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Award Booking Tips overheard at FT4RL

So I made a rookie mistake presenting at FT4RL – too many slides! I had to rush through a few of my points on booking awards so I thought I’d share some of them here, along with a few other tips shared by the group. Nothing earth shattering here, but some good tips nonetheless.

There is coach award space to Europe still available this summer

I didn’t do an exhaustive search, but as far as I could tell there is quite a bit of award space available to Europe this summer. I searched the three main legacy carriers for four people to/from various US cities to various European cities and there was quite a bit of coach availability.

My main point here is this: if you want to travel to Europe this summer with a family, coach is your best bet. People write about flying in the front cabin all the time (guilty) but if you want to travel coach can get you there just fine.

There is even some coach award space to Asia

I searched (again, not exhaustively) flights to Taipei and Hong Kong and I found assorted coach award space for four people at low level award prices. Cool.

Delta is still the best option if you want to fly business class

I’ve spoken about this ad nauseum. Nobody cares, that’s cool. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for a heck of a lot more people than care to admit it.

Got a stockpile of Membership Rewards? Believe me about the Delta space?

Then when you find it, transfer your miles over to Air France and book. I think it was Richard Kerr (@thepointsjock) who shared that AF will wait with you online while you transfer miles so you don’t need to worry about the award space from disappearing from under you (Delta will do that too and they eliminated their phone booking fees). Transfer to AF and avoid the pesky excise fee.

Alaska Airlines is good for more than just showers

If you are flying roundtrip, you can use Alaska miles to book that Delta award space. Or book American Airlines coach space. Or book award space on a host of carriers in coach (and sometimes even in business). You might have Alaska miles leftover if you were holding out for Emirates first – no problem! Now you can fly to visit your friends on the other side of the country instead. Or to Europe.

Korean Air is a great option to Asia

OK, so they are adding change and redeposit fees in August 2017. Boohoo. Korean Air has great award space to Asia and you don’t even have to fly in first class. They have coach and business class seats too if you’re short on miles! There are enough seats for your family and they are an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner and they got rid of most of their fees. You can even fly to Mongolia from Seoul to be like milestomemories!

Be creative – lots of award programs have cool little niches

The aforementioned Richard Kerr shared some cool stuff about booking with Etihad miles but I think he’s going to write about that so I’ll just say here that…there is some cool stuff you can do. But the bottom line is, play around with some award searches or read up on some programs and you can find some pretty neat things.

You can use cash to buy tickets

Seriously! And this isn’t an option for all families, but you could always book two award tickets and two tickets with cash. There have been a lot of good deals in coach for this summer, just follow any of the big fare deal sites (airfarewatchdog, The Flight Deal, etc.) and then see if they work for you. You can even offset the overall cost with award tickets if they match up to the same flights.

Hat tip to milenomics for this huge breaking news!

You can use cash to hire someone to do all this work for you

A lot of my talk was about finding balance in our lives as our families get bigger. If I want quality time with my family that means less time running out to various stores, less time blogging, and less time searching for award space (my favorite thing to do).

If you don’t have the time, there’s no shame in paying someone to do the work for you. Go spend an hour playing with your kids instead!

Final Thoughts

I think I will write an entire post on why FT4RL was so freaking fun. But these are just some random award booking tips from the conference. None are game changing, but they all served as nice reminders to me – especially the ones I thought of myself. Always good to go back to the basics…

P.S. – I apologize for all the exclamation marks I am still on a conference high. I will do better next time.




Leave a Comment

  • plane2port April 26, 2016, 4:10 pm

    I enjoyed your presentation at FT4RL and was sorry that you ran out of time. I agree that Delta miles are way underrated–I’m always burning them. They haven’t been as easy to earn as some the others (AA comes to mind) but I’m thinking I may need to concentrate on them, or their proxies–Alaska and Air France–more in the future. First I’ll fill out the handout you gave us so I can prioritize my earnings! Thanks again for a great presentation!

    Reply
  • Shonuffharlem May 3, 2016, 12:15 am

    I thought AF charges fuel surcharge?

    Reply
    • Joe May 3, 2016, 9:21 am

      You’re right, couple hundred to go to Europe. But they shouldn’t charge on domestic Delta flights. Just giving options. Also poking around I just noticed there is Air France space that for some reason isn’t showing up on Delta, so that’s interesting too, though I don’t really have time to look into it

      Reply
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