My Best Award Ticket Ever: Canceled

Filed Under: Awards, Travel

On Thursday I wrote a post entitled “Thinking Of Canceling My Best Award Ticket Ever.”

As I explained, back when US Airways first joined the oneworld alliance I booked an award on them from New York to Melbourne… via London and Dubai.


At 140,000 miles roundtrip in first class, I’d argue it’s my best award redemption ever, purely in terms of the number of hours spent in first class.

Qantas A380 first class

But there’s more to making redemptions enjoyable than just flying great first class products. Often it’s not about the airline or even necessarily about where you’re flying, but rather who you’re traveling with.

For the first time I can remember, I just wasn’t feeling excited about a trip. Traveling and flying are my life, so I wasn’t sure why, exactly. I’d love to explore Australia more in-depth, but I was also just exhausted and drained. The past two months of travel have possibly been the craziest of my life, as I don’t think I’ve ever been in so many time zones and taken so many 3AM flights as I have over that time period.

I asked you guys what you would do, and the feedback was fantastic. It ranged from “of course you should take the trip, stupid, it cost just 140,000 miles and you’ll never be able to do it again,” to “don’t do it, you’re burned out.”

After giving it some thought over the weekend, I came to a few conclusions:

  • While I was enjoying being at home with my parents, after a week at home I slowly felt like I was ready to get back in the air. I caught up on so much sleep the past week, which was awesome.
  • It was great to be able to spend time with my family. I hadn’t seen my parents for over six weeks, and I love them more than anything. And I realized I wasn’t necessarily excited about going to the other side of the globe for a month without them. I could tell they missed me as well, so I didn’t want to be apart for that long.

So what did I decide to do? My mom just recently retired, so finally has some free time after working way too much her whole life.

On Saturday night my mom was sitting on the couch and I said “mom, do you have anything important the next couple of weeks that you absolutely can’t miss?” “Not really,” she responded. “Okay… you want to go somewhere with me?” “Yes! Like… the beach?” “No, like… around the world?”

At first she looked at me a bit confused…


That confusion quickly turned into confusion mixed with intrigue and excitement…


And then eventually turned into outright excitement:


Now, she may have been just slightly influenced by my dad’s excitement about his round the world trip back in November. And while I doubt this will be quite as over the top since it’s not my mom’s birthday and I haven’t been planning this for a year, I’m still committed to making it awesome. And if anything, I think the spontaneity of it all is adding to my mom’s excitement.

So yeah, I can’t wait, largely just to see my mom’s excitement. I never thought I’d be so excited about canceling a six segment first class award redemption without fuel surcharges, but I’m feeling pretty good about it. On the plus side, there was a further schedule change on the itinerary (yes, on top of the original schedule change), so I was able to redeposit it for free, saving me the $150 redeposit fee.


Stay tuned, as I’ll have full details on what I have planned for my mom (it’s a work in progress!).

So, what do you guys think — right move, or am I crazy?

  1. I’m happy that you’re glad with your decision, I personally could see you going either way with it. I think the important part is that you know you made the right choice, wishing you best of luck on your trip in the making with your mom!

  2. Oh, I should then stop plans to legally change my name to use the ticket.

    Can’t wait to hear about the trip with Mom. Your parental trips are epic adventures. 😉

    Any more contests in the offing to “travel with Ben”? (Or was the Andrew B. experience just too crazy?)

  3. What matters most is that you’re happy with the decision! Given all the snow coming down here in nyc, your first flight has a good chance of being cancelled.
    Regardless, have fun with your mom and congrats to her retirement! I think you’re going to Harbin at some point next few weeks if I recall correctly. Have a blast!

  4. Great decision to cancel, Lucky. Taking a great trip with your Mom is a much better plan.

    Just remember, last time you traveled with her she had trouble walking long distances and was in lots of pain as a result. Try to make sure every airport, hotel, or places you visit don’t cause her to overdo it.

    As a below knee amputee, I have to constantly remind myself of this, and even then, I’ve overdone it a few times and really suffered as a result.

    Have a wonderful trip with your Mom!

  5. Think you did the right thing Lucky!

    Apologies for the random question but I had a question about AA Award routings…

    1) If I’m on a roundtrip ticket (Outbound: SFO-HND, Inbound: OKA-TYO-ORD-SFO), can I drop the domestic leg of the inbound ticket, or does it have to be the beginning of the outbound/end of the inbound? It’s on one itinerary rather than 2 one-ways so wasn’t sure.

    2) On the return from OKA-SFO (routing is OKA-HNDxNRT-SFO) can I even drop the OKA-HND domestic segment without penalty if the resulting mileage is more than 25% above the MPM of the resulting TYO-SFO, or will it still retain the MPM of OKA-SFO, which should permit a routing via ORD?

  6. @ AC — You can only drop the last segment of an itinerary, or else all other segments will be canceled.

  7. Dude, your writing a journal or travel blog? Not many care about omg I canceled my best tickets, give us something to really read about. Don’t take offense to it but your blogs were awesome since last year it’s going down the drain

  8. I enjoy hearing your personal thought process behind this decision. I am facing something similar. We are near the age of your parents and I sometimes find myself feeling guilty about not using a 23 hour layover or free stopover on an award ticket. Then I remember that all that extra flying, ground transportation and hotel moving can be really draining, so I usually just get us straight to our destination now. See you at FTU in San Diego.

  9. Flying first class is just like sex, there exist diminishing returns. Every additional bang results in less pleasure.

  10. Lucky, did you check if your Qantas award seats went back into the award inventory? just out of curiosity.

  11. Good move. But seriously: there is no way that connecting via JFK and LHR when neither are one’s origin or destination cities can be called “Best” of anything!

  12. Wow some harsh comments. Haters gonna hate. Have a great time with your mum. As I get older I have realised how important it is to spend as much quality time with my parents as possible. Good call 🙂

  13. I SO get it — you made the right call. My dad passed away in October and my mother is semi-retired — I have a year full of travel ahead, some work and some play, but what I really want to do is get my mother back to Japan where she spent a year in the early 60s teaching. I’m on the verge of canceling the first class seat to Sydney (125K, over Thanksgiving) just to be able to take the time to take her back to the place that meant so much to her in her formative years. It’s a gift to be able to do this — we’re exceptionally fortunate to have these kinds of opportunities and should take advantage of them while we can.

  14. Ben,

    I have traveled alone a lot in my life. Not as much as you, granted, but a lot. I lost my father a few years ago, but mom lives close by me now. I have traveled with her since my dad died and I must say, it’s the kind of thing that makes our little hobby worthwhile. I love to go alone, but when I take mom with me, it’s one more week of unforgettable for both of us instead of one more week of decent memories for me.

    I love your stories about your folks and will be looking forward to a full accounting!! By the way, my mom cried when I told her what you did for your dad.

    Just sayin’

    Thanks for the great stories!

  15. Good on ya Lucky. Great move indeed. Get a life Kumarrrrrrr. “Yawn” it’s usually Al having a whinge about something LOL. You sure you haven’t changed your name on here from Al to Kumarrrrrrr

  16. Congrats Lucky. Right decision. Im taking my wife and my mom in spring to Spain and France. Seeing the joy on their faces is what makes the trip.

  17. Great Ben,
    You did not disappoint me!

    I tried to encourage you to take the trip, pointed out that we love this hobby (airplanes/airlines industries and flying First class), and we should get tired of it at most around 5 days and then ready to go again. My comments were for you, cuz you love this hobby, unlike many readers who only read your blog to gain some insight/trick about award/hotel deals, but didn’t really enjoy the time in the air.

    So you cancel the trip and replace it with something fun and exciting with your love one… !… that’s great! … not canceling it and stay home being boring!

  18. remind your mom not to pack so much and remember to pack walking shoes 🙂 she mentioned something about $250 shoes last time… maybe you can get those for her. I am sure there’s a Chase UR partner that’s giving out bonus points on purchase 🙂

  19. At least you can get your mom to travel with you. I can’t. I’m trying to get my parents to do a transatlantic cruise next year, and my mom is just really “meh”. And she likes cruising. Dad’s gungho. We just might go without her.

    That said, I understand your burnout. For the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to be gone a month at a time, staying in nice places, flying J and all that jazz. But I gotta tell you… without fail, that last week I’d rather be home. The only thing that keeps me going is the newness.

    This year, I’m experimenting with a couple of three week trips about 9 months apart, trying to see how much I enjoy that.

  20. Definitely the right decision just make sure the trip is Mom friendly on the feet/ankles. You don’t want a repeat of the Bali Birthday trip ankle drama.

  21. That’s the best part of the miles & points – taking family with you. I took my tween niece to Paris/London last year and it was priceless to see the city through her eyes. Just like your parents, you can get a new view of the places you’ve been so many times and often forget how awesome they are.
    make sure mom has her compression socks and good shoes this time – I’ve got my mom into Munro and Clarks for walking

  22. Lucky, inspired by you, I made a similar award redemption and traveled on the ticket back in November. It was a great redemption and I very much enjoyed it. But, it was a long trip. QF F is nice, but it is a long time to spend on a plane. Still, very happy that I got to do (with considerable help from your team).

  23. I too like your decision but was wondering, would it have been possible to keep your flights and buy your mom seats on the same ones?

  24. If you canceled it for any other reason I would say you were crazy. But canceling it to take your mom on an around the world trip is awesome! I can’t wait to see your post(s) about what you guys have in store!

  25. “Okay… you want to go somewhere with me?” “Yes! Like… the beach?”

    “Of course we can go to the beach… in Goa”

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