The 4 Airlines With The Best Award Ticket Change Policies


Airlines are releasing fewer premium cabin award seats in advance than in the past, so we’re having to work harder for those “premium” award seats.

As a result, I think a good strategy to take towards booking awards is to lock in something you’d ultimately be happy with as early as possible, and then as the departure date approaches you can monitor for better options.

For example, in the past I’ve often suggested locking in Cathay Pacific business class award seats as early as you can, and then closer to departure “upgrading” to first class, given that Cathay Pacific seems to at most make one first class award seat available in advance nowadays.

The problem with tweaking itineraries as the departure date approaches is that it can get costly. In some cases, very costly.

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No More Last Minute Cathay Pacific First Class Awards?


Cathay Pacific offers one of my all around favorite first class products. While I don’t necessarily think they’re the very best in any one area, their first class product is very well rounded — it has a great seat, fantastic bed, good food and entertainment, and generally excellent service (though there are exceptions).

The other great thing is that it’s one of the best uses of American AAdvantage miles. American charges just 67,500 miles for one-way Cathay Pacific first class between the US and Asia, and Alaska has similarly good prices.

Back in the day Cathay Pacific would consistently make two first class award seats available when the schedule opened. Nowadays you’ll generally at most see one first class award seat per flight when the schedule opens, if you’re lucky.

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Best Cashback Amex Card?


Reader Robert asked the following question in the “Ask Lucky” forum:

“I am looking for a cash back card. As I understand it I can use the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card to give me statement credit. This would give me an additional 50% bonus (over 30 transactions). Are the points given as a statement credit the same value as the cash back on the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express? In other words, when used for statement credit is it 1 point per $1?”

What makes this question interesting to me is that Robert takes a completely different approach towards credit cards than I do.

What I’m trying to get out of credit card spend are miles & points I can redeem towards travel (in particular aspirational travel), as opposed to cash back. Though understandably everyone is looking to be rewarded in different ways.

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My London Hotel Conundrum (And What I Ended Up Booking)


Yesterday Tiffany wrote an excellent post about redeeming hotel points in London. The timing was especially useful for me, because I’ve been trying to decide which hotel to book for my trip to London over Thanksgiving, which I booked thanks to the great British Airways business class fare sale.

While I’ve transited London more times than I can count, Tiffany has actually visited the city exponentially more times than I have, so I went to her for advice when it came time to book. I figured I’d walk through my thought process, as someone who over analyzes everything when it comes to using miles & points.

As a points addict, there are some cities in the world which drive me crazy when it comes to hotels. In 2013 I wrote a post entitled “Is Singapore The Most Frustrating Hotel Market For The Points Obsessed?”

In general, what frustrates me most in hotel markets is when there’s not a clear “best” value. In other words, when hotels are expensive without any “stand out” options, but the points requirements are high as well, and you just become indecisive. To be clear, there are some markets where I don’t really struggle, despite the fact that they’re quite pricey:

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London Hotels On Points


Thanks in part to the fabulous British Airways sales of last week, hotels in London have been a hot topic around here. Ben has been deliberating options for his Thanksgiving trip (and I’m sure he’ll have a post on that process at some point), and it’s been a big topic of conversation over on the Ask Lucky forum as well.

I love London, and it’s one of my favorite cities to spend time in, but the hotel market (especially when using points) can be absolutely maddening. There are a ton of options, but there aren’t really any standouts (especially when using points). Which can definitely work to your advantage, as you have many more redemption opportunities, but I’m not going to lie — there isn’t a no-brainer perfect option.

I will say that London is a great city for independent hotels, boutique properties, B&B’s, and even airbnb’s. However, this is a miles and points site, so let’s focus on those options for now. 😉

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Getting Creative When Award Space Isn’t Available


If you haven’t had a chance to read Tiffany’s post about booking award flights to Hawaii, stop reading this and click the link.

It’s not only an excellent compilation of award options to Hawaii, it’s also an important lesson that is often overlooked when it comes to collecting miles and points.

Your points are only worth something if you’re able to redeem them. And being creative and flexible will help maximize the value you receive.

As Tiffany’s post shows, fixed dates, multiple tickets and traveling to a high demand destination all make life a lot harder when looking for award space.

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Best Chance Of Upgrading American Flight To London?


Reader Coloradomom asked the following question in the “Ask Lucky” forum:

“I recently made AA EXP status and now have systemwide upgrades to use. I’d like to book an economy ticket to London for the middle of November and wondered which gateway would offer the best chance of an upgrade clearing. The AA system shows that confirmed upgrades are not available on any of the flights I researched, but I could waitlist for my chosen flight. I know DFW is difficult for systemwide upgrades because of all the EXP’s flying out of there. How about CLT or PHL? AA flies the 333 to LHR from both of those airports and that would be a nice upgrade. I live close to ORD, but am not sure what kind of business product runs out of ORD to LHR. Any advice you, Ben, or your readers can give this new EXP would be greatly appreciated!”

One of my favorite perks of being an Executive Platinum member are the eight systemwide upgrades you receive for achieving the status each year (and if you over-qualify, you may receive even more). They can be used to upgrade any revenue ticket by one class of service, pending upgrade space.

Up until now I’ve yet to ever miss an international upgrade, though it looks like my luck might soon change.

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Where Should You Credit British Airways Business Class Fares?


Yesterday was a very exciting day in our corner of the internet, with the fantastic (and less-expensive than expected) business class fares to Europe. I booked a trip in January, Ben booked something for Thanksgiving, and based on the comments it sounds like many of you were able to take advantage as well.

Several people have asked where they should credit these fares. The answer varies a bit based on whether or not you have elite status, so I figured I’d go through what I consider to be the best options.

To keep things simple, let’s just assume that everyone is flying between London and Los Angeles. That’s about 11,000 flown miles round-trip, so it will keep our math nice and easy.

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What Are Inaugural Flights Like?


Reader Deepak asked the following in the “Ask Lucky” forum, regarding taking inaugural flights:

“On my way back from India, I am thinking of changing my routing a bit (a little extra in terms of $) to be on the QR Inaugural flight from Doha to LA (my itinerary is in business) on Jan 1. Any body else has any experience taking such flights? Is it worth the extra effort? BTW, this was a suggestion from my 15 year old daughter – an AVID Lucky follower on OMAAT. Thanks”

First of all, kudos to your daughter, she seems pretty awesome!

While I’m a miles & points geek, I’d say I’m probably even more of an aviation geek. I love planes, and over the years have gone out of my way to get on many inaugural flights as possible.

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Redeeming Miles To Hawaii Can Be Tough


Reader CLH posted on the Ask Lucky forum asking for help planning a trip to Hawaii. The full conversation is rather lengthy, but here are the relevant excerpts:

“…I am trying to book DFW-LIH for next summer – exact dates July 20-30 (or 18-28 or 19-29). BA website ALWAYS tells me there is no availability for any dates around what I have selected (not just for this proposed trip but every time I search). I actually called BA directly because I thought there was a glitch in the system and surely there must be some availability somehow somewhere. But they said, nope, the website is correct and there is no availability because they can only access a couple of AA reward seats and the only way to get those seats is to watch constantly and book as soon as I see them appear. This just made me wonder about the potential to use Avios on any partner airline.

I checked other airlines and found availability on United/American/Delta/Virgin, but I could see no way to piece together a first/biz class honeymoon trip for my sister & her fiancé. I have pretty much resigned myself to getting the Delta economy seats for them, but thought I might check here to see if there’s something I’m overlooking. I feel like I must be doing something wrong in not being able to use 450k+ points to buy 2 tickets.

What am I doing wrong here? Any advice is much appreciated.”

Award availability to Hawaii is generally disappointing, and I can absolutely relate to how frustrating it can be to redeem miles to Hawaii — especially the smaller islands.

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Deciding Which Miles To Use


Reader Uri posed a question in the “Ask Lucky” forum recently, wondering how to go about finding award space when one has lots of miles and points:

“So, it is clear that to check for award space, you need to do it one leg of the trip at a time.

But – with so many options near any large metro area, and so many airlines, how does a person who has (say) many points on (say) Chase Sapphire – search for award space?

Is there a single search engine, or do you need to log into both AAdvantage, British Airways, and so on?”

The direct answer to his question is that yes, you need to search space in each alliance separately. But it made me think about how we can decide which miles to use for our award tickets.

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When Should You Switch Seats On A Plane?

Typical domestic first class cabin. Nicer than the back, and free Bloody Marys, but... worth your miles?

Reader Abe emailed me an interesting question:

“Would you change seats if a husband wife duo requested you do so even if it inconvenienced you either by meal choice, or took away your aisle seat, and turned it into a widow in the back?”

I figured I’d answer it here, since I’m curious what you guys think.

With airlines holding back upgrade seats until the last minute nowadays, you see people trying to change seats all the time to sit with colleagues, loved ones, etc. So under what circumstances should you switch seats?

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