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!


  1. Lantean says

    Ben, have you noticed how awful CX F availability from JFK is? One seat a week at max… or is BA search just broken? What’s going on?

  2. lucky says

    @ AZDave — Yes, systemwide upgrades can be used to upgrade flights to any regions and can be confirmed at the time of booking. 500 mile upgrades only work in certain regions and clear at most four days before departure.

  3. Lantean says

    close to departure… now thru the end of the year.

    but also looked at next September… there wasn’t much either.

    i haven’t looked at Qantas or JAL websites.

    it’s just sad.

  4. lucky says

    @ Lantean — That’s indeed what’s available. They only have six first class seats so they’re selling many of them given that the economy has improved.

  5. AZDave says

    @Lucky, thanks. Do you need multiple System wide upgrades for long, are they restricted to 500 miles as well?

  6. OSea says

    Hey lucky
    Seattle based AS flyer here (I was on the Detroit mileage run flight u posted about)
    Got a question for you

    Alaska flight sea-ord $177
    Alaska flight sea-ord-bna $148
    Same flight # sea-ord
    What happens if I buy the ticket to bna but don’t take the second leg on AA? This is on a one way ticket.

  7. lucky says

    @ OSea — Short term that’s fine, nothing will happen. If you make a pattern of it, you could get in trouble.

  8. Jamie says

    BA’s search engine won’t show First class availability from YVR to London. I thought that route had first. It’s giving me business but won’t even show the first class (just shows econ, premium economy, and business). Not listed as sold out or not available or anything. Looking for early Dec.

    Any thoughts? Works on every other route.

  9. Andrew says


    I booked an award ticket on US from SEA to VCE with a layover through PHL. I was checking the itinerary and was surprised to see the fare code as Y instead of X which I believe is the normal coach award fare code. I know I won’t normally get an upgrade on an award ticket (DM Gold), but since the itinerary is showing as a full fare economy ticket can I automatically upgrade the SEA – PHL leg?

  10. lucky says

    @ Andrew — Which airline’s miles did you use, did you book a standard award, and which receipt are you looking at where it shows “Y?”

  11. snaills says

    Hi Lucky,

    Thank you for the prior advice. I am going to use US Dividend miles on AA first class. Since there is no availability for the returning flight showing on US website for AA, can I book outbound on AA, then return on CX or JAL?

  12. Moon says

    Hey Lucky since are you are living in hotels full time, can you consider writing a blogpost just for all the ‘airport hotels”? By that I mean just the hotels that are located inside/across from the airport(s) within walking distance, with no shuttle/transporation required…for folks who may get stranded at different airports at some point?

  13. Andrew says

    @ Lucky – Booked with US miles on a standard award ticket. The trip record on US Airways shows the Y fare code.

  14. lucky says

    @ Andrew — Ah, yes. Standard awards do show as being in the “Y” fare class, though in practice you won’t be able to upgrade, since it is coded differently.

  15. PhatMiles says

    Is there a way to expedite the transfers to SQ from UR? I have an urgent trip coming tomorrow and the seats are on UA. I am no elite on UA and trying to save the $75.00 close in fee.

  16. KahunnaTravel says

    Hey, Ben just got the error acknowledgement email from IHG Rewards concerning their Into the Nights promo. Checked my account, and my “goals” have, in fact, been restored to “original” and the points awarded for the mobile app “book and stay” goal. Here is the text of the email received –

    “An apology from
    IHG® Rewards Club

    Dear XXXXXX,

    During a recent update to our Into the Nights website, we experienced some technical issues that resulted in an unexpected change to one of your offers. We apologize for the confusion and for any inconvenience it may have caused you. We have fixed the issue and we have restored your original offer.

    We want you to know that we appreciate your loyalty and always welcome your feedback. In the meantime, continue enjoying our latest promotion.

    IHG® Rewards Club”

    I note that they are intimating this is an IT error. Seems to be “a lot of that” going around these days…just ask Delta!!! LOL. Best travels.

  17. Dan says

    I’m staying just for 1 night and leaving the next morning.

    >>@ Dan — How long are you staying for?
    >>Hi Ben,
    >>I have the SPG Starwood Amex card. I want to stay at a SPG Starwood property in NY, I’m flying into >>JFK, i’m leaning towards staying at the JFK Sheraton, but where do you usually stay if you are in NY? >>Also, what mode of transportation do you recommend if you have to venture off into the city. Thanks!!

  18. KahunnaTravel says

    The real hoot about all of this is that my original (now called correct) “app and book” task was a single stay while my “revised” (now called erroneous) task was 59 stays!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just a wee bit of a change…………LOL

  19. Marius says

    Hey! You are writing a lot ablir Credit cards and how easy they can give you free First Class. unfortunately I live in Norway, and can not apply for those CC. Do you have any suggestions for CC’s or other things we in Europe can do to get very cheap First Class tickets?

  20. lucky says

    @ Dan — If you plan on going into the city I’d spend the night in the city if possible. Prices vary SO MUCH that I’d go with whichever hotel is the most reasonably priced in the city. If you just plan on hanging around the airport I’d do the Sheraton JFK. I think the best way to get from the Sheraton is to take the shuttle to the airport and then the AirTrain and subway from there. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, though.

  21. lucky says

    @ Marius — Unfortunately the credit card offers in Europe aren’t nearly as lucrative, sorry. In general buying miles at a discounted price is going to be your best bet for getting into premium cabins as cheaply as possible.

  22. Wroom says

    Have you read about the most expensive hotel suite in the world @Hotel President Wilson for over 65.000 USD per night? It’s a SPG-property, so you should try do a “trip report” of that room. Do you think it is possible to redeem points for that room? Do you think you will earn 3 points per dollar spent if you pay full price? And, if you stay at a standard room at that hotel, do you think one can ask to see the inside of that suite/get a tour of that suite?

  23. portakal says

    Lucky – for the past 10 months, I had been anxiously looking forward to our Asiana F suites flight JFK-ICN in mid-november. Just a few days ago, got an itinerary update showing an equipment change to a 747 combi! I checked and the change doesn’t affect any days before or after our date of departure, just ours. I had booked using United miles pre-devaluation. I’m crushed – can anything be done? We have the flexibility to leave a day earlier. Could United be convinced to open up award space the day before due to the circumstances? Thank you as always!

  24. portakal says

    Lucky – I just saw that you had answered my same question earlier in the week. I missed it while traveling. Sorry for the duplicate posting and thank you very much for the response as always!

  25. Gabe says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have about 55k Delta Miles. what would you recommend me to do with them? Is it possible to transfer them to another program?

    Thanks, Gabe

  26. lucky says

    @ Gabe — Not efficiently, no. If it were me, I’d try to collect a few more (ideally 62,500) and then you’d have enough for a one way business class ticket between the US and Europe once SkyMiles 2015 kicks in.

  27. lucky says

    @ Wroom — Hah, highly doubt you can redeem points for it, though I’m sure you’d get three Starpoints per dollar. Hotels are often willing to do tours of their top suites if available, so it can’t hurt to ask. Didn’t realize that was the most expensive room in the world, though.

  28. Juan.S says

    Hey Lucky, I am a completely stressed out because I have booked at the Sheraton Bali Kuta for mid to end of November (more especifically 13-27) thanks to you and the SPG program. However I am having a LOT of trouble for finding the flights. Usually I do the same route: MAD-LHR, LHR-HKG, HKG-DPS in business class. I do this route to try earn as many Avios as possible since it is what I use the most throughout the year. Usually I find the 2 needed award seats, sometimes different connections, prices, to the mention above; but this year I wasn’t able to get ANY awards seats with something similar I do when I travel to Bali. I would really thank you if you could help me by suggesting any ideas. I have as well the Flying Blue card but barely any miles in it. I am open to anything (routes, class, scale amount, airline…). Because really my last option is paying for two tickets more than 1,500€ and that would be travelling in economy.
    Thanks, Juan

  29. lucky says

    @ Juan.S — Best I can recommend is that Cathay does open up quite a bit of last minute award space, so if you don’t mind holding off a bit longer, I’d say there’s a good chance space will open up. Be sure you’re checking all their European gateway, as they fly to some slightly smaller European destinations that people might not otherwise think of.

    Good luck!

  30. Melissa says

    I am using the matrix and found Business class seats out of cairo to RDU. they are priced at 1278. When I called AA to book.. they told me its not available for that price.
    Is this one of those hang up and try again cases or what should I do next? Thanks for all your help..

    PS- Using your info in Iceland and Cairo! Such a big help!!!!

  31. lucky says

    @ Melissa — Have you tried an OTA like Orbitz? Typically for a complex ticket like that you’ll get better results.

  32. Erik says


    I have roughly 430k+ miles on United that I would like to burn on a South East Asia trip(end of next year) on business or first class. I’m looking to burn all my miles in one go for 3 passengers(parents and I). Is there a best route, airline I should use it on? Based in SFO, will need to stop at HKG + 1 other destination. I know I might be short of miles for 3 passengers though.

  33. caveman says

    There is a promotion going on where you get 20% Bonus MileagePlus miles when you convert hotel points. I plan to transfer some ultimate points to united 1:1 ratio. However now with this promotion how about if I transfer those ultimate points to Hyatt and then transfer to United getting a better ratio (20% bonus)? Will that work?

  34. dave says

    Hi, Lucky. I’m exploring a booking on SQ CMB-SFO. Searching the segments separately, there’s SIN-SFO availability via connecting flights (as opposed to the ‘direct’ flights). There’s also availability on CMB-SIN. But putting it together as a single CMB-SFO search, it offers only the direct flights SIN-SFO flights, which are unavailable. Is there a reason the website won’t display the connecting flights, or a trick to get it to show? If I’m willing to pay the additional 15%, would it be bookable by phone? Thanks!

  35. Jim says

    I’m looking at Eithad JFK/AUH and I see flight 102 says” ETIHAD ON JET AIRWAYS CONFIGURED AIRCRAF”
    I guess that means you must fly flight 100 to be on EY metal?

  36. Steve says

    Hi Lucky:

    I’ve got a lot of travel on Malaysia Airlines in Business Class (already passed 50K EQP’s on AA) but don’t have the requisite 4 segments on AA/US marketed flights to get AA status. What would you recommend?

    Would the AA Platinum Challenge work? I can book an upcoming transatlantic trip (LHR-JFK) in business on BA I think that will work for the 10,000 EQPs, no?

    Do all BA business class tickets get 1.5 EQPs (even deep discount)?


  37. lucky says

    @ Erik — Your best bet will be business class, which is 150,000 miles roundtrip. I’d look at ANA and EVA, as they both have great business class products, and you have a decent shot of getting business class for three people. Good luck!

  38. lucky says

    @ caveman — Nope, the transfer ratio from Hyatt to United is 2.5:1, so you’d lose quite a bit of value with that method.

  39. lucky says

    @ Steve — Yes, you get 1.5 EQMs for British Airways. The British Airways flight would count towards a challenge, but the Malaysia flight wouldn’t, so it’s not necessarily an amazing option, in my opinion. What status are you even aiming for without a challenge in terms of EQMs?

  40. Steve says

    Thanks Ben! To clarify I’ve been crediting my recent Malaysia flights to AA – aiming for Platinum with AA this year (and already have enough EQPs, but no segments on AA metal). Essentially I’d be using the challenge plus the BA LHR-JFK-LHR to get around the requirement for 4 segments on AA metal (which I will have a hard time making by end of year)…

    I don’t have enough flying left in 2014 to make ExPlat unfortunately…

  41. Amanda says

    @ Lucky : Need help here, I don’t fly a lot internationally and never take US Airways or American Airlines before. I have a flight from SFO – LHR in 3 days from now and will look for a luggage tomorrow.
    My flight will be with US Airways for outbound and AA for inbound and will have 3 layovers. I decided to only bring carry-on luggage to minimize the risk of my luggage getting delayed, lost, or long wait in the baggage claim area.

    I checked in US Airways, they said in their website that the carry-on luggage policy is “Your carry-on bag can be up to 45 inches (22 x 14 x 9 in) or 115 centimeters (23 x 36 x 56 cm) including handles and wheels.”
    Lucky, being a frequent traveler you are, how lenient US Airways and AA are in term of carry-on? does it have to be exactly 22 x 14 x 9 in? Since I don’t check in my luggage, is there a possibility that they might stop me at the boarding gate and ask me to check in my carry on and make me pay for it, if they found it’s not exactly 22 x 14 x 9 in? I saw some good luggage measured a bit more than that….like 22.5 x 15 x 18 (not including wheels)…..will this be ok you think? I don’t want to pay hefty check in fee on the boarding area…..
    Any recommendation on carry on luggage? what carry on do you use? Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *