Ask Lucky

Have a travel related question? Post it here, and I’ll do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.
If you have questions about how to search for award space or how to redeem miles I’ve probably already answered it in a more detailed post, so check out the “Tips & Tutorials” page for some quick references.
This space is intended to be more of a community as well, so feel free to jump in and share tips!

Comments

  1. Carlos says

    Just saw your first class ranking on flightfox. I think you will make a post about that, but I couldn´t wait to comment: Lufhansa on 7th place?? Are you on a break? And Swiss on 5th? Are you cheating LH with his little sister/brother? I´m shocked! :-)

  2. lucky says

    @ Anna — I’m embarrassed to admit it’s not something I’ve looked into — I have the same coverage I had before moving into hotels. Let me add it to my list of post ideas, and if I have any insight I’ll make a post about it. Thanks!

  3. sheldon cooper says

    Lucky,

    I am traveling to Japan in October and am flying back and forth on OZ F (booked using UA Pre-devaluation miles), and am breaking the journey on the return with a stay for a day in Seoul. I am thinking about changing my return flights (for various reasons) and currently, there is no F available from NRT to JFK, via ICN on OZ or on ANA, LH etc. Should I wait until we are closer to the date of our return and then check for LH F availability. In your experience, what is the likelihood of LH F opening up on the NRT/HND-FRA and FRA-JFK/EWR routes within the two-week window?

    Thanks a lot.

  4. lucky says

    @ sheldon cooper — I’d say the chances are pretty good, without knowing your exact dates. Keep in mind it might not be right at the two week window, but might be even closer to departure than that. Good luck, crossing my fingers for you!

    PS: Cool name!

  5. dan ray says

    I’m currently AA Exec Plat and I’m thinking of going for US AIr Chairman’s preferred challenge. Do you think if I booked flights on AA and received my upgrade notice that I could then switch my mileage earning to US Air online or at the gate prior to the flight? Is that possible?

  6. lucky says

    @ dan ray — I don’t believe that’s possible. Once a complimentary upgrade has been confirmed you can’t change the mileage number.

  7. George says

    Hi Lucky. I heard you on Pete Dominick’s show. Thanks for doing that, because I had completely disregarded this miles thing long ago, and am now reconsidering it.

    Here is my situation. We fly to Malaysia almost yearly, but the financial toll on my family (we both work full time) caused us to have to wait until next year. After learning about this “program”, I thought to myself that it would be a great present to my family to be able to fly us all, round-trip, in first-class. Since we have a year and a half to plan, maybe we can hit another country on the way. we both have 700+ credit scores, and we can stream, probably, about $100k through a card for points.

    My question is this. How hard is it going to be to get the points needed to do the above for 2 adults and 2 children? Preferably, 3 adults if I can take my mom (who has never been outside the US).

    Thanks, so much, and keep it up.

  8. lucky says

    @ George — Welcome and thanks for reading! Absolutely is feasible with a bit of work, though if you’re looking for 4-5 seats on a single flight then I think business class is more realistic than first class (simply since most airlines don’t release four first class award seats on a single flight). Be sure to check out my beginner’s guide, but I think this is very doable.

    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/whats-the-point/

  9. Melanie says

    Dear Lucky,

    Longtime fan and reader of your blog~
    Please pardon me if this has been discussed before in your blog or you already wrote about this (if you did, please kindly point me to the right direction).
    I have some questions so I will break it down into points, really grateful if you could answer each of them as it really means a lot to me:

    1. Booked an award seat in first class on AA metal using AA miles to secure the award flight SFO-NRT next April, then want to change it to JAL/Cathay flight in first class (same destination – no change in class, only the flight, date and time), will there be any fee to change? I’ve heard as long as the origin and destination still the same, no change fee, is this true?

    2. I did the search (I chose no stopover option) for SFO – NRT on BA website but no result at all, even in economy….no flight on BA as well as partner airlines, what did I do wrong here?

    3. Then I searched for SFO – HND (Haneda) and got one result, it only shows partner award availability in JAL premium economy class only, no availability on business or first :( . Will keep checking every day, but my worry is since my original ticket is AA metal first class for SFO-NRT, then if I change to Cathay SFO-HND, that means the destination is different (NRT verse HND)?? Then will I have to pay change fee?

    4. If I found the availability, what should I say when calling AA to change the award booking? Could I say “I would like to change my award booking that I made earlier on AA metal to Cathay”. Sorry it may sounds silly but I am a newbie and this is my first time to book award flight so I want to know the right words to say to the agent to avoid misunderstanding and extra unnecessary charges.

    5. Also, if I have some miles sitting in Alaska Airlines account and some in AA, how to combine both miles to book Cathay’s business or first class? If using Alaska Airline miles alone is not enough, have to combine both Alaska and American so the total mileage would be enough to book for Cathay’s business class.

    Thanks a lot Lucky!

  10. lucky says

    @ Melanie –

    1) Generally you can make changes without a fee as long as the origin and destination remain the same, though if you switch from travel completely on American to travel including partner airlines then that isn’t the case. You have to keep it within the same categorization of American award or oneworld award.

    2) That just means there’s no availability.

    3) In practice co-terminal airport changes do result in a change fee. That being said, Cathay Pacific doesn’t fly San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda — it’s Japan Airlines you’re thinking of.

    4) Yes, you just tell them what you want, no tricks to it. :)

    5) There’s no way to combine miles from two currencies towards a single booking.

  11. Justin says

    Hey Lucky,

    A couple of questions-

    1) How would you suggest is the best way to get to Ireland? from NYC/PHL/BOS (any of them, I live in NY).

    2) Have you ever been to Panama? We were thinking of going, any recommendations?

  12. Melanie says

    @Lucky

    Thanks for the prompt reply! Plus answering each of my question, I’m really touched and appreciate it! Just want to let you know while you maybe think you just sitting on front of computer answering questions for your readers out there, in reality what you do is really helping lots of people’s life, they (including me) would be able to travel and enjoy the life-changing experience and it’s because they learn it from you and would remember you forever when they remember how they plan for the trip! You’re the most awesome blogger and inspiration to a lot of people out there including me and my friends and families!

    Questions in respond to your answer:
    1.) Thanks for correcting me, yes I saw the availability SFO-HND for JAL, not Cathay. So Cathay doesn’t have flight for SFO-NRT/HND that could be booked using AA miles?

    2.) “Generally you can make changes without a fee as long as the origin and destination remain the same, though if you switch from travel completely on American to travel including partner airlines then that isn’t the case. You have to keep it within the same categorization of American award or oneworld award.” ==========> Pardon my clumsiness, but I still have hard time understanding this. Just want to be clear, if I already booked award seat using AA miles for first class on AA metal for SFO-NRT, then if I found an availability on JAL’s first class later on for SFO-HND, do I have to pay any additional fee for changing the flights from AA to JAL?

  13. lucky says

    @ Melanie — Happy to!

    1) Correct, they only fly through Hong Kong, and American doesn’t let you route from the US to Asia 1 (Japan) via Asia 2 (Hong Kong).

    2) You would, unfortunately.

  14. Melanie says

    @ Lucky – Thank you! Too bad that I have to pay the additional fee for change the flight from AA to JAL. Do you know how much the fee would be for 2 persons(seats)? I’ve heard it’s something around $150 but not sure if it’s per person or per booking? If per person then I have to pay $300 for 2 persons. And do I have to pay an additional $30/person phone booking fee again on top of that?
    Also, when I asked the AA phone rep to do this, do you think that they would have to cancel my existing AA award seats first then redeposit my AA miles then make a new booking for JAL award seats?

  15. lucky says

    @ Melanie — It’s $150 for the first passenger and $25 for each additional passenger on the same reservation. There should be no fees beyond that. They should be able to hold new seats while making the change, so there’s no “risk.”

  16. Danny says

    Just tried to book a flight with Air Canada on UA Metal: SFO – FRA, but the Aeroplan agent said they don’t show availability. I check both UA and ANA and both showed the flight available for first class award.

    Did I get a bad agent, or is there some sort of issue with award buckets for Air Canada?

  17. lucky says

    @ Danny — Sounds like you got a bad agent. I would hang up and call again. If they don’t see it, I would ask them to “direct sell” it, which I’ve found Aeroplan agents generally pretty willing to do.

  18. Danny says

    Thanks for the advice. It’s funny I just checked their site and AC wasn’t showing available there either. What’s “Direct Sell” in terms of award ticketing?

  19. lucky says

    @ Danny — It just means the agent is requesting the space, and then it either comes back confirmed or denied. If the lack of availability is just a system glitch then the space should come back confirmed.

  20. Matt says

    Lucky,
    Thinking more about your concept of value in awards – have you evaluated award redemptions in terms of hours of flight per mile spent or miles flown per mile spent? Do you think that would be a useful metric?

  21. larry says

    ben, my wife has a delta amex card with no fee and doesnt use it now. have about 185k pts. would it make sense to get delta busines amex card with the 50k pts to add to her balance. we want to use delta for australia next couple of years. she also has amex premier card and you had said for us to switch to amex everyday or preferred and get those miles, too. thanks.

  22. lucky says

    @ Matt — I don’t think there’s much marginal value in terms of the hours in a flight. In other words, I can’t say I enjoy a 17 hour flight more than a 12 hour flight, for example. So personally I don’t find that to be a very significant metric.

  23. lucky says

    @ larry — Seems like a good option given how big the sign-up bonus is, so it’s definitely something I would consider.

  24. Larry says

    Hi Lucky — need to book a partner award using AA miles and it’s opening in a few days. There is exactly enough space. I know you’ve mentioned before that AA.com seems to open the calendar for 331 days in advance at midnight central, but that even though partner flights will sometimes show up right at midnight, it will give an error message for a few hours when you try to book them. I’ve noticed this too when trying to book HA flights using AA miles, but I’ve never been able to stay awake long enough to keep trying to see when the partner space becomes bookable. I just usually go to sleep and hope it’s still there in the morning. This time, I really want to make sure I grab the seats. Do you have any experience what time in the middle of the night at -331 days the partner space actually becomes bookable?

  25. lucky says

    @ Larry — Somewhere around 3AM CT in my experience, though really not a science in my experience. If it’s really important for you to snag an exact flight and you think it will disappear, it might be worth staying up.

  26. larry says

    ben, do you know amex policy on past bankruptices, i had one almost 10 years ago next month and have over 800 credit score and other cards, citi, barclays, etc. Same question with chase. both cards were part of the bk. is is worth applying ever or after 10 yrs then apply? thanks.

  27. lucky says

    @ larry — Sorry, don’t have any experience or knowledge about that. If it was 10 years ago and your credit score is good, I might try applying again.

  28. Matt says

    @Lucky – “In other words, I can’t say I enjoy a 17 hour flight more than a 12 hour flight, for example.”

    So to make up a contrived example – if you needed to go HKG-LAX, you wouldn’t consider a transatlantic routing connecting in Europe as a better value than a direct or connecting in Asia award?

    (This assumes lots of things like award availability, that both cost the same price, that you don’t care about getting there faster, that both airlines are equally as good, etc etc etc)

  29. lucky says

    @ Matt — It all depends. Maybe, maybe not. For example, I get little marginal enjoyment out of two back-to-back longhauls, as I’m usually groggy by the second one. If I can get a stopover or something then I’d feel otherwise, but personally don’t get that much enjoyment out of a second back-to-back flight.

  30. sheldon cooper says

    Thanks Lucky! I am looking for 2 tickets to fly back from NRT-JFK the weekend of Oct 18…guess it is a bit too early to tell right now, and I cant see F on any other route, so will probably wait and hope to get in on LH. Is there an easy way of checking F availability on Korean Air if I want to cancel my return ticket and book it using UR?

  31. lucky says

    @ sheldon cooper — No way to tell this far out, unfortunately. You can only search Korean Air first class award space through ExpertFlyer, assuming you don’t have enough Korean Air miles in your SkyPass account. Otherwise you can call Korean Air to ask about availability.

  32. Nizar says

    Hi Ben,

    I am flying JFK-LHR in 744 F followed by J LHR-IST which unfortunately looks to be standard Y seating with the middle seats in the middle row of three blocked off which is really not good enough considering this leg is 3.5 hours and I am paying the F price (AA redemption).

    But anyway, my question is this, I heard that BA do have some sort of F arrivals lounge at LHR ? Will I get to use this or is this lounge only for those pax who have LHR as their final destination ? If I am not allowed access to that, are there any decent lounges for my transit ? I suppose the J lounge at BA should be decent given that its their home port but that said, I probably should not be expecting Al-Mourjan lol ?

    Cheers

  33. Bundy says

    @Lucky,

    I was wondering do you use any debit card to earn points? If yes – which one? If no, what would you recommend? I havent seen any top debit cards in your blogs. Would be nice!!!!

  34. lucky says

    @ Bundy — I actually don’t really use debit cards, since credit cards are generally rewarding. Most of the rewarding ones I know of either aren’t accepting new cardmembers anymore or just aren’t being issued anymore. Sorry.

  35. Ewan says

    I’d love to know what your opinions are on this issue. Planes from Australia and the US respectively have both turned around this week due to arguments on-board about people reclining in economy, or being prevented from doing so by these nasty devices

    http://www.kneedefender.com/

    The way I see it, when you buy a ticket, you pay for the right to recline, and you also pay knowing that you MAY be reclined upon, however the majority of people I discuss this with seem to disagree. Having a peruse on the Guardian and Mail, the general consensus is that those that recline are selfish. I know you don’t have to deal with this at the front of the plane (major envy), but I’m sure you’ve experienced it at some point. I know it depends on the length of the flight, but I really don’t see how you can blame someone for utilising the function of their seat, or maybe it’s to do with good grace and manners, and not reclining if asked politely not to? Personally, I think those devices are cheeky, moronic and downright arrogant. Where do you sit? (pun unintended) ;)

  36. Mark says

    Hey Ben–I’ve been blessed by the Amex Gods and received a 100k Amex Biz Plat targeted mailing about six months ago and just recently a 150k Amex Biz Plat targeting mailing. Because they have different spend conditions, I can’t just upgrade the 100k offer to the 150k offer like you sometimes can with Chase or others.

    Given Amex’s pretty strict recent new rules about not getting sign up bonuses twice for the same card, I was wondering if you knew if this restriction would still be in place if I applied under a different business name and EIN but yet still my personal name and SSN as well (since that is obviously required). Do you know based on your (or others experiences) whether I would get the 150k on this second card? I’d rather not pay the $450 annual fee and charge $20k on the card to find out all I get is 20k MR pts for my $20k in spend. That would be terrible. Thanks for any advice you can offer!

  37. Bgriff says

    Lucky, I was considering booking a trip in SQ Suites from New York to Australia thanks to your tips, but was wondering, do you know if those flights would have the full dinner service with caviar vs the more limited supper service that you’ve noted is less exciting? Is there anywhere to find that information on SQ’s website? Thanks!

  38. lucky says

    @ Bgriff — Yes, the JFK-FRA flight absolutely has a full dinner service, and then FRA-SIN would be a lunch service, so should be great in terms of the meals.

  39. lucky says

    @ Mark — I’m not positive, but I *believe* with AmEx you can only get the bonus for one business card per SSN, even if they’re different businesses. I could be mistaken, though.

  40. Abhi says

    Hi Lucky
    I am using a award booking service from a reputable blogger.
    Do all of them require you to give them your award account password(example AA password when booking thorugh AA).
    Or is there a workaround?
    -Abhi

  41. Jig says

    Lucky,

    I’m getting some confusing results on an award search and I was hoping you wouldn’t mind taking a look and indicating what you think is happening. As part of a bigger trip, I am looking at 2 Business seats on SN502 JFK-BRU on June 4 2015 using Aeroplan miles. Aeroplan’s website does not show it, but ANA does. Called United and they don’t see it. Called Aeroplan to ask them to search for the specific flight and they don’t see it either. Any thoughts whether this is phantom, a time lag of some sort for the North American partners, or what?

  42. lucky says

    @ Abhi — Yes, in order to book a ticket for you they would need your account information. In theory they could otherwise walk you through the process, but that takes away a lot of value from the service and can be quite time consuming.

  43. lucky says

    @ Jig — Brussels can be weird sometimes for reasons I can’t really explain. It might just be one of those really cases where there’s a discrepancy in availability, and there’s nothing that can be done. I’d try again in a few days, but it could just be one of those really unlucky cases.

  44. Justin says

    Hi Lucky,

    How are you doing with the recent shocking revelations that Hello Kitty is not a cat?

    :-P

  45. Jane says

    Lucky,

    I read your post on when the award availability starts to open up on some airlines, in general, most of them open on 300 something days before the departure date. My question is, as in first and business award seat availability, will we have a bigger chance in finding the award availability right when airlines open it up on the first day of the 300 something days before the departure date, OR a couple weeks before the departure date? This is very useful to know since we can know when to be ready and alert to search for award availability, 300 something days or couple weeks prior departure.

  46. Jane says

    @ Lucky, Thanks for the link! It’s very informative and useful! Just want to confirm, so for the airlines that you listed in your link that famous for releasing award space closer to departure date (Singapore Air, JAL, Cathay), there is no point of standing by and be ready to search for award on the 300 something days before the departure when the airlines first release their award availability, correct?

  47. RPM says

    Lucky – any thoughts or experience flying F on AUH-DFW EY 161? It shows up as a 777-200LR flight and EY site doesnt have a seatmap for the plane (neither does seatguru), so I am wondering it the lack of details is for a reason :)

    Any advice on this leg will be appreciated.

  48. lucky says

    @ RPM — Yes, it’s an ex-Air India 777, which should have the same exact cabin configuration to Etihad’s A340s and 777-300ERs. Very nice product!

  49. Bob P says

    Lucky

    My partner and I were considering a trip to Dubai next spring. Although being gay is officially illegal, I’ve read that many of the hotels/resorts are very friendly and welcoming. We understand the limitations on PDA but wanted to know whether you’ve ever been and your thoughts on the matter. It seems like it could be a fun, unique trip.

  50. Markus says

    Ben,

    A question about Park Hyatt Seoul – after reading your excellent review – I understand there is no club or grand lounge at all but some other reviews mention some sort of drinks and snacks being available near the 24th floor lobby. Do you recall anything or are they just referring to the Lounge that seems to be a kind of bar/cafe?

    Thanks!

  51. brit44 says

    Probably a dumb question but is there a way to do US to Australia via Russia/Europe with Aeroplan miles that’s not RTW pricing. How many stopovers would be allowed?

  52. lucky says

    Markus — I don’t believe there’s any complimentary evening offering, though it has been a few years since I’ve been there. Enjoy your stay regardless!

  53. lucky says

    @ brit44 — Nope, not with Aeroplan. Aeroplan allows two stopovers (one in each direction) OR one stopover and one open jaw. But you can’t do that routing.

  54. W says

    Hey, I filed a missing points claim of QFF and while it was logged into my activity statement, it shows – points and it did not add any points? The QFF customer service is not available where I live, so I’m now stuck and don’t know what to do. Anyone help?

  55. Dan says

    I also have a question about the Chase Business Ink Cash rewards card, which you rave so much about. I have this card, but I cannot transfer this to my Asiana Club mileage account. I have a United MileagePlus account, but hardly use it because my main Star Alliance carrier is Asiana. So what do you recommend that I do for transfer reward points from my Chase Ink cash card? Do you recommend that I transfer my reward points to my united mileageplus account? I don’t have any mileage going into my united accnt. should I start now? I think it would take me years to accumulate enough for an upgrade or free flight, and by that time my united miles will expire. your thoughts and recommendations?

  56. Buddy M. says

    Hey Lucky, just sitting here in the UsAirways lounge in PHX waiting for my flight to KOA. I was supposed to connect in LAX and catch AA flight in 1st class but because of mechanical delays I am now in coach, though direct to Kona. The flight I am taking will be leaving at least 4 and half hours later than original. What compensation, other than a refund of the difference in miles should I expect? By the way, my new itinerary is the only option to get there today on AA/Usairways metal.

  57. Johnbom says

    Lucky,

    If you were the victim of theft of your credit cards, how would you recover? It took me an average of 10 minutes per card to cancel and reissue. I can’t imagine how long that might take for you. The card issuers didn’t care that I had travel for next week. The replacement cards were going to the address on file.

    Also, what contingency plans would you have to settle the bill for the hotel you are currently living in, if the credit card is no longer valid?

    Luckily I found my wallet 12 hours later, so didn’t have to go to the DMV (the true nightmare scenario) or file a police report.

    I am going to have to rent a car with the debit card I don’t normally carry (and didn’t proactively cancel). Good times!

    Food for thought…

    Thanks!

  58. Chris says

    Hello Lucky, I have a question about a Delta flight that I will be taking. My wife and I are going to mexico in October and we are booked to fly a 757-200. My question is which aircraft is it between SLC to ATL on October 16 2014 DL14. I was wondering why they call it Business class and not first. I do understand when you are on a international flight they call there First Class, Business Class. Why do they call it Business between those two cities. Is it going to be a Business Elite seat as they re-position the aircraft and if so, what will the seat be?
    Chris

  59. lucky says

    @ Dan — They have several partner airlines, so it all depends what you’re trying to do. You’re correct that you can’t transfer them to Asiana, though you can transfer them to United, Korean Air, Hyatt, etc., all of which are fantastic programs, in my opinion. So lots of great options.

  60. lucky says

    @ Buddy M. — No compensation since they’re not violating the contract of carriage, but some “gesture of goodwill” is due. I’d email customer service and expect a voucher or some miles as a gesture of goodwill.

  61. lucky says

    @ Johnbom — I don’t travel with most of my credit cards and also have different passwords for everything. So in that situation don’t think more than one/all of them would be compromised. Theft is always a crappy situation, but there are at least ways to mitigate it.

  62. lucky says

    @ Chris — It’s the standard domestic first class product, but it’s referred to as business class because that same flight number continues to Frankfurt. So it’s a technicality and shouldn’t mean anything in practice. Agree it can be confusing.

  63. Mike says

    Hey Ben! Are we expecting a KLM trip report soon? I’m still very much looking forward to it. CHEERS

  64. Chris says

    I was wondering if you do giveaways on amenity kits? This is the best trip report site ever!!

  65. Jane says

    @ Lucky, I commented but haven’t get confirmation so I re-post my comment: Thanks for the link! It’s very informative and useful! Just want to confirm, so for the airlines that you listed in your link that famous for releasing award space closer to departure date (Singapore Air, JAL, Cathay), there is no point of standing by and be ready to search for award on the 300 something days before the departure when the airlines first release their award availability, correct?

  66. gonzo says

    If I convert my Marriott account to a Ritz account to apply now for the Ritz card MillionMiles mentioned in his post, would I then need to convert it BACK to a Marriott account if I intend on asking for a Platinum match early next year? I really need 3 month Platinum status, so I don’t want to screw this up.

  67. Abhi says

    Hi Lucky,
    I have 2 tickets for my parents from CCu to AMS connecting via BOM and AUH.
    I was wondering if those can be upgraded using miles/points. If yes which miles and points.
    Thanks so much.
    -Abhi

  68. Pat says

    Hey Lucky,

    Trying to plan a family vacay to Hawaii. Just curious what your thoughts are on business class products to Hawaii, is UA really my best option?!

  69. Gigi Lum says

    Hey Lucky!

    Have you heard of anyone being charged high taxes/surcharges on Iberia flight originating from the USA using US Airways Dividend Miles? I was just quoted over 1k per person in taxes in addition to the 100k miles. Has Iberia raised their fuel surcharges???? Please say it ain’t so….

  70. Loran says

    Hi Lucky,

    I’m trying to book PDX-ROR using Delta SkyMiles at the low level in J (140K RT for North America – Micronesia) and not surprisingly am having problems. Here’s what I found, with all individual flights available per Delta’s web site:
    AS PDX-LAX, KE LAX-ICN-HND — 21 hour layover in Tokyo — DL NRT-ROR
    DL ROR-NRT, KE NRT-ICN-LAX, AS LAX-PDX

    The first issue was that DL said HND and NRT are not co-terminals, so on the outbound the final NRT-ROR flight was pricing individually. Is this correct?

    Once that got fixed by flying to NRT instead (with a legal but uncomfortable 55 min layover in ICN) the award was still pricing too high, and they said it was because of the AS flights. Shouldn’t those be included? Is there a limit to the number of airlines that can flown on a ticket?

    As a side note, I initially tried to fly LAX-TPE on CI. Multiple days showed available in J, but when the agent tried to ticket it came back unavailable. I don’t know if the Flying Blue website is accurate for CI, but it did not show availability either.

    Thanks in advance for any insight!

  71. Gigi Lum says

    Hey Lucky!

    Has Iberia raised their fuel surcharges? I just tried to book SAN-CLT-BOS-MAD-ORY-MAD-MIA-CLT-SAN in business and was quoted $1050.63 per person in taxes and fees. I just came back from a trip to on Iberia with a pretty similar itinerary LAX-STL-ORD-MAD-ORY-MAD-LAX and was charged less than $200 per person. Is this a glitch or do I need to cross Iberia off my list??? Say it ain’t so…

  72. choi says

    Lucky, I was looking at Alaska award search to DXB and beyond to Asia for summer 2015 but to my shock, nothing, not one seat in any cities in N America. to check if its a mistake, I even look at close in this month, next and next and every month, not even one seat. whats going on with Emirates and Alaska ?

  73. lucky says

    @ Chris — I have in the past. When they’re worthwhile I try to, and will continue to in the future. Thanks for reading.

  74. lucky says

    @ Jane — No, many of them also release space when the schedule opens. The lists aren’t mutually exclusive.

  75. lucky says

    @ gonzo — I might be mistaken, but I don’t believe you can convert accounts. I think you have to choose one or the other and stick to it. Could be mistaken, though.

  76. lucky says

    @ Pat — I would aim for any flight operated by an international aircraft. Both United, American, and Delta operate select frequencies with aircraft that have international business class seats, so I would aim for them.

  77. lucky says

    @ Gigi Lum — It sounds to me like the agent was accidentally trying to charge the fuel surcharges that would be on revenue tickets, as opposed to the lower ones they should charge on awards. I would recommend hanging up and calling again.

  78. lucky says

    @ Loran — ROR is really tricky on awards. The issue is that Palau is a US territory, so you can’t legally book an award from the US to another point in the US via a third country, as it violates cabotage law. So to get there you’d have to book two separate tickets.

  79. Jack says

    Hi Ben,
    My wife and I will be traveling MUC to ORD later this week. We have one first class and one business class ticket on United.
    I’ve read your recent post on lounge access, searched your blog, and even tried searching the Munich airport and United websites. But I am still unsure about lounge access for us at the Munich airport.

  80. Jack says

    Hi Ben,
    I’m flying, together with a companion, MUC to ORD on UA later this week. We have one forst class ticket and one business class ticket.

    I’ve read your recent post and searched your blog and the UA website. I’m still confused as to what lounge(s) we are entitled to enter. We are both UA Gold (50k level) frequent flyers.

    Which lounges at MUC can we access fin conjunction with our upcoming flights?

    Thanks very much for any additional info you can provide.

    Jack

  81. lucky says

    @ Jack — You can use the Lufthansa Senator Lounge and can bring one guest based on your ticket in United first class.

  82. Zach says

    Hey Ben, you’ve got to check this out:

    http://www.ausbt.com.au/photos-british-airways-airbus-a350-club-world-business-class-prototype

    I’ve never flown BA F, but I’ve always wanted to despite high fuel surcharges and what you and Gary say about it being more like business class than first, just because the cabin looks so damn stylish and comfy. It’s a product I hope to redeem for soon, and for some reason I find it more aspirational than some other products that you prefer–even (dare I say it?) LH F.

    If this patent application is to be believed, then Club World is about to catch up to First in the style department, and become another aspirational redemption for me (I’d never redeem for the current J setup).

    Just thought you should know, so you can give your readers the scoop before anyone else :)

    Zach

  83. James Mc says

    I have booked for next April for 2 people.

    LHR – NRT BA First using companion voucher 75k avios plus taxes.

    I have 6 nights stopover and was thinking of visiting BKK or SGN… Yet to book these flights before visiting HKG

    HKG – LAX Cathay First costing 105k Avios for each ticket plus taxes

    I then have 2 weeks in California before flying SFR – LHR Virgin upper costing 50k flying club miles plus taxes per ticket…

    Lucky is there a more economical way to book this trip? I would prefer to fly first if possible and have lot of Avios and Virgin, but have some Amex points that I could transfer to any airline reward programme

    Regards

    James

  84. Dan says

    Lucky,

    I’m pressed for time and I need to fly out of ONT or SNA to get to San Diego (SAN). Although I could drive, I would very much fly and earn miles on United. The problem is, there are no direct flights from ONT or SNA to SAN. The only way to book is by taking a layover in SFO, i.e. SNA to SFO to SAN, and vice versa for the return trip. The flight is $380 to $420 for a roundtrip reservation. Is it worth it for the 1600 miles that I would accrue? I’m also a Star Alliance Gold and would be able to access the lounges at these airports.

    Secondly, I have 4 travel cards, and I’m having a hard time deciding which card to use as my “go to card”
    - Asiana Airlines American Express Card (3 miles for asiana airline purchases, 2 miles gas/groceries, 1 mile for everything else)
    - Chase Business Ink Cash Visa (5% on office supplies, cell phone, internet, cable 2% gas/restaurants, 1% everything else)
    - World Points Visa (3 points on every $1 purchased on BofA travel site, 1.5 points on every purchase
    - PenFed Premium Travel rewards (5 points on airfare, 1 point on everything else)

    Which credit card would you utilize the most? Chase Ink Cash would help me with my United MileagePlus, but I hardly have any miles in this account. 99% of all my miles are on my asiana account.

    Thanks

  85. lucky says

    @ Dan — Sorry, I’m a bit confused. If you’re pressed for time and need to get to San Diego, it seems like driving would be a better option than taking a huge flight detour, no? It’s definitely not worth it in terms of the miles you would earn, so that’s probably not something I would do.

    As far as those cards go, in general I would do the Ink Visa Card. I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred for most of my daily spend, as those points combine nicely with Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Ink.

  86. lucky says

    @ James Mc — There are definitely more economical ways to book at least part of it, but perhaps not with your mileage currencies. For example, Cathay Pacific first class from Hong Kong to Los Angeles would be a much better value with American miles (67,500 miles and no fuel surcharges), but if you don’t have them then that’s not so useful. With a companion voucher LHR-NRT is a great deal, and for San Francisco to London you did as well as you could.

    Sounds like a great trip and overall a great value. Only thing I would change is Hong Kong to Los Angeles if you had American miles, though doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

    Enjoy!

  87. james mc says

    Tks Lucky, I actually do have an mbna AA advantage, don’t have enough yet for the 2 tkts in first, but could purchase some AA and tfer Amex…

    What do you think if I cxl them and try re book through AA – what chances of getting same flight?

  88. lucky says

    @ james mc — That’s a toughie. With Cathay space doesn’t always go back, though sometimes does. So there would be a risk, and it’s not one I would take if the rest of the trip is already decided on.

  89. Ramz says

    Hi we will be traveling to Cape town from April 8th to April 22nd to 2015 from yyz to Cape town via Frankfurt. The Frankfurt part is on the Lufthansa 380 and will be in business class the whole time.
    My question what are the odds of us getting the new business class seats on the 380 part of our trip?

  90. lucky says

    @ Ramz — No way to know for sure this far out, but by then I think your chances are very good, as most A380s should have the new business class.

  91. Hasse says

    Hi Ben,
    Will be travelling the rest of the year between Europe and Hong Kong – Due to corporate travel policy I will mainly fly BA – First tripped on booked on the 777 Club World – Currently in seat 12K (Window – Misaligned)
    As the flight is a night fly, window is not a big issue – However, I have heard it should be difficult to get out from the window seats on the 777 in Club World – Any insights? ((only available other seats are center seats with and without direct aisle access)

  92. Simon says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have the choice of Etihad and Swiss in business class for a flight from Europe to Bangkok.

    Giving that I’m 186 cm tall, what would you recommend that I take (I’m more focused on the seat than on ground service/food).

    Thanks

  93. lucky says

    @ Hasse — I’ve never actually flown business class on the BA 777, so can’t say for sure. That being said, based on what I’ve seen I don’t think it should be too tough to get out, and for a night flight would ultimately still choose that. Enjoy the flight!

  94. Melissa says

    Can you double check this award rate for me.
    DBX-HKG-YVR-JFK-RDU
    85k aa miles per person
    Flying business all except JFK-RDU

    I know you always quote the first class fare as 67k so I wasn’t quite sure.
    Thanks

  95. lucky says

    @ Melissa — Correct, that’s because you’re transiting a third zone. First class between Asia 2 and the US is 67,500 miles, while if you route from the Middle East to the US via Asia that prices as two awards.

  96. lucky says

    @ shudog — Since you’re connecting to a domestic flight which departs from a separate part of the terminal, you won’t be able to access the spa and first class lounge. You can only use the domestic lounge.

  97. choi says

    lUCKY, technically, how many person can have breakfast privilege as a Hyatt Diiamond ? Thanks

  98. Gigi Lum says

    Thanks Lucky! You are the best! I had to call 15 times before I got an agent who calculated it correctly. Under 200 per person :-) WOOHOO!

  99. italdesign says

    Hi Lucky, do you have any insight on Etihad award availability trends? Do they release more close to departure? This is specifically for their SIN-BNE service, which I just learned about.

  100. Loran says

    Hi Lucky,

    Thanks for the insight regarding ROR. I went ahead and booked 2 tickets to save the dates I want.

    I’m not sure that’s the only issue though. For example, UA will let me book LAX-NRT-GUM-ROR on NH/UA, and the return via ICN on OZ, all in J, for 150K miles.

    So on different dates I tried booking my outbound on AS/KE/DL as a one-way, and it priced at 140K, which is what I expected. Same for the return. So it would seem my trip should be 140K.

    The only thing I can come up with at this point is Korean Air blackout dates. My final outbound flight, NRT-ROR, even though it’s on Delta, is during a KE blackout. When I saw my initial itinerary on hold on Delta’s web site Tokyo is where the fare seemed to break (it didn’t show a layover time). Do you think this is the problem? And if so, is it worth fighting Delta on it?

  101. Josh says

    Hi Lucky,

    Solid blog mate! I am routing back to my Aussie homeland through NRT on AA (F) to QF (J). I read your review on the AA flight to NRT and was wondering whether you though I should pre-book the Japanese food option or roll the dice on their normal catering.

    Thanks!

  102. lucky says

    @ italdesign — They often do, yes, so it makes sense to look at space as the departure date approaches.

  103. lucky says

    @ Loran — If it is over blackout dates that would explain it as well. Nothing to fight them over, the agents can’t book flights over blackout dates, unfortunately.

  104. Dan says

    I mentioned I have the Chase Ink Visa. But I’m debating which additional Travel card to get. The Chase Sapphire Preferred looks enticing (40,000 points if you meet the initial spending requirements) or the United MileagePlus Explorer Card. The nice thing about the MileagePlus Explorer card is that they will give you 50,000 miles if you meet your spending requirements for the first 3 months, and also the annual fee can be paid for by using miles. 1100 miles will pay for the $95 annual fee. Which would you recommend?

  105. Traveler says

    Hi Lucky, We are working on our big summer trip for next year. We leave May 26 and so far we have booked LAS-LHR-FCO-ZUR-CPT-JNB-VFA-EZE. We arrive in EZE on July 22. We need a little help planning our next legs. We either want to stay in Buenos Aires about 4 weeks and then return to LAS or spend a week in B.A. and head to Australia, stay there 3 to 4 weeks before heading back to LAS (it would be nice to stop to visit Angkor Watt on the way back). I am not familiar with which Airline partners fly these routes. We want to fly business or first class. We have 375K AA miles, about 80K UR points and will have 58K UAL miles. Hope you have suggestions on airlines and hints to help find award space. We have been reserving awards at about 330 days out .Thanks for any help and advice. Love your blog, Thanks, J&R

  106. lucky says

    @ Dan — I might be missing something, but where did you hear you can redeem 1,100 miles for the $95 annual fee? In general I do think the Sapphire Preferred is the all around better card, though the MileagePlus Explorer Card sign-up bonus is definitely more limited time.

  107. lucky says

    @ Traveler — Wow, quite a trip! If you want to fly from South America to Australia using American miles, your best bet is Qantas or LAN, both of which fly between the continents. Availability should be decent if planning 11 months out, so I would aim for that.

  108. Dan says

    Re: MileagePlus Explorer card $95/annual fee. The representative from the MileagePlus 800 number stated that the annual fees could be paid with 1100 miles. Even so, the Sapphire Preferred Card still seems like a better card. Should I get both?

  109. Christian Madera says

    Hi Lucky — regarding Intra-Asia award on Cathay using Alaska miles. Do you think HKG-MLE works? Or HKG-CMB? Are these in Asia or Africa/India/Middle East?

  110. BP says

    My husband and I used miles to book our up coming trip to Bali. We booked two coach tickets on Virgin Australia. Is there ever an opportunity to pay for an upgrade to business class at time of check in? Any suggestions looks like there are still 11 open seats according to expert flyer, trip is 5 weeks away. Does he’ll have a better chance of freezing over?? Thanks!!

  111. lucky says

    @ Christian Madera — That’s a great question. Let me try and find out, because I’m not sure.

  112. lucky says

    @ BP — Unfortunately chances probably aren’t very good. They may offer paid upgrades at check-in, though I think it’s unlikely.

  113. RakSiam says

    Just got notice that I’ve been TG’d. Have a UA award booked DPS-BKK-NRT-IAD. BKK-NRT was supposed to be TG A346 F class. That’s been downgraded to their 787 C class. I guess I am pretty much stuck with it. Is there any way to get any sort of compensation out of the deal? I’ve looked at some alternatives but none of them really works as I’d like to keep my NRT-IAD flight which is NH F Square suite. For an overnight flight I was really looking forward to the comfort of F. Totally bummed at the moment. I guess my only hope is that I get TG’d last minute into a 3 class a/c.

  114. Gregory Bootes says

    As you know, there is currently a limited time offer of 50,000 bonus points with the 3 Delta American Express Cards. I was intrigued by the Platinum Delta Skymiles Credit Card, as it offers 15,000 MQMs.

    Now, I just achieved Gold Status with United. Although most of my travel is not on Delta, I figured why not try to get put on a Delta status match challenge. However, the problem is, I don’t have any scheduled Delta travel coming up. Per Delta’s status match challenge page (http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/business-programs/skymiles-medallion-status-match-challenge.html), Gold requires 12,500 MQMs to maintain the status. The only verbiage I see in the program details pertaining to this requirement is ‘In order to extend your Medallion status after the 90 days, you’ll need to earn a specific number of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) within the 90 days of enrolling by flying Delta or Delta Connection®. The number of MQMs or MQSs required is based on your matched Medallion level.’

    You can probably see where I am going with this. Is it your feeling that the 15,000 MQMs I get from opening (and reaching the minimum spend on the card) should qualify towards the challenge requirement?

  115. lucky says

    @ RakSiam — You can always see if United will issue you a gesture of goodwill, but it’s unlikely. Sometimes in the past Thai has offered compensation day of departure when downgraded, but usually that’s not for downgrades in advance. So I’d just be happy that you got ANA first class, which is a pretty big win in my opinion.

  116. lucky says

    @ Gregory Bootes — In practice MQMs earned through the credit card don’t count towards a challenge. Sorry.

  117. Mark says

    Hey Ben–Clearly the big news of the day is the leaks of numerous celebrities private photos. While I think this really terrible and I feel badly for them, I think you might have an opportunity to break some travel related news on this story while hopefully also staying out of the gutter.

    There’s a treasure of EXIF data embedded in some of these photos including the GPS coordinates, date/time stamp and sometime even the elevation.

    For example, Kate Upton seems to be a fan of Starwood hotels and one shot where she’s wearing the tie while on the bed was taken at the Westin in Minneapolis on 4/26/14, 9:25PM at 882′ above sea level and the ground elevation at the location is 854′…which would put her in a room on probably the 3rd or 4th floor (the hotel as 11 floors). WTF, right? She should at least be in a nice suite on a top floor if not the Penthouse Suite. Perhaps you can offer her travel consulting services pro bono. Clearly won’t make up for what is probably a really miserable past 24 hours but it might help a tiny bit.

    There’s another shot of her standing on a high floor at the Westin in San Francisco with the city view in the background. I wonder if she’s a Starwood Gold or Platinum member? If not, why not? If so, why isn’t she getting upgraded to a suite at the Westin in Minneapolis and everywhere else she travels?

    These are the type of tough questions I think an inquiring public wants intrepid miles/points/travel bloggers such as yourself to investigate and get to the bottom of.

    Just as a tip, you can easily extract EXIF data from any photo (that isn’t posted to say imgur or other popular websites since they strip it) by just uploading it here: http://regex.info/exif.cgi

  118. SWC says

    Hi Lucky,

    Found your blog while researching on Amankila and Amandari! You have swayed us to book those resorts! Awesome blog!

    My family (2 adults and 1 toddler) do not travel often, typically around 2 to 3 trips per year. Our international trip is usually from JFK-HKG via Cathay only. We have Asia Miles and always use AMEX Platinum to book. We have booked premium economy and business in the past, but would like to stick with business going forward. My question are the following:
    1. We are planning a side trip to Singapore and Bali with our HK trip this year, what would be the best approach to go about using our points to obtain business class tickets?
    2. Since we are long time Platinum card holder, does it make sense for us to also apply for AMEX Rewards Gold Card for the points?
    3. Since we do not consider ourselves as frequent travelers, does it make sense to apply for loyalty program with all airlines and hotels? (we mostly stay with four seasons, parrot cay, the one & only type of hotels)

    Overall I feel like we are not leveraging the money we are already spending and feel like with the quality of trips we do make, we should be earning more benefits from airlines and hotels.

    Thanks for your help,
    SWC

  119. Mohamed says

    Hi Lucky
    My question is do Qatar airways First class passenger have chauffeur drive to the plane at the New Hamad Airport,is the Al Safwa first lounge open as we have to use Al Mourjan combined lounge the last time.thanks

  120. lucky says

    @ SWC —

    1) To use miles for a side trip I might consider trying to acquire some British Airways Avios or American miles, as they have a reasonably business class prices for those add ons.

    2) I would consider the EveryDay Preferred Card, as it’s probably the most lucrative for earning points through everyday spend. More on that here:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/08/25/comparing-amex-everyday-everyday-preferred-cards/

    3) Joining is almost always free, so there’s no reason not to. That being said, I would pick a couple of programs to focus your loyalty on, so that you’re able to build up sizable award balances over time, rather than spreading points around too much.

    Good luck!

  121. Lauren says

    Thanks to your advice about checking Cathay first availability 10 days out, we just scored two first class tickets for our flight next week from Hong Kong home! Had to route through JFK instead of ORD, but who cares. Yay, thanks Ben! Also have a GUM to TPE flight on the Hello Kitty plane this week that I’m also psyched about. :).

  122. Nick says

    Do you ever cancel any of your Credit card accounts? I’m wondering with all the annual fees the $$ must rack up pretty quick after the first year?

  123. says

    So i’m currently awaiting my new AA Platinum card in the mail for a 50,000 point bonus and 2 one time passes to Admirals Club Lounge. I don’t intend on using the card after the sign up bonus because it’s earning rate isn’t as strong as most cards (this you know).

    The problem is that without it I have to consistent form of Mile Earning in my portfolio, it’s all Hotel & Cash Back. I want to get Chase Sapphire Preferred but it doesn’t make sense for me in that I use other cards for travel and dining purchases.

    What i’m asking is…would it be worth having the sapphire preferred sitting in a desk if ONLY to use it for the ability to transfer my freedom points to an Airline partner?

  124. lucky says

    @ Nick — Depending on how many points you have with the Freedom Card it absolutely could make sense. Just crunch the numbers on the difference between what you value one cent and a “premium” Ultimate Rewards point, and then multiply it by the number of points you’d potentially transfer.

  125. Tiara says

    Ben,
    I am planning to book an F ticket LHR-MEL on QF10. THis flight transit in DXB for approx.2 hrs around midnite. I am wondering
    a) Will they give away 2 amenity kits and pajamas (LHR-DXB and DXB-MEL)?

    b) What do you think about Emirates FC lounge during this late hours?

    Thanks
    Tiara

  126. AV says

    Hey Lucky

    I had a quick question regarding United’s routing rules. Can I fly from the US to India and back on the following route:
    SFO-FRA-BOM
    BOM-SIN-REP(stopover)-ICN-SFO

    I couldn’t find any published routing rules in terms of direction on the outbound vs return.

    Thanks!

  127. Hasan says

    Hi Ben !!

    I’ve been an avid reader of your blogs, tweets and instagram/facebook posts since quite a while. However, I’ve never been able to get myself to ask you a question which I’ve felt would be worth your time to answer. Finally though, I have a question that I feel there’s no better person to ask to try and get a suggestion if not a complete solution.

    I’m 23 and based in India. I love travelling and exploring new airlines, destinations, hotels, etc. Up until 2-3 years ago my air miles average used to be approx 50,000 miles. However in the last couple of years it has gone just a little over 100,000 miles a year. I’m at a phase of life where I need to decide a career path. Coming from a pretty much semi-flexible traditional family from India, my options are very limited, either a job at a MNC or family business of shoe making. The latter fortunately is a big business in India and thankfully is a well recognised multi-million dollar company. However, its not the money I’m after. I wish to have a career in travel planning or blogging or writing up reviews, etc. Unfortunately though my parents need me to give them a full fledged plan of how I envision earning money by doing something like this.

    Hence, I would be ever so grateful to know how or where to start from ? What options do I have in terms of making a living out of something like you do ? How to get in touch with major players in the market related to this field ?

    Would love to hear your response on this little query. I hope I didn’t take much of your time with this. Lastly, I hope to see you at an Airport sometime (I travel Emirates from India – Europe around 6-10 times a year)

    Good Luck with all your travels !

  128. lucky says

    @ Tiara — The lounge is great for the overnight hours, as it’s always when it’s busiest. Yes, I think you’ll probably get two amenity kits and pajamas.

  129. lucky says

    @ AV — The routing on the back probably wouldn’t work, unfortunately. With United you never know for sure as you have to call and see if the system will price it, though I don’t think it will.

  130. lucky says

    @ Hasan — I shared some thoughts about getting into blogging here:

    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/02/18/tips-becoming-travel-blogger/

    As you can see, there’s not really a way to lay out a plan and make it a career path. I’m incredibly fortunate that I’ve been able to turn my passion into a job, though I never in a million years expected that would happen. And I think part of the reason it worked is precisely because of that — I did it with passion and without thinking about money. But nowadays I’m not sure if there’s really a way to start from scratch and create a plan for making a living doing this.

    Maybe start a travel blog as a hobby, see if you can grow traffic, and then it’s something you can always pursue full time later on?

    Good luck and thanks for reading!

  131. Patrick says

    I have noticed on ebay that lots of people sell their amenity kits from flights that they do not use, and I thought of you because you fly so much and probably get so many amenity kits. So I was thinking that you should sell them on ebay because you can make money, and I would buy a couple for sure. Same goes for pajamas (unused of coarse)!

  132. Melissa says

    Morning,
    I’m trying to book an EK flight JFK-DBX-SYD on alaska milage. Expert flyer shows 7 business seats available for each flight. Alaska says they don’t see it? Is this a situation for the hang-up and try again or am I doing something wrong?
    Thanks!

  133. Reine says

    The Alaska Air buy-miles bonus looks like a good deal and I’m thinking of taking advantage of it to help with my travels to/from Australia and NZ to visit my sister, but every time I search biz class LAX>SYD award space on Alaska Air, they show business class award seats available for 55K miles, but the it’s a one-stop flight LAX>MEL>SYD and the LAX>MEL portion of the flight is in COACH! While the SYD>MEL flight is the portion in business class. Biggest scam ever. How do you search REAL premium cabin award space on Alaska Air without them duping you into economy class for the longest portion of your trip?

  134. Christian says

    Hi Lucky — Booking a business class award using US Dividend miles from ORD to HKG on Cathay. If you add a domestic positioning flight to ORD on AA, do you book into First or Economy?

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