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Answers (8)

Which points to use for award flights?

Which points to use for award flights?

  1. Ardi

    First time poster, in a total quandary about our next big award redemption. I’ve about settled on a flight itinerary for the trip (in May 2017), but can’t decide which points to use. I’m overwhelmed with options!

    Tentative itinerary:
    Outbound: DEN to LHR, with connection in SLC, on Delta
    Return: DUB to DEN, with connection in LHR, on BA
    [*]Both in J or F
    [*]COS is more convenient than DEN, but flights are more limited
    [*]Dates are somewhat flexible; depart about 5/1/17, return early June.
    [*]Open to other carriers/itineraries, but we prefer just one connection, with a short flight at the beginning and a long haul at the end, rather than making a connection half-way.
    Other considerations: future trips will be Australia/New Zealand and Switzerland/Italy from West Coast, so want to keep best miles to use for those trips.

    My prior experience is limited to booking awards from/to Alaska through AA or AS. I’ve never used my Amex or UR points, or BA Avios (or even ever flown UA), so that is all new and unfamiliar. I’ve been collecting points, but don’t know how to use them! Especially flying from/to Colorado.

    Available points:

    The simplest option would be to use existing AS miles.
    Pro: good cancellation policy.
    Con: can’t book Delta outbound one-way; may not be best use of flexible AS miles.

    For the outbound, I’m thinking of opening a Delta account and transferring Amex points. Pro: can book one-way. Con: $150 change fee x2 if necessary.

    For the return, I could book through AA or AS, or transfer points to BA. (The BA surcharges are high, but we’re willing to pay them for the convenience of the direct LHR – DEN flight on the way home.) I don’t know whether it’s better to use Avios or miles (AA or AS).

    Can anyone help me find my way out of this quandary?


  2. David W

    How many points do you have with each currency?

    For the outbound, I’d recommend Aeroplan for LH F DEN-FRA-LHR, if F space comes up (within 2 weeks of departure). I think the fuel surcharges are worth it, but there are 90CAD change fees if necessary.

    For your inbound, I’d try to find space for LHR-DFW-DEN/COS on American and their 77W using American/Alaska miles. Space is hard to come by and requires constant monitoring but no fuel surcharges when traveling on AA metal as well as no fees for date and flight changes. Origin and destination must stay the same.

    You could transfer UR points to Korean Air for a SkyTeam partner award (Air France/KLM) but that could involve buying a positioning flight if there isnt any DL award space to get to the intl gateway. Same goes for if you transfer points to AirFrance FlyingBlue

  3. PhatMiles

    Keeping your future EU/Aus trips in mind, I would try to use the Delta miles for those trips. Delta has limited good uses and I think those are some of them.

  4. Anonymous

    Hi [USER=1902]@Ardi[/USER], and welcome!

    It’s good to be thinking about these things in advance, but it’s all a bit of a moot point until availability opens. You might not find DL space SLC > LHR at the low level, for example, so may need to look at other options, even if they’re less convenient.

    It’s easier to evaluate those decisions before you transfer the points, so I would wait to see what space looks like, and [I]then[/I] decide.

  5. Ardi

    Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

    We’re about 2 weeks away from being able to book anything, but since Delta is showing availability for the outbound flights for the April 2017 dates that are bookable now, I’ve set up a Delta account and started the process to link it to my Amex account. I won’t transfer the points until I confirm Delta availability on our travel dates, so I’ll be ready if that’s what we decide to do. (It seems like a good use of my Amex points, since they don’t transfer to AS or AA, the FF programs which I use the most.)

    For the inbound, I will keep set up an EF alert and keep checking AA, but I’m seeing almost no availability except in coach. I may go ahead and book a return on BA using AA or AS miles, and then change to AA from the same origin (DUB) and destination (DEN) should the AA flights become available. But if they don’t, I will just accept the BA surcharges as the cost of the most convenient return flight.

    LH F would be tempting, but it’s not in my nature to wait until 2 weeks before departure!

  6. MidSouthSkier

    Keep in mind that Amex will charge you a fee to transfer to Delta and it’s based on the number of miles you transfer…

  7. David W

    You could transfer UR points to UA or MR points to Aeroplan and book any Star Alliance return award and then pay the difference in miles, taxes fees (including change fees) to upgrade to LH F when it becomes available. If it [I]doesnt [/I]become available, at least you have a backup. I had a trip last October where i was booked on Turkish and Austrian J and then paid the fees to change it to LH F when it became available. I was totally ready and excited to fly TK/OS should LH F not open up.

    LifeMiles awards are also worth looking into, especially since you can ticket with only a portion of the miles and buy the rest when booking. You would have to cancel and rebook online when necessary though.

  8. Ardi

    Reporting back: I ended up with the DL award from SLC to LHR, on the day I originally planned.

    On my first attempt, I saw the space, transferred my Amex points, and then the space was gone, even for my second choice (MSP). I would have been berry happy to get that space, but I’d initially planned to travel one day later.

    The following day, I quickly grabbed the space as soon as it opened.

    Thanks again for your advice. I’m going to keep the information about LH F in mind for our Switzerland trip.

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