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What's your airline redemption strategy?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Airline Programs' started by italdesign, Apr 17, 2017.

  1. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    By now it's well known that AA-metal award space has become close to non-existent, culminating in this post by VFTW:

    Which made me reflect on my redemption strategy. Two years ago, I did many domestic leisure trips, flying primarily on AA. I redeemed either BA or AA miles, and award space was pretty good (excellent for US Airways F for int'l F/J positioning). That year I also was OWS (thanks for the match, AB), which got me MCE at the time of booking. I connected frequently at DFW, where I enjoyed Centurion Lounge's heavenly 15min massage numerous times. Fond memories. It worked out well overall.

    Times are changing. Coincidentally nowadays I'm shifting my vacation days to int'l trips, so this year I might only have 2-3 domestic flying trips. I am loving WN's refundable miles for those, and I almost always get it for less than 12.5k each way (and often much less). I've used it for years as my primary or secondary domestic program.

    DL has also come in handy many times for domestic and Canada trips. They are great for Western Canada, Alaska, and upper Midwest compared to AA and UA. As much as it has devaluated, it continues to serve me well broadly.

    In summary, Domestic:
    -DL for Western Canada/Alaska/upper Midwest
    -SQ for UA metal
    -WN for everything else.

    International (US origin):
    -DL*, AC, OZ for Europe
    -AA for Asia and South America J
    -AS for Asia F
    -BA for short haul anywhere.

    * before the most recent deval; have to re-eval for future.

    How about you?
  2. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    btw, I'm increasingly unable to book awards end-to-end. More and more, I have to book separate positioning flights on either end. This is a result of both more limited award space and the type of places I'm going to (increasingly more off-the-beaten-path). I don't like it, but am learning to live with it.
  3. heavenlyjane

    heavenlyjane Level 2 Member

    Primarily we book flights with SW because of our family companion pass. Additionally I tend book OWs so if price drops, I can cancel and rebook. Mostly I am booking 6+ months ahead of time.
  4. lpaca

    lpaca Level 2 Member

    Pretty much just Flexperks for flights. Booked 1 trip to Italy using AA miles and it was a pain to find the right availability. Ended up having to fly through Miami on the way back that led to a 8 hour delay and getting home at 5am. Personally more a fan of using flexible points for flights (UR if Flexperks runs out) and using brand-specific points for hotels (easy to find availability, usually no resort fees, great cancellation policy compared to cash).
  5. heavenlyjane

    heavenlyjane Level 2 Member

    FlexPerks is getting us to Curacao next Christmas-New Years week. I try to redeem points when the balance reaches 40,000 points because I fear FP might close my account suddenly.
  6. Hanoi IG

    Hanoi IG Level 2 Member

    I don't really know from "positioning flights." We are 3 hours or less from EWR, JFK, IAD, PHL, BWI and 15 minutes from MDT so we just go wherever. We have not yet just gone somewhere because it was available. We decide where we are going and then see if any of our miles(SQ, LifeMiles mostly) will give us anything. If not we see about using UR or MR. If not, we just pay.
  7. nickelfish1

    nickelfish1 Level 2 Member

    We booked the same week with AA saver awards for the four of us and using one of our seven night Marriott certs for the hotel...which I did right before the Cat increase. Since the hotel isn't on the beach we've booked the Santa Barbara for two nights and just not checking out of Marriott...leaving most of our crap there and taking overnight bags.

    Let my two Alaska companion tickets expire....I really need to close one of my cards now that I think of it.
  8. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    AA and partners are my go to. I psych myself for an extreme amount of patience and HUCAing. Just booked flights using AA miles on LATAM to Argentina for spring 2018 in J on mile saver. At least 12 phone calls. Still have one flight on hold waiting for a domestic leg to open in F, but not the end of the world if that portion is Y for the return.

    Our dates were pretty flexible too - so we went with what we could find.
  9. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    This is the spirit I had early in the game. Now I'm spoiled and if I don't nail something in one call, I just switch to a different option. I dread call centers and do everything I can to avoid dialing.

    But curiously, what took so many calls?
  10. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    I booked two one ways for flexibility. So about 6 calls for each. And when I don't get a good agent, I definitely HUCA. Last night an agent told me that if I wanted to change from MIA to PHL it would cost another 25k per person. This was on a hold ticket. I was holding the international flights hoping for a domestic connection to get back to PHL. 30 minutes later, I got another agent. He was able to add the domestic in Y for now so I left on hold, and was able to change the outbound to F from Y. I usually know in the first 2 minutes how the call is going to go!

    I don't like it, but I do it.
  11. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    You have patience. I base it on the first 2 seconds of greeting. If it doesn't sound at least semi-competent, I HUCA.

    BTW, try to avoid LATAM's 767 J. Just tried it and really cramped. Their 787 was better.
  12. R.R.

    R.R. Level 2 Member

    Me too. I hate calling, whether airlines, banks, etc. I aim for easiest use, and often end up using 3-4 different programs to book all the flights on a single trip to Europe. For example, my trip next month includes flying Icelandair on AS miles, Lufthansa on United miles, and returning home on Air France via Delta miles -- all booked online.

    That said, I'm sure calling occasionally will be in my future, and I will have to tolerate it and remember the end goal!
  13. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    Yes on 787!

    You're right, less than 2 minutes! I was being kind!

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