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

    @ Gabe — Whichever you can find award space on, honestly can’t go wrong either way.

  2. Enrique says

    Lucky – Thanks! This is why this is the best mileage advice site on the web.
    One quick follow up – do you know if one can upgrade for cash at T5 in LHR, if the segment is ticketed by AA, but operated by BA? I know they do on the spot upgrades, but trying to figure out whether to book on AA or

    thanks again!

  3. DC says

    Hi Lucky,
    Have you ever made a list of how many airlines you have flown and in which classes?

  4. Joan says

    Lucky, Thanks for your reply.

    In our quest to get to Greece would more options become available to us via OW or another if we re positioned ourselves, domestically or otherwise?

    Are the options enough of an improvement to warrant the hassles/negatives of changing planes?

  5. lucky says

    @ Enrique — No experience with that, unfortunately. My guess is you’d need to have booked through BA for them to be able to process it.

  6. lucky says

    @ Joan — I would focus on the transatlantic segment and then go from there. Positioning flights shouldn’t be too tough, but it depends on your exact dates.

  7. Zed says

    Hey Lucky,

    I’ve got an upcoming award ticket from IAH to IST on TK in business class. My connecting flight (also in J) is 23 hours after arrival in IST, and there was no earlier possible connection.

    I know that TK usually gives hotels to passengers with a long layover in IST (I think 10 hours?) but I wasn’t sure if that applied to award tickets, or if there was special handling for business class passengers (i.e. different hotel or different layover length rules)? (I’ve only ever done it flying economy on a revenue ticket).

    Do you know their rules here?


  8. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    I am currently planning a RTW trip and I am looking at flying between Australia and Asia.

    I noticed that Emirates operates a flight between Sydney and Bangkok, but I can’t figure out a way to get seats without buying them. Is there anyway to use miles, excluding Emirates own program, to get a seat on that plane?

    Thanks, Gabe

  9. Gavin Donnell says

    Hi Lucky,
    I was saving Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to fly Upper Class from London to Sydney. As we’re all aware, the Hong Kong – Sydney segment has been dropped.
    Can I use my miles with anyone else? Ideally I’d like to fly VA for part of the journey.

  10. Jim says

    Hi Lucky!

    Never done a Avianca Lifemiles share miles promotion. Just received an email regarding a 100% share miles promotion. Seems similar to the (formerly) excellent U.S. Airways Share miles promotion. Is the Lifemiles promotion a good one to take advantage of.

    Can you share your thoughts on the promotion?

  11. lucky says

    @ Jim — Hah, publishing thoughts on that shortly! LifeMiles can be a tricky program, so really depends on your travel goals.

  12. lucky says

    @ TravellingDDS — Heh, amazing what airlines will try to save space, isn’t it?

  13. JH says

    Book ticket using British Avios for American Airlines flight. I have TSApre using American Airlines, When I print my boarding pass, I notice that it is not TSApre since the ticket show as British Avios frequent flier. Is it possible to get TSApre with award ticket booked from British Avios? Thanks for your help.

  14. lucky says

    @ JH — Did you ask them to manually put your Known Traveler Number on the reservation? That should have done the trick.

  15. lucky says

    @ Daniel — Let me dig into it a bit further and make a post about it if I find anything out.

  16. Zed says

    Hey Lucky,

    I logged on to AwardWallet today and the ad de jour was for membership to “FoundersCard” at a discounted annual rate of $395 (as opposed to $795~ regular price). Just for curiosity I looked up FoundersCard and the benefits claim “elite status” with various airlines, hotels, and travel companies (in addition to other perks) but doesn’t specifically spell out what status or what perks.

    Thought I would bring it to your attention, in case it turns out to be something worthwhile…

  17. Adam says


    Just had worst experience at a new hilton garden inn at the beach. What’s your experience with the brand? Is there anything I can convert Hilton points to? I have about 186000.

  18. Matt says

    Hi Lucky,

    Just read the BA Visa 10% discount post. Timely as I’m in early stages of planning a trip to Spain/Portugal and all sensible flights from SFO are BA thru LHR. Rather than wasting AA miles and paying the fuel surcharges, your idea of paying prem economy fare then upgrading to business using Avios makes a lot of sense.

    My question… will the upgrade process on a LHR to BCN flight? Or only SFO to LHR? Separate Avios needed for LHR-BCN?

    And I’ve never had the BA Visa, so the Avios bonus should cover my upgrade.



  19. The Shy Guy says


    Random question. If flying on a full fare first class domestic ticket, and a giant dog in the cabin licks your Gucci suede loafers from under the seat in front of you, do you think the airline is responsible to have the shoes professionally cleaned or the passenger with a dog that doesn’t belong in the cabin? Thoughts??? Thrills of gross US domestic first flights!

    Thanks Ben!!

  20. John says

    Hi Lucky,
    Can you confirm this for me?

    Flying JFK-FRA in LH F, then FRA-MUC in LH Y, then MUC-BKK in TG F all on the same day

    As I have a same day LH F ticket, I’m able to access the FCT in Frankfurt as well as the FCL in Munich correct?

  21. lucky says

    @ The Shy Guy — I would say it’s probably not the airline’s responsibility in this case, unfortunately. Though I assume if you usually walk in your loafers they’ve encountered much dirtier things than a dog’s lick, no?

  22. Tar000 says

    Hi Lucky –

    Would love to know what you think about the news story below:

    In particular, the following claim:

    “It is easy to forget that Alaska and Delta are partners in a code share agreements. I don’t know all the details of why they enabled their relationship to break down. My sources say that the accountants who run Alaska understandably insisted on squeezing every last penny out of the relationship, rather than backing down a little bit on price and rather than giving Delta passengers preference over passengers from other partners.

    It is not that Delta codeshare passengers are filling Alaska planes: rather, than are taking a few seats on each flight. And maybe Alaska was charging Delta $135 for that last seat on a flight, and maybe Delta only wanted to pay $120.”


  23. Rick says

    Lucky — thanks for providing the ability to ask questions! I have what I hope is a simple one: I booked an American Airlines flight using BA Avios. I have a BA “Booking Reference” number.

    What do I do when I show up to the airport to check in? Will the self-service kiosks at AA work with this number? Do I have to stand on line to check in with an agent?

    I understand exists and I can get my AA number there, but I’m curious what would have happened if I hadn’t luckily come across that site.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  24. BP says

    Just wanted to say Thank You for the part you played in bringing Korean Air’s homophobic lounge filter to an end. Although it may not seem like a big deal to you, it is to many others!


  25. paul says

    hi lucky, would like to go from the usa, can go from about any gateway hub airport to budapest and then to manila, is this possible on united for a stopover thing in budapest??? at the low level saver rate? of usa to asia?? if not, then please help me as to how i can make it,

    thanks, paul

  26. Matt says

    Need to burn a ton of AA miles, any recommendations for an Asian city that is bearable in late-July/early-August? Thinking JAL out via ORD/JFK-NRT and CX return via HKG-JFK (all in F, obvi).

    Thanks, Lucky! New site looks bangin’.

  27. lucky says

    @ Matt — Happy you like the new site, thanks! That’s a real toughie. Having grown up in Florida I’m kind of immune to the heat, so I may be the wrong person to ask. As long as you go in with the right expectations, I don’t think most of Asia should be *too* bad. If possible I’d stick to Hong Kong or further North if you want to avoid really hot temperatures, but even Southeast Asia isn’t too bad, in my experience. Enjoy your trip!

  28. lucky says

    @ paul — I believe in theory that should be possible, assuming you can keep it down to five segments per direction, which might be the biggest challenge there.

  29. lucky says

    @ Rick — You should be able to check in online. That being said, you’ll want to use your American record locator and not your British Airways record locator. To get that you could call either American or British Airways — either should be able to provide it to you.

  30. lucky says

    @ Tar000 — That doesn’t seem accurate, and really doesn’t get to the source of the problems in their partnership. The real source of the issue is that Delta originally wanted to build an international hub in Seattle, and Alaska was supposed to provide the domestic feed. Then Delta decided to compete with them head-to-head on many of their domestic “bread and butter” routes. So their partnership went from “good faith” to being the biggest competitors.

  31. Oliwia says

    Out of every single flight you have been on, which one would you rate to be the best one/most fun etc?

    Do you believe in aliens? :)

  32. lucky says

    @ Oliwia — That’s a real toughie. I’d say maybe my London Heathrow to Dubai flight on Emirates in December of 2012 ranked as among my favorite, if for no other reason than the excitement factor since I was scheduled to be on British Airways instead.

    As far as aliens go… hah. I’m not sure, to be honest.

  33. Peter says

    Hi Lucky, Greetings from Good old Germany ! What do you think about the AirBerlin TopBonus business
    credit card, 2x status and bonus miles per Euro for groceries and gas. OW Sapphire and AB Lounges for 25k Euro spending, OW Emerald for 50k, but manufactured spending in Euro zone is quite difficult. Do you know any tricks ?

  34. lucky says

    @ Peter — That sounds like a hell of a card, definitely something I’d go for. Unfortunately don’t know of any manufactured spending techniques in Europe, sorry. :(

  35. Mochi says

    Hey Lucky,

    I know that it’s lucrative to purchase LifeMiles for premium award travel, but would you also recommend crediting miles to the program through flying? I’m not too concerned about obtaining status.

    Also, if I find a East Coast US-Europe flight in J for $2500, it’s a no-brainer to just book it with cash instead of using LifeMiles, right?

  36. lucky says

    @ Mochi — Yes, I think it can be a great program for crediting miles to as well, especially if you’re not concerned about status.

    For the east coast to Europe I don’t think it’s a total no brainer. You can buy miles for 1.5 cents each, and you’d need 105,000 miles. So it’s close to the break even point…

  37. ORDOGG says

    Hi, I was able to snag an F award on SQ15 from ICN to SIN. Should I “book the chef” (BTC) or take a chance on the catering ex-ICN? Seems like there are mixed reviews on the the Lobster Thermidor out there. Thanks!

  38. lucky says

    @ ORDOGG — If something sounds good to you I absolutely would. They’ll still let you switch aboard if they have enough meals.

  39. Jon DeWaard says

    Hi Any good reviews of United Global First out there? It was the only way I could go, believe me.

  40. Justin says

    Hi there
    Planning my honeymoon, have 350K miles on USAir and am a Chairman.
    Looking to Open Jaw from Philly or NYC and want to go to IST and ATH (Doesn’t matter where I go first…) Looking to book next May. What is the best way to book biz or First Class tickets?
    Do you think I will be able to secure those tickets this far out?


  41. Oliwia says

    Hey Lucky,
    What if you had a chance to take a trip to Mars and back. Would you go? I mean, it could be pretty scary as I don’t think NASA has a DO&CO catering… :)

  42. Prem says

    Hi Lucky,

    I am an existing Hyatt diamond member.. Do you know which credit card I should apply for to get more benefits at Hyatt?

  43. Adam says


    Not sure if you saw this post… I had a HORRIBLE experience at the new Hilton Garden Inn Oceanside in VA Beach this past weekend. The funny part is that the Hurricane weather was the least of any issues! The breakfast was horrible. We waited over 90 minutes to be seated and served, and the food was disgusting. The lady who checked us automatically signed us up for the points vs. breakfast (we are GOLD), so i had to go and fix that before breakfast even started. The night before the hotel restaurant was on an hour long wait (due to being understaffed, as was breakfast). Room service made up the room and did a horrible job, including leaving beach sand all over the entry way. We checked out less than 24 hours later on Friday morning and I demanded all my points back (180K). Waste of a July 4th weekend.

    What’s your opinion of Hilton brand compared to SPG, Hyatt, etc for stays in the US? I realize that there aren’t as many SPG and Hyatt’s but this was not a good view.

    I’ve stayed in nice HGI’s before but I wonder if it’s really still worth achieving $40K in spend to get diamond status on Amex Surpass… versus focusing on SPG???

  44. meg says

    Hi Lucky,

    I think that you flew through Addis Abbaba a while back but I do not see a lounge report. We will have a 6 hour layover there–leaving at 2 a.m. Not that we have a choice, but what is airport like? any shopping or other services that you remember? thanks!

  45. Scott says

    Hi Lucky,

    I’m trying to book a domestic United Airlines flight using Lufthansa miles. United’s website only shows Standard Award availability for both economy and first/business first, but when I called Miles & More they they didn’t see any award availability. Does there have to be Saver Award availability in order to book through Lufthansa?

    Thanks for the help.

  46. lucky says

    @ Scott — Yep, there needs to be saver level award availability to redeem Lufthansa miles.

  47. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    Is the Park Hyatt Seoul a hotel worth visiting? I read your review and you seemed to like it, but it is a category 4 hotel and some other reviews aren’t as positive. Thoughts?

    Thanks, Gabe

  48. Lauren says

    Thinking about doing the Hyatt Diamond Challenge (I am IHG Platinum). Do government rates count towards the challenge? Can I pick my start date? (ie, can I email them now and say I would like my challenge to start on July 24?) With all the travel I have going on in the next few months I think I should be able to do it with only a couple mattress runs. Will be so worth it to have suite upgrades for next years trips!


  49. lucky says

    @ Gabe — Yes, I loved it, and found it to be an especially good value for a Category 4 property.

  50. lucky says

    @ Lauren — If I’m not mistaken you should be able to start it any day. Government rates should qualify.

  51. Lauren says

    OK, Hyatt Challenge clarification. They give you four suite upgrades when you start the challenge and then another four next year? What if you don’t use the four from this year, do they roll over?

  52. lucky says

    @ Lauren — Correct, they give you four more next February if you complete challenge. They don’t roll over from this year, though. You have to apply them by the expiration date.

  53. Justin says

    Hi there
    Planning my honeymoon, have 350K miles on USAir and am a Chairman.
    Looking to Open Jaw from Philly or NYC and want to go to IST and ATH (Doesn’t matter where I go first…) Looking to book next May. What is the best way to book biz or First Class tickets?
    Do you think I will be able to secure those tickets this far out?


  54. Tar000 says

    Hi Lucky,

    At present, I have ambassador platinum with IHG & gold with Starwood and wondering if a status match with Hyatt is possible.

    Thanks so much!

  55. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    Is it possible to upgrade Points + Cash bookings with points? If so how many points are required?

    Thanks, Gabe

  56. Douglas says

    I know neither seem that great, but I’m looking at a positioning flight for an international ticket. Would you recommend a US A319 or A320 to get from ORD to PHL in First?

  57. Tiara says

    Just before United upped their miles, I booked 2 one way ticket on Lufthansa First class form JFK-FRA-HKG and then cancelled with rebook later option. Earlier this week, I called and spoke with one UA agent and she mentioned that the new price/miles will be applied when I rebook my flight regardless if I maintain the same routes. I hang up and called few minutes later. The gent on the other line stated the same thing.
    I know most of us speculated on this option at the time and I haven’t followed any airline news in the last 2 months due to hectic schedules. Hopefully both agents were wrong but…. Appreciate if you can comment or clarify this.

    Thanks, Tiara from NJ

  58. Kirk says

    Hey Lucky,
    I have take two 14-hour flights recently, and have noticed that the second meal has been served way earlier than usual. Before, the second meal would be served around two hours before landing, but now it is being served just after halfway into the flight – usually interrupting sleeping time. :( Any reason why this arrangement happens now?

  59. lucky says

    @ Tiara — It does seem to be hit or miss. It was never a guarantee, and I’ve heard of a lot of people being “shot down.” So unfortunately it’s not something I would count on. :(

  60. lucky says

    @ Douglas — The product is more or less the same, so I’d go with whichever has a more convenient schedule.

  61. lucky says

    @ Gabe — No, Points + Cash bookings can only be upgraded with Diamond Suite Upgrades.

  62. lucky says

    @ Justin — The schedule is already open for next May, so I would book as soon as possible. If you want to do first class your only real option is British Airways, and they impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions, so in addition to the miles you’d pay about $1,000 per person for the ticket.

    If you’re looking for business class, your best option is Ibera or airberlin in terms of availability.

    Congrats and good luck!

  63. lucky says

    @ meg — I actually found the airport oddly charming. Yes, it’s a bit of a mess and there are leaks everywhere, but the Ethiopian lounge is quite decent, and there is a bit of shopping (don’t expect Louis Vuitton or Hermes, but rather local souvenirs).

    The wifi in the lounge was fairly decent and they had a decent selection of drinks (I didn’t eat), so I wouldn’t hesitate to connect there again.

  64. lucky says

    @ Adam — Sorry for the oversight. Great question, let me answer it on the main page of the blog in the next day or so if that’s okay.

  65. lucky says

    @ Prem — I’ll have a post with the answer to that on the main page of the blog in the next couple of days if that’s okay. Thanks for the question.

  66. Matt says

    Lucky, 1 question and 2 comments for you.

    1. How much time do you usually leave between unrelated tickets to account for delays, weather, etc? Or does it vary based on how many backup options you have, etc?

    2. There was a donut place in MBK center in Bangkok that had Hello Kitty donuts.
    3. The early BKK-CMB flight currently seems to be operated by a Mihin Lanka aircraft. It has a very uncomfortable Y seat – looks like 29″ seat pitch in the back with Europe-style business seats in the front (though don’t know if the pitch is higher). I recommend avoiding those planes.

  67. elteetrav says

    I’m trying to book a couple of USAir award to South Africa via DOHA. Found the flights I wanted, and got the awards on hold. (thanks to all your advice on how to search for the awards).

    Then I ran into complications because I was using miles from another account to pay for the award. That is, award tickets for passengers #1 and #2, but using miles from accounts of passengers #3 and #4. I think I’ve done this before with no problem, since I have all the account numbers, passwords etc. (these are all accounts for various family members that I essentially manage for them, since they don’t want to take the time)

    However, this time the agent I was working with said I needed to have the person whose miles are being used call in to confirm that the other person could use their miles. Seemed sort of silly, since it would have been way easy for me to just hang up and call in saying I was the other person. The agent I was dealing with at the time was about the most unhelpful agent I’ve ever dealt with at USAirways (not actively rude, just not very bright), so I had no issue with politely hanging up and calling back.

    Unfortunately, when I called back the agent sent the award to the rate desk and came back with a higher rate than initially quoted (120K instead of 110K). At that point I decided it would be better to just hold off on ticketing, let the existing award hold expire, and then start over.

    But now that I want to do that, I am wondering the best way to proceed in using the miles from an account different than that of the person flying. I’m guessing that you deal with some variation of this issue a lot with your award booking service. Is there a preferred process for this? I don’t recall seeing a post on this. Thanks so much for your help.

  68. lucky says

    @ Matt — It really depends on the airport, time of year, etc. As a (very) general rule of thumb, I’ll typically try to leave twice as much time as I’d otherwise leave if on an unrelated ticket.

    Too funny about the Hello Kitty donuts — hah!

  69. lucky says

    @ elteetrav — In that situation I would probably call in as the account holder to begin with, and that way you avoid any “identity issues.”

  70. Damon says

    Hello from Wiesbaden! Now that US Air and AA are merging, can I use Dividend miles to book AA saver awards? I’m trying to get from Seattle to Berlin next May. Thanks!

  71. lucky says

    @ Damon — You can’t transfer US Airways miles to American, but you can use them to book any oneworld carrier, including American.

  72. lucky says

    @ beltway — Thanks, let me see if I can dig into that and see if there’s any update there.

  73. Damon says

    Thanks for your response! I meant; does US Air have access via their website or calling, for the AA saver inventory. AA shows first class saver space on a specific day, but US Air’s website is not showing the first class saver space. Thanks again.

  74. lucky says

    @ Damon — Assuming it’s saver space and not on one of American’s non-oneworld partners (like Alaska), then it should be bookable by phone with US Airways.

  75. MSPpete says

    Ben: Boarding Area homepage redesign makes it difficult to find my favorite blogs. If i click on one to visit, then click back – the order of the blogs list changes! I cant open the blogs I want in a new tab either. Need another solution. I miss reading some blogs. Maybe have the BA page only change the listing order daily instead of each visit. This change will reduce the number of blogs I view – not the intent, I think.

  76. lucky says

    @ MSPpete — While I had nothing to do with the BoardingArea redesign, thanks for the feedback and I’ll be sure to pass it on. Keep in mind the order in which the blogs are displayed on the main page is based on the most recent post, so whichever blog posted most recently would appear first. Have you tried just directly bookmarking the blogs you want to read?

    Thanks for reading!

  77. Nick says

    Hi Lucky,

    I applied and received a Chase Sapphire Preferred card (using your link) as did my girlfriend. I have already hit the $3k spend in the first month and my statement ended yesterday and I only show points for the purchases and not the sign-up bonus…How long before I will see it?



  78. lucky says

    @ Nick — Usually it posts when the first statement closes, though I would give it a few days. Otherwise it may post with the next statement’s closing date, as it’s not always immediate. Thanks for your support!

  79. MSPpete says

    Lucky: Thanks for quick reply. I was hoping to avoid bookmarking the individual blogs. If I do that, I will never see any new interesting blogs that appear. Thanks for passing on the suggestion. Happy travels!

  80. HH says

    Just wanted to thank you for your post on ANA search flights from last November. Because of your workaround I was able to book a flight to canada-berlin-singapore-tokyo-canada, after I was able to search the routes via ANA and tell aeroplan that it was indeed available.
    Very much appreciated Lucky.

  81. Shawn says


    I booked an award ticket for my father using my US Airways miles. The flight was on Cathay Pacific and then American. Since the CX leg was severely delayed and he couldn’t get on to the AA leg, CX rebooked him for the next day on AA. Since it was rebooked, the class was shown as “F” on his ticket and i thought he would be eligible for miles earning. However, the gate agent took the larger potion of the ticket where it had the ticket number and my father only retained the small portion, so I called AA to see if they can find out the ticket number. AA told me that they couldn’t find the ticket number for the paid AA ticket, only the ticket number for the award ticket on the day before. Does this sound right? I think if he took a picture of the rebooked ticket which had the ticket number, he should be eligible for miles earning. For some reason, it is not recorded in AA computer system. Is he out of luck? Thanks!

  82. lucky says

    @ Shawn — If the miles don’t automatically post then chances are he wouldn’t earn miles. If they look at the ticket they’ll see it was originally an award ticket and that there was no fare, making it ineligible for mileage accrual. If he did earn miles it would be an oversight, unfortunately. I would try just faxing in the boarding pass and seeing what happens, but beyond that there’s not really much that can be done.

  83. matt says

    I want to go to Katmandu Nepal. So I stupidly bought a nonrefundable ticket to Delhi India thinking I would purchase a short segment to Katmandu easily. Then someone mentioned that I might need a visa to pass through India. So I checked it out with Indias outsourced service. Sure enough, I need a transit visa. I can only apply for it within two weeks of leaving. Of course they recommend NOT buying your ticket until you get approved. I can only imagine the price for a ticket with a week or less for departure. Any suggestions?


  84. lucky says

    @ matt — Visas aren’t really my area of expertise, though in general if you already purchased a non-refundable ticket then I would hope for the best and just move forward with your plans and count on getting the visa. Good luck!

  85. Jess says

    Hey lucky,

    Quick question, are you gay by any chance?? I’m just interested, that’s all and I know you don’t have to answer but I’m just curious to people’s attitude to that question. Really nice blog btw, I’m loving the new layout :)

  86. Jim says

    When you travel, do you frequent gay bars and clubs? If so, it would be great to hear more about them. Oftentimes its hard to find up to date information about the latest clubs.

  87. Kirk says

    Los Angeles to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific and Dubai to Boston with Emirates.

  88. Art says

    Hello. I’m new to your bog, and I’m looking for ideas on a US to Maldives itenerary. I’m trying to put together the best options for my wife and I to look over. We are in the PHX area and we both have miles with AA and US airways. Would love to find a businees award. Also, a stop over in Singapore would be ideal. Which ariline miles do think will work better? AND any ideas omn the route would REALLY help.


  89. lucky says

    @ Art — In general your two best options are Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong or Qatar Airways via Doha. It doesn’t quite get you to route through Singapore, but I’d say Hong Kong is pretty close and then you can always book a separate side-trip to Singapore if you want. Good luck!

  90. unclepat says

    Lucky, we fly to Maui every December on AA out of LAX,in F,this year the schedule works better w Hawaiian Air, any big difference in First experience between to two.?


  91. lucky says

    @ unclepat — Assuming you were previously flying a 757 on American, I’d say that Hawaiian actually has a better product, so I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them.

  92. Matt says

    Hi Lucky,

    I’m thinking more about your post on BA… buying a premium economy fare and then using miles to upgrade to business being a better idea than using miles outright (because of fees). What about going through the same exercise with Air France? Obviously don’t get the 10% discount that BA offers using their card, but might have a better product.

    SFO->LHR on a BA 747-400 or
    SFO->CDG on a AF A380-800

    (I’d continue to BCN in both cases).

    From what I’ve seen, Air France business on the A380 looks more appealing than BA on the 747. Am I way off base here? Mileage amount to upgrade should be about the same and flight cost in premium economy is the same for the moment.

    Interested in what you think… Thanks,


  93. lucky says

    @ Matt — I think the major wrinkle here is that British Airways business class is definitely better than Air France’s. Air France has angled business class seats on their A380s, while British Airways has fully flat ones, so definitely a better hard product.

  94. Sam says

    Hey lucky,

    Now that you live in hotels, what would you put down as your place of residence on landing forms, bank applications etc. I thought you would need a fixed address for that sort of stuff?? And do you get post delivered to your hotel that you’re staying at?

  95. Tom says

    Hey Lucky, quick question for you. I need to book an award booking later this year for HKG to PVG return. Is it better to book using Aadvantage Miles or Dividend Miles in your opinion? Thanks! Tom

  96. Matt says

    @ Lucky — aaaaah, great point! I totally missed that Air France has angled business seats on the A380! The better hard product does win out.

    Thanks for the quick reply. And I hope you enjoyed the Germany win today!

  97. Ash says

    My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe this winter, and on the list is visiting a Christmas market or two.

    Any recommendations for markets as well as hotels on award stays?

  98. Jason says

    Next year I will be traveling to Rome in July 2015. I live in Tampa and wanted to know what you think my best airline options might be for using points and any suggestions you might have on accruing them for that airline. I assume flying out of Orlando might provide more options and am open to that.


  99. Thomas says

    Hi Ben,
    What is the best use of points to fly business class from NYC to BRU.
    I have following points balances: 250K SPG, 145K Delta, 70K Amex Rewards. Prefer to keep SPG points to redeem for hotel nights.
    I can request another credit card if needed, currently have SPG, Delta, Amex and Citi.

    Thanks, Thomas

  100. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    So I am trying to book Cathay Pacific first class between the US and Hong Kong. I am using the BA search engine and I am looking about 11 months out. But I can’t find a single seat, what am I doing wrong??

    Thanks, Gabe

  101. Albert says

    Hi Lucky, I have used United awards to book on a Thai Airways stock. I was hoping to change seats on Thai page, but the confirmation code given by United was not the reservation code. Do you know if I could find the correct reservation code and to retrieve my booking on Thai? Or how I could select my preferred seats? Thanks!

  102. says

    Hey Lucky. Two related questions:
    I’ve read your helpful post about the likelihood of LH F seats opening up, and use it as a guide. I’m trying to snag an ORD-FRA seat as part of a trip to Thailand in November. I’ve been keeping an eye on it with ExpertFlyer, and feel pretty good. Although there’s plenty of time between now and then…

    1) At any rate, I’ve also been keeping an eye on the flight number to see how consistently they release award space 15 and less days out. I noticed that today’s flight has four unsold F seats and all four are available as UA saver awards. Do you find this to be pretty common with LH? I’m currently booked on UA metal for this segment, and am hoping to swap, even up to the last minute.

    2) My second question has to do with the aforementioned swap. I purchased my itinerary with pre-devaluation UA miles back in January. As far as I can understand, since I won’t be changing dates, origin or destination, route, fare class, or anything aside from the carrier of this one segment, I shouldn’t have to pay any additional miles. Does that sound about right?

  103. Neil S. says

    Hey Ben. What am I missing? Am looking at the Four Seasons in Vancouver for a few days in September. Also checked the rate at FHR. The FHR rate is more than 200 over the Four Seasons website, per night. I know I get the $100 food credit – not sure what else I get that makes up for the premium. I know you use FHR a lot – any ideas?

  104. says

    Hi Ben,
    have you noticed Lufthansa now releases F seats 3 weeks in advance to partners? I have only checked JFK-FRA but both A380 and 747-8 have solid availability till July 30.
    I know it’s only one more week than it was before… but perhaps things are looking up? ;)

  105. Sig says

    Hi Lucky. Blog is great, as always. I have two seemingly unrelated questions:

    1. How do I search for aer Lingus J space with British Airways Avios? I was under the impression that it could be done with the booking tool, but I don’t get any flights.

    2. Can the following routing on United be done on one ticket? EWR-NRT-SIN-HKG-EWR

    Thanks so much, you are a big help.

  106. lucky says

    @ Ash — To be honest I haven’t done too many Christmas Markets, though all the ones I’ve visited have been awesome. What program are your hotel points with?

  107. lucky says

    @ Jason — Do you have any starting mileage balances, or what credit cards do you have?

  108. lucky says

    @ Thomas — I’d say probably 45,000 Membership Rewards points transferred to Aeroplan for travel on United or Brussels would be your best option.

  109. lucky says

    @ Gabe — Are you also looking 10 or so months out? they don’t release all space right at the window.

  110. lucky says

    @ Albert — To change seats on Thai you need to call. If it’s a United issued award then you can’t change seats online.

  111. lucky says

    @ Lincoln — It’s rare that all four seats would be available on awards, though not impossible, I suppose. Did you check the ANA tool to make sure it wasn’t phantom space?

    You shouldn’t have to pay extra miles, though different agents interpret the rules differently, so you may have to put up a fight.

    Enjoy your trip!

  112. BP says

    I’m going on a trip to Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, possibly Hamilton Island) and Hong Kong in Jan/Feb 2015. Have any suggestions for “not to miss” items?

  113. lucky says

    @ Neil S. — Is the rate on the Four Seasons website a discounted rate? The Fine Hotels & Resorts rate should be the same as the daily rate that Four Seasons publishes directly.

  114. lucky says

    @ BP — It has been five years since I’ve been to Australia, so I’m not the person to ask there. And I’m working on a post about “must see” things in Hong Kong, so stay tuned for that.

  115. lucky says

    @ Sig — You have to call British Airways to ask about Aer Lingus award space. They don’t show it online anywhere. As far as United goes, that is indeed a valid routing on one United award ticket.

  116. lucky says

    @ Lantean — Oddly this does seem to be specific to the New York route, as I wrote about a couple of months back:

    Very interesting…

  117. BP says


    Thank you for answering my previous question. I have another one for you. As previously mentioned, my partner and I are flying to Australia via Hong Kong in Jan/Feb 2015. Our trip to Australia looks like PHX-LAX-HKG-SYD..with another possible fly to MEL. Obviously that is a great deal of flying with several plane changes. Any trips of the trade to ensure that our luggages arrives safe and sound?

  118. lucky says

    @ BP — If travel is continuous without an overnight, there’s not really anything you can do to help your odds. Just hope for the best!

  119. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    Yeah I am looking from about 9 months out, and I am searching all the US destinations and I can’t find a single seat. Is Cathay not releasing any seats?

    Thanks, Gabe

  120. Tyler says

    Hey Lucky,

    Question on AA award routing from Europe to Asia, specifically CDG to HKG. I know transiting via DOH is allowed if you fly Qatar in and out of DOH. Does the outbound on CX640, codeshare with Qatar (QR5801) count or does it have to be Qatar metal?


  121. Ash says

    HI Lucky,

    We have some options. Between the two of us, we have the following:
    1. Hyatt – 27,000 points and 2 free nights (just got them this year – so any hotel).
    2. Hilton – 73,000 points
    3. SPG – 65,000 points
    4. IHG – 121,000 points plus 2 annual free nights with their credit card
    5. Club Carlson – 118,300 points (can use them for the 2nd night free)
    6. Marriott – 21,900 points
    7. Ultimate reward points – 200,000 (however we will need to use some of these for the flights over).

    We may try to do a longer trip (Germany, Prague, Vienna, Switzerland) – maybe spend 10-14 days overall. So we are open at this point, in the very early planning stage.

  122. Aston says

    Hey Lucky–

    I need to travel (one-way) SFO to HKG this January (on a Tuesday, early January) and am hoping to redeem AAdvantage miles for Cathay First or Business. I have the miles now, and it looks on the Qantas site like there may be business class availability on Cathay flights out of JFK on the date I need (with transcon availability on AA).

    Should I try to book the business class flights now or roll the dice and wait until the last minute in the hopes that First availability will open up a few days before the day I need to fly?

    Background: I have a fairly narrow window of travel (can’t fly before Tuesday morning, need to be in Hong Kong by Thursday afternoon), I would be fine redeeming for business class at the last minute if first didn’t open up, I’d be fine flying out of any NA gateway as long as there was positioning flight availability, but I’d hate to redeem for economy if there was no premium availability (or worse–pay for a last minute ticket).

    Let me know what you would do.

  123. lucky says

    @ Tyler — Technically it has to be Qatar metal, though haven’t tried it in practice, so can’t say for sure.

  124. lucky says

    @ Gabe — Just pulled up space LAX-HKG for exactly nine months from today (April 10) and see a first class award seat on Cathay.

  125. lucky says

    @ Ash — The Christmas Markets in Prague were gorgeous, so I’d consider Prague, Vienna, Munich, and maybe Budapest. Most have reasonably priced hotels across the board, the only thing I’d “splurge” on is the Park Hyatt Vienna.

  126. lucky says

    @ Aston — If your travel dates are fixed then I would definitely lock it in now. A change fee is a small price to pay for being sure you get to your destination when you need to during a narrow set of dates.

  127. Gabe says


    That is really weird because I can’t see that seat. Are you using

    Thanks, Gabe

  128. Rich (arizona) says

    I have a US Airways Dividend Miles credit card (Mastercard) from Barclays. On the back it says “World Elite”. Is the The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® the same card? If not I would try to sign up and get the 40,000 miles.

    Is the one I have an upgraded version of the Premier card? If so would it prevent me from getting the bonus? I haven’t had much experience with Barclays so I’m not sure how likely I would be approved and whether I would get the bonus.

    Thank you.

  129. Eric D says

    Hey Lucky,

    Any hotel advice for staying in Denver, CO? Downtown and/or near the airport?


  130. JH says

    HI Lucky,

    If you given a choice to fly to Narita using United First Class (Boeing 747) via Chicago or using United Business Class (Boeing 787) via Denver, which one do you take?

    Thanks for your help.

  131. Scotty78 says


    Like many I’m sure, I used your loophole information ( to book a HHonors reward stay at the Conrad Koh Samui for Feb 2015 at the OLD rates. It still lists in my upcoming reservations. I was wondering if you’d heard anything regarding Hilton honoring/not honoring these mega-advanced reward stays at the old points rates, based on the official policy of “reward stays valid one year from date of booking,” now that we are definitely over one year past the devaluation date. Thanks.

  132. Jason says

    Hi Lucky,

    I’ve been saving up Alaska miles to book an Air France flight from JFK to CDG to TNR. The yellow “classic” award space shows up when I search on Air France’s website, but nothing comes up on Alaska’s own website. I called in, and they said they didn’t see anything available in 3 different months we searched. Do you know if there’s some quirk in the Alaska/Air France systems or relationship that might be causing this issue. Having to pay over $1,000 in fuel surcharges would change my mind about this trip.


  133. lucky says

    @ Rich (arizona) — That is considered the same product, you simply get the World Elite version if you have a fairly highly credit line on the card. Some people have luck earning the bonus on the card multiple times, others don’t, and they’ve certainly clamped down on it in recent years. So “your mileage may vary.”

  134. lucky says

    @ Scotty78 — I haven’t heard of any issues with those being honored, so I think you should be good to go.

  135. lucky says

    @ Jason — Have you tried searching segment by segment on the Alaska website? They should have access to the same space.

  136. Dayoola says

    Hey lucky just found you and I am glad I did because you have opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities. My wife and I travel to europe once every year presently for three weeks at a time. but will be nicer if we could make that 3 times a year for a week at a time (see more countries I’m thinking). My question to you is this? as a beginner is it feasible to accrue 250k points a year (120k roundtrip for two on star alliance, pay normal fare for one trip as we usually do) and maybe five nights at any hotel. What cards would you suggest I start with. 4k a month is what i use on my one card presently.

    Thanks again for all the help and for sharing, I really do appreciate it

  137. Jason says

    @lucky – Thanks. I did try segment by segment, and the JFK-CDG route shows up, but not the CDG-TNR route. I also asked the agent on the phone to try segment by segment, and the same thing happened. I’ll probably try the hang up, call again approach. The agent didn’t seem to be all there. If Alaska and Air France should have access to the same space, there must be a way to do this.

  138. lucky says

    @ Jason — Yeah, I think hanging up and calling again is definitely the best strategy here.

  139. laurie says

    i would like to get a credit card to start saving points for a non stopflite to southkorea- which is the bes to do this

    i have delta am ex and chasesapphire- is thereanother one i shouldconsider using??

  140. lucky says

    @ laurie — Not sure if you have the Chase Sapphire or Chase Sapphire Preferred, but if you don’t have the Preferred version I would pick that up. It’s a great card, and you can transfer points to United then to book a flight to South Korea, which is one of the more economical options. Good luck!

  141. LN says

    I am new to this so am looking for help/guidance. One of my kids will be going to Australia to study. I am looking to sign up for best credit cars to maximize miles so I can book business or first class seats. As I live in NY and have lifetime gold status on AA, I guess my best options are with AA and Qantas.
    Looking through your wonderful tips, I thought I should get the citibank exec card (I was offered 75K for signing up), Barclaycard arrival plus, and the citi Platinum Select Mastercard (0ne for me and one for my wife). That would mean $450 the first year since the Platinum select have 1st year fees waived. Should I also take out 2 cards with USAir since they will be transfered over and there is no fee the first year?
    We will be travelling in January for the first of several round trips.

  142. Albert says

    Hi Lucky,

    United screwed up my middle name on the ticket, and I have to canceled it from the agent. It was the last F seat available on Thai. Do you know how long will Thai release the seat again? My booking is on Aug.30 from BKK to HND.


  143. lucky says

    @ Albert — It’s anyone’s guess when it will go back. Might go back into inventory right away, or not at all.

  144. Lincoln says

    Thanks for the response!

    I tried to check the ANA tool, but as it was for the same day, and not at least 4 days out, they wouldn’t show it. Unless I’m using it wrong. Which is entirely possible…

    The same flight for Friday has 6 unsold seats and there appears to be 2 award seats available. I can’t check ANA to confirm that’s true though. More than one available seat is always a good thing though, so let’s hope it’s true!

  145. Albert says

    Hi Lucky, thanks for quick response! The seat goes back into inventory after around 8 hours, now is secured again. Hope United wouldn’t screw up this time! Thanks again!

  146. Tyler says

    Anyone having issues using the BA website last night and this morning for award availability? I keep getting errors and the search won’t go through. I am searching for CX F space next May.

  147. Gabe says

    Hey Lucky,

    Does Qantas have access to more Cathay Pacific First Class Seats than BA does?

    Thanks, Gabe

  148. seth says

    Hi Lucky-

    Quick question when you have a moment: Yesterday I booked first class ORD-HKG on CX with AA miles and the only seat available on CX website was in the middle. When I go to expertflyer it shows that all other seats are vacant but denotes the window seats as “premium”. Do you know how I would go about obtaining a window seat? Obviously I have no status with CX. This trip isn’t until FEB of next year so maybe they open up closer to departure date? Thanks.

  149. Martin says

    Hey Lucky-

    In your opinion, should I redeem AAdvantage miles for Cathay A330 business class BKK-DXB through HKG (the backtracking=longer travel time), or should I book a cheap Qatar 77W business class paid fare BKK-DXB through DOH fare that works better with my schedule and results in a shorter travel time? Which J product is better?

    Also, in your experience, which are more valuable: Starpoints or Membership Rewards Points?

  150. Laurel says

    Have you ever considered doing Trip Reports on some of the worst products out there so that in case we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, we know the worst of two evils? I’d be interested in seeing:
    -United 747-400 in Standard Economy
    -Air Canada 777-300ER HD (10 abreast) in Standard Economy
    -Any flight on Spirit or Ryanair
    -AirAsia X A330-300 in Standard Economy (9 abreast)

  151. grandgourmand says

    Hey Lucky,
    I saw your post on which Lufthansa routes would be removing first class on a few routes. Is there anywhere I can find out where first class routes will remain intact? I’m particularly interested in flights out of YYZ/YUL to FRA/MUC. Thanks.

  152. lucky says

    @ grandgourmand — Over time I suspect the routes will be adjusted, so the best you can can do is look at whether they’re selling first class on the flights or not.

  153. lucky says

    @ Martin — I’d say that Cathay’s business class product is better assuming Qatar’s product isn’t their reverse herringbone seat. But I’d go with Qatar if the travel time is shorter and it better suits your schedule.

  154. Camilo says

    Hi Lucky! I booked a award trip with United miles before devaluation (the first way from EWR to HND in AC Economy and back with a stop over in Hong Kong in Business). Because of multiple schedule changes and some issues on their side they ended up allowing 2 open jaws in my itinerary (one in Japan and one in the stop over, so I am arriving to HKG but departing PEK). Now I feel it was a dumb move to book the first part in Economy (saving 20 or 30K miles) and was thinking about changing it to Business or First. Do you think it’s wise trying to change the ticket given that the itinerary right now doesn’t comply with the award redemption rules? If I change it, will the award be repriced with the new chart?

  155. Seth says

    Thanks for your help as always. I didn’t think to check your archives as I thought it was a rare issue. I’ll give the Hong Kong call center a try. Also, I couldn’t find F availability for March HKG-ORD, do you think there’s any chance of it popping up? I went with Business Class for the time being.

  156. lucky says

    @ Camilo — You can always try and worst case scenario you can keep your current routing. Chances are you would be charged per the new chart, but with United it totally varies with each booking and comes down to the individual agent, so there’s no way to know for sure.

  157. lucky says

    @ Seth — Yes, Cathay opens up a lot of last minute award space, so there’s a very good chance of space opening up, in my opinion.

  158. John says

    Hi Ben,

    We have a day and a half in Hong Kong in August en route to Phuket. Since Hong Kong is your favorite city, I have a couple of questions. What hotel do you recommend? Do you have a top 10 things to do in Hong Kong or must see/do in Hong Kong for a short stay?


  159. Daniel says

    Just an idea- have you thought of a rankings page? Seems like it would be a great addition to the new setup and I’m guessing it would get tons of views and comments. People love rankings, and given your unique perspective of personally experiencing so many products, I think people would take them seriously. I’m thinking top 10 first class experiences, top 10 business class, top 10 lounges, etc. Just an idea!

  160. Nick says

    So since you carry a wallet, money clip and passport holder, when you’re traveling where do you keep your passport holder? I am about to start doing a lot of traveling and I would be worried about my stuff…

    Thanks Lucky


  161. lucky says

    @ John — Working on a post right now with my favorite things to do in Hong Kong. What hotel chain do you prefer?

  162. lucky says

    @ Daniel — Thanks for the idea, it’s also something that’s on my “to do” list. Appreciate it!

  163. lucky says

    @ Nick — I usually keep both my wallet and passport holder in my laptop bag. My laptop bag has a “pouch” for the passport holder.

  164. BP says

    Spending 3 nights in Hong Kong currently with a reservation at the W. We’ve never been to HKG before, is it worth the points for the W or should we stay at the Sheraton?

    Definitely looking forward to your list

  165. lucky says

    @ BP — If you have the points, the W is a fantastic hotel — I’d stick with it, in your shoes.

  166. James says

    Hi Lucky – I’m traveling from D.C. to Rome in August. I’m currently booked in J class from DCA to EWR and EWR to FCO. There’s a direct flight from IAD to FCO that has a fair amount of J space. Assuming there’s still space available, do you know if I’ll be able to make a same-day change to get on the IAD-FCO flight without repricing? (I wasn’t sure if I could both eliminate a connecting flight and change the originating airport, despite the fact that DCA and IAD are both in “DC”.) Thanks so much!

  167. grandgourmand says

    Hey Lucky,
    thanks for the quick response above. i know you’ve written about declining premium cabin availability on CX. i’m planning a trip with my wife. getting J class doesn’t seem to be a problem, with often times 5 seats available per the BA website. however, i am having a lot of difficulty finding 2 F class seats. would you suggest booking a J and an F in the hopes of some inventory opening up closer to the flight date? i’m looking specifically at flights originating from JFK or ORD. I’m in YYZ, but no F cabin on that route. i have not specific dates yet, just wondering about strategy. thanks.

  168. Casey says

    I’m relatively new to your site but absolutely love your reports, posts, etc. I know you were just in Beijing and stayed at the Grand Hyatt. I will be traveling for vacation in September to Beijing. I know there are a LOT of great hotel choices. I currently have a room reserved at the Grand Hyatt at the Daily Rate. I am Hyatt Platinum and will be using points to upgrade to Club Level. Is this a good hotel location-wise for tourist stuff and is it worth the points to upgrade to Club Level. Any insight would be greatly appreciated! (Looking forward to that swimming pool at the Beijing Grand Hyatt!)

  169. Shanghai9 says

    Hi Lucky,

    I’m going to try to redeem US Airways Div Miles for a One World trip in F from N. America to Australia with a stop in London. It seems like there is zero F award space on AA, so I’m going to have to use BA. If I do London as an under-24 hr visit instead of a full stopover, will that cut down on the fuel surcharges? If so, should I do it on the outbound or return? I would need to fly BA only on the trans-Atlantic, if that makes a diff. Thanks a lot!

  170. BP says

    Lucky, thanks for the advice on the W Hong Kong. We currently have a reservations for 3 nights there. From a location stand point as a tourist, do you think this is better for us as a jumping off point for sight seeing than the Sheraton? Many have tried to convince me to switch to the Sheraton because of subway accessibility?

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