Ask Lucky

Have a travel related question? Post it here, and I’ll do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.
If you have questions about how to search for award space or how to redeem miles I’ve probably already answered it in a more detailed post, so check out the “Tips & Tutorials” page for some quick references.
This space is intended to be more of a community as well, so feel free to jump in and share tips!

Comments

  1. jessie says

    Hello, a quick question. I am a SPG Platinum, recorded 32 nights so far this year. I am aware that if i hit 50 nights, I will get 10 suite awards. For the moment, I don’t have any particular plan to stay at SPG properties any longer (maybe 5-6 night till the end of year), but in the country where I am temporarily working, there are plenty of good Cat1 SPG properties, so it’s possible for me to hit 50 nights redeeming 2000-3000 points (I don’t want to spend money to meet a goal intentionally). My questions is if it’s worth doing this to get 10 suites awards. How useful are they? Any expiration date (should be all consumed in next calendar year)? Is that also usable for redemption awards? thanks !

  2. Max says

    Hi Lucky,
    first of all: I love reading your blog, in particular re your trips to Europe as I’m from Germany so reviewing hotels and airlines here helps me a lot. I’m an airberlin topbonus Platinum member as I’m frequently flying across Germany for work. I’ve managed to redeem topbonus miles for travel on airberlin business class a few times now (and quite enjoyed the experience as opposed to some of my trips in BA Club World) but whenever I tried to book award flights on oneworld partners (in particular American), the airberlin hotline always told me that American basically releases no award space to them at all, even in coach. Now that sounds quite weird given that it seems to be so easy to book award flights on oneworld partners with BA avios. How would I go about booking award flights on American with topbonus miles? Any pointers would be much appreciated!

  3. Jon says

    Hey Lucky, quick q. My fiance and I are planning a trip to SE asia next August. We would probably be flying Malaysia airlines a bit, and I was wondering if there was any risk to booking flights this far out if they are going through a lot of financial difficulties now. Would there be any way that the service wouldn’t be operating? Thanks!

  4. Martin wolf says

    Flying to Europe (Budapest, return from Prague) April 2015. From either sfo or lax (I live in Carmel), who has best business class and how hard to buy economy and upgrade using Amex platinum points? Any other pointers? Marty

  5. JC says

    Lucky – I booked really cheap economy flights some time ago and they’re coming up! Alitalia JFK-MXP Class O and Air France CDG-BKK Class N. I called multiple times and I’ve been told these are NOT upgradeable with miles.

    What can I do to get an upgrade to business or even premium economy? Can I upgrade through any other SkyTeam members that will let me use miles with these low fare classes? I have AA miles and Amex MR.

    Thanks!

  6. Ahmed says

    Hey Lucky, I am really willing to do a DOH-LHR flight on the new a380 and I have got around 170,000 miles, do you know when QR will release seats using the miles?

  7. Phil says

    @Lucky I have been considering to do a round the world trip in April/May, I am still deciding if doing in business or first because the price differences are quite high, I was wondering with which alliance should I travel. I have been looking at Star Alliance, OneWorld and SkyTeam, which of these would you reccomend me the most for this round the world trip?

  8. Andreas says

    Hallo Lucky,
    Ich möchte meinen Vater für sein Geburtstag ein flug von MUC-AKL kaufen, ich weiß nicht viele über Fluggesellschaften, aber ich suche etwa in Business Class, gute Qualität und die nicht mehr als 5000€ pro Erwaschener kostet.
    Danke!

  9. lucky says

    @ Dan — United reserves Economy Plus for their own elite members, so while you can buy up, technically you’re not entitled to an upgrade. It certainly can’t hurt to ask, though unfortunately it’s unlikely you’ll get anywhere.

  10. lucky says

    @ Joel — Since they have a distance based chart, they can actually be pretty lucrative, especially for travel to Europe with several stopovers. So I might consider that, in your shoes.

  11. lucky says

    @ Jessie — They do have to be used by February two years after they’re earned. I’ve had good luck using them to confirm upgrades five days out, while others haven’t. That being said, I’m not usually looking to redeem them during peak periods. Would you qualify for Platinum on stays otherwise? I don’t think it’s worth doing an extra 10 or so nights just for the Suite Night Awards, but if you wouldn’t otherwise earn Platinum, then I think it could be worth it.

  12. lucky says

    @ Max — That’s very odd. Airberlin should have access to the same saver level award space that they make available to their own members. Have you gone to aa.com to look at saver award space? If it’s available, it should also be bookable with airberlin. So I would recommend finding the space on your own and then calling with those exact flight details. Good luck!

  13. lucky says

    @ Jon — I’d feel pretty comfortable booking them as of now. There is a chance they’ll cut some service, but there’s no way to know which flights they would cut, unfortunately.

  14. lucky says

    @ Martin wolf — The problem is that nonstop upgrade/award space is extremely difficult to find from the west coast nonstop to Europe, so connecting might be required. How many AmEx Membership Rewards points do you have?

  15. lucky says

    @ JC — Unfortunately those lower fare classes simply aren’t upgradable. I’d check upgrade eligibility before booking next time. Sorry. :(

  16. lucky says

    @ Ahmed — For a while they were releasing space, though nowadays they’ve stopped releasing it, for the most part. I do still see some space on the Paris route, so I would recommend looking at that.

  17. Abhi says

    Hi Lucky,
    How do you navigate the spaghetti monster that the train ticket selling system has become in europe.
    I mean what sort of pass to get and from whom. for example I read at some sites that if I have a eurorail pass I can get thaly’s ticket from amsterdam to paris for quite cheap, but thaly’s website has no mention of eurorail.
    What passes are good for what kind of travel and when is it to just straight up pay for ticket. All the misinformation seems to make a confusing situation worse.
    Do you have any resource you can point me to make life a tad easier?
    Thanks
    Abhi

  18. lucky says

    @ Andreas — Have you considered purchasing US Airways miles or LifeMiles during a promotion? You’d get much better value by buying miles and booking a first or business class award ticket than you’d get by paying cash, in general.

  19. Phil says

    I mean I have some miles from my United card, though it is no way close to enough for buying the whole ticket, it would be a paid ticket

  20. lucky says

    @ Abhi — That’s a great question, as train tickets really aren’t my area of expertise. While I take a fair number of trains in Europe, they’re almost always just between two points, without a big train itinerary. If I come across any good train resources I’ll let you know, or maybe someone else can chime in.

  21. lucky says

    @ Phil — Fares can vary substantially, so I don’t really think one is better than another when it comes to paid tickets. In general I recommend just booking point-to-point award tickets and buying miles to supplement the routes you don’t have enough miles for, since it will end up being a LOT cheaper.

  22. Ken says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have JL-issued award ticket that involves AA, US and AY. Since AA has canceled my early morning flight to Chicago, I will not be connecting onto US flight to CLT out of ORD.

    My original routing was: XXX-ORD-CLT-JFK-MXP-HEL (I wouldn’t list my originating airport though)

    Do you think it is reasonable to ask them to put me on BA out of ORD to LHR then to (BA/AY) HEL? This way, I get HEL only 45 minutes later than original schedule, but I depart 4 hours later. So far award space on BA ‘ORD-LHR-HEL’ is showing on AA.com

    In this case I wouldn’t have to pay YQ/YR on BA/AY segments (i.e. even exchange), right? JL imposes YQ/YR on AY flights as well.
    Since this is JL issued ticket and AA caused schedule change, it might be a time consuming one.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  23. KahunnaTravel says

    @Abhi – as much as I dislike the Rick Steve’s product line, to be fair, he is good about giving useful info on using rail passes and tickets in Europe – try this url as a start – https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains. What he doesn’t cover are the passes that can only be bought “in-country”. For example, about 10 years ago I was traveling in Belgium and knew enough to buy a 50% off pass that was only available in-country. Cost was about 25 euro for 10 days and I more than covered that cost over the course of 4 train trips. I have found that a good resource for getting ideas about in-country pass options is Lonely Planet guide books.

  24. Ken says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have JL-issued award ticket that involves AA, US and AY. AA canceled my early morning flight to ORD, so I wouldn’t make to US flight to CLT out of ORD.

    My original routing was: XXX-ORD-CLT-JFK-MXP-HEL (I wouldn’t list my originating airport though).

    Do you think it is reasonable to ask them to put me on ORD-LHR-HEL on BA flights? Currently, award space on BA ‘ORD-LHR-HEL’ are showing on aa.com

    In this case I shouldn’t have to pay for YR/YQ on BA segments (i.e. even exchange), right? JL imposed YR/YQ on AY flights as well.

    Since JL issued this ticket and AA caused schedule change, I wonder how it would work out. I can’t view my PNR now and JL said they will contact me about this. I am wondering what alternatives they would offer.

    Any suggestions are appreciated!

  25. Justin says

    Hi Lucky.
    I had a quick question are award booking on United. I booked an award saver for businessfirst on transcon from LAX-JFK. Before I booked, I saw on expert mode that there was 1 I-booking class available, which I read from your previous blog meant for Star Business Award. I planned on booking businessfirst for me on my united miles and then for my mom on my Asiana account. However, after I booked on my United account, I saw that it went from I1 to I0. I think they also use this for award saver? Is there any chance that United will open up more star award space? I booked my mom on another flight so she can also experience businessfirst but was wondering if they open up more award space so I can move her to my flight. Thanks. Love your blog and thanks for all the good advice you post up.

  26. lucky says

    @ Justin — It could be that someone else snagged it in the meantime. They often do open more space as the departure date approaches, so I think there’s a good chance that will happen. I’d just keep an eye on space.

  27. lucky says

    @ Ken — That seems like a perfectly reasonable request to me. I would give them a call, if there’s space I’m sure they’d be happy to rebook on that.

  28. imposter says

    Hi Lucky,
    You travel a lot and that must have taken you to countries that require you to get a work visa to work there.
    How ever you aren’t working for a company in that country as far as I know and you are also not getting paid in that country.
    So do most countries allow me to work on a tourist visa for a foreign country as long as I am paid there?
    To clarify if my employer doesn’t care where I work and pays me in country X can I live and roam the world on tourist visas without breaking laws?
    I know you aren’t a lawyer but having travelled so much you might know a bit …

  29. lucky says

    @ imposter — I’m not a lawyer as you point out, so am probably not the person to ask. That being said, if you’re working remotely, constantly on the move, and your work doesn’t involve the place you’re at (in other words, you’re there to sightsee), then based on my interpretation a tourist visa should be fine.

  30. John says

    Hi Ben,

    I booked a roundtrip flight EWR-VIE on United.com. However, the flights are operated by Austrian. I went to the Austrian website to select my seats. However, the website says that I cannot reserve seats on the flights. Is there a way to reserve seats online without having to call Austrian?

    In addition, we’ll be staying at the new Park Hyatt Vienna and got an upgrade to a Park Suite using my Diamond upgrade. Have you stayed there? I’ve read good reviews on this hotel.

  31. Meagan says

    I have the Club Carlson credit card. If I book a reservation internationally – London – for him with my points, can we get the “free” night at end of his 3 night stay without me being present? Thought I’d make the reservation and list him as a guest. Thoughts?

  32. lucky says

    @ John — Haven’t stayed at the Park Hyatt yet, though hope to visit soon. Looks amazing! As far as selecting seats go, unfortunately you may have to call. Their website can be a pain sometimes.

  33. lucky says

    @ Meagan — That should be fine. Keep in mind with Club Carlson the second night is free, so you don’t actually need a third night, if that’s all you’re after.

  34. Chris says

    Hi Lucky,

    Would love your advice. I’ve reserved a flight on Korean Air in F and an now wanting to transfer my Ultimate Rewards points over to complete the booking. The KE points transfer service, according to Ultimate Rewards, is “down for maintenance”. While I understand that sites need to go down for maintenance, this transfer facility has now been down for more than two days.

    I’ve called Chase Customer Service. They are aware of the issue but have offered no explanation or end date for the outage. I’m concerned that I’m at risk of losing a booking or that some in-the-works program changes will negatively impact me.

    What would you do?

  35. Soltatio says

    Hi Lucky,
    I’ve been trying to book award tickets that include legs on South African Airways. I was using the Aeroplan tool, but it seems that all SAA award space disappeared mid search earlier today. Now I don’t see a single SAA flight in any reward searches (domestic/international/Economy/Business etc.), including on Mileageplus, Aeroplan or the ANA tool. I know you probably encounter anomalies like this with your booking service, but can you explain if this sometimes occurs or speculate on what might cause it or how long before the results reappear?
    Thanks for the great blog!

  36. lucky says

    @ Soltatio — It’s fairly common. It’s usually just because the airline is doing a system update of some sort, and within a matter of hours or days the space should be up. So I’d be patient, I’m sure it will be back.

  37. Ronnie P. says

    Hi Lucky. Thanks for a great blog. Always fun to read.

    I have a question about attaining Star Alliance Gold through Aegean Airlines: Their T&C site says that “Members who hold a BLUE Card and who have earned at least 16,000 Tier Miles within twelve (12) consecutive months from their first miles-accruing flight on the previous tier will receive the GOLD Card.” – Do you know if I can go straight from 0 miles to their Gold Card, without previously holding a Blue (Silver) Card?

    I have a business trip come up with about 25,000 miles and would like to strategize a bit. If it only gets me Silver I would rather bank the miles as usual.

  38. Sammy says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have noticed with your trip reports that on cathay pacific flights that some flights have ‘dinner’ and some flights have ‘supper’. I understand that dinner is for the flights departing around 7 or 8pm and the supper is served on flights departing much later.

    Even though they have different names, are they different? I have a flight leaving Hong Kong to San Fransisco after midnight in first class and I’m worried that supper is just a light meal and not in fact dinner.

  39. Alex says

    Hi Lucky

    I noticed that you had a few posts on KE recently, and you used them to book a few of your first class trips… I understood you got your points from Chase UR, but being based in Australia…. i don’t have this option…. and i cant see any highlight of this program…. can you enlighten me on the value of KE’s FFP for non-US based flier? i felt i am better off elsewhere….

    Thanks

  40. RKToledo says

    Ben,
    I used Hotwire’s opaque hotel service and was very fortunate to get the Sheraton CDG for an overnight stay($110 – woo hoo!). I arrive at CDG at 7am and want to leave my carry on at the airport to head into the city. There is a baggage storage service outside the Sheraton. Due to this fact, would you happen to know if Sheraton will store my carry on for me with the Bell Desk for a tip or do they have an arrangement with the storage company and force me to use their service? I figure if anyone would know, you would. Thanks,

  41. lucky says

    @ Alex — It all depends what you’re comparing it to. Compared to some Star Alliance or oneworld programs it may not be that lucrative, but compared to other SkyTeam programs it’s very lucrative given the relatively low redemption rates and access to first class award inventory. So I guess it all depends what you’re looking for. As you point out, the issue is that the points are tough to come by if you don’t have access to Chase Ultimate Rewards.

  42. Robert Hanson says

    After years of encouragement from you, we finally took the plunge and booked our first trip to Asia. We’re going to Thailand and Hong Kong, via Singapore. We were lucky enough to book our award A380 Suites class from LAX to Sin. :)

    But unlike when we reserve with AA, I saw nowhere on the reservation form to put in our GE trusted traveler numbers. We always put that on our AA reservations so we will get Pre Check. Anyway to do this with SQ?

  43. lucky says

    @ Robert Hanson — Awesome, enjoy the trip! Unfortunately Singapore doesn’t participate in Pre-Check, so there’s no way to get it on that itinerary. Sorry!

    Have a blast!

  44. Abhi says

    Hi Lucky,
    Flying through LHR (from AMS and to BOM) on BA first.
    I have 7:30 AM to 10:55AM, what lounge should I checkout?
    Abhi

  45. lucky says

    @ Abhi — The Concorde Room is the only real first class lounge, so that’s where I’d recommend going.

  46. Juan.S says

    Lucky
    I have accumulated a total of 70,000 Avios and I was planning to do MAD-LAX, apparently it costs 50,000 Avios business class one-way with IB. I was looking as well at BA fares and MAD-LAX via LHR costed 80,000 Avios IB operates a340-600 and BA operates the a380, what do you think I should take between the two?

  47. lucky says

    @ Juan.S — Given that Iberia has flat beds, I’d probably go with the nonstop for fewer points in your shoes. Fuel surcharges are also lower on Iberia, especially if booking through their Iberia Avios program.

  48. Megan says

    @ Lucky :
    Need your help. I am based in SFO so can I do below routing using US Airways Dividend Miles to maximize US Airways stopover and open jaw:

    SFO to Barcelona (or Paris)
    Barcelona (or Paris) to Hong kong
    Hong Kong to SFO

    Is this route doable and would be one award pricing? (60,000 miles for Economy /110,000 miles for Business / 120,000 miles for First Class to North Asia).
    If so, which carrier should I look for the award availability to minimize the fuel surcharge? Like: SFO – Barcelona on Iberia and Barcelona to HKG on Cathay and HKG – SFO on Cathay?
    And can I use the $99 Companion Pass to bring my wife for this route?

  49. lucky says

    @ Megan — That should be possible, it would be the number of miles you state. If you want to minimize fuel surcharges I would recommend looking at space on Iberia for the transatlantic flight and then Cathay Pacific to Asia and back. The companion certificate is only valid for revenue tickets on US Airways flights, so you can’t use that for this. Enjoy the trip!

  50. Megan says

    @ Lucky: Thanks Lucky! If I want to use your award booking service to book the business/first class and maximize the stopover/openjaw cities and lessen the fuel surcharges on this trip. Would you be able to do that? And also will you be working with me personally? Or is it someone else? I prefer you because I am more comfortable and trust you on this.

  51. lucky says

    @ Megan — Yes, we could certainly help with maximizing it, though it sounds like you’re on the right track, so I’m not sure how much value we could necessarily add. I’m not really in a position to take on any more clients personally, though one of my excellent colleagues would be more than happy to help.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  52. Megan says

    @ Lucky: I see, thank you. By the way, from HKG, I am thinking of going to several cities in China like Shanghai and Beijing, then come back to HKG for my return flight to SFO. What airline is the best to travel around to the cities in China (Shanghai/Beijing) from HKG? And what mileage program should I use for this?
    How to search for Iberia award availability? Is it by using AA website and call US Air representative to book? Please correct me if I’m wrong. Will there be phone booking fee for this?

  53. lucky says

    @ Megan — You can search Iberia award availability through the British Airways website or through ExpertFlyer. You will have to book by phone with the airline with which you have miles. Generally intra-China you’re often best off just booking paid tickets, given how inexpensive they are.

  54. Abhi says

    Hi Lucky
    I tried to book a lufthansa first on united website from AMS to BOM via munich.
    Going through it gave error one or more of the flights were not available
    On calling the agent said that the one from AMS to munich was gone.
    So I just booked Munich to BOM for 60K FC.
    Coming back to my PC I saw AMS to munich still available, called back.
    The agent said we have to go to the .com dept as I don’t know how to do this.

    The .com agent guided me through how to add on the AMS to munich flight. Same error one or more flights not available. After some persuasion of me being cheated she offered BC for 48k from AMS to BOM via munich. On asking the iterenary I saw the flight from munich to BOM was the same I alread have FC on. On asking her the logic of why she cant add on the AMS to munch , put me on hold for 10 mins, Came back and said looks like we’ll be able to that, let me check any difference taxes …. still waiting ….
    been about 10 mins now ….
    Any suggestions if she comes back with a no … ?

  55. lucky says

    @ Abhi — It could be that it’s phantom award space. Have you tried using the ANA website to see if they also show the award space? If not, it’s probably not actually available.

  56. Abhi says

    Looks at the moment she came through.
    The record locator shows AMS-MUC (yes I now know 3 letter code :)) BC
    and MUC – BOM on FC.

    Hope it sticks that way. Some emotional lament got me through this time although I understand if there was nothing she could do, there was nothing she could do.

    BTW I had FC booked all the way on BA from AMS-BOM thru LHR. Reason for change is through a small crack in UK transit laws they could have kept me at airport for some time, and I am talking a really fine crack so didn’t want to be stuck.

    Next question :) (I know I ask too much, but thanks for being so awesome).
    I arrive Munich at 10:20 AM anddepart 11:40, guess no time to check out any lounge. but if I do then which one?

  57. dan ray says

    Hi Lucky,
    Need your advice on timing. I am arriving in Sydney on Japan Airlines First class at 7:20AM. I want to book a separate flight SYD to MEL to go on once I arrive. Do you think an 8:45AM on Quantus would be cutting it to close? Probably will have checked baggage I would have to claim. Do they have some sort of Global Entry?

  58. lucky says

    @ Abhi — 80 minutes should be plenty of time to check out the Lufthansa First Class Lounge. There’s only one. Enjoy!

  59. lucky says

    @ dan ray — If possible I would plan for a slightly longer layover. I’d leave at least two hours to be on the safe side. Given how frequent service is between Sydney and Melbourne, I assume that won’t be an issue.

  60. RB says

    Hey Ben

    I have a somewhat complex booking that comprises of revenue fare on Oneworld and award fare on Star Alliance (same trip). Given your experience with intricate itineraries and gate agents, you might be able to comment on it… I have DEL-VIE-LHR (OS) on award and then going from LHR-ORD (BA) on revenue fare.

    - I only have 3.5hr layover at LHR. If my DEL-VIE flight gets delayed, do I get hosed on the connection with BA? I am OneWorld Sapphire and will be flying Business cabin (if that helps a bad situation).
    -If I check bags, will *A, check them through or will I need collect them @LHR and go through immigration hassle?

    Any thoughts?

  61. lucky says

    @ RB — If your flight on a different alliance on a separate ticket is delayed you’ll be at their mercy. They may be willing to accommodate you on the next available flight for no cost, but they’re not required to. You should be able to interline the bags, as far as I know.

  62. John says

    Hey Lucky,
    Maybe I am imagining things but I seem to remember reading somewhere that when flying on CX on intra-asia flights operated by aircraft equipped with first class but where it is not sold, elite members could be seated in them but treated to a business class service. Am I imagining things or is this really a thing?

  63. lucky says

    @ John — It was indeed on some routes. For example, Hong Kong to Bali used to be operated by a 747, but they wouldn’t sell first class. The issue is that there are very few routes where they still do this — I can’t actually think of any, as they usually just sell first class on routes with a first class cabin.

  64. Jack Buck says

    Hi, Ben

    When you book a ticket with British Airways, do you get tier points for Point A to Point C, or do you get tier points for each segment. For example, lets say I book a ticket from ORD to LHR, but it connects in JFK. DO you get tier points for ORD to JFK, and then another set a tier points for JFK to LHR, or do they not count the connection?

  65. Abhi says

    Hi Lucky,
    Since I am flying into MUC on biz class I am guessing I won’t have access to FC terminal?
    Is FC lounge located on terminal 2?
    Abhi

  66. CPS says

    Hey Lucky – great blog. If you absolutely HAD to speculatively transfer 100k UR points to either SQ or UA, which would you choose and why?

  67. Shanghai9 says

    Hi Lucky,

    Is it there still a 4-segment maximum on one-way United awards to South/North Asia? Also, is routing through the Middle East AND Europe feasible, provided it’s within the MPM? Thinking JFK-VIE-DXB-SIN-HKG. Thank you!

  68. Django says

    Lucky — as you seem to know all things travel/credit card related, I was wondering if you had any idea if that 100k bonus will come back on the AA credit card that was available earlier in the year?

    I currently have the Sapphire and Ink as well as the MileagePlus select card and the Amex Starwood (as you can see I follow your guidance closely!). I like all those cards a lot, and manage to get more than 1 mile/$ on virtually all my spend. But, with the changes in MileagePlus i’m increasingly getting sick of United. Moreover, with the US Airways Shuttle now part of AA I’m wondering if the AA card would be the best. Any advice on that? And, if I should get it, when is it likely to have the biggest sign up bonus?

    Thanks so much,
    Django

  69. lucky says

    @ Abhi — If you’re connecting same day to first class then you would have first class lounge access, but if not connecting same day to first class then you wouldn’t. Yes, it’s in the same terminal Lufthansa operates out of.

  70. lucky says

    @ CPS — Definitely Singapore, because you can’t beat their high end redemption of US to Asia in Suites Class, in my opinion. That’s if it were me…

  71. lucky says

    @ Shanghai9 — The four segment maximum is still in place, as far as I know. With the way United prices awards nowadays, it’s tough to say for sure whether they’d allow you to route through the Middle East and Europe. I would speculate they wouldn’t.

  72. lucky says

    @ Django — It’s anyone’s guess. Unfortunately I would lean towards no — I don’t think it will return, at least not anytime soon. I think they offered it around the same time when American Express Platinum no longer got you Admirals Club access for a reason.

    If you do want to earn American miles, your best bet is to stick to spend on the Starwood Card, as you’re essentially earning 1.25 American miles per dollar (if transferring points in 20,000 point increments). The best sign-up bonus for earning American miles right now is the Citi Platinum MasterCard, which offers a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus with no annual fee the first year. If you want to redeem miles for the US Airways Shuttle, you can’t beat British Airways Avios, since it’s just 4,500 Avios one-way. There’s a nice 50,000 point sign-up bonus on that card right now.

    Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

  73. Robertm6 says

    @Lucky do you know when the HOU-SVG route will be released by using award space? Would be really curious to see a trip report, really liked the Newark-DUS and hope to see another one

  74. lucky says

    @ Robertm6 — I’ve been monitoring closely as well and am curious. Haven’t seen any space, and not sure if they’ll ever release it. Certainly odd.

  75. AJ says

    Hi Lucky,

    Nothing to ask this time but to share. I had a friend who recently lost his job and wanted to travel cheaply. So using what i’ve learnt on your blog, I asked him to get the chase sapphire card to accrue more points and also “unleash” his 80k chase freedom points for travel. He got a new job yesterday and wanted to travel last minute to Octoberfest with some friends who were already going and by using all that I learnt from this blog, i was able to help get him on a place to Munich today using those points. Thank you soo much for this wonderful blog that has helped me, my family and friends make some memorable trips happen. Now all i need to find is a blog called, “one stock/bond at a time” and i think I’m set for life.

    Cheers :-)
    AJ

  76. Lea says

    I’ve got Global Entry and ever since I added it to my FF accounts I get PreCheck on domestic flights every time. Twice this year I’ve flown internationally and the return leg was on a non-US carrier. Now I know the majority of int’l carriers can’t do the PreCheck thing for my connections, but since both of these tickets were paid for with miles from US-based carriers (US & UA) I would have thought that my connecting domestic flights would have PreCheck. On my last trip after I cleared Customs I even went to the counter and had UA reprint my domestic boarding pass but no love there (I couldn’t even access a boarding pass at all on the UA website/app).

    Is this the normal procedure? It actually wasn’t a big deal on Wednesday because we were the only int’l flight arriving at that time but it was a pain earlier this year when I had to wait in line because I had no PreCheck.

  77. Ted says

    Lucky,

    Currently buzzing with excitement because I just snagged two CW awards on the a380 LAX-LHR. It seems I got them just as they released them, so I am so glad I got then. I called the BA center in Singapore (per your recommendation) and rescheduled (shed-jewl) it. However, now I am excited to see if we could go farther. Is it possible to upgrade an avios ticket with cash? In any way?

    Thanks,

    Ted

  78. Abhi says

    Hi lucky
    Flying ams-muc bc
    Muc-bom fc with Lufthansa

    Weird the checkin agent said u have been assigned lounge 26. Assigned?
    And the lounge is worse than a few admirals clubs I have visited in dfw

    Is that normal?

  79. Norman says

    Hi Lucky,

    Any ideas why I can see CX spaces on both CX&BA website but USDM agents can’t find them in their system?

  80. William says

    Hey Lucky, I just got off the phone with an AA gold desk agent after booking my first F ticket on CX and was told I had to pay a $35 booking fee for doing so over the phone on top of the roughly $65 taxes and fees. I explained that CX wasn’t visible on the site and asked if it could be waived and she said they as well as all other partners were visible online when searching for space. I then literally listed all the airlines that are actually visible when searching and she said CX was still included. I had another agent tell me this as well before and tried calling again but I ended up biting the bullet and paying it because it’s so small compared to the price of the ticket but was I in the right or wrong?

  81. Jamie says

    Lucky,

    Any quick ideas on best way to get from Pacific Northwest (Portland, Seattle, Vancouver) to Antalya, Turkey ideally in business class. The only trouble is it has to be with AAdvantage miles.

    Jamie

  82. Kevin Schenk says

    I would recommend you go SEA-AYT via LHR you can try book LHR-AYT on BA, they have seasonal flights from December-February and May- September

  83. lucky says

    @ AJ — That makes my day, thanks so much for the kind words. And great job exposing your friend to our world. Have a great weekend!

  84. lucky says

    @ Lea — Unfortunately my experience has been the same. If the overwater segment is on a carrier not participating in the program, then usually the domestic segment doesn’t get it either.

  85. lucky says

    @ Ted — Unfortunately not. If first class opens up for awards you could switch to, but otherwise there’s no way to upgrade. Enjoy the trip!

  86. lucky says

    @ William — American does charge the phone ticketing fee regardless of whether the ticket is bookable online or not. So while the agent was incorrect to say all partners are visible online, she was correct to charge the fee.

  87. lucky says

    @ Jamie — That is a bit limiting with AAdvantage miles. In general you’re best off booking on Iberia through Chicago or Los Angeles, or on airberlin out of Chicago or New York. Tough places to get to/from using American miles, though.

    Good luck!

  88. HSB2123 says

    Hi Lucky – Credit card usage question. I’ve come across this helpful post from January http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/01/13/manage-credit-cards/ however my situation is a bit different since I have the AMEX Business Rewards Gold which does not provide 2X on Groceries. We also have the SPG Amex but are considering canceling it – and that’s my question would you cancel it?. We do not stay in SPG hotels enough to be able to get higher SPG elite status than what the card provides. So it worth keeping just for non-dining, travel, gas, office supply purchases?
    Thanks!

  89. lucky says

    @ HSB2123 — How much non-bonused spend would you say you put on the card? If it’s only a few thousand dollars a year then it’s probably not worth keeping. However, if you’re spending a ton on non-bonused spend then it very well could be worth keeping.

  90. Norman says

    Hi Lucky,

    I have a MPC account and was able to find two spaces, however the BA site only display one and I called USDM twice, none of the agents was able to find any space available. Does that imply CX release more space to its own program or is it anything wrong with USDM’s end?

  91. Kyle says

    Hey Lucky -

    Trying to book SFO-PVG-CTU (MU)
    Then return SFO-PVG-NRT (MU) Stopover, NRT-ICN-LAX-SFO (KE, KE, DL)
    All in J class.

    Confirmed availability for each flight separately and called DL. She saw the same availability, priced it all out and it came to 190,000 pesos instead of 140,000. Any thoughts on why this could be?

    Agent hypothesized that it was because China Eastern space was only available at Standard, not saver, rates so I was getting charged 70,000 + 120,000 = 190,000. (But I thought that all Skyteam space was at Saver rates).

    Another possibility is that because I have five flights (or exceed MPM) on the return it’s treating it as a 140,000 North Asia roundtrip (SFO-PVG-CTU, NRT-ICN-LAX-SFO) with an additional 50,000 for flying J from CTU-PVG-NRT. To avoid this, I then asked her to take the LAX-SFO connection off the end and re-price and it came to 330,000 miles (this makes the return 4 segments and CTU-PVG-NRT-ICN-LAX is under MPM + 5). Any thoughts?

  92. Jerry says

    Hi Lucky!

    I am looking to book a RTW ticket for late 2015, and upon my hours of searching a big question is looming. Should I wait a few years and save up credit card points or buy a revenue ticket? Star Alliance RTW planner shows my business class seat cost would be ~13k$.

    My routing is SFO-IAD-DXB-SYD-AKL-SIN-ICN-HKG-TPE-SFO on UA, SQ, EVA, and Air New Zealand.

    Which is more economical? Either solution will require at least a year of saving.

    Thanks,

    Jerry

  93. Traveler says

    “Abhi says
    September 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm
    Hi Lucky,
    How do you navigate the spaghetti monster that the train ticket selling system has become in europe.”

    Hey Abhi- There is great info from the man in seat 61 about train travel. See http://www.seat61.com/

  94. lovenola says

    Ben,

    I met you earlier this month on the AA flight to HKG. You mentioned a decent hotel close to TPE that’s good for transit purposes. Could you tell me the name of the hotel again?
    Thanks,
    Tom

  95. Brian says

    Hi Lucky

    A couple of complete novice questions for you

    I’m going to Las Vegas from Sydney at the end of October returning after a couple of weeks. I can afford a premium economy flight. I’m currently weighing the relative merits of Virgin versus Qantas. Do you have any opinion on best airline in this price range? I’ve read Qantas are superior, but Virgin have a better connection set-up in LAX. No idea about the american ones.

    I have no credit cards accumulating points (oh no!) at all. I’d be interested to hear if there are any good offers, available in Australian market, that you’d recommend to optimise this trip.

    Any assistance much appreciated

  96. lucky says

    @ Norman — Cathay does release more space to their own members than to members of other programs, so it could be that it’s available to Marco Polo members but not members of partner programs.

  97. lucky says

    @ Kyle — Return is CTU-PVG-NRT-ICN-LAX-SFO? Issue is probably with the return because of the number of the segments and MPM. So I’m guessing it’s pricing it as 140,000 to North Asia and then an extra intra-Asia award. I would recommend pricing it as SFO-PVG-CTU, NRT-ICN-LAX-SFO, and see if that prices. Then you can go from there. Unfortunately might not be bookable, though.

  98. lucky says

    @ Jerry — It all depends. In general I would say it’s a much better value to redeem miles, since $13K is a lot. But without knowing your financial situation it’s tough to say which I’d recommend. It will certainly be much more of a pain to book an award ticket than a paid ticket, so not sure how much you value the convenience of that.

  99. lucky says

    @ Brian — In your shoes I would consider buying miles through one of the current promotions that’s available through the end of the month:

    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/09/02/lifemiles-100-bonus-purchased-miles-september-30-2014/
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/09/26/last-chance-buy-us-airways-miles-current-price/

    Booking business class will end up costing you less than a premium economy ticket, and obviously be a much better experience.

  100. RRR says

    Hello How are you doing ?

    i have question could you tell me about Avianca

    i want to buy life miles buy mile 2×1 promotion but i couldnt get it

    i asked my credit company hows going on my credit then they said you have the balance you can use card

    i asked life mile they say cant use your cad.

    why?

    why i cant use my card? i was try another visa card same as can not used

    my credit issue by japan thats why?

    do you have some idea?

    i didnt try AMEX

    Do you know why i cant use my VISA credit card?

  101. lucky says

    @ RRR — When did you sign up for the LifeMiles program? You have to be a member since the beginning of the promotion in order to qualify.

  102. RRR says

    Hi

    i know this information

    i was join about 6 manth ago

    my life miles account is fine and credit card is fine !

    But why i cant but??

  103. lucky says

    @ RRR — Very strange, no clue. I would suggest calling LifeMiles and asking. Don’t have an explanation, unfortunately.

  104. Hitesh says

    @RRR: I would suggest posting on the relevant forum on Flyertalk…you will probably get a larger audience, increasing your chances of finding someone who might have had a similar issue.

  105. Ben says

    Hi Lucky
    Big fan of your blog and read it everyday!
    I have a complex Star Alliance award booking booked through US Airways last December. The trip is in 4 weeks. Recently I received an email from US saying that there had been a slight (5 minute) change to a UA flight in that itinerary and that I should call them to confirm it was okay. At the same time this flight disappeared from checkmytrip.com (the rest of the itinerary is there as booked).
    The problem is this is a extremely creative routing that I was very lucky to book and anyone with a vague knowledge of geography would look at the booking and instantly realise it breaks various USDM rules. I have contacted UA and they have confirmed everything is 100% confirmed with them and they have the same 10 digit ticket number I was originally given by US when booking.
    I’m very worried that if I call US to have the change ‘confirmed’ and get a cluey agent they’ll notice the number of flights and miles and send it off to a supervisor/rates desk who will cancel it. I’m also worried that despite UA confirming everything is fine I will get to check in and they’ll say ‘there’s a problem with your booking – you need to call US’.
    What would you suggest? Normally I’d be happy to call US but I dont want them to risk cancelling my booking if I dont actually need to contact them.
    Hoping you can help?!
    Thanks
    Ben

  106. avi says

    Hi Lucky: Forgive my ignorance. What partners would you suggest using AA miles to get from NYC to India in premium cabin without routing through LHR (fees)? Does AA still not allow routing through Asia?

    I’m over a year out so i can’t begin my search yet, but i’ll be looking for 3 seats which makes this tougher.

    Thanks in advance for any insight.

  107. john sun says

    Hey Lucky, I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now – so good job on that. I have recently booked a trip on Aeroplan points from London to Asia, with stop-overs in First and Business class. Similar to some of your previous “extravaganza” trips.

    I want to ask you one thing, given the complexity of some of these trips and numerous connecting points, what if you miss a flight due to delay or cancellations? wouldn’t your whole trip get ruined? Aeroplan states that they hold no liability for any delays or cancellations. Not very helpful there, as my whole trip is dependant on these airlines delivering what was promised. If unforeseeable events happen (which they often do), shouldn’t someone help out an aeroplan passenger to look for alternative flights (in similar class) or comp refunds?

    Not sure if this ever happened to you or crossed your mind when you were planning many of your super hopper trips.

  108. lucky says

    @ john sun — Yes, ultimately if you misconnect or miss a flight due to a delay then you can work with the airline operating the flight and/or Aeroplan to rebook you on another routing. They definitely won’t just say “tough luck,” assuming it was within the airline’s control.

  109. lucky says

    @ avi — Etihad and Qatar would be the best options for travel to India, and both frequently release three seats. You still can’t route through Asia 1/2 to India on a single award.

  110. lucky says

    @ Ben — First of all, they can’t cancel a ticket which has already been issued. They can prohibit you from making changes in the future, but that’s it. With US Airways some segments are definitely not showing on the records online anymore after any sort of changes. I wouldn’t be worried, personally. I would assume it’s just the website being dumb. I’d maybe hold off a bit, and then closer to departure call US Airways and just confirm the segment shows as holding confirmed on their end as well. But even if you call now, it shouldn’t be an issue — they can’t cancel your ticket.

    Enjoy the trip!

  111. Chris says

    Hey lucky I have a question about Tokyo? If we fly on Thai first class and arrive at HND at 9pm and leave NRT the next morning at 10am on ANA first headed for the states, what would you do that night? Where would you stay that is close to airport? Or is there a hotel connected to the terminal?
    Thanks again for answering all the question for all of us.

  112. lucky says

    @ Chris — That’s a toughie, since the airports are pretty far apart. If it were me, I’d probably just go to Narita that night and then spend the night at the Hilton or another airport hotel, so that you can sleep in and not get up too early. Enjoy the trip!

  113. Abhi says

    Hi Lucky,
    Just wanted to share my experience with my first award flight since I give you most of the credit to getting me started and guiding me through your blong in general and this page for any specific questions I had.
    Booked BC AMS-MUC and FC MUC-BOM.
    Ground exp at AMS – underwhelming but understandable since it’s a contracted lounge.
    BC from AMS-MUC – Just a glorified coach with extra leg room and some food. But understandable since what I have read of intra-europe BC I wasn’t expecting much at all.

    Ground MUC – Couldn’t find FC lounge so asked the luft agent on a senetor lounge gate for directions, She told me to go through passport control and then downstairs through left. Arrived at passport control, they had a line for BC tickets (no special line for FC) , so I made it through after a while.
    Arrived at lounge, they said we have a passport control of our own so please submit the passport.
    And I was like then why make me go through the other one. Reply was we are sorry someone should have been there and should have brought you here without having to through passport control. So I proded further: this is my first time flying luft FC should someone not have driven me here from the plane. Reply came no sir we do not drive anyone from AMS flight since it’s such a short one (well they did drive someone sitting right behind me to this very FC lounge). Anyways, got checked in and since I was throughly tired asked if I could be driven to plane, No. Can you get me a cart to drive me to gate. No sir we don’t have carts at the moment (while walking to the gate I counted at least 9 carts sitting around). Food spread was quite good, though I didn’t have much time to sample.
    Walking from the lounge to the gate I was pondering if it’s even worth it to collect any points or miles for this, because up until now it’s only been a little glorified coach exp, A little more leg room, a couple of free drinks at the lounge and free breakfast. Not worth it at all.
    FC MUC-BOM onboard: Blew away my mind. The service was awesome, the crew friendly, the food awesome. I had never had such royal treatment aboard a plane before :). Never had to ring a crew to the seat as they were always around to fill up the glass, or take away empty plates. They were just great!
    BOM ground: again underwhelming. From what I had heard they assign you an escort to guide you out of immigration and collect your checked in bags and get you thorugh customs. No such thing, Finished custom on my own, waited for checked bags at the regular belt on my own.

    But for all my grimes and complaints (maybe I was expecting too much of the ground service I don’t know) the flight from MUC to BOM blew away my mind.

    Thanks
    Abhi

  114. lucky says

    @ Abhi — Happy you enjoyed the flight, at least! In Munich they pick you up at your plane and drive you to your connecting flight if you leave from a remote stand. Otherwise you do have to walk. Sounds like the wrong information you got put a damper on things. The great thing about the FCL is that you can clear passport control in it, so it sounds like that would have saved you a lot of time.

    Surprised there wasn’t an arrivals service, they should have had someone meeting the flight.

  115. HSB2123 says

    Thanks for your input! So if you had AMEX Business Rewards Gold, Chase Sapphire, Chase Ink Plus, and SPG AMEX, assuming you had significant non-bonus spend, you would put all that non-bonus spending on the SPG card, because of mileage transfer bonus and value of SPG points for hotel stays?

  116. lucky says

    @ HSB2123 — Yep, on a per point basis I find Starpoints to be most valuable, so that’s where I’d be putting non-bonused spend.

  117. Jamie says

    Lucky, in your experience does Alaska usually let you “create your own” itinerary with them for award travel by calling in and giving flights you’d like? Or will they give you the more expensive price by miles if you do this? We have a complicated route (LIR to MFR) so it’d be helpful to make my own itinerary so we don’t have 3 layovers!

  118. Naveen says

    Hi Lucky,

    Cathay is releasing at least 4 first class awards on its HKG-BOS flights next Aug/September every Monday.Sample dates are Aug 31, Sep 7,14,21.

    I was able to book the awards for Aug 24th using AA miles.

    Naveen

  119. Jason says

    Hey Ben- my company is paying for a trip to London and since it will be last minute the fare will be in Y or B (client won’t let us charge through business class). What is the best way to go about getting an upgrade to from full fare economy to business class using miles? I have a lot of AA, UA, BA and US Air miles but no status on any of the airlines. SFO-LHR seems to be a popular route so I don’t mind a stopover if that means I’ll be more comfortable in business.

    Thanks!

  120. Aaron says

    Lucky,

    I received an application for the travelite credit card today. Couldn’t find much info on it, so I figured I’d head to the source. Your blog. Triple points on airfare & hotel, 1.5 points on everything else. $99 annual fee offset by the $100 airline incidentals credit. No information on what the points can be spent on. Any chance you’re in the know? http://www.travelitecard.com

  121. lucky says

    @ Naveen — Interesting, thanks for the heads up. Where are you searching for space, as I’m not seeing it?

  122. lucky says

    @ Jason — Which airline will you be flying? From a full fare ticket it’s fairly practical to upgrade on most airlines. And do you have status with the airline you’d be flying?

  123. lucky says

    @ Aaron — Interesting. I’ve never heard of it and can’t seem to find anything about it online. If I managed to figure anything out I’ll be sure to post about it. Generally I wouldn’t apply for a card without knowing what the points can be redeemed for, obviously.

  124. Brian says

    question..booked a oneworld award flight a few months ago through US for CLT-PHL-DOH-MLE, MLE-CMB-DOH-PHL-CLT return. Most segments on QR. Question is the PHL to DOH leg schedule got changed by QR to where my layover now states less than 45 min making it illegal leg. However after doing lots of research, both the airport and QR site show flight status everyday as different and legal. Any help is much appreciated. PHL-DOH is 10:15 am – 6:50 am next day arrival, DOH-MLE is 7:15 am. Hamad airport site shows daily schedule of 10:15 departure, 5:55 am arrival which is legal. Last 6 days flight has arrived with more than 45 mins. Will QR cancel my leg or can we just go for it. travel is in Nov.

  125. Sam says

    Lucky, can you please recommend the best CHIP AND PIN credit card for US travelers going to europe? I tried many credit cards in train machine kiosks, and all asked for a PIN. Painful!

  126. Sam says

    Lucky, could you recommend the best CHIP and PIN credit card for use in europe for kiosks, restaurants, etc? Thanks.

  127. lucky says

    @ Sam — In terms of Chip & PIN cards, it’s tough to beat the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, which offers no foreign transaction fees and a return of ~2.22%. I’d definitely go with it.

  128. lucky says

    @ Brian — Does your itinerary show a schedule change? If it’s not legal, chances are that you’ll have to rebook. That being said, if you just let it be, they may never contact you and you may be able to go for it. Just be prepared to be booked on the next available flight if you don’t make it.

  129. Ted says

    Hey Lucky,

    Question about my upcoming LAX-LHR-FCO trip. I am booked in CW on BA from LAX-LHR, but just realized my intra-Europe flight is in coach… I have a 4 hour layover in Heathrow. In your experience, is it possible to use an airport lounge after a premium cabin flight before a coach flight or not? I would hate to have to sit in a Heathrow gate are for that long.

    Thanks!

  130. Brian says

    @ Lucky – US site is asking to accept the change, but haven’t done that yet for fear it will cancel everything. We have not been contacted, just can see online the change. We still think its an error on QR end as they moved the flight earlier but the arrival later. So doesn’t make sense. We are booked the whole trip in Business/First, and can’t find a flight to rebook to. So we r SOL if it gets canceled, but know we can make it if they don’t cancel the ticket for the DOH-MLE leg.

  131. marcus says

    Thanks for sharing all your knowledge. I have a few questions. The general wisdom is to not collect points but rather ear and burn. I wonder why do you not collect points if you do plan on traveling for the foreseeable future? Yes, of course devaluation in award charts will occur but surely then you would need more miles to hit an award? Unless of course award requirements become ludicrous…(and there are tail risks I suppose like loss of interest on dollars spent on buying miles, dying etc!)

    Separate question. I think I recall reading that on the SIN SFO flight on SQ in Suites they give pajamas only after ICN. On the LAX SIN flight do they give pajamas before take off?

    Final question. Whats the simplest and least expensive way to keep Lufthansa mileage from expiring?. Thanks

  132. Owen Pollock says

    Hi Lucky,

    I’m trying to get the Southwest Companion Pass. I applied for the Business and Personal Cards in my name and met the minimum spend requirements (I didn’t have a Rapid Rewards account so I must have asked them to create an account for me). However, when I called Southwest, they told me I now have two Rapid Rewards accounts, each with 52,000 points. The CSR told me that I can’t combine the two accounts and that I won’t qualify until I get 110,000 in one account. I was planning to put the remaining $6,000 in spend on the two cards but now I’m not sure if that will help me get the pass. What should I do?

  133. Abhi says

    Hi Lucky,
    Just trying to get the right info about lufthansa FC so as not to set wrong expectations next time :).
    You mentioned:
    1. “The great thing about the FCL is that you can clear passport control in it, so it sounds like that would have saved you a lot of time.”
    But is there a way to get to FCL without going through passport control unless they pick you up/provide someone to escort you to FCL?
    2. “In Munich they pick you up at your plane and drive you to your connecting flight if you leave from a remote stand. Otherwise you do have to walk. Sounds like the wrong information you got put a damper on things.”
    From what I understand here they pick me up regardless and drive me to FCL and only drive me to plane if I leave from a remote stand. Not sure if what I understood is correct please clarify.

    Thanks
    Abhi

  134. lucky says

    @ Abhi —

    1) Yes, there’s an entrance to the FCL on both the Schengen and non-Schengen levels of the airport, so you should be able to enter through either.
    2) No, you only get picked up from your connecting plane if you’re arriving at a remote stand. Otherwise you have to make your own way to the FCL.

  135. lucky says

    @ Owen Pollock — Ouch, that’s unfortunate. I would hang up and call again — I have to imagine that they should be able to merger Rapid Rewards accounts when two were created in error.

  136. lucky says

    @ marcus — Well if you’re acquiring points at a low cost it can make sense to still collect them, but just expect awards to go up in price by 100% or so every several years (though our buying power also increases every year). If you’re fine with that, then you absolutely should continue to collect points.

    On LAX-NRT-SIN you should get pajamas on both segments.

    Lufthansa miles expire after 36 months, so there’s no activity that would extend those, unless you have their credit card and make a purchase every so often.

  137. lucky says

    @ Jeremy — That’s correct. Agree it should be Middle East/India, but ultimately works out in our favor for the most part.

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