web Musings of The Global Traveller

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Some award availability tips

Earlier I wrote how you can use some online tools to check award availability. However this is only half the story.

On some programs (for example United Mileage Plus) the available awards on partner airlines are less than that shown using Air Canada or ANA lookup tools.

Some frequent flyer programs (FFPs) release additional seats to their elite members - for example Qantas Frequent Flyer in economy class or Air New Zealand Airpoints in business class.

Others may have guaranteed award seats available for elites, possibly at increased award cost - for example Lufthansa Miles and More Senator members may convert any seat available for paid bookings on the home airlines into an award seat at a cost of double mileage (this benefit has restrictions on its use).

Finally, some FFPs will go the extra mile for (some of) their elite members by forcing the release of paid seat into award.

The moral of the story - even if the online tools show no availability it may still be worth phoning your frequent flyer program for a redemption. Of course it helps to be prepared with alternate routing, airline and date options to suggest. The agent's computer may not automatically suggest alternatives and the agent may not be aware of all of the possibilities. For non obvious routing possibilities I use the alliance online timetable tools extensively.

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