Reward Travel Pointers Needed

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by xxxadixxx, May 10, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. xxxadixxx
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    xxxadixxx Silver Member

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    I have been lurking here and on FT since last summer and after accumulating a few miles/points, my wife needs to redeem some for a trip the week prior to the 4th of July. We had an idea to use US Air, but they have a blackout date on the needed return flight. So now I am back at square one and would appreciate any reward travel pointers available.

    The big issue is really that her travel plans are not very flexible. She has specific dates on which she is traveling and she is traveling with our 3 1/2 yr old daughter, so direct flights are best. Ultimately she needs to be in Colubmia, SC from Houston. Right now, her options appear to be to fly US Air to CLT where her aunt will meet her from Newark and they will rent a car to Columbia. With the blackout date, she would have to pay for both tickets (total ~$650). The other option is to fly direct IAH - CAE and use CO miles for one of the tickets. It will cost 50,000 miles and then ~$550 for the second ticket. Neither option really feel like a good value to me, but with the lack of flexibility (she needs to arrive within the same time frame as her aunt and travel Tuesday and Friday) we feel stuck.

    In the end, I think she will ultimately book the CO flight to minimize the hassle of traveling with a young child, car seat, luggage, and the 2 hour drive. My specific questions are:

    1. In general, is using reward travel always a balancing act between flexibility and value?
    2. Aim I missing another option for redemption? (we have points in CO, United, UA, and AA)

    Thanks in advance for any guidance or words of wisdom. We are awaiting the opportunity to actually start using some of these points we have accumulated!
     
  2. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    There is quite a bit going against you for award travel since your wife has very specific travel dates. Factor in a young child and it may be best to simply find the best booking and pay, or use a STANDARD type award. If you have many miles to burn then a standard award would work well although not the best value. Foe me flexibility is a huge key to saver award booking.
     
  3. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP.

    I do not recommend this in your case, but some airlines (notably DL) make more award seats available very close to the travel dates. It's a risk that can work if either the trip is optional or if you're willing to risk having ro purchase an expensive ticket or pay change fees to cancel the purchased ticket. Since your family apparently must travel and must travel on specific dates around a major holiday, do not try this for the current trip.
     
  4. xxxadixxx
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    xxxadixxx Silver Member

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    Thanks for the advice. That is what I was expecting to hear. Its a bit disappointing, but nothing is truly free and I understood there would be limitations when I got into this game. I appreciate it.
     
  5. paladin87
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    paladin87 Silver Member

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    Well, if you have miles in the CO AND UA programs, you should be able to merge the miles into 1 account now. This might give you enough miles to perhaps get an award ticket with more flexibility, as opposed to a saver ticket.

    In general, value and flexibility are at odds. For the cheapest award tickets, it is generally a matter of travelling when you find the cheapest ticket. If dates are the primary concern, then barring some great luck, you have to spend more miles to get what you want.
     
  6. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Before transferring miles or combining accounts, be sure to study the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. It might be irreversible and there could currently be award levels on one side that aren't available with the other miles between UA and CO. This was certainly true during the NW/DL merger. If you only need a few miles in one program, it could be better to buy them than to transfer/combine all of your miles; the rules might be all or nothing here.
     
  7. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Transfers between UA and CO accounts are virtually instantaneous and can be reversed at any time. The only limitation is that you can make only one transfer between accounts per day.
    https://secure.unitedmileageplus.com/MP1101OPTM.jsp
     
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  8. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    This is good. It's much more advantageous than the rules during the NW/DL merger.
     
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