miles, 20,000 or so thank you points (I rack these up quickly w/ the retention promo I have) and that's it presently. I'm getting ready to apply for the chase sapphire & a couple of hilton cards for my husband & I which should get us 200,000 or so hilton points... It's nice to hear sooner is better, I never know if waiting or planning ahead is the better option. With a family of 5 though, it is way easier to plan ahead...... We are using about 50,000 AA miles for a trip to Key West in November though too.
     
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  9. jmhuth

    jmhuth Silver Member

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    We fly coach...LOL I wish I had the time to dedicate to getting status but w/ 3 little one's under 8, that will have to wait until they are all in school and I can dedicate some more time to this...
     
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  10. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    As several people have said the destination makes a big difference. If you're going for intercontinental trips the holiday impact varies greatly. The Southern hemisphere holidays do nto perfectly coincide with those of the US/Canada so there are some odd quirks in availability that you'd otherwise not expect. Because you are planning for five people the benefit of advance information will be substantial. Thus I recommend ExpertFlyer, which has award availability and flight class availability for almsot every carrier, inclduing the number of seats available on each flight for each booking code. It costs $99 for a year, but you can save more than that in a single trip. http://www.expertflyer.com/

    Some tricks you can use that ExpertFlyer or a similar tool can help with are:
    1. finding availability in flights that leave at unpopular times;
    2. finding availability by choosing odd routings;
    3. choosing similar destinations to your first choice that have more seats available;
    4. setting alerts to advise you if your preferred flights become available in the class you need.

    Planning for five will always be a hassle, and having access to the actual inventories available can help ease the pain. That is even more important because you are not elite travelers so will not have the extra care that elites get from airlines and hotels.
     
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  11. jmhuth

    jmhuth Silver Member

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    Thanks for the tips!! I can only wish that I will be an elite traveler one of these days!!! Maybe instead of going back to work when the kids are in school, I'll work on getting us elite status so we can take wonderful trips w/ all of the elite perks!! A few more years & I can begin working on mileage runs (I think that's what they are called ).
     
  12. jmhuth

    jmhuth Silver Member

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    I did a little research.... Here's a scenario I came across.... I swear this is too good to be true... Let me know what you all think...
    My husband I are going to apply for the Chase sapphire card... Need to do this ASAP... Convert our points to Hyatt..... We currently have 1 free night to any hyatt in the world (we used the others for a stay in Key west)..... So, we can use that for 1 night at teh Hyatt Regency Curaco golf, spa & arena.... If I'm looking at Hyatt's redemtion rates this is a Cat. 4 hotel & would be 15,000 points per night... Stay 6 more nights (for a total of 7) for a total of 90,000 points....

    As for the flight, if we use our AA miles, looks like we could leave mid week from CLE (kids wld only miss a couple days) and return mid week & we can get flights for only 17,500 points for each ticket..... The return flights aren't great, but I could figure something out.....

    Any thoughts?
     
  13. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Is the 17,500 miles per ticket one way or round trip? Will the hotel let your entire family stay in one room (and not charge more points for the additional guests)?
     
  14. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    Sometimes, there can be lots of weekday availability during peak season for routes which are in high demand on the weekend. I have often booked low level awards for ski trips in peak season -- even to ski town airports such as ASE and EGE.
     
  15. msv
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    msv Gold Member

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    One year I got a huge credit from a cruise line to do a last minute cruise Easter week but needed to get 3 milesaver tix from NY to Puerto Rico. Called several times and no dice on the return date but there was outbound availability so on my 3rd call I got this great agent that said if I took a 20 min flight south to STT first I could easily get award tix!
     
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