Just booked my first award ticket!!!

Discussion in 'US Airways | Dividend Miles' started by misterbwong, Dec 22, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

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    Please excuse me if I'm overly excited :) I just booked my first award ticket (ever!) on US Airways thanks to all the help on this board. We are going LAX > TPE with a stopover in ICN for a week on the way back. We were going to book in business anyway, so taking advantage of the 100% buy miles actually saved us about ~$2000 EACH!

    It's not easy booking for the first time so I thought I'd share some tips for newbies like me:
    1. RESEARCH. Learn to love the ANA and CO websites. It gives a pretty good idea of availability, though it won't be perfect sometimes. Start HERE
    2. Be flexible. Booking award tickets isn't like booking regular (revenue) tickets. Availability is tighter so you need to plan earlier and check often. The ability to move your trip back/forward one or two days will do wonders to help you find your ticket.
    3. Be patient. People aren't joking when they say that it might take 1-2hrs to book. In all, mine took almost 2 hours on the phone with them. Even if I knew what I was doing, it could have easily taken 1hr due to hold times, itinerary checking, routing, etc.
    4. Take advantage of the stopover/open jaw. This one easily saved me thousands of miles. Instead of taking two different itineraries (LAX > TPE, TPE > ICN), we used the stopover to effectively make the trip between TPE and ICN "free."
    5. Accumulate miles when you can. If my wife and I each had ~10k miles in our account already, we could have saved ~$200 each. Unfortunately we are both very new to this miles thing so we didn't get the best deal we could have gotten. Suffice it to say, I am definitely joining the grand slam next year!
    6. Be courteous. When talking with the agents, you can almost tell they deal with 1023123125 disgruntled customers. Don't be one of them and they'll be happy to help and check a bunch of different routings for you :)
    7. Use the 3 day hold. US' hold policy is very generous at 3 days. Meaning you could hold an itinerary, buy/transfer the miles, and THEN book. This really helps you mitigate the risk of losing your itinerary when points are in limbo. Also, if you're trying to use SPG points, keep in mind they take up to 2 weeks to transfer!
    8. Get your seats. US can not assign seats on partners. You have to call the operating airline to get them assigned. Use SeatGuru to find out where you want to sit.
    Feel free to PM me or ask here if you have any questions!
     
  2. JohnDeere19
    Original Member

    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Congrats! I remember my first booking and it really does feel great. It does take a lot of time and patience and knowledge, but once you get all that and can actually utilize what you've learned, the payoff is amazing. Just wait until you actually fly. I never thought it was possible to travel like this unless you made a small fortune every year.

    Small tip to add, I recommend comparing seatguru and seatexpert and searching online where there are differences between the two. Apparently seatexpert.com is down right now though!
     
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  3. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

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    Great tip RE SeatExpert. I'm finding that some of SeatGuru's maps are out of date. Specifically their 777-300ER on ANA doesn't have the newest business configuration (1 2 1 vs the old 2 3 2).
     
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  4. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    My first "coup" came courtesy of FlyerTalk and happened about 7 years ago. Discovered the whole alliance thing and, amazingly, that I could book a First Class seat from NYC to CDG on BA thru the BA website for 150,000 miles per person, or I could transfer my Starwood points to Cathay Pacific and at the time, their award schedule for the same seat was 90,000 miles. Needed 180,000 miles for the two of us and used 145,000 Starwood points. Felt like the cat who swallowed the canary.

    Congratulations and have a great time!
     
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  5. nomflyer
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    nomflyer Silver Member

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    Congrats on your first booking!

    Did you have any problems using the 3 day hold? I didn't have any issues when I used it back in May, but last week I had trouble with it when holding an award ticket to Asia for a friend. The first time the transpacific flights (on United) disappeared from the itinerary after 2 days, leaving only the domestic legs. After calling in to fix this, we were given another 3 days. A day and a half later, the confirmation number would no longer pull up on the US website. Turns out both outbound flights (again on United) had disappeared. Luckily both times the flights were still available but it makes me hesitant to use the hold feature again in the future.
     
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  6. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

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    Sorry to hear about the problems with the hold nomflyer. I didn't have problems with the hold but I suspect a bug (or "feature") in US' software is responsible. Their software systems are extremely complicated due to the fare and routing rules that companies put in place so I wouldn't be surprised if some obscure situation caused the flight to be unavailable, then available again. :(
     
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