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. lucky says

    @ Ted — It’s an area I’m probably pretty ignorant in, because I don’t really look into that too much. I probably should…

  2. Jack Buck says

    Ben, when does British Airways make award space available? I’ve read a lot that are really good at releasing award space in advance, but I’m looking for a particular route in January and can’t seem to find any. Do they usually offer award space last minute for certain routes? For example, I’m trying to find Miami/Orlando to London in Business class (Business class!)

  3. Abhi says

    Hi Lucky,
    I’ll be in Amsterdam for 7-8 days. Any suggestions on what to do while there?
    Although I’ll be staying with family, I’ll be pretty much on my own most of the day on weekdays as everyone else goes to their regular jobs.
    -Abhi

  4. lucky says

    @ Jack Buck — They do sometimes open space as the departure date approaches. They’re not as good about releasing space as in the past, unfortunately. Generally they’ll open space on some routes when the schedule first opens, and then again as the departure date approaches, so if you’re patient there’s a chance space may open up.

  5. lucky says

    @ Abhi — I tend to be a “wanderer,” so I guess it depends what you’re into. I just like roaming the streets all day, though if you’re into museums then there are lots of those as well. With that long in Amsterdam I’d also consider a few day trips. Enjoy your trip!

  6. Nola says

    Ben:

    Wondering if you have any insight as to why United award space isn’t showing up on ANA’s search tool but is showing up on United’s website. I was looking to book Austrian to Vienna, but couldn’t get award space from MSY to ORD, NYC, IAH OR IAD. I wound up finding a good value on Delta business class but really wanted to try OO based on your trip reports. Does United hold most of its award space back?

    Thanks.

  7. lucky says

    @ Nola — Unfortunately it sounds like it’s phantom award space, as the ANA website is almost always right. If the ANA website shows it it should be bookable, while if United shows it but ANA doesn’t, it’s likely phantom.

  8. Jack says

    Planning a trip around Christmas this year and found award availability to AMS out and MAD in. I plan to buy tickets for the AMS – BCN transit and they are pricing around $150. Is the revenue option the best in this case? And should I buy asap or a couple months out be better for intra Europe flights? And does BA open up award space closer to departure? Seeing some seats for the BCN-MAD Avios but would prefer a morning flight if possible.

  9. lucky says

    @ Jack — BA does open up more space as the departure date approaches, though around the holidays it can be tricky. $150 seems like a pretty good fare to me, so since you’re traveling over peak season I’d probably lock it in sooner rather than later.

  10. Dan says

    Hi Lucky,

    You mentioned that redeeming Chase Ultimate Reward points for miles on Korean Air or United MileagePlus would not be a good choice because of the devaluation of miles for international flights. If so, then what would be the best way to use Chase points or miles to redeem an upgrade or award flights on Asiana Airlines Business class or First class roundtrip LAX to ICN? I do not fly Korean Air, so Korean Air would not be an option.

    As an upgraded Diamond Asiana Club member, I was awarded a mileage discount coupon which can be used 1 of 2 ways, 1. 50% off mileage for upgrade flight, which would be 80,000 miles (40,000 with coupon) for Travel class to Business smartium class, or 80,000 miles (40,000 with coupon) for Business smartium class to First Class suite. Mind you that typical economy runs about $1,200, business smartium $3,300, first class suite $10,500 on an A380 flight. 2nd option would be 10,000 mileage discount for full award flight: 125,000 miles (115,000 with coupon) for Business smartium or 160,000 miles (150,000 with coupon) for First class suite. Which would you use? and which would be the best value?

    Thanks,
    Dan

  11. lucky says

    @ Dan — To clarify, I think redeeming through MileagePlus would be a good value if you’re not willing to fly Korean Air. 150K roundtrip without fuel surcharges isn’t bad, in my opinion. Of the above choices I’d say the upgrade from economy to business is probably the best value. But I would still rather redeem through MileagePlus and save the cash, at least if it were me.

  12. AJ says

    HI Lucky, just a general request. if you can cover wait listing an award with Singapore at any time, it would be much appreciated :-)

    Thanks

  13. Aubrey says

    Hi Lucky–I booked a DEN-DFW-ORD-HKG flight in first class (AA to ORD and then CX to HKG) for this winter using USAirways miles and just saw that they changed my flight to the other ORD flight that has no first class leaving around midnight. CX is not showing the typical 4 class 77w now on the day I was already booked. And my booking code now shows Unknown for that leg.

    Before I spend an hour and half on the phone with USAirways, is changing me to another first class CX flight, even though no partner availability is showing right now for the days before and after, something USAirways should honor no matter what, or am I likely to be stuck with business? The flight is near the holidays so the connection was hard to get to begin with… Any suggestions? Thanks,

    a.

  14. lucky says

    @ Aubrey — Here’s a post I wrote about US Airways schedule changes in general;
    Last October, American Airlines announced a new nonstop daily flight between Dallas and Hong Kong, which launched this June. This route was incredibly exciting to me on many levels:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/08/19/handle-us-airways-award-ticket-schedule-change/

    Assuming you were downgraded there’s a chance they could open up award space in first class through a liaison, though it would get complicated. Was the other daily flight canceled, or do you know why they switched you? Quite odd…

  15. Aubrey says

    Thanks Lucky–Yeah, it is odd. The CX timetable now shows two days that week that the daily service 4 class plane is not scheduled, and one of those days is what I had been booked on.

    http://www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_US/book-a-trip/timetable/timetable-search-result-page.html?cmFkaW89TyZjaXR5LWZyb20tdHlwZT1BSVJQT1JUJmNpdHktZnJvbT1PUkQmY2l0eS10by10eXBlPUFJUlBPUlQmY2l0eS10bz1IS0cmZGVwYXJ0LWRhdGU9MjAxNC0xMi0zMCZyZXR1cm4tZGF0ZT0yMDE0LTEyLTMwJg==

    This is made more complicated by the fact that I booked a friend on the same flights…. And it was going to be my first time in CX first. I looked at the DFW–HKG route on AA but never saw availability for the dates I needed. Maybe I will just wait with biz and see if anything opens up right before departure. Thanks for the help!

  16. lucky says

    @ Aubrey — Ouch, that’s tough. It is fairly likely space will open up close to departure, if you can wait. Having two people booked with different miles definitely does make it more complicated.

  17. Steve says

    Hey Lucky,

    Just wondering if booking BKK stopover for 3 or 4 days in HKG then Tokyo is possible with US airways or AA miles?

    Is Tokyo>stopover in SF>NY possible at all too?

    Also, is it rare to find cathay pacific openings in first class nowadays?

    Thanks

  18. lucky says

    @ Steve — Booking in advance or close to departure it shouldn’t be too tough to find Cathay space. With US Airways you’re allowed one stopover at a oneworld hub city or US Airways transatlantic gateway city. With American no stopovers of over 24 hours are allowed.

  19. Steve says

    Yeah having no luck with Cathay on JAL or BA. Looking to fly beginning of October.

    Hong Kong is US airways hub, but does it have to be a round trip ticket? Can I just do one way with BKK to HKG to NRT? Or would it not be that many points round trip anyways and could be worth it?

  20. Andrew says

    @ LUCKY : I booked AA metal in first class for outbound flight SFO-NRT (with layover in DFW) on March 30, 2015. And inbound ICN-SFO (layover at DFW) on April 13, 2015. Can you please tell me what kind of airplane will I be flying on? is it the new 777-300ER? kinda worry if it’s the old 777-300…I heard the AA first class service on that one is not good….

  21. Andrew says

    @ LUCKY: thanks! awww that’s a bummer that it’s not the 777-300ER……
    I have a question that may sound silly since this is my first time fly in first class, I heard that in first and business class we can order any food at any time?like for example they have 3 options to choose for main course and after I chose one and finished eating, can I ask for another main dishes?
    And in this case, how do they serve in this first class? from front to back seat or the opposite?

  22. Houssam says

    Hi Lucky,

    I’m booked to fly the QR A380 from Paris to Doha on the 11th of December and I have an onward flight in first class flying Qatar Airways as well.

    I understand that it’s no certainty at all that the A380 will be flying that route by then, however I was wondering if the Al Safwa First Class Lounge will be operational at that time? I understand you may not know the answer to that, and probably not many people do, however has there been anyone in media circles who has contacted Qatar and asked them when this lounge will be open? And I guess by contacting Qatar I mean their CEO Akbar Al Baker.

    All I have heard from Akbar Al Baker recently were his complaints directed towards Airbus for the delay of the A380′s, when in reality HIA has been delayed by over a year, and now that it is open, they can’t even get their lounges open on time? I think the media really should pressure him and ask for a please explain on why his airport has taken so long and it’s still not complete?

  23. lucky says

    @ Houssam — I actually asked the Qatar Airways Doha lounge manager about this a bit over a week ago, and his answer was simply “soon.” They don’t seem to have an exact timeline. My impression was that it could happen within the next month, though it’s not something I would count on. Enjoy your trip!

  24. Andrew says

    @Lucky : thanks !!!
    ” If a flight involves a change of time zones:

    Meal orders will be taken starting in the front on eastbound flights
    Meal orders will be taken starting in the back on westbound flights”

    That means for lax-nrt they will service food starting from the front first, yayyy!!! So happy! Will order many foods before they ran out! :)

  25. wonkachocolat says

    Hi Lucky

    Random question.

    I am booked on an award ticket from AMS to MEL for tomorrow with the routing AMS – CDG – CAN – MEL

    So it seems the European Air Industry are all striking. This includes AF pilots. I was just about to check in, and was told that my CDG – CAN flight (on AF 777 300ER) was cancelled. I find it odd that they cancelled a wide body long haul as it would have thought they would remove capacity from short hall flights especially the AMS to CDG and back route.

    But this leaves me with a problem. I can fly from AMS to CDG. And I can fly the last leg from CAN to MEL… as these are still confirmed and showing in my profile. However, I need to do a Phineas Fogg and get from CDG to CAN (in approx 14 hours).

    Do you have any ideas or tips?

  26. lucky says

    @ wonkachocolat — Which airline did you book through, and how long are you in Australia before returning, based on your scheduled itinerary?

  27. John DELTA says

    lucky,

    Any ideas on how I can use our AAdvantage miles to get a roundtrip flight from either GEG or SEA to DUB without going through LCY or LHR and paying those darn BA Fuel & London Departure Taxes?

    I had thought about flying to an alternative airport, like AMS, CDG or MXP…and use maybe RyanAir to shuttle between…but I cannot get any award tickets without the London connections!

  28. Peter says

    Hey Lucky,

    Thanks for creating such an informative blog. I was so close to applying for the two American Express cards a few weeks ago for the 100k miles reward, but read in the fine print that eligible purchases to meet the spending requirement do not include “cash equivalents”. Sounds to me like that excludes using Amazon payments or preloaded gift cards to get around the high spending requirement? Thanks!

  29. lucky says

    @ Peter — In my experience that refers specifically to cash advances and the like. Paypal, Amazon Payments, etc., has always counted as eligible purchases with American Express for me.

  30. lucky says

    @ John DELTA — Your best bets would be Iberia through Madrid (their award space doesn’t show up on American’s website) or airberlin through Dusseldorf or Berlin. Good luck!

  31. lucky says

    @ Alex — The Chase Sapphire Preferred has primarily collision damage waiver coverage, so is a great option.

  32. Tom says

    Hi Lucky,

    points status: 50K MR , 220K SPG, 80K AA, 55K United, 45K Delta, 35K TY

    Looking into two award business class tickets next August from NYC – HNL. Best option looks to fly Hawaiian/AA for 75K r/t.
    Would you recommend bying one ticket via AA and the other one via Hawaiian at 50K MR + 35K SPG, or other recommendations? I know MR is not transferring to AA so tried a solution via Hawaiian. I don’t see any saver award on United leaving from EWR.

    Thanks Tom

  33. KahhunaTravel says

    @Tom – I’ll let Ben comment on point redemption efficiency, but wanted give you a head’s up on what to expect on AA/HAL metal. My wife and I booked CMH-HNL roundtrip in F this past May for 75K each in AAdvantage miles (really 67.5 K because our credit cards gave use back 10% of our redemption). The AA hardware was a 2 class configuration. We had a MD-80 from CMH to DFW, and a 757 from DFW to LAX. In LAX we moved over to HAL equipment which was a 2 class A330 for the jump to HNL. Because this was a domestic flight, even booking F you will get no Admiral’s club lounge access with your ticket (though this might be different departing and returning NYC). In LAX and in HNL you will have access to HAL’s lounge – if you can call it that. It’s the airline equivalent of a Mexican bus station. I’m still waiting for Ben to review these gems – LOL (come one Ben – it’s time to check out the Hyatts in HI). Our flight back was HNL – LAX – CMH. HAL’s service from HNL was a red-eye on a 2 class A330. American’s service from LAX to CMH was on a 2 class 737-800. If you are routing through LAX, be aware that the AA and HAL terminals are entirely different buildings located on opposite ends of the airport from each other. So be prepared for a schlep. Also, at least when we went through in May, TSA had no pre-Check service in the terminal serving HAL – but instead gave you “expedited screening”.

  34. Davisson says

    Lucky,

    I was able to book a oneway reward with AA miles on japan airlines with a stop over. It wasn’t a straight up booking though.

    First it was from SEA->LAX->NRT/HND->OKA with no stop overs. this was in F, F then Y,
    Then few weeks later, I called in and wanted to change SEA->ORD->NRT but departing few days earlier. The agent specifically asked if I wanted to change HND->OKA flight, I said that I’ll change it if I have to. She responded in saying that I didn’t need to change it.

    So after this change, I had a stop over in NRT for around 3 days.

    I’d like to know if you encountered this before? It seems like AA’s computer allows stop-overs on the award (I don’t think the agent asked for some supervisor override) — so it is up to the agent? Or is this a potential work around because the agent isn’t trained to reverify the whole trip when just changing a segment?

    Thanks,

  35. says

    Hi Lucky… this is kind of a tricky question, but if you can help me, it will be really great.

    I live in Brazil and I’ll start traveling weekly to work, from Porto Alegre to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other cities in the country and South America. It will always be something around 2000~3000 km per leg, and my company will pay for the tickets – so I’ll be able to collect miles.

    So, the question is: do you think it is worthy to apply for a foreign mileage program – like AAdvantage to collect TAM miles, or Air France or Delta to collect Gol miles, and so on? Or it’ll be (in theory, at least) better to use the brazilian airlines programs?

    Keep in mind that it’s kinda hard to collect a good amount of points with credit cards here, if we don’t use Amex or MasterCard Black and Visa Infinite. I have an HSBC Premier Visa Platinum, and it only gets 1.5 points per dollar (and it’s hard to get a good amount of points, due to value of the Brazilian Real). So it will be only the mileage program.

    Sorry for the loooong question. Keep up the awesome work!

  36. David says

    @Davisson: how did you book JAL award seat in First class using AA? Since AA website doesn’t show JAL award availability, so have to go through BA website to find it. I also want to use my AA miles for JAL first class, but I never can find the availability for first class open yet. In your case, how did you be able to find it and how long before your departure date did you find that award availability? Thanks!

  37. flo says

    Hi Lucky, are you aware of any Star Alliance member in Asia that does not have (high) YQ? A3 intra-far east award in Y are quite cheap at 12500 miles one-way for some destinations such as SIN-Japan… however YQ on NH, OZ, SQ makes it a lot less appealing.

  38. lucky says

    @ Davisson — That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that. American’s computers do ordinarily automatically catch these things, so I really don’t have a good explanation for that.

  39. lucky says

    @ Chico Luz — Sounds like a lot of travel you have coming up! Generally speaking assuming you’ll only fly one airline primarily, then I would probably credit to them. Even though American miles would be more valuable, for example, you’ll generally get better recognition if you’re an elite member in the “native” airline’s frequent flyer program. So that would maximize your chances at upgrades, etc. Just my two cents.

  40. KP says

    Hi Lucky,

    I had registered for Chicago Seminars and I just found out I cannot go. So, can you help me give away my registration to someone? I believe it can be transferred for a fee of $25. So, if anyone wants to go and pay the $25 fee, I am willing to give it to them.

    Thanks,
    KP

  41. ekartash says

    Hey Lucky. I know you are a Lufthansa expert. Is there any rhyme or reason to how LH releases award seats in the F cabin to partners? If 4 seats are available for sale, is there a good chance that LH will release 2 seats at the last minute? Or does there need to be 6, 8? Or is there no set pattern at all? Specifically looking at FRA – JNB A380 route.

  42. Matt says

    Lucky,

    I have two options for an end of April 15 trip.

    Fly NH 1011, currently “non-IOJ” first class out of ORD or take JL 9, in the new JAL suites. I’m not sure about the difference in service or food between the two would ‘overcome’ flying the older product vs. newer. There is always the possibility that NH 1011 will have the IOJ update by April as well.

    What would you do?

    TIA

  43. Keya says

    Hi Ben !

    I just had a quick question. I believe Qatar and Etihad are expecting/hoping to take deliveries of more than one A380 in 2015. Any news on the routes planned ? I’ve only read about Paris and London as being the destinations so far. Any idea about any other destination, specifically any Asian countries ?

  44. Jim says

    TPG had a post today about airline partners and i noticed Edelweiss Air was listed as a United partner. Can we book awards with United? I live in Tampa and as you know we don’t have many choices for direct International travel.

  45. Justin says

    Hi Lucky. Great bog btw. Always have a great time reading it. Just a quick question. I will be flying United First from HNL to LAX on a 737-800 and was wondering if you had a seat preference and why and what I should expect from that route. Thanks.

  46. Joann says

    @ Lucky : I’ve been trying to plan a trip for 2 using AA miles redemption on JAL first class from SFO-NRT. How frequently does JAL release their redemption seats availability on BA website? I’d like to travel sometime around March or April of next year but haven’t been able to find any available seats. Was I too late to get those or am I jumping the gun? Obviously I’d like to avoid mixed cabin as well, but right now I’m just trying to get a sense for the booking timing. Does JAL first class availability mostly released far away before or closer to the date of departure?
    Another question is it possible if I use AA miles to get first class in one award booking pricing on CX (Cathay) by breaking segment by segment, such like SFO – HK (layover or stop over) – NRT (destination), will it cost the same 125k AA miles?

  47. Jim N says

    I booked an Air Canada Aeroplan reward flight using a very generous interpretation of the fare rules. Fare was calculated as 06JAN15YVR NH TYO R0.00NH SPK R0.00BR TPE R0.00BR PAR//GVA LX X/ZRH LX X/YMQ AC YVR R0.00CAD0.00 END ROE1.00 XT290.00YQ 20.00SQ11.00TW11.00SW51.10CH15.00YR. Note the double slash between PAR and GVA, this means this is my destination. Aeroplan collected 90000 points and fully ticketed it. They then left me a voicemail telling me that they were going to take an additional 60000 points and were going to reissue the ticket.

    Should I pursue a 60000 point refund? Is my ticket actually to Asia or Europe? Do any CTA or Consumer Protection rules apply to me? Other thoughts?

  48. lucky says

    @ Matt — Six in one hand, half a dozen in the other. Both AMAZING products. I slightly prefer ANA’s onboard service, though they’re both excellent. JAL does have wifi, if that’s important to you.

  49. lucky says

    @ Keya — Qatar Airways is planning on London, then Paris, then New York. Etihad is planning on London, then Sydney, then New York.

  50. lucky says

    @ Justin — I’d do any seat except the bulkhead, it should be more or less the same. Service to Hawaii is generally a step up from standard domestic service, though not amazing. Enjoy the trip!

  51. lucky says

    @ Joann — American doesn’t let you route from the US to Asia 1 (Tokyo) via Asia 2 (Hong Kong), so that would require two awards. They do let you fly from the US to Asia 1 (Tokyo) to Asia 2 (Hong Kong) on a single award. No stopovers of over 24 hours are allowed, though.

    JAL tends to release space either far in advance or close to departure. Be sure you’re searching space into HND and not NRT, as the space does appear separately. If you check back close to departure there’s a good chance space will open up.

  52. lucky says

    @ Jim N — Hmmm, if it was ticketed and you had a ticket number then in theory your ticket is safe. This gets tricky because at the same time airlines own the miles, and have the right to do whatever you want with them. So while they probably can’t cancel your tickets, per se, any consumer protection agency has no say as far as what they do with your miles goes. Realistically Asia is the destination here so 150K should be the correct cost, but if that’s not what they originally charged…

  53. Hitesh says

    Hi Lucky,

    I had a question about ExpertFlyer…I’m trying to book a Business award on CX for Nov. ExpertFlyer shows all business class buckets as having at least 9 seats at this point. Presumably, award space should open up closer to the date. My question is: is there a specific Business Class bucket that award seats come out of (for CX)?

    Thanks,
    Hitesh

  54. James says

    Hi Lucky,
    I haven’t been able to find the answer anywhere so I figured I would ask the guy who knows right off the top of his head :-) Trying to book an award flight: IAD-CDG OW on United metal. Found it on Aeroplan and can use only 45k miles that way. Question is, if I find a connecting flight w/ availability from MCO to IAD will I have to spend extra miles with Aeroplan or can I add it on to the itenerary like I would with United at no charge? Thanks in advance.

  55. lucky says

    @ James — Nope, can include that on the same 45K one-way business class award if there’s availability.

  56. says

    Sup-Luck,

    Out of curiosity, do you ever actually utilize the showers in Airport Lounges, and if so, how does that work out for you? I find it to be rather uncomfortable. I mean, I can sometimes manage at the GYM, but depending on the occupation of the lounge I find it may be rather difficult to maintain privacy. Not to mention having to put the same clothes right back on?

    Thoughts?

  57. SG says

    @Nick I’m sure Lucky will respond in due course but i’ve never heard of showers in an airport lounge that are communal. Where on earth have you seen this? There’s nothing more private than a private shower room. And carry-on is great for a change of clothes.

  58. LJ says

    HI, Lucky, I’m trying to book some air China tickets using aeroplan miles. Do you have any ideas about when they will fix the current problem and release the air China award space again? Thanks!

  59. adam says

    Ben- Have you noticed recently that LF First class seems to be almost all but extinct within 10 days from departure. I tried looking for flights from NYC to FRA /MUC (2 seats). I never had a problem booking these in the past. Have you noticed??

    Adam

  60. Markus says

    @lucky I recently used miles and money for an upgrade on United Airlines for my flight back from eze to sea. I am on the wait list for both the eze to iah segment and iah to sea segment. I was wondering if I don’t clear the waitlist for eze to iah, will I get a refund of my miles and money even if I clear iah to sea? I am premier plat so I won’t get a redeposit fee, but I would hate to pay 25k miles and 300 bucks for first on only iah to sea. The customer support told me that since it’s not over water that I will get charge if any segment is upgraded. But another said it’s fine. Which is it? Damn you united!

  61. LC says

    Lucky,

    I had an interesting experience booking Cathay Pacific award tickets using Alaska Miles today. I usually search for availability using Asia Miles, and in years past, those seats were always available using Alaska Miles. Today, that works for my outbound from SFO to HKG, but on the return leg, Asia Miles show availability but the Alaska agent said it’s not available. I had to see for myself, and I checked the availability on JAL website to verify. And the agent was right, JAL does not show that seat, even though Asia Miles does. And here is the kicker: Alaska agent found me a first class award seat that was also on the JAL website but not on Asia Miles.

    Do you know if Cathay Pacific has separate bucket of award seats for Asia Miles compared to OneWorld partners/Alaska? I read your article re phantom CX award on BA website, but in this case it seems there are separate availabilities depending on where you look.

  62. wfb says

    Dearest Ben,

    I’m flying from EZE to ATL on Delta. Low level coach award but with klonopin & valium. I have the Citi Executive AA card. Do I have access to the Admiral’s Club in EZE?

    One AA page says I can enter only with a boarding pass from AA or US:

    https://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/airportAmenities/AdmiralsLocations.jsp#admirals-club

    Another AA page says I’m an Admirals Club member and have access with no restrictions:

    https://www.aa.com/i18n/urls/more-clubs.jsp

    What should I expect?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    wfb

  63. Jack Buck says

    Ben, how often does American Express offer transfer bonuses to British Airways? Do you think they will offer one between now and February/march? If you have no idea, what would you say the percentage would be that they would offer a transfer bonus.

    Also, what is the likelihood in British Airways offering a bonus to purchase avios between now and march? How often do they usually offer purchase bonuses?

  64. Kirby says

    Lucky — if I see IB award space on IB’s website but no on EF, what are the chances it will be bookable with AA miles? And are IB Express flights bookable on the same itinerary as a mainline IB flight with AA miles? Thanks!

  65. Dan says

    Hi Lucky,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I think it’s a tremendous benefit to anyone needing travel advice. I also want to recommend that you do some travel video blogs. I would love to see what a First Class Suite on an Emirates flight actually looks like through a video walk through. Just a recommendation!!

    But I also have a question. I booked a flight with United Airlines that’s coming up next week. I actually cannot make it due to schedule conflict and I don’t have travel insurance. I used a different card that does not have travel insurance because I did not have my Sapphire card at the time I made the booking!! :( If I cancel with United I’m left with a $200 cancellation fee. Should I wait last minute prior to check in and hope that the flight is overbooked? they usually let the customers voluntarily give up the flight for a $200 voucher. What’s your recommendation?

  66. says

    Do you know how to find award inventory on Fiji Airways for the island flights? I know AS finds for NAN, LAX, Aussie and NZ, but I can’t find any award inventory to VLI, TBU, etc.

  67. Kelly says

    Hi Lucky! I’m having some trouble searching oneworld reward availability on BA. When I search ORD-HKG, it shows 1 available business class seat. But when I search PHL-HKG, it shows 2 business seats available going PHL-ORD-HKG, on the same flight from ORD-HKG. How do I know which is right?

  68. lucky says

    @ Nick — Yes, all the time. Showers at airports are almost always “fully” private (unlike at a gym), and you can always change into new clothes that are in your bag. Heck, half of my showers are probably at airports. :D

  69. lucky says

    @ adam — Can’t say I have. There definitely is some seasonality to it. With Oktoberfest right now flights are quite full so it’s not the ideal time if you’re looking for award space, but otherwise I haven’t noticed a change in trends.

  70. lucky says

    @ Markus — In your shoes I would just request the upgrade on the EZE to IAH leg for now, and then if it clears request the mileage upgrade for IAH to SEA as well. Because you would get charged even if just one upgrade clears.

  71. lucky says

    @ LC — AsiaMiles does indeed make some more space available to their own members. In first class most space is made available to partners, so it’s rare for that to happen. But it does…

  72. lucky says

    @ wfb — If you have the Executive Card it acts as a membership, so you don’t actually have to be flying with American or US Airways to use it. You should be able to access it in this case.

  73. lucky says

    @ Jack Buck — Historically they offered them all the time, though we haven’t seen many lately. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some in the next six months, though they’re just not as reliable as they used to be with these bonuses.

    I’d say a bonus on purchasing Avios is much more likely, though it’s usually still not an amazing deal at over two cents per point.

  74. lucky says

    @ Kirby — If Iberia business class award space doesn’t show on ExpertFlyer it’s probably not bookable. You should be able to book Iberia Express on the same record.

  75. lucky says

    @ Dan — Thanks for the kind words! To be honest it’s unlikely a flight is overbooked and you’d have to show up at the airport to even try that. The only other thought is if there were a schedule change or a travel waiver due to weather you could cancel as well. But I’m afraid there aren’t many other options, unfortunately.

  76. lucky says

    @ Kelly — You have to call to be sure. Chances are there’s just one seat, as the British Airways website does tend to show some “phantom” space unfortunately. Sorry!

  77. says

    Hi Ben, love the new look blog and always look forward to every update in my email inbox – keep up the great work!
    Right, I managed to snag a one-way to Tokyo using United miles – remember that ‘trick’ where you could try cancelling and then rebooking within a year before they raised the mileage needed? It seems to work as I am being offered the chance to rebook with the same miles. So of course it’s Lufthansa First Class for me :-) But I do need to get back…I have 73,000 American miles and 106,000 US Airways miles. What would be your recommendation for the journey home (to Norway, but of course the long leg is the most important part)? I could do BA First Class just for the hell of it, even with the taxes etc it’s not too bad although flying via Heathrow is a bit inconvenient. I’m not at all familiar with redeeming American miles so need some ideas – I don’t really have time for a stopover but I may be able to squeeze one in. Hong Kong would be awesome but that would be maximum 2 nights. Any ideas?

  78. Aubrey says

    Hi Lucky–per my questions/comments a few days ago and the canceling of a CX flight with first class and downgraded to biz with a US Airways redemption, I thought you may like to hear that it never hurts to ask. I called Cathay and explained how the flight was changed and she booked both of us on the flight the next day. Never brought up the award redemption but just asked if she could get us a flight in first class. It took about 6 calls back and forth with US Airways but everything is back on my US Airways ticket number.

    Thanks for your thoughts–I find your blog very helpful!

  79. lucky says

    @ Andy — For a one way you’re definitely better off with American than US Airways, since US Airways charges the same for a one way as a roundtrip. If available I would do Japan Airlines, as they have a great first class product and there would be no fuel surcharges. Otherwise I would consider Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong, though you wouldn’t be allowed a stopover of over 24 hours.

  80. Dani says

    Hi Lucky, Phoenix airport’s Terminal 4 is on lockdown right now because a shooting suspect ran into the terminal. No passengers are allowed in and out. In that case if you have a flight going out, what would you do? Do you call your airline to transfer your trip to another airline operating in another terminal? Thanks.

  81. lucky says

    @ Dani — Yes I guess it depends how long the delay is. I would definitely call the airline to rebook.

  82. Sergey says

    Hi Ben, A question regarding baggage delay benefit from Chase CSP you used for your baggage delay earlier this year for your trip to Brazil – you wrote that Chase paid for your clothes/etc. Was it on top of reimbursement from airline or airline refused to pay? I had the same issue with Air France. I submitted a claim to both AF and Chase. While I waited for a claim form from Chase, AF (Delta) approved the claim. Should I then drop my claim to Chase?

  83. lucky says

    @ Joseph — You’re looking to go this coming January? If so there probably aren’t many good options, given that many route through Australia, where it’s peak season as well. I doubt you’ll find any award availability, so the only thing I can think of is booking earlier next time and trying to use miles. Sorry, wish I had a great idea. :(

  84. Danny says

    Couple Questions regarding Turkish Award Availability.

    United, ANA, and Expert Flyer only show availability 330 days out, but Aeroplan shows Turkish availability 355 days out. Which leads me to believe that Turkish opens award availability at the 355 day window, so how come Expert Flyer is only showing up to 330 days? Also why then is United only showing at 330 when their award window opens at 335?

    I saw another confusing issue looking at the 330 day horizon, as of right now booking Business class Turkish IST>SFO shows available on UA, ANA, and Aeroplan, but 0 on Expert Flyer. Which is to be trusted?

    Last question, since it appears that Turkish does appear to open up award availability 355 days out, but UA only shows it at 330, is it possible to have UA direct sell at 335 days when their window opens if I see it available on Aeroplan? Looking to book two tickets IST>SFO>LAX (doesn’t seem like the direct IST>LAX has much award availability).

    Thanks for your help.

  85. dan ray says

    flying first class Japan Airlines SFO to HND in February. We arrive at 5AM. Would there be a lounge that we could take a shower in?

  86. lucky says

    @ Danny — Wow, that’s a lot of questions. :D

    So at the start of the booking windows there’s sometimes not a science to when space opens. ExpertFlyer probably only shows space 330 or so days out because they’re not pulling space through Aeroplan, but rather through another website.

    In the case of United, they sometimes just don’t show space right at the window and it takes a few days for it to be loaded. It could be that it’s just a website glitch, so if you call it might be bookable. But if it’s not automatically showing in their system they likely won’t be able to direct sell it.

    In my experience ANA is the single most accurate source, so if they show it, it should be correct.

    Good luck!

  87. lucky says

    @ dan ray — I’m not sure. Here’s the website:
    https://www.jal.co.jp/en/inter/lounge/japan/hnd/

    It says:
    “JAL Arrival lounge at Tokyo international airport (Haneda) is closed due to airport expansion works.
    JAL offers “TIAT shower room” as the lounge service only upon arrival.”

    So it seems the arrivals lounge is closed, but they have alternative arrangements.

  88. Michael says

    Lucky — working on a family trip to Seoul in the spring (from NY). Scraping together 320k UR points for the family to travel in packs of 2 on KE F one-way. For the return, looks like there is some OZ business space available (assume Aeroplan via Amex is best to book this?). Would really like to add in the Hello Kitty flight and appears that BR87 has business space available — any thoughts on a reasonable way to book an ICN-TPE-CDG-YUL/ORD-NYC itinerary? Any other great options I’m missing (see no CX or JAL F space available)?

  89. Keya says

    Hi Ben

    I have 2 quick questions. Would love your help on them since I haven’t been able to find anything about them (I’m sure you’ve realised by now how dumb I am)

    1. Where can I find my booking fare class with Etihad ? Do I check under my booking or the E-Tkt or the e-mail I received ?
    2. Do you know the conversion rate for Etihad Miles to points pay in actual monetary value. I’ve had approximately 15000 miles since the last 9 months or so. I was hoping to use them as cash but wanted to know the conversion rate first.

    Looking forward to your help. Thanks !!

  90. says

    Hey Lucky, how are you?

    I`m just wondering when are you posting the complete experience with Qatar airways. I`m travelling with them in both 777 and 787 and I`m so curious for what awaits me.

    Thanks man!

  91. lucky says

    @ Fernando D`aquino — Will post it as soon as I can. Way behind on trip reports, so trying to get them published as quickly as possible.

  92. lucky says

    @ Keya — You should be able to find it on the e-ticket receipt. If you don’t see it there you may want to call to ask. I don’t think you can redeem Etihad miles towards cash.

  93. lucky says

    @ Michael — You should be able to redeem 75,000 United miles for that, which you can also transfer from Ultimate Rewards.

  94. Ted says

    Lucky,

    I need to make a rescheduling on a booking from SFO-LHR. I hate connecting in North American cities, so my only incentive is to fly on a 787. What good routes on the 787 can be found with BA and or United miles?

    Thanks,

    Ted

  95. Ted says

    Or should I stick with my upper deck CW seats on the 747? I can stick with the dates, but leaving later would be convenient. However six hour flights in J sound painfully short!

  96. Andy says

    Hi lucky, you seem to have contacts at Aeroplan. It seems like Aeroplan is now blocking j awards on Brussels ex north America?

    For example, JFK to bru is available on Ana on June 2 and 4, but not Aeroplan. Bru to JFK on June 18 is available on both though.

  97. audisfo says

    Hi Lucky, I have an award ticket booked onto CX from HKG to SFO from my AAdvantage Miles account. But I want to postpone the date and change the flight from CX to JAL and it’s also from HKG to SFO. Will AA charge me change fee $150?

  98. Keya says

    Hi again

    Thank you for the answers to the query. Found my fare class but unfortunately still looking for the conversion rate of Etihad Guest miles to Points Pay currency (You definitely can convert it but I don’t know the rate. Will download the app and try it I guess)

    I just have another query; I’m on the Etihad A380 flight from London – Abu Dhabi on the 27th in Business class. I’ve checked out a few places for the seatmaps (including your posts) but none of them are clear. Could you please let me know the layout for business cabin ? I want to go for one of the back-facing seats, but on the sides and not in the middle. As of now I have 9C assigned to me autimatically ? Would that be a window/side seat facing towards the back ?

  99. Shawn says

    Hi Lucky,
    I have 2 first class award tickets (using Aadvantage miles) on Cathay Pacific, ORD to HKG.
    Plan was to spend 3 days in HKG, before going on to HND.

    Instead of 3 days in HKG, I now need to leave HKG the morning after I arrive HKG.

    I want to change my ticket from ORD – HKG, instead to ORD – HKG – HND.
    Basically, keep the first leg ORD-HKG in First, but changing destination from HKG to HND.

    QUESTION:
    ***Do you know if AA can change my ticket, WITHOUT me losing the ORD to HKG leg in First?

    I’m concerned if I call AA and change my ticket to add an HKG – HND segment to change my destination from HKG to HND, that my Cathay Pacific ORD to HKG segment I already have booked in First would go back into inventory (while they are changing the ticket) and I would lose it.

    Thanks again (booked Cathay First, on your advice. also snagged 1A and 2A with your help)!
    Shawn

  100. Justin says

    Hi Ben,

    Do you know anything about CitiGold? I’m 26 and have been with Citibank for a while. I definitely do not have a CitiGold account, which requires 50K in checking. However, ever since I applied for the AA Plat and Exec, everything I call they tell me thank you for being a CitiGold client.

    Any idea? Does the Exec make you CitiGold?

  101. Eric says

    What’s your sense of when close-in award space is being released these days? I’m specifically interested in LH, OS, and LX first or business class. I know sometimes it’s route dependent – I’m looking out of ORD. And many thanks – as ever.

  102. Robertm6 says

    Hey Lucky
    I was planning in christmas to do MUC-SYD business class, what would you recommed me the most of these 3:
    EY via AUH
    EK via DXB
    Or SQ via SI
    ?

  103. lucky says

    @ Ted — Depends how much you’re willing to connect. The only one stop routing I can think of that would get you to London on a 787 is on British Airways — they fly it from Philadelphia, Toronto, and Newark.

  104. lucky says

    @ Andy — They’ve long had issues displaying Brussels award space. In some cases it’s bookable over the phone, and sometimes there’s just a discrepancy. Haven’t found a solution, unfortunately.

  105. lucky says

    @ Keya — It sounds like you want one of the “A” or “K” seats, if I’m not mistaken. Those are the seats closest to the windows. While there are seatmaps on the internet, there aren’t any published ones I can find that are clear. That being said, if you look at an online travel agency like Orbitz, you should be able to find the actual seatmap.

  106. lucky says

    @ Shawn — American doesn’t let you route from the US to Asia 1 (Japan) via Asia 2 (Hong Kong), so you’d be charged separately for that award. So there’s not really a benefit to booking it on the same record, since you’d pay a $150 change fee for doing so. Enjoy the trip!

  107. lucky says

    @ Eric — Lufthansa continues to be good with last minute award space. Austrian releases space 90 days out. And Swiss unfortunately doesn’t release much space at all.

  108. lucky says

    @ Robertm6 — That’s a toughie, all great choices. To be honest can’t go wrong with any of them. I would do whichever is cheapest/most convenient. Maybe flight preference for Singapore business class.

  109. Juan.S says

    @Lucky
    I was wondering if you planned in the future to travel in IB or KLM and write a trip report.
    Greets from Madrid

  110. Kevin Schenk says

    Hi Lucky
    I am really looking forward to see a KLM trip report!! One quick question have you ever thought on making a trip to CCS? I really enjoyed the one I did 2 years ago in the a340-600 with LH, it is great and I think you should really give it a try.
    Have a nice day and as we say here in Bavaria: SERVUS!

  111. lucky says

    @ Juan.S — I hope to fly Iberia soon, and will be publishing a KLM business class trip report this weekend.

  112. Keya says

    Hi again

    I have to travel to Frankfurt next month to meet a friend of mine and will thus have to book a room for 2 nights. Since I’m a SPG loyalist I was hoping to choose between LeMeridien Park hotel and Westin Grand Frankfurt. Since you travel to Frankfurt quite often (I believe) I was hoping to get your recommendation for which one to go for. I’d choose my hotel (medium range room 200-300 EUR) based on the service, room sizes/quality, amenities, location (close to late night restaurants), etc. However, I’m open to your suggestion completely.

    Thanks !!

  113. krngirl says

    Hi Lucky,

    1) How long does transferring pts from amex/chase UR to an airline partner usually take? I am looking at the various airline programs to see which airline partner is worth it.

    2) Do you know of any airlines that do not allow you to book other individuals as a passenger without the account holder not going on the trip? I am planning to send my sister and parents oversea for vacation.

    Thank you so much lucky and i love your site!

  114. Ronen Meishar says

    Hi Lucky.

    Thanks for the excellent blog. I have a question which I would appreciate if you can answer. I applied for the Chase Sapphire card 2 months ago & have already met the minimum expending amount & received the sign-up bonus. Now, I am thinking of signing up the same card for my wife. I would like to merge points from her account to mine before the annual anniversary & would downgrade her card to something with no annual fees.

    1) Do you recommend this approach?

    2) Do you think there is any downside if we keep repeating the same strategy for other card? In all cases we would downgrade wife’s card before the anniversary. The reason I am afraid of this is because I feel Credit Card companies would eventually find out that we as a couple keep doing it over and over. May be this is the correct approach , or this is completely illegal & I will run into problem with credit card companies I am not sure.

    Thanks
    Ronen.

  115. Mike says

    Hi Lucky,

    Quick random question. My dad was supposed to fly United from ORD to HKG but he flight was cancelled at the last second due to mechanical issues. He was originally in Y (relatively cheap fare class) and is only *A Silver. He knew that Singapore flies from SFO to HKG and was somehow able to get an agent to rebook him on ORD to SFO on United and than SFO to HKG on Singapore. The kicker is that he said the agent upgraded him to first class on ALL segments because the agent “felt sorry for his predicament” and wanted him to be well rested for his flights (he’s over 60). At first I thought he was just misunderstood but he later sent me a picture confirming it. This really surprised me because I thought Singapore was extremely restrictive on their First Class seats.
    The question I’m wondering is, do you know how much power alliance airline members have on giving out first class seats on OTHER airlines? Can they really just give them out as easily as that? Thanks!

  116. lucky says

    @ Keya — If they’re priced similarly, I would definitely choose the Westin over the Le Meridien. It has a club lounge, slightly nicer rooms, and I prefer the location (though it’s not quite as convenient from the train station).

  117. lucky says

    @ krngirl — In most cases it’s instant, but it can vary. Here’s a listing of how long AmEx transfers take:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/03/25/long-amex-membership-rewards-points-transfers-take/

    With Chase they’re all instant as far as I know, except Singapore KrisFlyer, which takes about 24 hours, in my experience.

    There are several airlines that have restrictions on who you can book award tickets for, including ANA, Asiana, and Korean Air. That being said, as long as you’re related to them you should still be able to redeem miles for them.

  118. lucky says

    @ Ronen Meishar — You absolutely can compile points into your spouse’s account, so that could work. In general I wouldn’t do too much card downgrading, but if you’re not getting much value out of the card given the annual fee, then I don’t see anything wrong with it.

  119. lucky says

    @ Mike — Wow, I’ve NEVER heard of that before. Ultimately they weren’t giving away seats, but rather United had to pay for that seat (maybe not at the full fare ticket price, but at some inter-airline reimbursement rate). Really have never heard of that…

  120. Scottie says

    Are there any limitations to the number of Membership Rewards points that can be transferred into Aeroplan accounts? I am looking to transfer 180,000. I purely joined Aeroplan to book Turkish awards. Thanks! And don’t give up on Seattle because of some boy… I’ve had several heartbreaks there, and the rain washes them away, eventually. :)

  121. Justin says

    Hey Ben,

    My girlfriend just got upgraded to First Class on United 1169 LAX-IAH (short flight, but her first time on First, no status)

    Do you know if she will get a meal?

  122. says

    Hey Ben,

    As maybe I already ask you before, and I already read your post about the uncertainty of Thai Airways fleet and their first class. I just found out this article, and probably you already read this. http://www.ausbt.com.au/thai-airways-cuts-back-first-class-downsizes-sydney-flights
    I just wonder, that there is still a chance that Thai Airways will fly first class with their 747 from Bangkok to Sydney. If let say I book on united for award tickets on the first class, since United still show availability on first class, and somehow on the dates i fly, they don’t have a first class and downgrade me to either business or economy, how do i get the compensation? Can I protest to Thai Airways on the check in counter? I believe they will ask me to ask united for details, and I believe there is no United representative at Indonesia. Do you think I just should wait until early next year to book on thai, until they finalize their fleet and classes to Sydney from Bangkok? Thank you very much

  123. says

    Hi Ben,

    My wife and I have a First Class United Award Ticket (booked pre-devaluation) from Bali to New York via Bangkok & Munich coming up in a couple months. The BKK-MUC segment is in Thai First Class, but the MUC-JFK segment is in Lufthansa Business. Since Lufthansa often opens up First Class seats at the last minute I was thinking I might be able to upgrade our MUC-JFK segment closer to the actual date.

    What do you think would be the best way to do that? I was planning on watching the flight within the 15 day mark (which you mentioned is when they start to release F space). If space is available will United charge me a fee to “upgrade” to First, even though it was a First Class Award to begin with?

    Also, I read somewhere that Lufthansa sometimes even releases F award space just hours before a flight. We will have a five hour layover in Munich, so I was considering asking an agent in the lounge if any F space on our flight opened up. Do they have any rules against upgrading class of service once the first flight on the itinerary commences?

    And, finally (I know I’m asking a lot of questions) if we end up staying in J on the MUC-JFK flight but arrive to Munich on Thai First Class will we have access to the Lufthansa First Class Lounge in Munich, or just the Business Class Lounge?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  124. lucky says

    @ Ernest — Sometimes Thai will issue compensation on the spot, though typically it’s up to United to refund the difference in miles after the fact. It can’t hurt to book now — worst case scenario if they downgrade you, you’ll have the option of canceling for free.

  125. lucky says

    @ Matt — Yes, they’d charge you the standard fee they charge within 21 days of departure. I would just keep monitoring and then call as soon as you see space open up.

    The agent wouldn’t be able to upgrade you — it would have to be by phone with United, as they issued the ticket. You would just have access to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge if you’re arriving in Thai first class and continuing in Lufthansa business class.

  126. JohnB says

    Do you have plans for any new AF business class flights? The KLM flight you just did looks really nice. These are really my best choices for Europe from ORD, with Delta miles. Although, many AF planes aren’t updated yet.

  127. Kiat says

    Dear Lucky,

    quick question: which hotel in your opinion is the most convenient (location wise) and safe for a tourist to stay? =)

    thanks a mill!!!

  128. John says

    Hi Ben,

    I think I know the answer to this question but wanted to confirm. Planning to book JFK-FRA on LH F and connecting FRA-SIN on SQ F. I’m assuming that I won’t have access to FCT since my departing flight from FRA is on SQ F even though I arrived on LH F? If the answer is No, then I was thinking of changing it around to depart JFK on SQ F and depart FRA on LH F so I can try the FCT. What do you think?

  129. Nizar says

    Hi Ben,

    To your knowledge, has the CX F ‘refresh’ that began last year already been completed on all aircraft ? If not then when is this likely to be complete ? I am flying HKG-JFK in F in early April.

    Thanks
    Nizar

  130. lucky says

    @ Nizar — I don’t believe it has been completed, and unfortunately am not sure of a timeline, though I would guess by April a vast majority of the planes will be refreshed.

  131. lucky says

    @ John — Correct you can’t. You can use the FCL but not the FCT, assuming you’re connecting same day. I would keep things as is and use the FCL — it’s just as good as the FCT, in my opinion.

  132. Peter says

    Lucky,

    I am booking a RTW ticket, but I have an issue. I have 165k avios and 144k United MP miles. I have tickets to LHR, but finding a mix of tickets from LHR-NRT-LAX that work on both airlines is confusing. I finally found a match, but there is yet another problem. I have my eyes set on an AA flight (NRT-DFW), and know that you can book AA tickets using avios, but I cannot get the flights I want to display on BA’s rusty, ancient website.

    Thanks!

    Peter

  133. doublejade says

    @Lucky
    I booked a BA award ticket on AA domestic. I used rj.com to add AA # to it so I can get the platinum benefits. After I did that, the reservation is gone from my ba account and it’s showing up on my aa.com. Now because of schedule change, I need to cancel it. However, I could not change it back to BA # anymore, hence I cannot cancel it online. Do you know is there a way to cancel it and just forfeit the tax? Or I have to pay the $55 to cancel it by phone?

  134. lucky says

    @ doublejade — If there was a schedule change they should be willing to redeposit it for free. Otherwise you can call BA and have them add your Executive Club number back to the reservation, and then you should be able to cancel.

  135. lucky says

    @ Peter — Have you checked American’s website to see if they have any saver level award availability? It could be that American simply doesn’t have award availability on those flights.

  136. Jack says

    Planning a stay in Barcelona and Hilton Barcelona is showing a good rate and planning to use UR points for my stay to save some cash. If I use UR points will I get Hilton Stay Credits and Gold benefits?

  137. Peter says

    Lucky,

    I checked the AA website and they have first availablity and I am willing to buy, but I double-checked and all I can find in OneWorld through BA is JAL, but I heavily prefer American.

    Peter

  138. Peter says

    Actually, BA has the space, but the price seems out of whack, with both the fuel charges and the Avios. What is the “conversion” value between AA and BA? Because it feels like they are charging for the Anytime, and not the sAAver…. odd.

  139. Dan says

    Hi Lucky,

    Regarding starbucks gift cards. I have a Ink Cash Card, and Chase Sapphire. I know you mentioned that purchasing starbucks cards at Office Depot or Staples will net a 5x points return on the purchase, but you are still paying full price of the gift card + $1.99 fee.

    Does it make more sense to purchase a gift card at cardpool.com, paying $85.00 for a $100 starbucks card, and charging the $85 everyday spend on the Sapphire Chase card? I’m all about making money work for me, but I don’t want to be paying more for something just for the points, when I can get it cheaper elsewhere. Does it make sense to purchase the giftcards at discount online for every day spend?

    Thanks!

  140. arram says

    Hi Lucky

    I have a question regarding lifemiles. I am looking into buying 2 Asiana business class tickets from ICN to HNL for April 2015.

    I have found 2 open tickets for the days I want, but am a little hesitant. Would I be able to buy 2 J tickets using my lifemiles account? In other words my wife isn’t a member of lifemiles, does she have to be in order for me to buy tickets for her?

    Thanks, also, why is it so hard to find F tickets on lifemiles????

  141. James says

    Hello Lucky

    I’m planning to book a business class ticket with Emirates in I, C or J and was hoping to use my miles to upgrade to the First class cabin. Is there anyway I can check before hand, before booking whether upgrade availability exists ? There are many flights out from Dubai to London so I just wanted to see before hand which ones have availability to upgrade with miles. Any help would be great. Cheers !!

  142. KahhunaTravel says

    @Jack – my experience is you will not generally get stay credit but you will get your Status, if any, recognized. Here are the scenarios –

    1. transfer UR points into HHonors points and book via Hilton website – no stay credit but Status recognized.
    2. book directly via UR web site using UR points – no stay credit (it will be treated as booking through something like Expedia or Hotels.com) but Status may be recognized (you will likely need to show Status at hotel).
    3. book directly via Hilton website, pay at hotel using Chase UR card, and then use UR points as statement credit to pay that portion of your credit card bill when received – stay credit received, Status recognized, and you will earn UR points for stay cost (Note – this is not an especially efficient use of UR points since they only get valued at a little better than $.01 each this way).

    With regard to the hotel, my wife and I have stayed at both the general Hilton and the Hilton Hotel Diagonal and found both very nice. If you want close to the beach – then opt for the Diagonal. If you want more of a city vibe – then opt for the general Hilton. Both are convenient to metro and other public transit, and good shopping..

  143. lucky says

    @ Peter — British Airways imposes fuel surcharges for travel on American, and they charge 105,000 Avios one-way for an award of that distance. Quite expensive!

  144. lucky says

    @ Dan — Why are you paying a $1.99 fee for Starbucks gift cards at Office Depot? I’ve never paid an activation fee or anything.

    But yeah, if you can purchase a $100 gift card for $85 safely, that’s probably a better option.

  145. lucky says

    @ arram — You can book a LifeMiles ticket for your wife out of your account, that’s not a problem. There aren’t many first class products to Honolulu, which is why it’s probably so hard to find first class space. Keep in mind LifeMiles also doesn’t let you mix cabins on an award, which only makes the problem worse.

  146. lucky says

    @ James — Yes, there needs to be “Z” space available, which can sometimes be tough to come by. This is actually the same as saver first class award space, so you’ll want to see if there’s first class award space available. Otherwise you can’t confirm the upgrade.

  147. Ted says

    How often does BA release award space @Lucky? The ticket I want just got grabbed up but I am wondering if a few more are down the road. The tickets just went on sale on an a380, so there must be more awards

  148. James says

    Hi Lucky. Thanks for your answer earlier. Could you let me know where can I check for ‘Z’ space or first class award space on the internet for free ? Or do I need to call Emirates for this info ?

  149. lucky says

    @ James — You can either look up Emirates award availability on their website, or otherwise can call them. Those are the two best “free” ways.

  150. Jim says

    Hi Lucky,
    I’m looking for some advice. I booked a flight using HA miles on AA. AA had a schedule change putting us on a US flight. They told us to contact HA to reissue the ticket. HA says its AA’s responsiblity. After four or five phone calls with each airlines, neither airline will budge. My flight is this Thursday the 25th to Aruba. Do you have any suggestions?

    Jim

  151. Grant says

    Lucky,

    Need some quick advice, I might not have a sytemwide upgrade clear on one of my next trips with American. This is on the LHR-DFW route with the 777-300. I was wondering if you traveled in main cabin extra before on this route? I am trying to decide been main cabin extra or a typically economy seat (33C), but according to seat guru there isn’t a seat in front.

    Thanks for the help

    Grant

  152. Chris says

    Lucky what is the best 1st Class product on One World Alliance to Istanbul, Turkey. We have over a million miles with US Airways and are looking for the best 1st Class. We are going in late January 2015.

  153. lucky says

    @ Ted — LAX-LHR is an extremely difficult route on which to snag premium cabin award space, so I wouldn’t count on it, unfortunately.

  154. lucky says

    @ Chris — There’s not a oneworld airline that offers a first class product to Istanbul. The closest you’ll get is British Airways first class as far as London, and then business class from there.

  155. lucky says

    @ Grant — I would definitely do Main Cabin Extra. The legroom is good and there are only nine seats per row, rather than 10.

  156. lucky says

    @ Jim — I would call one airline and then three way in the other on a phone call if neither will budge. That usually does the trick.

  157. Michael Kao says

    Hi Ben:

    Really enjoyed your blog and I’m following it up daily now!

    Just a question in regards to your recent post on Thai airways changing aircrafts and how people gets TGed.

    I’ve been looking at using Lifemiles (LM) to redeem a first class ticket to Europe on TG from SYD. As you said, TG is notoriously known to change their aircrafts especially recently they almost pulled out first class service to SYD. So in the event, with a ticketed first class tickets by LM, when TG changes the aircraft and I get downgraded to J on the SYD-BKK leg, will LM need to reissue the ticket? And WILL LM reissue the ticket given that they don’t allow mixed cabin service?

    Best regard

    Michael

  158. lucky says

    @ Michael — It shouldn’t even need to be reissued, you’ll just automatically be downgraded. Since it’s not voluntary, the mixed class thing wouldn’t be an issue.

  159. tim says

    Hi Lucky – Are there any award programs out there that would allow a stopover in Europe on the way to Australia from the east coast? Thanks!

  160. Ted says

    Just a random aviation question (I have 20$ resting on this as I bet someone) – why do planes flying say SFO-LHR fly up above north canda and then down to the UK. Is it shorter distance, or is the winds a factor. Not taking winds into account, could you forseeably go from SFO-LHR direct, in a straight line and it would be the same distance?

    Thanks,

    Ted

    Frequent Reader

  161. lucky says

    @ Ted — The answer is a little bit of both. This is the direct air distance between San Francisco and London:
    http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=sfo-lhr

    As you can see, based on the curvature of the earth, flying “direct” involved going over Northern Canada.

    But there are plenty of routes where a “detour” is taken to take advantage of jet streams (take flights from Asia to the US, which will sometimes take a Pacific route rather than Polar route).

  162. Ted says

    Thanks Lucky! I always have random aviation questions, and you are the guy to go to! I have an EVA pilot friends, so I’ll be sure to get a rimowa amenity kit for you!

  163. Norman says

    Hi Lucky,

    I asked a couple of weeks ago about the ground service of a mixed-cabin award. I’ll be flying HKG-DOH in CX Business and connect in Qatar First to LHR(same day connection). I’ve been trying to reach people in both CX and QR and ask if I have access to First Class facilities in Hong Kong per oneworld policy, but both said they can’t confirm it since the ticket wasn’t issued by them, and the agents dealing with my inquiry seemed not familiar with the policy. CX further said they usually grant lounge access based on the cabin of service with them only.

    Is there anything else I can do or should I just print out the webpage (which doesn’t exactly fit in my situation since both legs count as international long-haul, at least not for the purpose of persuading checkin agents) and ask for it at the airport?

  164. hc says

    Lucky,

    Do you think I will be able to book a ticket on the following route using 120k us airways dividend miles for a F cabin?

    LAX-HKG-AUH(stopover)-LAX

    I know that some agents will help me ticket LAX-AUH(stopover)-HKG-LAX

    Thanks again.

  165. lucky says

    @ hc — US Airways doesn’t partner with Etihad, so not sure which airlines you were looking at booking that would have a first class product in those markets?

  166. hc says

    @lucky – yea… I totally forgot that etihad is a codeshare partner of AA and not US airways. I just got off the phone with the US Airways rep.. I feel like an idiot :( lol sorry for your trouble.

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