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.
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.
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.