Ford’s Thoughts On Booking Flights Last Minute

I’ve been fortunate to take a few amazing award trips over the past several months with Ford, including in Emirates and Cathay Pacific first class. Since Ford previously had no clue about miles & points, it has been really fun to watch him react to various parts of our little “game,” and see the things he has learned.

Perhaps the biggest transition for him has been learning that often we have to wait till the last minute to book flights and plan travel, something 99% of people can’t wrap their heads around. So in this post he’s sharing his experiences with that.

For more from Ford, you can follow him on Instagram.


As many readers know, the best time to book flights with miles is ~11 months out or in the final few days before departure, as airlines frequently make awards seats available at the time the flights are first scheduled and again, based on availability, in the final days and hours leading to departure.

I am, for better and for worse, Type-A. I am the person who books dinner reservations 30 days in advance and who knows where he’ll be at 4PM in 7 days. I barely need a schedule because I’ve usually visualized and rehearsed where I’ll go and what I’ll do beforehand.

While I do not resist spontaneity and have found that last minute trips, dinners, drinks, and parties are often those memories I cherish the most and remember vividly, I like to have a plan in place regardless… So I am probably not as spontaneous as I think I am or would like to be, but I’m on the path, especially now that I travel with Ben.

Lucky would like to forget the number of times I have asked (nagged?) him about flight details and confirmations. “Is it ticketed?” I often inquire, trying to flesh out our itinerary and determine how certain our travel plans are.

It’s really not normal to be “planning” to travel internationally in a few days without any flights booked or hotels reserved. In fact, how can one plan to travel somewhere without any plans at all?! Seems counterintuitive to me. So without any concrete plans, I stay mum about our imminent travel “plans,” which must be a bit confusing to friends and family.

When Ben and I flew to Hong Kong from San Francisco in Cathay Pacific First Class, we booked the flight less than 24 hours beforehand. One minute, I’m telling people I’ll see them tomorrow for coffee, the next I’m canceling because I’m taking a last minute trip to Asia.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset
Surprise! I’m in Hong Kong.

Which is crazier – to say you’re going somewhere without any itinerary or to traverse the planet as seats become available? I’d love to know how others feel. In any case, that seems to be the essence of partaking in the “hobby.” I’ve learned what makes a “hobbyist” exceptional is the precision and accuracy with which one knows award space will become available in the days leading up to departure. Lucky is decent at that, and I’m learning to trust the system. 😉

We were actually able to snag three seats in the Etihad First Class Apartment on the A380 from New York to Abu Dhabi the day after Christmas, which was a bit of a change from our initial plan to fly from Miami to Doha on Qatar on the way to the Maldives and then continue to Male in Economy. With some persistence and close monitoring, we ended up flying the best hard product in the world to Abu Dhabi and then onto Male in Business.

Etihad-Dinner-Party
Dinner for three on the Etihad A380!

Just today, I found us two seats in the Etihad Apartments to Sydney next week, which is one of the busiest travel times of the year. I can’t help but feel rather satisfied.

Even I, the ultimate planner, have realized the benefit to flexibility and last minute bookings. It pays off.

About Ford

Ford is a 20-something Angeleno, originally from Manhattan, and raised in Newport, Rhode Island. After completing his studies at Brown University and Phillips Exeter Academy and returning to NYC for a year, he settled in Los Angeles. He’s an avid traveler, bootcamp fanatic, and devotee of life’s ever-changing journey. You can follow Ford on Instagram @fordbeckett.

More articles by Ford »

Comments

  1. I was hoping Lucky would have learned from the backlash against Ford’s recent posting snafu. I guess he hasn’t. What love will do …

  2. Before the flood of negative comments, can I just implore everyone to be rational? Lucky is a prodigious blogger — he probably puts up north of 5 posts a day on average — and if he puts up one from his boyfriend, it’s really not a big deal nor worthy of any vitriol.

  3. Blogs are meant, first and foremost, as entertainment. If anyone doesn’t feel like reading a post titled “Ford’s Thoughts On Booking Flights Last Minute” then skip it. This is a travel blog, repeat a travel blog, so to expect some kind of journalistic standards a la the NYT op-ed is just silly.

  4. Lucky, you have a boyfriend, we get it and are all very happy for you.

    I have a girlfriend, I’m an accountant, a really rather good one. My Girlfriend isn’t. She doesn’t come to work as an accountant with me.

    Just saying…….

  5. @chancer

    If entertainment is the cornerstone of a travel blog then why does this post fail so miserably at it? Just because this is a blog doesn’t mean its author should prop up an unqualified nobody to speak on topics that he knows nothing about.

    This guy is the Kim Kardashian of Boardingarea. The only reason we know him is because of who he’s sleeping with and now we’re giving him a voice so he can impose his uneducated opinion on people who don’t want to hear it.

  6. It was a fine post Ford!

    I’m a hobbyist. And a planner. Very few can afford to travel without a regular job. You don’t have to give up planning to go on great trips. I have 3 trips ticketed for 2016, great flights(CX F, EY F, AA J in the 77W LAX-LHR). all planned well in advance, hotels all lined up, etc.

  7. @neil – he doesn’t work, he’s a princess remember.

    To be honest, these lame posts probably net lucky the most money given how many page views these get just to view the comments.

    But seriously, you lose credibility every time you let crap posts like this on your site Ben

  8. Nice post Ford. I am a world traveler. I just hit my 67th country and as schooled as I am on intl travel I could never travel with 24 hours notice. Always keep the balance of work and family but enjoy each and every travel moment.

  9. Even though I know the best award availability is last minute, I have yet to book a trip just a few days in advance. I’m way too neurotic about planning.

    But I’m going to Tokyo in April, and though I’ve booked my flights for that, I’m hoping a better option arises at the last minute that I can switch to (right now I’m doing JAL SAN-NRT, which is an angled-flat product…I’d much prefer to be in one of their Sky Suites).

  10. You guys need to look up “The Hobby” and “Hobbyist” on Urban Dictionary. I’m not sure that is what you are going for.

  11. I like Ford’s post & now that Lucky is doing so much couples’ travel I’m looking forward to the inevitable 1 Frist Class & 1 Biz class ticket dilemma. One which I will find myself in heading to Asia next month if more F space doesn’t open up last minute. 🙂

  12. I really appreciate all the reviews that you both have posted on here. I do, however, have a serious question: Do you all pay for carbon offsets for all these trips? I mean, you’re gallivanting across the world, which is super awesome, but I wonder how this affects the environment, especially when you’re flying simply for the sake of flying. Your carbon footprint is presumably much higher than most people in the world, and I’m just curious as to how you do so in a environmentally responsible way…

  13. Happy NY Ford and Ben. Great post mate. The naysayers are just jealous of all your jet setting and experiences. Get a life people’s LOL.

  14. Good post, thanks. Key takeaway for me is that it’s actually quite different doing this gig as a couple rather than solo. That’s why Ben’s trips are even more challenging to pull off and why the posts from Ford are enlightening from the partner’s perspective. Ignore the haters, keep doing what you enjoy.

  15. First of all, let me wish Ford, Ben and the entire OMAAT team health, wisdom, kindness and happy travels in 2016.

    Ben’s blog has always been a mixture of trip reports and personal reflections, so I’m surprised that some of this posts criticism. Those readers would probably be better served by subscribing to The Points Guy ( http://thepointsguy.com/ ), where you will find all the useful information, news, tips and trip reports minus the more personal stuff.

  16. In a couple weeks I’ll be meeting up with my bf on one last Asian adventure before he moves stateside. I know I’ll be on cx but who knows what flight. He’s finally stopped asking when I’ll arrive.

  17. Thank you for the post, keep them coming. I appreciate what time and effort you put into this site. I really do envy you both. Happy New Year Ben and Ford X

  18. I appreciate the post, Ford. I can identify.

    That style of travel is unfortunately more difficult being based in a place like Wichita, KS as compared to somewhere like LA, Miami, San Fran, or NY.

  19. Two thoughts about all of this (well, 3 if you count “if you don’t want to read this accurately titled piece, don’t, but don’t read it and then whine about it”):
    -I’m also a planner by nature. I have a job that permits no flexibility (I need the permission of multiple courts to leave town on any workday, ever.) I love this hobby, but am 100% in the “331 days out” camp. Even if my work allowed for spontaneity, my nature never would. I’ll be VERY interested to see how Ford feels about all of this in another year or so, when all that NRE is gone.
    -I’m in what I am a sure is a small minority : those who will really miss the solo traveler tips. While my tastes and preferences are very different than Lucky’s (well, we both like men and luxury travel, but that’s about it), I always travel alone, so it’s been kind of nice having a fellow solo traveler who didn’t care about needing 2 tix in J. Oh well.

  20. Holy hell, people like to bitch and whine. What’s wrong with reading about someone’s descent into points & miles madness? Obviously you aren’t going to learn new skills from someone who’s just gotten into it, but would it kill you to remember what it was like back when you were just starting out? I like Ford’s posts, since I’m fairly new to this world as well, and it’s nice to remember that there are other like me, rather than this being a world populated only by experts and bizarrely judgmental blog commenters.

  21. Taking the high road here cause everyone whines on Ford posts, its interesting to see this opinion shared as it would be a huge adjustment for most people unless you’ve been around the hobby for quite some time.

    On that note, Ford and Lucky, you said you found Etihad F to SYD, please book a transcon in Australia to sample both of the new QF and VA J products. They only run these between Perth and the east coast and would be interesting to see how they compare to other carriers around the world/in the US. Please? 🙂

  22. Hoped to get in before the “meh” turds. Ford, I like your posts. It’s fun and refreshing to hear from someone who’s jumping head-first into the hobby (in the company of its best ambassador.) Keep up the good work.

  23. Better to remain silent than post that. It’s taking the Silly Season too literally. NORC! (no-one really cares, in case you’re wondering, Ford.

  24. Lord have mercy! A bunch of busted bitches finna post mean comments the minute a post goes live? And on New Year’s Eve? Lawd!

    Ford you’re the Kim to Ben’s Kanye and y’all gonna have one hell of an airline baby. Certainly not a Midwest based low cost carrier — am I right?!

  25. I’m all for posts with a different perspective, so thank you Ford.

    I don’t understand people bitching about it. It was clear in the title what the post was about. If you’re not interested, save yourself the time and don’t read it.

  26. I am shocked at how people moan about Ford, he and Ben run this website, if you don’t like it move on. I love Ford’s comments, I love ben’s. Long may this site rule as a great site for us jealous ones!

  27. I read OMAAT for entertainment . I enjoy Ben’s observations and humor and now Ford’s as well . There are almost too many ‘ how to do it ‘ blogs if that’s what you seek .
    Ignore the trolls and keep up the good work Lucky .

  28. I am from the uk and my wife and I love to read all the information on this website. Obviously the UK equivalent of this website is more relevant to us but we both feel it’s fun to read your stories and share your experiences.

    I say happy new year to you both and please keep up your great work.

    We live totally different lives but it’s interesting we have the same hobby.

  29. One other thought is that a lot of people take great pleasure from trip planning and anticipating a trip months ahead of time. The nytimes had a only mildly interesting article about this a few years ago. Anyhow, that does seem to be one downside of last-minute travel. Trips are short – anticipating and remembering are much longer and ultimately where a lot of the enjoyment comes from. You get to remember a trip regardless of how planned, but the anticipation seems diminished.

  30. I find Ford’s posts useful. I’m also gay, I’m also the one “hobbyist” in my couple and Ford brings an insight I value. I would prefer Ben and Ford continue to follow their whims, post unexpectedly and defy all the customizers who want this or that “not” to appear. If your RSS feed won’t filter out Ford, then stop subscribing.

    If you want to use the word “princess”, expect to be accused of homophobia. Or, demostrate you’re gay (follow my example; I’ve dropped a sequin the size of a salad bowl and survived quite handily. Then again, I can write in complete sentences…) I’m white so I don’t get to use the N word. It’s not complicated. It’s OK to use “princess” if we all know you mean it with affection and self-deprecation. We’ll only believe that if you’re in The Tribe.

    I find Lucky’s blog the most satisfying read in my daily online perusals. It’s partly luxury “porn”, it’s partly practical advice or hints, it’s partly other things. Bring it on Ben and Ford.

    I agree with those who suspect Ben is working to increase page visits. In this respect his interests don’t align perfectly with ours. But that doesn’t make him wrong, or a target. OMAAAT is not a charity. Ben has to eat, provide what we want (to keep us visiting) and satisfy his own aspirations. It costs money; I haven’t sent him any and neither have you. Someone has to pay for all this free stuff we’re enjoying. So let’s cut him some slack.

    There’s an aviation metaphor for all this bitching: “We love this supersonic travel but can you please take the noisy things off the wings?”

    Ignore the trolls.
    Write what you want, Ben.
    Write what you want, Ford.
    Titel your posts accurately as you have in the past.
    Write what we want also.

    Mean people suck.

  31. The level of vitriol on Ford’s blog illustrates the breakdown of civility that has permeated are society. Ford shows great courage in continuing to write from his perspective when he knows that some people have nothing better to do than to spew their drivel, which is not constructive.

    My own thoughts are that blog owners can take their blogs in whatever direction they deem in their best interest. While I much preferred OMAAT when Lucky was the only blogger, I can respect that this was an exhausting task given the large number he posted daily.

    The blog will continue to evolve as circumstances change and readers can choose to participate or not.

  32. Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate…. Shake it off. Keep posting, Ford. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it!

  33. Jeez. Real class to bitch about something you don’t pay a cent for, except a couple minutes of time, which you could avoid if you read the title and don’t think you are interested. The sense of entitlement some people feel is amazing.

  34. Ford —
    I, for one, love reading your posts. It must be fascinating to date and travel with Ben.
    One of the reasons I read OMAAT is the personal details. I found this because of the Rolling Stone article, but I stayed because it’s just a great daily read, and I’m learning something each time I visit.
    It’s not just about points and trips — these are people with lives, who get pleasure and fulfillment from these flat beds and fancy meals and showers in the sky.
    Kudos to you all, Happy New Year, and may you find continued happiness in your jetsetting!!!
    –Glen

  35. YYZgayguy: I don’t think you have authority to instruct others in how they may use the English language. Petty dictator.

  36. One thing I learned from these Comments is that a few people don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘troll’…

  37. @Jack: I didn’t instruct. I warned. It was reasonable, wasn’t it? If you use the N word, people will react and one thing they’ll be interested in is whether you’re black or not. I warned what one should “expect”. I think I’m in a fair position to have a position on this; I think my prediction is appropriate.

    I’m not picking a fight with you. When straight guys write unfriendly, unhumourous posts referring to Ford as a “princess” that is bigoted behaviour, which is uncivil. It offends me and it offends other civil people.

    Use the language as you like Jack. By all means exercise your freedom. And expect to be read and judged, as we all will be.

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