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. Carlos says

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

  2. lucky says

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

  3. sheldon cooper says


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

    Thanks a lot.

  4. lucky says

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

    PS: Cool name!

  5. dan ray says

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

  6. lucky says

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

  7. George says

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

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

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

    Thanks, so much, and keep it up.

  8. lucky says

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

  9. Melanie says

    Dear Lucky,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks a lot Lucky!

  10. lucky says

    @ Melanie –

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

    2) That just means there’s no availability.

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

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

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

  11. Justin says

    Hey Lucky,

    A couple of questions-

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

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

  12. Melanie says


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

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

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

  13. lucky says

    @ Melanie — Happy to!

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

    2) You would, unfortunately.

  14. Melanie says

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

  15. lucky says

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

  16. Danny says

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

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

  17. lucky says

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

  18. Danny says

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

  19. lucky says

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

  20. Matt says

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

  21. larry says

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

  22. lucky says

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

  23. lucky says

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

  24. Larry says

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

  25. lucky says

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

  26. larry says

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

  27. lucky says

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

  28. Matt says

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

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

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

  29. lucky says

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

  30. sheldon cooper says

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

  31. lucky says

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

  32. Nizar says

    Hi Ben,

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

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


  33. Bundy says


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

  34. lucky says

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

  35. Ewan says

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

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

  36. Mark says

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

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

  37. Bgriff says

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

  38. lucky says

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

  39. lucky says

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

  40. Abhi says

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

  41. Jig says


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

  42. lucky says

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

  43. lucky says

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

  44. Justin says

    Hi Lucky,

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


  45. Jane says


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

  46. Jane says

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

  47. RPM says

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

    Any advice on this leg will be appreciated.

  48. lucky says

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

  49. Bob P says


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

  50. Markus says


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


  51. brit44 says

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

  52. lucky says

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

  53. lucky says

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

  54. W says

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

  55. Dan says

    I would like to know the best way to upgrade from economy to business on OZ flight from LAX to ICN.

  56. Dan says

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

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