Ask Lucky

Have a travel related question? Post it here, and I’ll do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.
This space is intended to be more of a community as well, so feel free to jump in and share tips!


  1. lucky says

    @ JBG — You can use the Global First Lounge in Washington, then the SAS or Brussels lounge in Brussels, and the Star Alliance first class lounge in Paris. Enjoy your trip!

  2. lucky says

    @ Stuart — Sorry about that. Get a lot of comments, and sometimes they fall through the cracks.

    Indeed a lot of my credit card advice is US centric, as that’s what I’m most familiar with and have the most experience with. Sadly I’m not really an expert on UK credit cards. I assume you don’t have a US social security number, right? Because that’s the only way you’d be able to apply for a US card.

    Emirates first class sounds fun! They have a nice flexible menu, so you can order what you want when you want. Is it a daytime flight, or redeye?

  3. lucky says

    @ EChen — Indeed, that’s the challenge with redeeming miles. I earn most of my miles through credit card sign-up bonuses and by buying them when they’re on sale, so there’s not really a way to earn miles from awards.

  4. lucky says

    @ Ernest — Nope, you get to keep your miles, so that’s not an issue. Sorry, unfortunately I’m not really familiar with Canadian credit cards. :(

  5. Charlotte says


    Given AA’s award routing rules, can you book a 1-way flight in F class on CX from TPE-HKG-ORD-DCA/IAD? It seems like the TPE-HKG-ORD segment would definitely price for 67.5K miles 1-way, but I am having a hard time figuring out if the ORD-DCA/IAD leg would require extra miles (because it may not be published fare) or if it could be included in the 67.5K miles. Was unable to figure this out on ExpertFlyer. Thank you for your help!

  6. Sebastian says

    Hi lucky

    After you posted about Southwest Airlines. I’ve just been to their homepage, and it says that you are free to choose every free seat when you board the plane?

    Is that really a thing there?

  7. lucky says

    @ Sebastian — Yep, they have open seating! You get special boarding groups, and from there it’s a cattle call.

  8. Jad says

    Hey Lucky!
    Greetings from Beirut, Lebanon!
    I have two questions: will you be testing the new business class on Air Canada’s 787 anytime soon (seeing as you love reverse herringbone)?
    Also, will you be testing Qatar’s business class? Since it won this year’s Skytrax Best business class award, I’m eager to see what their business product is like.
    Thanks for having such a great blog!

  9. Scott says

    Hey, Ben-

    Any update on how to get award space from SFO to IST on Turkish? I have a ton of USAir miles and want to burn them on a trip to Greece. Would love to try Turkish, but in reading the comments from an earlier post of yours, USAir CSRs aren’t able to book them. Is this true? If not, what is the best place to find open award tix for Turkish because United shows nothing – at all.


  10. Liz says

    I am a middle aged female flying to Manila, Terminal 2. Having read a lot of negative things about that terminal (congestion, delays and safety), I’m considering booking a “meet and greet” service. They meet you at the gate, accompany you through all the check points and walk you to your ground transportation. The two operators seem to be Pearl Assist and Asia Fast Track. Does anyone have experience with them? Thanks in advance for any input. Liz

  11. Oliver H says

    Hi Lucky, I know there are a lot of good airline redemptions out there but I was wondering what the best redemptions are, in value for what you’re getting for the points you have spent spent and also the least number of points needed in order to get from a to b in business or first class. So basically I was wondering if you could tell me what the airline redemption “sweet spots” are from your experience of flying.

  12. lucky says

    @ Scott — Have seen mixed reports of that as well, and it’s very frustrating. Both the Aeroplan and LifeMiles websites should show space, and it should be bookable by calling the other airlines – last I’d checked United hadn’t loaded the route into their web interface.

  13. lucky says

    @ Liz — No experience with either, unfortunately, but maybe someone else will chime in!

  14. Freeman says

    Hi Lucky,

    Would like to ask if Virtuoso benefits can be applied to Hyatt bookings that are made under the Best Rate Guarantee program.

    And are you still a Virtuoso advisor?

    Thanks :)

  15. John says

    Hi Ben,

    I’ve read your review on Austrian Airlines for your trip to VIE to NRT on their 777-300ER. You raved about their service and food. Austrian started service or will start service out of EWR. The plane will be serviced by a 767. Do you think the 767, service and food will be comparable to the 777 and service/food you had to NRT? I’m apprehensive because usually service and hard product from US to Europe is not up to the same standards as from Europe to Asia. Thoughts?


  16. lucky says

    @ Freeman — I’m not, unfortunately. Yes, the Virtuoso rate is typically the same as the Hyatt Daily Rate, but a Virtuoso agent would have to make the booking.

  17. Ray says

    Lucky, can you write about hainan airlines? Their biz class product seems to be highly rated. And now they are the only one who offer direct flights from Beijing to Boston. It’d be nice to know how to accumulate miles to get award flight on HU and how to find award space. A quick search on expertflyer indicates that they don’t release much award space in premium cabin. Thanks

  18. TheUglyBarnacle says

    Lucky, can you please fly on Air India, as it joined Star Alliance. I am also interested in your thoughts of the First Class, and believe me, Economy is awful. Crappy Food, Broken Touchscreen, has sign of aging, and the crew seemed bored.


  19. Todd says

    Hi Ben,

    I have a conundrum that I hope you can help me with.

    My son and I want to take a 2 week trip and try out CX in J and travel YVR-HKG-stop-HKG-SIN-YVR sometime in mid to late January. I’ll book it with my Avios points and I’ve been checking BA and JAL for availability.

    The problem: There is not a single CX flight to HKG that has 2 open J seats. However, JAL does.

    The question: WWBD? (What would Ben do)

    A) Book the JAL flights and monitor the CX inventory for 2 seats to magically appear, then cancel the JAL flights, pay the cancellation fee, wait for the points to redeposit, then hope the CX seats are still there and rebook on CX (I assume the re-deposit of points is not instantaneous. Please correct me if that’s wrong).

    B) Book a single seat on CX and wait for another to come available because they do tend to release inventory throughout the year.

    C) Wait for 2 CX seats to appear closer to the date because, like others, they tend to release inventory within a few weeks of the departure date.

    D) Just book the JAL seats already and be done with it.

    E) Other


  20. lucky says

    @ Ray — I’d like to, accept the problem is that as far as I know, they don’t partner with any major programs, so there’s no way to book awards on them unless you accrue points directly in their program.

  21. lucky says

    @ Todd — I’d go with option A or E. The redeposit should be instantaneous, so I would just lock something in now and then switch later, assuming you’re committed to traveling over certain dates. If you’re a bit flexible, I’d probably just wait until two seats open up, as it’s extremely likely to happen. Good luck!

  22. Chris says

    Lucky, I am flying from Vancouver to Frankfurt in First class with a 3hr 55min layover connecting to Thai Airways TG921 First Class. I was wondering what to expect when we land in Frankfurt? Are there First class Agent that take us to Lounge or do we just make our way there ourselves? Also is there enough time to go to the First Class Terminal or should we gut stay in the lounge closes to the gate? I was just kinda wondering?

  23. lucky says

    @ Chris — You won’t be greeted on arrival, unfortunately. You’ll have to make your own way to the lounge. You can use the Lufthansa First Class Lounge but aren’t allowed to use the Lufthansa First Class Terminal unless you’re departing on Austrian, Swiss, or Lufthansa.

  24. says

    Lucky, do you think you will be flying on any of the Virgin Atlantic’s new refitted 747′s? I’m thinking about flying them for my holiday in January, but I’m not sure if I should or not. If you decide to, you have to fly out of Gatwick London or fly into Gatwick. It would also give you a chance to review the Virgin Atlantic lounge at Gatiwck airport. :P

  25. DCBanker says

    For redeeming USAir miles (90K busines RT) on Phuket-London-Luxemburg-Phuket, what is the best way to check first what is available, before calling USAir? what airline website and is there a need to be a member of the airline FF to see availability? and which airline would you recommend mostly?

    Btw, you may have written about it, but what happened with the subscription to fund Etihad appartment?

    A general comment on your blog: very thorough, well written and very entertaining. Thumbs up!

  26. Stuart says

    Hi Ben,

    I completely understand! I’m actually overwhelmed by how much activity there is here!

    I do not have a US Social Security number as far as I’m aware.

    The flight is daytime flight leaving LHR at 8:40 and arriving at DXB at 18:15
    The return one leaves DXB at 7:45 and arriving at LHR at 12:15.

    Many thanks


  27. Chris says


    I have two separate award itineraries booked through United, one to Japan (IAD-NRT then HND-KIX) and then one from it (NRT-SFO-IAD). The first is on ANA and the second is on United but both were booked through United using United miles. They were booked separately because the first itinerary was booked to slide in before the February devaluation, and at the time I didn’t have enough miles to book the return.

    Because they’re separate though I can’t add a stopover (I would like to be able to stopover in Honolulu on the way back to IAD) as each is one way.

    Thus, the question is whether these two itineraries can be merged into a single round-trip to allow for a stopover, with regard to the complicating factors:

    1. One leg is booked pre-devaluation, the other post-devaluation. I’m concerned the computer may trigger a reprice if merged, to the post-devaluation rate.
    2. The itineraries are mixed cabins; the IAD-NRT leg is in O, while the return flights are in X. I don’t think this would be an issue though since the HND-KIX leg is also in X due to availability.
    3. One leg is on ANA and the other on United, but I don’t think this is an issue.
    4. It would have an open jaw (arriving KIX, departing NRT) and a stopover (HNL).
    5. The return leg was booked via a family member’s account, while the outbound flights on my own account.

    I imagine even if possible, it’ll involve lots of talking on the phone with United agents, but I’d rather not risk the ANA award if it’s possible it would get repriced. If it’s not possible, then I’d probably change the return flight to go NRT-HNL, then buy a separate return flight from HNL to IAD, despite the mileage inefficiency (due to the hilarious cash cost of a one-way international flight).

  28. MartinW says

    Dear Ben,
    greeting from Germany!
    One question: I want to book 2 awards with US Airways (F / Europe – North Asia).
    We both have each 100000 US Miles. Total cost for the trip is 200000 US Miles for two.
    Can I book one award (with two seats for us both) and split the costs between us both during the booking process?

    Thank you from Hamburg
    PS: Danke für Deine tolle Arbeit – dank Dir sind meine Ferien deutlich interessanter und komfortabler geworden! :-)

  29. lucky says

    @ Jack Buck — Wasn’t aware they even had refurbished 747s — I’ll look into it!

  30. lucky says

    @ Stuart — Sounds good! The experience is pretty straightforward on daytime flights, so you’ll be given one menu with lots of food options, and then I’d probably have a meal after takeoff, and then a snack or another meal after landing if you’re hungry. Here’s a trip report I wrote of my experience on the route, in case you haven’t seen it:

  31. lucky says

    @ Chris — Unfortunately there’s simply no way to “merge” two award reservations. You could cancel one and then pay a fee to try and add something to the other, but there’s no guarantee that the award space goes back into inventory.

  32. Andrew says

    Hey Lucky – had a few questions about AA Awards:

    I have one of the JAL F SFO-HND flights on hold. I haven’t firmed up plans but was thinking about visiting a couple of cities in Japan (e.g. Osaka and Sapporo). Since my plans aren’t set yet, if I add those economy legs on to my flight, can I drop the HND-KIX or CTS-HND flights without penalty (I’ve heard someone say something to this effect that you can always drop first or last legs from itineraries).

    Also, the SFO-HND flight schedules aren’t admittedly my favorite and was hoping to keep some optionality if any of the other flights open up out of ORD, JFK, or LAX. Those, however, all go to NRT. So my question is: 1) a change from HND to NRT (assuming that’s either my O/D) will incur a change fee, correct? and 2) if i have the extra HND-KIX legs on there and KIX was my final destination, could I change the routing from SFO-HND-KIX to SFO-LAX-NRT-KIX without a fee?

    Thanks a lot!!

  33. Norman says

    Hi Lucky,

    A few questions regarding to my recent award booking with US Airways.

    Basically I’m going from HKG via DOH via LHR to AMS, and then back via LHR via DOH to HKG, in First Class. Primarily I’ll be flying QR&CX, with the exception of intra-Europe flights which are on BA, and the transit time both way is less than 24 hrs.

    Supposedly, the less-than-24hrs transits and the fact I only fly BA for two short segments should bring the taxes and fees down, but eventually I was charged around $750 per ticket. (and for reference I booked a very similar itinerary for my friends traveling with me in Business Class, and ended up paying just over $200) I’m suspecting that the calculation were wrong, but not sure what can be done, if at all, to correct it. (since there’s no way to know for sure about the correct amount of taxes&fees and that I already paid.)

    The other problem is that I just realized that I was charged less of miles required for my itinerary. While I don’t really mind about that (since it works in my favor anyways), I do wonder if it could potentially cause problems (things like tickets get canceled just before the trip).

    Thanks a lot!!!


  34. lucky says

    @ Norman — In theory they could pull the correct number of miles, but in practice I doubt they will. But they definitely won’t cancel the ticket. Those fees do seem high. You were only flying British Airways for the intra-Europe flights? If so, you shouldn’t have been charged fuel surcharges except those segments. That being said, once you ticket it there’s not really all that much you can do. I guess you could call back and ask the rates desk calculate it again, but I’d also expect the correct number of miles to be pulled then.

  35. Norman says

    Hi Lucky,

    Thanks for the reply!

    Yes there were only two short-haul (~1 hour) flights with BA and the rest are CX and QR. Had concerns over the amount, asked to speak to a supervisor and was told “that’s what the airlines charge and you either pay or you don’t get the ticket.” Just realized how far off the amount could be after paying only 200 for me friends traveling the same itinerary in Business today.

    Would you expect them to pay the difference back to me without having to cancel the entire thing and start over? I mean since the taxes&fees are paid to the carrier and not US Airways, it does look a bit unlikely to me. On the other hand I may still find some use for the miles..

  36. Ben says

    Being in Canada, AMEX MR partners are limited. Trying to sample SQ F for the first time – would you say ~94k MR –> 47k SPG –> 57k SQ miles is worth it for IAH-DME in SQ F? I know it’s not Suites; is ‘regular’ F on a 77W still worth it? Or would SFO HKG be a better use?

  37. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    I earned 2 free nights via the Chase Hyatt, and I was wondering what room type they are for? I am Diamond and I remember reading somewhere that Diamond members get entry level suites. Is that correct?

    Thanks, Gabe

  38. lucky says

    @ Gabe — Nowadays the sign-up bonus is for a standard room. It used to be for a suite if you were a Diamond, but not anymore.

  39. lucky says

    @ Ben — That’s a toughie. It’s not an amazing use, but if you want to go to Moscow I think it’s a fairly good option. That flight will have a better meal service than the San Francisco to Hong Kong flight.

  40. lucky says

    @ Norman — They might or they might not. You agreed to pay that, so ultimately they don’t have to, but if you get a good agent and are persistent, I think you could.

  41. John says

    Hi Ben,

    I know you get a ton of questions. I sent you a question yesterday regarding your opinion on Austrian Airlines new route EWR – VIE.


  42. kjab says

    Hi Lucky, I’ve got a question re amex MR.

    I’ve got just under 70k MR in a UK based amex account (in my better half’s name) I need to close in the next month or so. I was wondering what the best airline transfer account to put it in? I was SQ gold but travel is somewhat limited due to kids now!

    I’ll be making a transatlantic flight a year, but also european short hops for the odd weekend break here or there.

    I’m loathe to transfer into BA avios but are there any better places to park a relatively small amount of miles? I may churn another account in 6 months so there is scope for more MR earning.



  43. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    When did they change that policy? Do you have a date as I signed up for the card a while back?

    Thanks, Gabe

  44. lucky says

    @ kjab — Hmmm, in your shoes I’d probably do BA. As much as I have frustrations with the program, their redemption rates for transatlantic flights are really reasonable, especially on partners.

  45. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    Do you have a list of what intra-asia routes ANA & Asiana operate a first class cabin on, that are redeemable with miles.

    How did you get to the maldives when you visited in 2011?

    Thanks, Gabe

  46. lucky says

    @ Gabe — ANA doesn’t have any intra-Asia routes with first class, with Asiana I think just NRT. I flew American to Delhi, and then took separate flights on SriLankan to Male back then.

  47. Worldtraveler says

    Strategy question. I am an AA platinum. I have an upcoming Delta Biz Elite ticket DCA to Athens (DL there, KLM back). I then have a RT alaska flight in Oct cross country. I was originally going to credit the Alaska to AA. But I think with the plat exec card, I can requalify for AA plat with the spend (10,000 EQM). So I don’t need to credit the Alaska to AA.

    I don’t need/want skypesos. I am thinking about Alaska’s program.

    1) Do you think I should credit the Delta trip and Alaska trips to Alaska?
    2) If I status match to Alaska, would that be beneficial? Should I do it before the DL trip? I know there is some funky stuff with timing.
    3) Anything I am missing?

    Thanks so much.

  48. lucky says

    @ Worldtraveler — Yes, I’d definitely credit to Alaska and also status match. That way you get a 100% mileage bonus on those flights.

  49. kjab says

    Hi lucky, thanks for the reply. That’s a shame though, the BA amex earns at 1.5 per £, and also gives a companion at £10k so maybe I should have had that initially.

    Having said that, I burned my last SQ miles and went F/suites to australia last year which was great so maybe I might put it into SQ and plan another trip down under at some point…!

    Decisions decisions…! I just wish MR could transfer to hyatt!

  50. Andrew says

    Hey Lucky,

    I know you haven’t gotten around to answering my first set of questions yet, but I had one other follow up question. What’s your experience with how frequently JL releases business class award availability on their 77W routes?


  51. BBD says

    If I book 4 award tickets from my UA account and then later cancel the trip and have the miles redeposited into my account, would I pay $200 or would I pay $800 ($200 for ea tix)? thx

  52. lucky says

    @ Andrew — I’ve found availability to be quite good, especially close to departure.

  53. lucky says

    @ Andrew — I believe you can drop the first (positing segment), but don’t believe that applies on arrival. Technically the computer would charge the fee for a switch from HND to NRT, though in practice some agents may waive it. You could change the routing SFO-HND-KIX to SFO-LAX-NRT-KIX without a fee.

  54. Charlotte says


    In need of your sage advice. I’m trying to book TPE to IAD/DCA tickets with AA miles for 2 people in F class on CX. My key segment was HKG-ORD because it had 2 seats available in F, but that just disappeared before I got miles to post. Sad times. I now have 2 options:

    1) Book 2 tickets in business on the HKG-ORD route and hope 2 F class seats open up to switch.
    2) Book 1 ticket in F class for each person on 2 different flights on HKG-JFK route (arrives 3 hours apart) and hope 1 of the flights has another F spot open up so we can jump on the same plane.

    I’m hoping you could tell me what you would do in this situation, if you were flying with a loved one like your mom (really enjoyed reading her thoughts on CX F class).

    As always, thanks for all that you do to keep us informed and entertained.

  55. lucky says

    @ Charlotte — In your shoes I would book business so you’re both together, and then if first class opens up closer to the date (which is extremely likely), you can just pay the mileage difference without paying a change fee. If you’re traveling with mom I’m sure worse case scenario she’d prefer being in business with you than in first class on a different flight.

  56. Jay says

    Hey Lucky-
    How do you book award tickets with long layovers? Like a 23 hour layover in a hub city before continuing to final destination? Is it possible to do online or do you usually need to call the ticket agent? Looking specifically at AAdvantage and MileagePlus awards.

  57. lucky says

    @ Jay — You can try it online by using the multi-city search engine. If it doesn’t price you’d have to call to book.

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