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. Patrick says

    Hi Lucky,
    I have noticed some ads for the site rocket miles. I looked into it and basically you get airline miles for staying in hotels. I was wondering if you use rocket miles when you book a hotel and use the miles to fund your trips. Also if you book through rocket miles are you able to put in a hotel rewards account and also get points for your hotel account along with the airline miles.

  2. Jim says

    Hi, Lucky.

    Sorry to pester you, but I’m not sure if I understood your answer to my prior question about baggage fees from 2 reservations–revenue economy flight to connect to award business class flight. I know that if I book the revenue economy flight with the same airline (United) as my award business flight, they will interline the bags. However, do you know if there will be a baggage fee associated with this situation?

    Thanks again for the information and clarification.

  3. lucky says

    @ Patrick — The “catch” with Rocketmiles is that you don’t earn hotel points for your stays, so you have to choose between one or the other. In some cases it can make sense to give up points in favor of miles with Rocketmiles, while it’s always a no brainer if you’re booking a non-chain hotel

  4. Justin says

    Hi Lucky,

    I’m about to book a US Air Award. Do you have any experience booking through the Middle East (Doha) on a Europe-North Asia itinerary?. Will there (lack of) routing rules let me do this?. Would love to get on Qatar F from LHR or CDG, then to HGK on CX J : )

    Love the blog!!!

  5. liam says

    Hi Ben,

    I’ve become a big fan of your blog. It’s not only a pleasant distraction from my work email I’ve also garnered some incredibly useful information (and I also like the virtual comradery of a fellow fan[atic] of LH’s F class product).

    Recently I very reluctantly flew Delta’s business class from SYD to LAX (I’ve been lucky that work and miles keep me exclusively in the F cabin on long hauls). But, my DL experience was eye opening.

    I was amazed at how many things they got right. Most of all, they delivered what I value most: a truly flat, very long bed that does not restrict my feet. I’m 6′ tall and I can only sleep on my stomach (I know, I have issues). On a long haul flight, all I want to do is sleep and beat jet lag in its entirety. The DL 777 configuration gave me this and even some additional surrounding space when the seat was fully reclined.

    So here is my question: I have never seen a really good chart showing the quality of the bed product for international first and business class. It seems like some of the factors would be:

    Bed length (including any additional surrounding suite space when fully reclined).
    Bed width.
    Foot restriction (foot width/cuby hole, etc/ flimsy partition).
    Seat/bed (like new LH) or ‘flip over’ bed (like SQ).
    Mattress cover. Linens. Down pillows. Cloth or leather.
    Additional obstructions (like attached headrest on UA).
    Privacy factors (proximity to neighbor, screens, etc).

    I know there are plenty of lists stating the seat pitch and the amount of recline but that just doesn’t paint an accurate picture.

    It seems like you are one of the few people in the world who could actually cobble together that kind of list. I know it would be a huge undertaking but it would be a invaluable tool that travelers would turn to again and again.

    Hope you might consider it!


  6. Patrick says

    Hi Lucky,

    Sorry to be bothering you with so many questions. I was wondering if you knew of any ways to avoid a fee when redeeming American Airlines miles. I was looking a some flights to London and there is a lot of award space but when you get to the checkout section there is a $3,000 fee. It is 3 people traveling but is there any way to avoid that fee?

  7. lucky says

    @ liam — Happy to hear you enjoyed your Delta flight. Thanks for the post idea, let me see what I can do. Could be a very useful resource, I think.

  8. lucky says

    @ Patrick — Unfortunately those are the taxes if redeeming on British Airways. If you can find travel on another carrier then they should be MUCH lower.

  9. Eric says

    Dear Lucky,

    Thanks for informing me of American Express’ 3X dining promotion. Unfortunately, my Platinum card is ineligible. I don’t understand why. I’ll ask Amex tomorrow why I was excluded from this opportunity and see what avenues may be available for me to apply for this privilege. In the future, please add more language that more clearly states the exclusivity of these invitations.

    I enjoy reading your blog and have recommended it to many friends who travel.

    Eric near Edmonds, Washington

  10. Keya says

    Hi again Ben

    After my trip to Singapore in a few days with Emirates, I’m flying to New Delhi and then onto Barcelona via DXB. I’ve been able to upgrade DXB-BCN from J to F but not DEL-DXB. The flight is still around 6 weeks out. Any idea when does Emirates open up Z spaces. Expert Flyer shows the flight at F7 / A7 currently in for the 777-200LR suites config aircraft.

    Thanks in advance as always :)

  11. Kyle B says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have a USDM *A award ticket booked in Y and was wondering how baggage restrictions worked with the multiple airlines on the ticket. The main reason would be that I would like to go skiing in the Alps and want to bring my skis along with me. The ticket is as follows:

    LH ORD-MUC (open jaw)
    BR: HND-TSA (destination)

    Any help on this would be fantastic,


  12. lucky says

    @ Eric — Sorry to hear you weren’t targeted. I did put in the first sentence that it was a targeted promotion, but I’ll try to be clearer in the future. For what it’s worth there’s not really a way to get targeted, so unfortunately either your account is targeted or it isn’t. Sorry! :(

  13. lucky says

    @ Keya — Most frequently within two weeks of departure. I would keep monitoring, as it’s very likely that space will open up.

  14. lucky says

    @ Kyle B — The baggage policies of the respective airlines you’re checking in with would apply. Or more specifically, the policy of the longhaul carrier every time you check it would apply. So Lufthansa’s policy would apply in GEG, and then in TSA BR or NH’s policies would apply (they should be very similar). If you have a stopover in MUC then NH’s policy would apply.

  15. Keya says

    Hello again Ben

    Thanks for the info. I shall keep a check on it although I have an alert setup on expert flyer.

    Btw ! I just wanted to know that since Expertflyer is limited in terms of showing seat/flight/award availability for a number of airlines, where else can I check the number of seats in particular fare class or availability of awards for other airlines ? Mostly I’m looking for Lufthansa, Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, British Airways & Virgin Atlantic. I don’t ming signing up for some membership if thats whats needed to look for seats and awards.

    Kindly help as always :)

  16. lucky says

    @ Keya — ExpertFlyer shows actual revenue fare classes for almost all airlines. For searching award space have to use a different website depending on who you’re looking at. BA, QF, and AA websites have oneworld award space, NH, UA, and AC websites have Star Alliance award space, and AF, DL, and AS websites have a lot of SkyTeam award space.

  17. Mark says

    Hey Lucky!

    So I just got an email from AA saying that ive got about 1300 miles that are about to expire. I do most of my flying on delta and have no status with AA. Is there anything that I should do with these miles? or should I just let them expire? Thanks!

  18. Keya says

    Hi again Ben

    Wow !! That was really helpful. Will help me with my upcoming travels. You won’t believe it but since the last 1 year since when I’ve been following your blogs and tricks and methods, I’ve saved thousands and thousands of Dollars.

    Will keep disturbing for more help.


  19. Rod says

    On 5/2014, I opened the Chase Ink Plus under my wife’s company tax id. On 9/2014, I opened a personal Chase Ritz-Carlton card. Would you advise me applying for the Chase Ink Plus 70K offer opening it under my ss# for a small ticket biz I run on eBay that has no Tax ID?

  20. lucky says

    @ Rod — I don’t think you’d have any issue being approved, that’s plenty of time to wait between a personal and business application.

  21. bo says

    Hi Ben – I need to go from DCA to Medellin Columbia in February. The award seats are there on AA for when I need to go. But are there any Oneworld partners that would allow to me to stopover in Miami for 3 days on the way down, or, like AA, would that have to have to ticket as three one ways? Thanks so much!

  22. lucky says

    @ bo — Well if you use BA Avios they charge you on a per segment basis. So it’s not exactly “free,” though you’re not paying extra for stopping, if that makes sense. Other than that, Alaska would allow a stopover on an American award in the market, but they’re not oneworld.

  23. lucky says

    @ Mark — Frankly with only 1,300 miles I wouldn’t bother extending them. That being said, you could donate the miles to charity or have some small purchase through the mall that would extend their life. I’d just go with the charity option, given how few miles it is.

  24. Jill says

    @ Lucky : Please pardon me if this might already been discussed before, but I couldn’t find the primer on it since I just discovered your blog.
    How far (and how close) in advance do the airlines below release award space availability in first and business classes to the public:
    1. Singapore Airlines
    2. Cathay Pacific
    3. JAL
    4. EVA
    5. Korean Airlines
    6. Asiana
    7. ANA

    Thank you in advance!

  25. Michelle says

    Hi Ben,

    It turns out that the tickets my employer purchases for me on United (often business class) through a travel agent are consolidator tickets and thus I will not earn any United PQD this year and will lose my status, while in the past I would have reached at least the platinum level with the flights I will have by the end of the year. Could you recommend another Star Alliance carrier to which I should credit my flights in order to earn status? If it makes a difference, much of my travel is to and from Europe.

    Thanks very much for your advice.

  26. Jessica says

    @Lucky: just want to say that the link that you gave me for your post on booking business class 90k miles on US Air for US-Europe-Asia-Europe-US is SUPER AWESOME!
    I really love that “ultimate guide” post as it’s easy to understand for me and for many people too! Hope that you could make more of that kind of posts again.
    hope you don’t mind I ask few question again here after reading your post on US Air 90k business class.

    1. As US Air now is in OneWorld and no longer part of Star Alliance, do I still be able to follow your guide and do US-Europe-Asia-Europe-US route with US Air DM 90k miles in business with OneWorld alliance partner?
    As US Air now in process of merging with AA, will this generous routing rules disappear? If so, when? And what other alternative FF programs that has generous routing rules like US Air?

    2. In case if I am using United and Aeroplan miles, can I still use the method you mentioned in that post to find and book the award availability for US-Europe-Asia- US route with StarAlliance partner (by using ANA website award search tool to search for availability segment by segment and piece them up together) ?

    3. why did you mention Aeroplan besides United? I haven’t heard Aeroplan being mentioned a lot as much as United, AA, Avios, or US Air. Can you please let me know what is the perks of Aeroplan and how much valuable is their mile compare with United, AA, US Air?
    Also how to search Star Alliance partner award availability while using Aeroplan miles?
    Can you please share a useful post/guide on Aeroplan miles?

    Thank you very much!

  27. lucky says

    @ Jill — Depends on the specific route, but in general SQ, CX, JL, KE, OZ, and NH release some space as soon as the window opens. BR only releases space to partners within 90 days of departure on longhaul flights to North America.

  28. lucky says

    @ Michelle — In general I think Aegean has a pretty solid program, and good earnings rates for travel on United, along with a low elite qualifying threshold. I would seriously consider them. Otherwise I might consider Asiana or Turkish.

  29. lucky says

    @ Jessica —

    1) Yes, in general rules haven’t changed too much.
    2) Yes.
    3) They’re not an amazing program, but they’re one of the few other airlines that allows routings from the US to Asia via Europe.

  30. Penny says

    Lucky, You’ve written several posts regarding British Air’s call centers, and I have a follow up question regarding booking Aer Lingus flights using avios. I’ve searched Quantas and see award availability for next summer (at least for returns). However, when I called the Singapore office, I was informed that Aer Lingus has not released any award seats to British Air for 2015. Do you know of any way to have the Aer Lingus seats that I see on the Quantas website opened for avios booking? My earlier award bookings have all been online, so any tips that you have for navigating the call centers would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks, Penny

  31. allaboutthebass says

    Dear Ben,

    I’d like to try LH First, thanks to you. :)
    I have LH miles so I can book well in advance, but it seems like they only open 2 seats max, FRA-IAD.
    I need 3 seats. Can I book 2 F and 1 J now and later change J to F if they open the space?

    In T&C, it says “A change of booking is only possible in respect of the date and time of the flight.”
    Then do I need to cancel J and rebook F?

    Thanks and love your blog.

  32. Matt says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have flights booked on TAP Portugal using United miles but can’t select seat assignments on Is there some other way to select seats prior to check-in at the airport?

    Thank you.

  33. lucky says

    @ Penny — British Airways has access to different award inventory on Aer Lingus than other carriers, so it’s possible something shows on Qantas’ site but not with BA. That being said, I’d call back just to be sure the agent wasn’t looking at space incorrectly.

  34. lucky says

    @ allaboutthebass — You would need to cancel and rebook, though that shouldn’t be too complicated. There is a chance that a third seat would open up much closer to departure.

  35. sev says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have a flight coming up including a connection which I am pretty sure I will not make. I will be coming into Chicago on American Eagle then continue to Dusseldorf, connection time is just 1h30min. The regional flight is delayed 30min on average and they is going to be severe weather tomorrow in EWR.
    I was wondering if you have any kind if rebooking strategy when dealing with agents at the airport.
    Also does anybody know American’s rebooking policy in that case, e.g. which flights they could book me on? (BA Ticket)


  36. Louisiana Purchase says

    Lucky, do you have a sense for the easiest trans-pac routes on United for a GPU upgrade? Can’t find anything with R or RN availability so will have to sweat out the upgrade. Any thoughts would be wonderful.

  37. PH says

    Lucky, I have a reservation with AA. To select the seats I added my AAdvantage number (elite) but would like to have the points with AS and I can´t change the frequent flyer program and number now. Is it possible to somehow now accrue the points on AS or once I added my AAdvantage number I can´t change it?

  38. Keya says

    Hi Ben

    I’m flying to Singapore from DXB with Emirates in F. Now, I’ve been travelling with them for 3 years and all in F and I love their caviar service. However, I’ve never been able to ask for a top-up or a second serving. Since you’ve travelled the world over with all major airlines in First Class and experienced the finest of caviar services, in your opinion is it OK to ask for a 2nd serving of Caviar ? Or does it depend on how many people are in the cabin and whether caviar is the only meal one decided to have.

    I’m flying on Saturday so would be great to hear from you before then.

    Thanks :)

  39. Jill says

    @ Lucky: To quote your answer to my question on award space availability “@ Jill — Depends on the specific route, but in general SQ, CX, JL, KE, OZ, and NH release some space as soon as the window opens. BR only releases space to partners within 90 days of departure on longhaul flights to North America.”

    Can you please be more specific on ” release some space as soon as the window opens”? Like, how many days ahead the “windows open”?

  40. Chris says

    Is there a workaround to applying for a business credit card without an actual business? 70,000 points seems too good to pass up.

  41. Michelle says

    Hi Ben

    After reading your blog, I’m thinking of adding a new CC to the mix in order to diversify my options. I’m going to wait for a bigger bonus signup offer but I’m thinking of getting the Alaskan Airline CC. What do you think is right for me?

    I have Chase’s Preferred & Ink Plus with a total of ~280k Ultimate Rewards.

    My main travel goal has been to travel on business/first class with Cathay Pacific to HK/Asia, ideally flying out of of Seattle or Van, BC. Or perhaps even on Singapore Suites one day:) After that, then may be to Europe if the fuel/fee surcharges make sense.

    I’m a newbie at this but I was saving all those UR with the intention of transferring them to BA Avios in order to book Cathay. But since I’ve read your blog, it looks like it may require less points & I can perhaps squeeze in another country if I had Alaskan miles instead? I’m sure the annual Alaskan companion ticket doesn’t hurt either.

    So is the Alaskan Airline CC right for me or do you recommend I stick with saving more UR? If I should get Alaskan CC what’s usually considered a good bonus signup offer?

    Thank you, Michelle

  42. lucky says

    @ sev — If you misconnect they should be able to rebook you on any of their/partner flights. If the flight already posts a delay at your origin city, then I’d try to get rebooked on a different routing right there. Otherwise I’d just be persistent and insist they rebook you in Chicago — shouldn’t be too tough. Good luck!

  43. lucky says

    @ Keya — To clarify, you’ve asked and been denied? I’ve almost never been turned down when asking for a second helping. Sometimes they won’t be able to do it if the cabin is full and everyone wants caviar, but if they have extra they should be willing to accommodate.

  44. lucky says

    @ Chris — Well if you have a sole proprietorship you can apply as that. You’d just use your SSN as your Tax ID.

  45. lucky says

    @ Michelle — The Alaska Card is great, so I’d definitely consider it. And it’s churnable, so you can earn the bonus multiple times. That being said, I wouldn’t expect a much bigger bonus than 25-30K miles. But that’s why it’s great that you can earn the bonus multiple times. Diversifying a bit can’t hurt, so I’d definitely pick it up in your shoes.

  46. Keya says

    Hi Ben

    Thanks for your response. Just to clarify, I’ve asked once when the cabin had 5 out of 14 seats occupied (DXB – AMS) and the cabin attendant said she would check but never returned with an answer. I felt slightly awkward to ask again and since then I’ve never been able to ask for a 2nd helping. However, as you said, I think as a F passenger it should be OK to ask for a 2nd helping if the load is low in the cabin. I shall try it on Saturday and let you know the result. The only thing left for me to try in the Emirates F cabin.

    Thanks again :)

  47. larry says

    ben, i have a 1k insurance payment due and they only accept mc and visa. i have a AA Visa card and the barclays us airways card. i prefer amex but they dont accept. i have miles with both us air and AA. which card would be better or does it matter? thanks.

  48. Chris says

    How long do you have to wait after cancelling the Alaska card to apply again and receive the bonus a second time?

  49. lucky says

    @ Chris — You don’t have to cancel before applying again. I’d recommend waiting a month between applications, though.

  50. lucky says

    @ larry — Basically the same, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t see a big benefit to one over the other.

  51. Justin says

    Hi Ben,

    I applied for the Ink Plus in May 2014, the 60K promotion. I am debating whether to apply for the 50k Ink Bold before it goes away. I only have 1 hard pull from Chase in 2014, from the Ink Plus.

    I would just be using my same SSN # I used for my Ink Plus, no EIN. Is this a good idea? Would I be approved? (Assuming I make the argument that I always pay on time and I decided carrying a balance will never happen)

  52. BP says

    Hi Ben,
    What happens if I stay 10 days beyond the 30days allow for tourist visa in China? I have a one year multiple entry visa and I have a tour booked that will make my China stay 40 days?? Any information on this subject will be appreciated.

  53. lucky says

    @ Justin — I can’t say for sure, but I see no reason you wouldn’t be approved. Seems you’re well positioned for it, so I’d go for it.

  54. lucky says

    @ BP — I don’t know what would happen, but I would make sure you don’t overstay in China.

  55. Bilica says

    Hi Lucky,

    Do you have any insights on wether we will see a double elite qualifying miles promotion for American this year ?


  56. Jill says

    @ Lucky:
    Thanks for the link!
    “@ Jill — It’s typically 11 months out. You can find when airlines open their award booking windows here:

    I do have some questions, I appreciate your patience and your help on this since I am a newbie and flying in SQ Suite is my main goal since I began collecting points and miles. So this really means a lot for me!! :)

    1. So for example if I start looking from now, I have a higher chance to find an award seat availability for SQ Suites open up for trip on October/Dec 2015?

    2. Do you think that it would be possible to find award availability for 2 seats in Saver award redemption rate for SQ Suites?

    3. I am looking to redeem 2 seats in Suites on flight LAX-SIN roundtrip. To maximize the value of redemption, can I fully utilize the SQ’s routing rule on roundtrip flight, which is : 1 stopover and 1 open-jaw.
    So would this route doable :
    LAX (origin) – NRT (layover) in Suites, SQ A380
    NRT – SIN (destination) in Suites, SQ A380
    SIN – PEK (stopover) in Suites, SQ A380
    PEK – LAX in SQ First class 777-300ER

    This way I would be able to experience Suites class 3 times and once in First class!~ :)

    4. If this roundtrip itinerary doable, how many KrisFlyer miles/person in Saver award rate? And would I be able to check the award availability in KrisFlyer website if I am a member but don’t have enough points in KrisFlyer account (planning to transfer it from UR or Starpoints).

    Thank you very very much if you could help answering in detail all my questions above!! Really appreciate it and means a lot to me to be able to fulfil my dream in flying in Suites! And I will for sure keep you updated~ :)

  57. lucky says

    @ Jill —

    1) Correct, the further in advance you can plan, the better.
    2) Yes, with some flexibility that should be possible.
    3) Singapore doesn’t fly from Beijing to Los Angeles. Were you thinking of a different route?
    4) Yes, you can check availability on the KrisFlyer website, it’s 91,375 miles each way. Even without enough miles you should be able to search.

  58. Justin says

    Any idea why AA will price LHR-DXB-SYD (continuation) correctly as one flight, but CDG-LAX-PPT (again, continuation) as two flights? I’ve tried with 3 different agents… I know that Europe->S Pacific only allows for stopovers in a few Asian cities, but Dubai isn’t one of them, and the QF flight still prices correctly… So why not the TN flight?

  59. lucky says

    @ Justin — The reason the Qantas flight works is because it’s a “direct” flight, so the system doesn’t even consider the stopover. Are you using the same flight number the whole way through on Air Tahiti Nui?

  60. Jack Buck says


    Have you considered doing weekly giveaways, like The Points Guy does on his website?


  61. Justin says

    Yep same flight # all the way through … every time they say they can’t do it because it’s “really” 2 flights.

  62. lucky says

    @ Justin — That is odd. Guess it’s just the way the computer is programmed, unfortunately. The Qantas through Dubai situation is more of a loophole than anything, so I’m afraid there’s probably not a way to “force” this. Sorry.

  63. Danny says

    Had an interesting experience. I was helping my aunt and uncle use their AA miles for an award booking from LAX to NRT early next year.

    I used BA to search for award space for JAL and found First on the Outbound and Premium Economy on the return.

    I was surprised to learn that AA doesn’t allow award bookings for Premium Economy, what’s the rationale behind this? If partners release the space why block it? It was bookable through BA, but we were using AA miles and who wants to pay those fees anyways.

  64. lucky says

    @ Danny — That’s correct, not sure there’s a good reason. All three US legacy carriers don’t let you redeem for premium economy unfortunately. They don’t offer a similar cabin themselves, though not sure that’s necessarily the reason.

  65. Danny says

    Thanks for the quick response. I ended up protecting them on JAL flight NRT – SAN in Economy but at least it’s the 787. How is JAL at releasing Business or First space as the flight approaches, looking Feb 13-15 to LAX, SAN or even SFO with connection.

  66. Adi-T says

    Hi lucky,
    I want to use the American Airlines “buy upgrades for 30$ per 500 miles option” and have a few questions.

    1. Do I have to buy the upgrades first before buying the ticket?
    2. It says you can request the upgrade when making the reservation– but I don’t see any such option.
    3. Would this apply if the flight is flown by USAirways or does it have to be AA metal.

    4. Do you think this is a good use of extra miles? I’m flying JFK to PHX, which would require I think 5 certificates (150$) each way.

    any advice?

  67. lucky says

    @ Danny — They’re fairly good about opening space as the departure date approaches, so I would keep monitoring.

  68. lucky says

    @ Adi-T —

    1. No you don’t, you just have to buy them before checking in.
    2) Are you an elite passenger? If so, it should show up in your itinerary as an option.
    3) Has to be American metal.
    4) Yes, I’d say it’s worth $150 to upgrade a transcon length flight, personally.

  69. Jill says

    @ Lucky : Thanks for the help and quick response!

    1) “Singapore doesn’t fly from Beijing to Los Angeles. Were you thinking of a different route?”
    I didn’t know that they don’t fly from PEK to LAX…….how about PEK to SFO? Or can I do this route instead :
    LAX (origin) – NRT (layover) in Suites, SQ A380
    NRT – SIN (destination) in Suites, SQ A380
    SIN – PEK (stopover) in Suites, SQ A380
    HKG – SFO in SQ First class 777-300ER

    I just want to find best route on the last leg to go back from Asia (ICN, NRT, PEK, PVG, HKG) to North US cities such as SFO, OAK, SJ (San Jose) or LAX using Krisflyer miles, any idea on this ?

    2) “Yes, you can check availability on the KrisFlyer website, it’s 91,375 miles each way.”
    Does this mean 91,375 miles/person for roundtrip? Or (91,375 miles x 2 =) 182,750 miles/person for roundtrip?

  70. lucky says

    @ Tommy — What’s your preferred chain, what programs do you have status with, and what’s your budget?

  71. lucky says

    @ Jill —

    1) No, you can’t have an open jaw mid-itinerary, so that’s not legal. The best you could do is a stopover in Tokyo. Otherwise you could fly SIN-HKG-SFO with a stopover in Hong Kong.

    2) That’s the one-way cost. Return is 180K+.

  72. Kate says

    Hi Lucky! Thanks for all of the great information. I have been trying to figure out how to use balance transfer cards with 0% interest to generate spend. It seems like the way to do this is to find a card that allows you to transfer a balance from another card and not have to pay interest on it for X amount of months, and then rack up your spend requirements on another card and transfer the balance over. Is that correct? And, if so, does making monthly payments on the 0% card (and paying in full before the interest charges kick in) negatively affect your credit score? Thank you!

  73. Tommy says

    As of feb next year unfortunately won’t have any status like I do now, and just spent majority of points on huge family holiday so this trip is going to be revenubut paid for by work and given no price cap.
    Hope that helps, Thanks

  74. lucky says

    @ Kate — Sorry, wish I knew, but I’m really not an expert on carrying balances on a card. My understanding is that the negative impact you’d get from using a 0% interest card comes from the fact that you’re shown as utilizing all of your credit. So your credit utilization will show as being high, and that can negatively hurt your score.

  75. Tommy says

    Haha sorry lucky probably sick of me by now but just one last quick question do you think the premium for a club room over a standard is worth it in the ritz carlton?
    I know you really enjoyed the club lounge when you were there but afterwards do you think it was worth it.

  76. Jill says

    @ Lucky :

    Thanks a lot, so this is my plan then:

    LAX (origin) – NRT (layover) in Suites, SQ A380
    NRT – SIN (destination) in Suites, SQ A380
    SIN – HKG (stopover) in Suites, SQ A380
    HKG – SFO in SQ First class 777-300ER

    Is above itinerary valid ?
    And for 2 people roundtrip will cost around 365,500 miles, is it correct?

  77. lucky says

    @ Tommy — All depends on the price difference. If you can get it for a premium of less than $150 per day for two people I’d say it’s worth it.

  78. Justin says

    RE: Lufthansa’s 747 at IAD (a few days ago)

    It looks like they are actually UP-gaugaing the earlier, seasonal ~3pm flight FRA from a 330/340 to a 747-400. The later ~6pm flight will remain a 747-8.

  79. Jill says

    @ Lucky:
    Thank you very much! (halfway there, need to find a way to rack up another 180k miles).

    By the way, if I use your award booking service, can they help to maximize the redemption of 365,500 miles for around the world for 2 people in first class (including flying in SQ Suites on one or several itineraries), if so, how much is the fee? Thanks!

  80. Jill says

    @ Lucky: And one more thing that I forgot to ask: if go with itinerary above, how much do you think the approximate fuel/tax surcharge fees? Just an approximate is fine so I can prepare for that amount and not surprised.

  81. lucky says

    @ Jill — The itinerary I gave you would be maximize the value. There’s no way to use that number of miles for a round the world with Singapore.

  82. Jill says

    @ Lucky: Got it, thank you so much Lucky! And one more thing that I forgot to ask: if go with itinerary above, how much do you think the approximate fuel/tax surcharge fees? Just an approximate is fine so I can prepare for that amount and not surprised.

  83. Eric says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have a question. I booked a United award prior to the devaluation earlier this year. I am traveling NYC-MNL RT. Today i called to try and add a stopover on my return leg via ICN (originally via NRT). The agent informed me that this would change the ticket and thus require an additional 80K miles. Does this sound right? From my understanding, stopovers are allowed on RT tickets but they are claiming this is a route change. However, if i book MNL-NYC via ICN instead of NRT on same day then i would not face a change in miles. I also asked what would happen if i wanted to cancel the return portion – I was informed that I would not get any miles back for return portion since this is a RT ticket and not 2 x 1 way tickets. I am just curious if you’ve come across this and if it is worth trying again with someone else on the line.


  84. AJ says

    Hi Lucky,

    Does AA open more space at saver level closer to the departure day assuming flights are not sold out? For example, saver level space in 1st for DFW-SFO or DFW-NYC is very limited for Dec 19-21 weekend. Assuming these flights don’t fill up, would AA open up more seats at the saver level?


  85. lucky says

    @ Eric — It really seems to go both ways with pre-devaluation tickets. I might hang up and call again, as I’ve certainly been able to rebook at the same award level under similar circumstances.

  86. lucky says

    @ AJ — Sometimes they do, but they’re not nearly as reliable as you’d expect. So I wouldn’t count on it, unfortunately.

  87. Tiara says

    A dear colleague was asking me to go with her to land of mid-nite sun next summer. I remember reading your post about you wanting to go to LYR on Aeroplan. Just wondering if you manage to go to Longyearbyen this past winter.
    Knowing UA had devalued and I dont have enough MR points but plenty of US DMiles and AA, what would be your suggestion?


  88. Michelle says

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your reply about getting the Alaskan Airline CC. I’ve been hesitant on getting that card or something even like the Starwood AE because I would find it hard to accumulate points on my day to day spend (Chase Preferred or Ink Plus is easier) as I don’t travel that much. It would take a lot longer for me to save enough award points to amount to any reward tickets.

    So is your approach/goal to churn them for the bigger bonuses?

    What drew me towards the Alaskan CC over the Starwood AE card was really the companion ticket & I may be wrong but seemingly less points required for booking Cathay through Alaskan than through British Airways to somewhere like HK?

    Thanks again! Michelle

  89. Alonso A. says

    Hey Ben, I am checking in tomorrow with my wife in Phuket’s Naka Island Luxury Collection for 5 days. I want some advice on how profitable 50,000 aeroplan miles would be for us, considering we could book 2 different rooms (one for each) in one of Phuket’s Ibis and then move the next day to the other property, and repeat for a total of 5 nights.

    We would still be spending all the time in Naka, but do not know if we should really go out of our way and spend our time and an extra $300 aprox. for 50k miles. We reside in Lima, Peru and have no clue the sweet spots in their award chart.

    Any help would be appreciated.


  90. lucky says

    @ Tiara — I never made it, though am hoping to make it within the next year. There’s no way to redeem oneworld miles to LYR. The best you can do with those miles is get to OSL, for example, and then book a separate ticket from there.

  91. lucky says

    @ Michelle — Yes, I don’t put much spend on the Alaska Card, so my strategy is to get it for the sign-up bonus and the companion ticket. I think that’s a good strategy, especially in your case since there’s no minimum spend requirement.

  92. lucky says

    @ Alonso A. — They can be quite valuable, especially for transatlantic redemptions on their partners for which they don’t impose fuel surcharges. That being said, I really wouldn’t downgrade from Naka Island to a budget hotel if you’re on vacation just to earn miles.

  93. Hitesh says


    Any idea if there will be an AmEx MR transfer bonus for Avios before the end of the year?

    Thanks for all your efforts!

  94. lucky says

    @ Hitesh — No clue. Unfortunately I wouldn’t count on it, since we haven’t seen one in a long time.

  95. Jerry says

    Hi Lucky!

    Looking into living in hotels full time, as I travel every week internationally and maintaining a home base in NYC is costly and not worth the time. I work from my laptop, so income is not an issue, but I have two financial questions:

    1. How do you deal with your taxes if you don’t have a permanent address?
    2. I spend a lot of time in Europe/Asia, what is a good bank that I could bank with that is accessible in both continents?


  96. M says

    Have you booked any award tickets on AS with BA avios lately? Just booked a simple round-trip SLC-PDX in June 2015 and BA charged me $19.20 on a no foreign transaction fee card, instead of the expected $11.20. They did not charge the $25 phone booking fee. Any ideas why $19.20?

    Also, I recently read, on your blog or somewhere else, that BA does not like to give AS record locator and you must call AS to get it. Instead of calling, you can also run your BA record locator through, and if you expand “show details” under the AS flights, you will see your AS record locator.

  97. lucky says

    @ M — That’s very odd, I’ve booked Alaska awards recently and was charged the standard $11.20. Which call center did you phone, out of curiosity?

  98. lucky says

    @ Jerry — I lived in Florida prior to doing this, so I still use my Florida address as my primary residence. Don’t really deal much with international banking. I do Chase, but they’re not great abroad.

  99. Lea says

    Ben, a huge thanks for this blog and your patience in answering all my questions over the last year or so. Because of what I learned here I just booked a first class flight on QF for next year! I found the space online but for some reason wouldn’t let me book it. Thought I’d take a chance and call the US BA call center. Amazingly I was only on hold for maybe 10 minutes and they were able to book the flight for me.

    My “zero” birthday trip next year is going to be very special. Thanks so much!

  100. Dan says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have a dilemma transferring my United miles to my Asiana club accnt. I flew on 2 United Express flights operated by United, but the boarding pass clearly shows “dba doing business as Sky West.” Asiana has copies of my boarding pass and eticket, and have tried processing the 2 flights manually, but are saying the computer will not let them transfer. When I call United MileagePlus, they say that these flights are United Express flights and are fully eligible for Star Alliance mileage transfer. I’m kind of frustrated at this point. Should I accept Asiana’s response that these flights are not eligible? Have you heard of any problems with United Express flights not transferring over to other Star Alliance mileage programs? What is your recommendation?

    Thank you.

  101. PhatMiles says

    Hi Lucky. I have a very last minute trip to Dallas and I am looking to stay for one night near the love field (DAL) airport. Can you suggest any cheap points stays around that area? I do not need anything fancy. TIA

  102. lucky says

    @ Dan — You absolutely should be able to credit them to Asiana, they’re incorrect. Not sure what to recommend short of continuing to escalate it, though. To clarify, did you request Asiana credit at the time you flew, or are you trying to claim retroactive mileage credit?

  103. lucky says

    @ PhatMiles — Unfortunately have never stayed near DAL, so don’t have any insight there. Sorry.

  104. Adi-T says


    I was reading your top credit card picks for October. Have you considered periodically doing a special “Scenario” version of your list that caters to specific type of travelers?

    For example, in my case I fly for a number of conferences but they are usually at specific predetermined hotels so I don’t have a choice and end up typically end up with lots of ‘orphan’ miles. So in this scenario, a particular type of credit card may be more useful than a hotel specific one. I also tend to travel heavily in the Fall/winter, and then not much through the rest of the year.

    I’m sure other travelers have their own specific considerations that might or might not have bearing in terms of which credit card is optimal (e.g., travelers with families, travelers who predominantly fly international versus domestic; etc; travelers who consistently use one airline/hotel vs those who mix and match).

    Would be fun to hear your thoughts on these.

  105. Dan says

    Hi Lucky,

    Regarding my United flight (back in Sept) miles transfer to Asiana, my Asiana mileage account number was already on the reservation, so they should have automatically credited my account after the flight. But since the flights did not credit, I submitted missing miles to be added retroactively.

    Although Asiana does not publish their rules on star alliance mileage transfer, I did a little research on Air Canada’s Aeroplan rules for star alliance transfers.

    It states, “* Charter flights operated by United are not eligible.” I confirmed with United that my United Express flights are considered “chartered flights.” Do you think it is possible that Asiana may have the same rules?

    But even so, this does not make sense because I have been on a previous United Express flight on a different occasion a month before this flight, and the miles were fully credited.

    I’ve also read on some message boards on and some people have had miles credited, and others, their flights were not credited. This is extremely frustrating.

  106. Bruno says

    Lucky – quick one on Singapore Airlines award redemption. Trying to find two first class seats (using KrisFlyer miles) for a flight late March or mid June. There is availability virtually every day for 1 pax, but not 2 (only waitlisted). Is it common for them to release another single space a few days after I book for 1 pax?i.e. Book for myself and then check back a while later for my mom. Or am I better off on the waitlist for both? Thanks!

  107. lucky says

    @ Dan — A United Express flight shouldn’t count as a “charter” flight by any definition. I’m afraid there might not be much you can do here, though I’ve also never heard of people having that issue.

  108. lucky says

    @ Adi-T — That’s a really tough one. For simplicity in your case I might just go with the Barclaycard Arrival, since it accrues cash you can use towards travel at a lucrative rate. That seems easier than focusing on a specific points currency, given how many orphan miles & points you seem to already be collecting.

  109. John says

    I already have a Qantas F seat on Nov. 16 from Lax to Syd. (380 flt!) I would rather take the Qantas flt from DFW to SYD on the same date in F. Why hasn’t Qantas released more F award seats from DFW? How many F seats are already sold on this flt on this date? I’m showing that at least 9 seats are available for sale on the DFW flt on Nov. 16. Thanks!

  110. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    I have an upcoming stay at the Conrad Bali, and I was wondering if you would recommend me to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the AmEx Premier Gold Rewards Card. Which one would use pay with?

    Thanks, Gabe

  111. Bruno says

    @ Lucky – Sorry; forgot to include the route … Looking at GRU-SIN-GRU. We are quite flexible.

  112. liam says

    You are really onto something about ground services being critical (you mentioned it in your post re ‘glamour of flying’). AA has really blown my socks off at LAX with their flagship check-in (as a concierge key member they have even gone so far as to hand carry my checked luggage onto the plane’s hold when I was running late on more than one ocassion). Lufthansa’s F class ground services at MUC at FRA are, of course, over the top.

    Now it would appear that UA is getting into the game (a little) with limited MBZ transfers for global service and int’l f-class customers: Thought this might be of interest.


  113. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    So I signed up for the Citi AAdvantage card with the 100K sign up. I spent 10156 dollars on the card, but due to there being the 200 dollar credit you get, I didn’t complete the required spend for the miles. I was never notified of the credit and nowhere does it say that you are required to spend 10200. what would you recommend that I do? I tried talking to citi but they weren’t willing to do anything. Any advice is appreciated.

    Thanks, gabe

  114. Jessica says

    @ Lucky :
    Need your help, really confuse and shocked now. Here is the situation:
    I booked flight SFO-LHR on AA metal via AA website and got the confirmation and the itinerary and record locator are displayed in “My Trips” in my AA online account.
    Found better flight arrival time few weeks ago on US Airways metal, called AA to made a change. Asked the rep to email the confirmation to me, checked on my AA account the old itinerary has been canceled and replaced with new one with US Airways. But the status is “in process” when I see it online…
    Checked just now and the itinerary disappeared on my AA account!!
    Is this just a glitch in AA website?
    Do you always call back to confirm your reservation when you successfully booked a flight and got an email confirmation?
    Is it a requirement to call and confirm the reservation every time even though we already got email confirmation and itinerary when the first time we successfully book it? Sorry I am a newbie and I don’t fly that much.

  115. says

    Hi Lucky,

    My wife and I have an upcoming flight from JFK-KTM via AUH on Etihad in F. The flight from New York arrives at 7:30PM and our connecting flight departs for Kathmandu the following morning at 9:30AM. We don’t really have the time to explore Abu Dhabi, and frankly we’re not really interested in it either, so I was wondering what our best option would be for the layover. Ideally, we’d like to stay airside so we don’t have to go through customs twice during the short overnight, but based on the info I could find (which wasn’t much) it looks like the hotel within the airport has pretty poor reviews and I can’t even tell if it is, in fact, airside.

    Essentially, I’m curious as to whether you think it is a viable option to spend the night in the Etihad First Class lounge. Specifically, if it’s open all night, whether we’ll be admitted directly upon arrival, and if there are couches that might be private enough just to grab a nap at some point.

  116. Mike says

    My company still has Diners Club (MasterCard) as a corporate credit card and the ability to transfer points to many award programs including AA, BA and is similar to AMEX MR. Alaskan is one of the choices and seems to have great business and first availability through Emirates, Korean and other partners whereas AA international has become limited and fees on BA do not make sense. It is worth opening an account with Alaskan and transferring points there for some bucket list trips including opportunity to fly Emirates A380 in first.

  117. Stephen says

    Hi Lucky,

    Planning a trip from Hong Kong to Rome next year (I have to be there for my cruise) Also want to do Milan either before or after. I bought 100k dividend miles which enables me to go first class return on cathay pacific. There seems to be first class on HKG Milan route, but Rome is only business class. Rome seems to be a stop over hub. Whats the best way to do both and in first class? go to Milan first > Rome (stopover) > back to Milan to go back to HKG. If I do one league on first and the other on business class will i still have to pay for the first class fare ?



  118. lucky says

    @ John — Qantas is incredibly stingy with first class award space. It doesn’t really matter how open a cabin is, as they simply don’t usually release more space as the departure date approaches.

  119. lucky says

    @ Gabe — Definitely the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Double points on hotels plus no foreign transaction fees (the Premier Rewards Gold Card has foreign transaction fees and doesn’t offer bonus points for hotels).

  120. lucky says

    @ Bruno — It’s certainly possible that a second seat will open closer to departure, though with Singapore availability isn’t linked in such a way that a second seat is more likely to open up once the first one has been booked. Assuming you have the KrisFlyer miles I might still book one seat and then waitlist the second, given how reasonable the change fees are. That way you’re not both waitlisted, and someone steals that first seat from you, making it less likely that two seats would clear.

  121. lucky says

    @ Liam — Thanks, yep indeed! At the really high end they certainly are selectively focusing on the ground experience. Would be nice to see it more consistent and to see some higher level of ground service delivered to more customers as well. Happy you’ve enjoyed the LAX facility for American!

  122. lucky says

    @ Gabe — Ouch! Agree it’s tricky, but unfortunately I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done here. It’s pretty standard for credit cards to not include the annual fee/subtract any rebates from spend requirements. That’s a really crappy situation, sorry. :(

  123. lucky says

    @ Jessica — If all the travel is on US Airways then the itinerary will no longer appear on American’s website. In order for it to display on American’s website, at least one segment has to be on American. “In Process” is perfectly normal, you have nothing to worry about. If you have an email confirmation with an e-ticket receipt you should be good to go.

  124. lucky says

    @ mike k — In which class of service? American does charge substantially less for first or business class awards to Singapore, so would probably book through them. There’s also more flexibility to make free changes with them.

  125. lucky says

    @ Matt — It’s not comfortable at all, in my opinion. I definitely wouldn’t try to spend the night, even if you could. Since you’ll have Etihad Chauffeur I’d really try to stay at a hotel not far away. The Capitol Gate area isn’t far at all, and there’s a Hyatt, Hilton, and aloft.

  126. lucky says

    @ Stephen — If you do one direction in first and the other in business then they’ll split the difference and charge you for the respective costs in each direction. The only issue is that no oneworld airline flies between Rome and Milan, so you might be best off just flying into one and out the other, and booking a cheap Alitalia flight for the domestic flight.

    Enjoy the trip!

  127. Kevin says

    Hi Lucky – I am having a hard time with the British Airways site… I am searching one way Nov 14 IAH to MIA trying to use Avios. I see two flight options at the normal level for economy on when I search but they are not showing on British Airways site for some reason. Any reason they wouldn’t show up? I’ve booked many Avios flights before and never had this issue. Thanks!

  128. says


    Just to clarify, you’re saying that even though we booked JFK-KTM via AUH as one award ticket, we can utilize the complimentary Etihad Chauffeur during our long layover?


  129. lucky says

    @ Kevin — Some flights just don’t show up online for whatever reason, but should be available if you call.

  130. John says

    @ Lucky:

    I am trying to book 2 seats on SQ Suite on SIN-SFO route with connection in ICN or HKG for next year, my date is flexible. But the availability seems to be a joke…..I see no availability open up in saver award level on Sept & Oct 2015. Only waitlist that is available. If I book the ticket on “waitlist”, how to clear it and be ticketed? thanks in advance!

  131. M says

    Regarding the $19.20 AS fees, I called the BA 1-800 US number which routed to the Newcastle UK call center. There is an existing thread on FT describing the same issue, but nobody there had any idea either. I must mention that a few days earlier I called the same number just to price the award, and the guy gave me $11.20 at that time, so all this is really puzzling for me.

  132. DK says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Ink Cash Business card. And I just recently applied and got approved for the Ink Plus Business card. I plan on keeping the Sapphire and Ink Cash cards. Is it worth keeping the Ink Plus card after the minimum spend promotion? As you are also aware, the difference is the Ink Cash doesn’t have the no foreign transaction fee, max category of office supply, cell phone, internet x5pts is reduced from $50,000 (Ink Plus) to $25,000 (ink cash), and the Ink Cash does not have an annual fee. You’d recommend just keeping the sapphire and the ink cash, right?

  133. Victor says

    Hi Lucky, I’ve got a Lifemiles award ticket booked on some of their partner airlnies over Christmas. It’s a return from Oslo to Sydney and back (spending a month in Sydney).
    I am trying to look for the cancellation or change policy on Lifemiles award tickets, after the first segments have been flown (e.g. Oslo to Sydney). Should I wish to cancel or change the return leg, is this possible?
    I know this is possible on American, but not on US airways awards, but what about Lifemiles?

    Many thanks in advance-


  134. Ted says

    Hey lucky,

    I commented about a month ago about BA CW SFO-LHR, and I now have 4 seat booked, two on SFO-LHR, and two on LAX-LHR. Anyway, the two SFO-LHR are for two of my family, and it is the first A380 BA flight from San Francisco. Does this mean that it is an “inaugural flight”? Would there be certificates handed out? IN that case, I would be jelly because I am on LAX-LHR, a well established a380 route.



  135. MS says

    We would like to take an international trip with our 1 year old daughter and are looking for something direct from SFO. Do you have suggestions for direct routes with good Business class availability for Chase transfer partners?

  136. Michelle says

    Hi Ben,

    I’m curious to hear your thoughts on luggage. Do you feel there is a higher risk for theft in general if you carried around/checked in more expensive luggage (i.e. Rimowa)?

    Thank you, Michelle

  137. James says

    Hi Ben,

    I would like to redeem some stays at Hyatt. However, I have no Hyatt Passport points.

    I have Emirates Points, Qantas Frequent Flyer Points and AMEX Membership Rewards (Australian version only allows transfer into IHG and SPG).

    Is there a way that I could do this?


  138. says

    Dear Ben,

    as you may now, one earn at least double miles/avios by flying US Airways due to the fact, that one has at least an Economy full fare ticket, as Economy discount tickets are not provided for accrual yet. So you simply buy an cheap US Airways ticket, say ANC-PHX-LGA, and earn 90TP on British Airways instead of 45TP. That´s all thanks to the ongoing merger of AA and US.

    However, I gonna do a little millrun for BAEC Silver. The simplest way of getting it is flying US long distance domestic flights. Unfortunately I can do that at least in January, 2 month and a couple of days to go.

    Do you know, if this situation of earning double miles will last until January/February?

    Cheers und Viele Grüße


  139. Keya says

    Hi Ben

    I had a wonderful flight with Emirates here to Singapore and thanks to your advice, I was finally able to ask and get a 2nd serving of caviar for the first time in 3 years with Emirates.

    I was sitting down and planning all my upcoming travelling for the next 15 months. I asked you a few days back regarding what hotel chain to choose to earn points with or to attain a status with so as to make use of added benefits. I have another quick question regarding that. Minus SPG and Hyatt programs (the only two that allow points to miles conversion with Emirates), in which order would you choose the following reward programs when looking for a hotel and keeping in mind that most of your travel is with (in order of preference) Emirates (Skywards account), British Airways (Executive club account) or partner OWA airlines, Lufthansa (miles and more account) or partner SA airlines and lastly Virgin Atlantic (Flying club account) : Hhonors, Club Carlson, Marriott Rewards, IHG Rewards ?

    Since I’m based in Dubai predominantly, most of my travelling is with Emirates. However, my photography and painting work makes me travel or connect in such a way that I cannot always pick Emirates. Hence the question of what hotel chains to choose in which order when SPG or Hyatt properties aren’t available. That way I can credit points/miles to my other accounts depending on which would offer more value.

    Looking forward to your expert response.

    Thanks as always :)

  140. AlanT98 says

    Hello Lucky, I’m a High School Student, and I was planning a summer trip in the UK, to study abroad, but with the news about Ebola, my father doesn’t want me to leave out of Mexico (where I live).
    What do you think about this?
    Aren’t you worried about traveling with this situation?

  141. Jamie says

    Do you know anything about what the SFO- Abu Dhabi flight via Etihad (apparently on a Jet Airways aircraft) will be or is like? We want to fly to Abu Dhabi from either LAX or SFO but if the product on the Jet Airways aircraft is inferior then obviously that’s no good. There isn’t great premium cabin availability from LAX.

  142. lucky says

    @ John — Hmmm, I’m actually seeing pretty decent award availability for next year, so that’s strange. As far as waitlisting goes, in most cases if it clears it will be about two weeks out, though it could clear before that as well. Not really a formula to how that works, unfortunately.

  143. lucky says

    @ DK — Assuming you’re not maximizing the category bonuses or using it abroad, it sounds like the Ink Cash is better suited for your needs, at least in conjunction with the Sapphire Preferred.

  144. lucky says

    @ Victor — I believe with LifeMiles you can’t change the ticket once travel begins, though I could be mistaken.

  145. lucky says

    @ Ted — Not sure there will necessarily be certificates, but there will probably be some sort of celebration in conjunction with it (whether it’s cake, a gift bag, a gate party, etc.).

  146. lucky says

    @ MS — Nonstops out of SFO to Europe are really tough. That being said, to Asia it should be quite a bit easier. Cathay Pacific has tons of business class award space to Hong Kong, and Korean Air has plenty of first class award space to Seoul, so I think those are both fantastic options.

  147. lucky says

    @ Michelle — Absolutely. I would never check “expensive” luggage as I do think it’s more likely to be stolen.

  148. lucky says

    @ James — Unfortunately there’s not a way you could efficiently transfer those points to Hyatt, sorry. :(

  149. lucky says

    @ Keya — Happy you enjoyed your flight! Of those programs I’d probably do Hilton, IHG, Marriott, and then Club Carlson.

  150. lucky says

    @ AlanT98 — Looking at the facts, can’t say I’m worried at all. No, there are parts of Africa I wouldn’t travel to right now, but aside from that I am in no way changing my travel plans and think there’s nothing to worry about.

  151. lucky says

    @ Jamie — Yes, it’s still a good hard product, though the Etihad product is better. I’d go with the Los Angeles flight all things being equal, but if it’s the only real option then it’s not bad, ultimately.

  152. chris says

    Hi Lucky!

    Your blog inspired me to start collecting miles for flight rewards and after less than a year, I finally have enough to redeem a trip to Asia for two (albeit economy class)!

    I was wondering if you happen to know the award release dates for EVA and aeroplan…
    I can never seem to find any award space for yvr-tpe and vice versa.
    I know aeroplan had a glitch a while ago, and was reported to have been fixed, but it seems like that is not the case.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance!

  153. Chris says

    Hi Lucky. Do you know if I want to do a one-way from NYC->SIN on United (and it’s *A partners) can I connect through Europe for under 24 hours and still have it price as a NYC->SIN ticket? United’s online system seems to not allow that. Thanks!

  154. Jamie says

    So with Etihad I’d like obviously to go with the LAX flight buuuuut they only have 1 first class seat (there is tons of availability on the SFO flight… 4 seats per flight…). How likely do you think they open up first class a few days before the flight? With two people, what do you think is best approach… book one in first, the other in economy and then hope to upgrade to first last minute (worst case, do one upgrade to business the other downgrade to business?).

  155. Keya says

    Hi Ben

    Thanks for your quick response earlier. Continuing with my query for hotel loyalty programs, since I’m gonna get into it more seriously now to save money on hotel bookings, I have a question regarding SPG and Hyatt Gold Passport programs. Since I’m based out of Dubai, most of my travel where possible is with Emirates. Hence, I try to choose my bookings, credit cards, spending partners based on what helps me earn miles for my skywards account. SPG and Hyatt are only 2 Skywards partners that allow a direct conversion of points to miles.

    For SPG I earn 2 points per UDS spent which makes it 2 miles per USD spent. For Hyatt I earn 5 points per USD spent, which also makes it 2 miles per USD spent since it has a 2.5 to 1 conversion rate. So my question is that if I don’t really hold a status with those 2 programs and my earning and conversion to miles remains at the rate mentioned above, does it really matter which one to choose over the other ? Or should I be choosing one over the other as it might be offering more value per USD spent or be more beneficial in anyway. I’m 3 nights away from reaching Gold with SPG and also 3 nights away from reaching Hyatt Platinum and I have until the end of the year to earn them. I’ve got quite a few nights of hotel stays coming up before year end. Which program should I be aiming for to achieve the higher status ? Or should I just go for both elite statuses since I won’t be able to go for the next higher status level if I stick with just one program for all my upcoming travels (10 nights in total).

    I hope I didn’t confuse you and was able to get my question across. For any clarification let me know please. Your expert opinion as always will be great.

    Thanks :)

  156. Jenny says

    Hi Lucky,

    I’ve noticed that QR have pulled all award inventory (through BA at least) out of Europe. When I looked maybe 2 weeks ago almost every flight was available but now there is nothing. Do you think this is linked to the A380 and will open up again soon?

    Also, I want to book HKG-ZRH with CX on miles but it currently shows no availability. I am assuming that availability will open up once the route has started or when they know for sure it will be running. Do you have experience with other similar new routes – if so, when does availability tend to open up?

    Lastly, am I right in assuming that US airways counts over 24 hours at an international hub as a stopover, even if it is forced because a route is only flown 3 times a week?


  157. lucky says

    @ Jenny — Hmmm, they definitely haven’t pulled all inventory. The first date I checked for Frankfurt to Doha had space in both business and economy.

    Yes, I’m sure Cathay will open up more space on the Hong Kong to Zurich route eventually. It may just be a while. In the past they’ve opened quite a bit of space as soon as the schedule opens, but they seem to be a bit stingier pre-launch nowadays.

    Yes, if you stop for more than 24 hours it’s considered a stopover, regardless of whether it’s “forced” or not.

  158. lucky says

    @ Keya — In your shoes I wouldn’t be accruing miles instead of hotel points. It’s simply not a good value, compared to what you could potentially do with hotel points. You’re losing quite a bit of value. So it doesn’t matter a whole lot which chain you use if you’re committed to earning airline miles, though that’s not the reward I’d choose for my hotel stays.

  159. lucky says

    @ Jamie — I’d say there’s a good chance they open two seats on the LAX route, though it’s no guarantee. I’d book two people on the SFO route so you’re together, and then if closer to departure the nonstop out of LAX opens up, switch to that.

  160. Frank says

    Hi Lucky,
    I was on the Delta website a few weeks ago and a tickler appeared championing a promotion to earn Gold with 3 RTs, and Platinum with 5RTs if done within a 2 mo. window. Didn’t see any other requirements for MQDs, etc. Complained to Delta about why, and more importantly, the issue of debasing those poor soles who tried to earn status under the existing rules, and this promotion allowing jumping of queue so to speak. Too bad, so sad, basically was the reply. Have you heard anything?

  161. lucky says

    @ Jamie — It’s only on the A380, and the only US route which will possibly get the A380 is New York JFK. But no date has been set yet.

  162. Lantean says

    hi Ben, are you taking advantage of JAL F awards NRT-SYD this winter? the schedule still has so much availability… it’s like a goldmine.

  163. says

    Dear Ben,

    I just wonder, do the AAdvantage miles are useful to fly from North America to SE Asia? I know I can use AA miles for fly with Cathay first, but it seems the availability are very rare to none. I just want to accumulate point, and somehow it cannot be redeem and expire. Do you know any airlines in the one world that I can use that have good availability to fly to SE Asia with AA miles? Do you think JAL have a good first award ticket and bookable with AA? I know they are really to open to CGK destination as you mentioned before on your blog. And if so, how can I check their availability without becoming an expert flyer? thank you very much

  164. Reine says

    I don’t fly American, but I want to use AAdvantage miles for a first class Qantas award next year. Is there any rule they have against buying all miles for an award (like Aeroplan requires you to have 50% of the miles necessary for the award ticket at time of booking) or can I just buy the 73,000 miles needed and get the award ticket and book?

  165. LarryH says

    Hi Ben,

    I love your blog and read it regularly for updates on AA in particular. I am an AAdvantage EXP based on Durham, NC. I fly regularly on their relatively new nonstop service between RDU and LAX. The flight is generally full front and back and seems popular with elite AAdvantage flyers, judging by the fact that upgrades don’t always come through even for EXP members. Although the nonstop service between the cities is terrific, as are the times of the flights, AA has been progressively downgrading service in the First Class cabins, removing amenities like pillows and downgrading the meal service from the transcontinental level.

    Although I have complained to AA customer relations about these issues, I just learned something more problematic: AA is converting this route (AA1329 both ways) to a US Airways flight. There are several disadvantages to this change. For me, the most important include: fewer First Class seats on US Airway’s A319s, no electrical outlines anywhere (including First) on A319s or A321s; flights leave LAX from the US Airways terminal, where there is no Admirals Club or US Airways lounge.

    In short, this is a serious downgrade. I’ve complained to AA about this. In light of your recent post about the new American’s plans for various U.S. hubs, would you blog about whether AA has been downgrading other AA flights or switching them to US Air? If not, I would appreciate your thoughts here.

    Many thanks,
    Larry H

  166. lucky says

    @ Lantean — Not personally, because I already have a trip planned to Australia in November and January. Agree, there’s a ton of space!

  167. lucky says

    @ Joe — Yes, you can redeem through the British Airways program. They have a distance based chart, so it’s a good value for short distance awards, and not so amazing value for long distance awards.

  168. lucky says

    @ Ernest — Cathay Pacific does still release a lot of space. They have a ton of business class award space in advance, and that’s an excellent product. Then close to departure they release a ton of first class award space, as I outlined here:

    JAL is definitely stingier than Cathay Pacific, all things considered.

    You can use the BA search tool to search JAL and Cathay Pacific award space:

  169. lucky says

    @ Reine — Nope, no requirement. You can buy all the miles for an award. The only limitation is the maximum number of AAdvantage miles you can buy per calendar year.

  170. lucky says

    @ LarryH — As part of the merger we are starting to see some “cross fleeting,” whereby certain former US Airways routes are being operated by American planes, and vice versa. So it does go both ways. Agree it’s unfortunate when it happens, especially as not all amenities are the same (like pillows and blankets). We’ll continue to see more of this over the coming months/years, I’m sure.

  171. Frank says

    Hi Lucky,
    Re: Delta promotion – no, wasn’t the match you sent the link. I believe this was a targeted promotion, and I received it by mistake. I’m GM, and close to PM, so certainly no need to have sent it to me. Thanks for the reply.

  172. Judah says

    Hey Lucky,

    I read that you apply/open roughly 12 credit cards per year. Seems like most credit cards waive the first year’s annual fee, but what do you do after that introductory rate is over and have to pay? Do you just close the card? I was informed that closing credit cards can hurt your credit score if you don’t maintain your debt-to-income ratio. What do you do?



  173. Matt says

    Hi Lucky:

    Long time reader, first time poster! Quick question: You did a review of the IC Berechtesgaden back in Oct. 2013 and sold me on it. I want to stay there for a 2-3 nights in May 2015. Space was bookable for my desired dates (including on points) all the way up until this morning. Now as of this afternoon, from early April 2015 through August 2015 everything is blocked out after trying dozens of dates. Intercontinental customer service has no clue why this is and found it strange. I intended to use points earned from the IHG credit card spend bonus, but will not have them posted for a month or so. Any idea on how to open up availability? Any way to lock in a room before having the points on hand? Many thanks for your thoughts!

    Thanks! Matt

  174. Mark says

    Hey lucky!

    So I’ve just hit status on delta and i was wondering if you had any advice as to how I can make sure I am getting everything I can out of it! I’ve looked over what they’ve got on the delta website and jus wanted to make sure I took advantage of everything. Thanks!


  175. Dr. Jan Itor says

    Does Alitalia open more saver space to it’s own members than Delta/FB? Also, can they be booked on the web for business class or only economy? Their website sucks…

  176. lucky says

    @ Dr. Jan Itor — They should have access to the same space, and you can book business and economy online (though I agree that the website sucks).

  177. lucky says

    @ Mark — Tough to say without knowing what all you’re taking advantage of. :)

    Would recommend taking a look at Delta Points (, as he’s probably the world’s biggest Delta advocate.

    Enjoy the status!

  178. Judah says

    Hey Lucky,

    Really appreciate how responsive you are. Thanks.

    One more question: I currently have the AMEX Gold Premiere Rewards because it gets 3x for flights and 2x for gas, which the Platinum doesn’t get. Still worth it to get Platinum?



  179. Vinh says

    Hey Lucky, if I have a RT United biz award ticket to Asia for 160k total miles. Let’s say mid way through my trip, I see availability open up in first class on the way home. How much will United charge me? Will it be 80 + 130 = 210K or will they charge me 260K? Thanks.

  180. lucky says

    @ Vinh — They should charge you the difference between the one-way business class price and one-way first class price, so 210,000 miles in this example.

  181. Michelle says

    Hi Ben,

    Just double checking but you said that the signup bonus of 30k points for Starwood Preferred Amex is typically offered once/month? Coming across your older posts, it’s once a year? Please clarify.

    Thanks again,

  182. Justin says

    Hey Lucky,

    My CSP has a limit of $10,800, my Ink Plus has a limit of $11,500. These are unnecessarily high and rarely go above 3k on them at a time.

    Would asking for a decrease in the limits to 5k (minimum for Visa Signature) be a good idea? Would this help me get approved for more Chase credit cards in the future? Does a hard pull happen? Would love some advice. I feel like I’ve read about people lowering limits a lot but I’m not sure.


  183. Lukasz says

    Hi Ben: I am in the process of booking WAW-MNL-WAW trip for my parents who live in Europe. The routing is as follows: WAW-HEL-HKG-MNL (economy/FinnAir) & MNL-HKG-LHR-WAW (business/Cathy & BA). I currently have this reservation on hold with AA (for 175,000 miles/2pax) but it’s just occurred to me that US Air Program would book a trip like this for 160,000 Dividend miles/2pax. My only question is–do you know if US Air allows mix award tix? i.e. it’s a round trip but in multiple classes of service? Many thanks!

  184. lucky says

    @ Justin — I definitely wouldn’t ask to have your limit lowered. Ultimately having a high limit is good because it means when you spend the same amount your credit utilization is lower (since you’re using a smaller percentage of your credit).

    If you do end up applying for another Chase card and they don’t want to give you more credit, they may be willing to switch around credit lines a bit to facilitate that, so maybe that’s what you had heard of?

  185. Matt says


    Posted above regarding the IC Berchtesgaden. It looks like it was announced today they are leaving the IHG brand and going to Kempinksi in the first half of 2015. Wonder if that has anything to do with availability?


  186. lucky says

    @ Matt — Was researching your post from earlier, and that seems to explain it. Ouch, that’s horrible news. :(

  187. Matt says

    Yes, bad news indeed! I’ve emailed the hotel itself to see if availability will open back up, but not holding my breath.

  188. KR says

    I booked two business class award tickets starting MIA on June 1, 2015, using AA miles as follows: MIA-Berlin-MUC-DOH-BLR.

    I saw from your blog that MIA-TXL is cancelled effective May 3, 2015.
    I checked AB’s press release and on Oct 17, it states “In addition, from May 2015 Miami will no longer be served non-stop from Berlin-Tegel and will instead be connected to the German capital with a daily service via Dusseldorf.”

    That will not work for me. So what is the best way to get AA to change the itinerary? There is of course direct MIA-LHR-BLR, but is there any way to avoid BA’s fees? Also, even if I pay the fees, how do I get AA to open up the seats? I am AA Gold.

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