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Post Topic Request: Day in the Life
I’ve been reading this site multiple times a day for a few months now, among other award travel blogs, and as someone new to award travel I find that most posts/sites don’t really cover how hard it is to actually [I]find[/I] award travel. Is it just that Lucky is really lucky? Or does it take him several days to find a fare? Does he have an idea of the month he wants to travel or does he just know where he wants to go and searches until an award date pops up?
Because so far I have a very hard time finding any award travel. Yet every trip report is how the traveller ‘snagged’ biz class seats for the bare minimum points needed. Then commenters chime in about how they secured similar flights.
I’d love a blog post where Lucky breaks down how much time it took to book a particularly difficult route. IE his new booking to Namibia. He ‘managed to book…a heck of a deal’. How much time was spent looking for that deal or did the tickets just so happen to be available right on the dates he had in mind? Where does Lucky start first? Award hacker? Expert Flyer? Searching the carriers awards calendar? I think it would give is newbies a realistic idea of what to expect when starting out.
Lucky has the flexibility to fly whenever he can find award availability barring family needs which makes finding award space much easier. The challenge for most of us desk jockeys is that we usually want to travel around holidays when the rest of the world wants to travel and award travel availability is negligible. A lot of people start monitoring for space as soon as the award window opens and keep monitoring it till something opens. Expert flyer and award hacker are both useful tools but flexibility is key I think. Good luck!
[QUOTE=”Kbb85, post: 66978″]Is it just that Lucky is really lucky? Or does it take him several days to find a fare? Does he have an idea of the month he wants to travel or does he just know where he wants to go and searches until an award date pops up?[/QUOTE]
See Gaurav’s answer above. Flexibility is key.
[QUOTE=”Kbb85, post: 66978″]I’d love a blog post where Lucky breaks down how much time it took to book a particularly difficult route. IE his new booking to Namibia. He ‘managed to book…a heck of a deal’. How much time was spent looking for that deal or did the tickets just so happen to be available right on the dates he had in mind? Where does Lucky start first? Award hacker? Expert Flyer? Searching the carriers awards calendar? I think it would give is newbies a realistic idea of what to expect when starting out.[/QUOTE]
I subscribe to Expert Flyer and find it useful for upgrading. I’ll buy a Y or PE ticket and use AAdvantage SWUs or miles to upgrade when I can. IMO it is well worth it.
As for finding international business class or F awards, I have some flexibility in my life, so I can jump on deals when they appear (I use First Class Flyer, this blog, VFTW, etc.). But for planning a trip in advance, where I know when and where I want (or need) to go, I now rely on the Pros. Literally. Shameless plug (second this year) for PointsPros. I have a conference to go to in Singapore in May 2020, and I wanted to vacation afterwards. Lucky’s colleague at PP booked me on JAL F from JFK to SIN, and CX F on the return HKG to JFK. And when CX changed equipment on me last week (downgrading me to J), PointsPro got me rebooked on a different CX flight with F. A friend is meeting me and I used PP to book him on CX F on the return as well. Total cost was 330,000 AAdvantage miles. Granted, I had to pay PP’s fees and the taxes, but I scored $45,000 in tickets (yes, priced those three tickets out, and it was actually $44,275) for less than $750 and the miles.
I have also found deals to Europe on my own, just by using Expert Flyer and randomly searching. But for a fixed trip, I can’t recommend PP enough.
I agree that a post from Lucky or Tiffany on their methodology for finding bargain deals for complicated itineraries would be quite useful. As for my “method” it’s pretty much monitoring specific flights starting from the day they open until such time as I feel comfortable with the fare or award and commit or I just abandon the whole thing. I am always amazed and curious at some of the great deals I hear about here and other places. I never get that Lucky!
Part of it is also that running an award booking business means that you have your fingers on the pulse of the market, knowing where the seats are, what the patterns are etc. things that likely come with experience. Good suggestion though.
I generally only take one “big” trip per year and, like others mention above, start looking as soon as the calendar opens. I’ve pretty much quit trying to use miles for domestic trips and save them for my 2-week international vacations. I have the luxury of being flexible with my dates and don’t have to work around school or holiday calendars – in fact, I actively avoid traveling at those times. Being able to travel in the middle of the week helps too. For my trip that starts next week the award space opened up in January – and I was feeling antsy because I had started looking as soon as the calendar opened last November! I ended up booking the return leg before the outbound space opened just because I needed 3 seats and it was on the perfect flight. I was then trying to figure out what to do with the outbound and then space appeared on the perfect date to complement the return I’d already booked.
And just to add one last thing, I always have a Plan B because sometimes things just never come together and at some point it comes down to making a decision to have a holiday in the near term because time is running out and delaying the trip for several months is not an option that has much appeal. Next April I’m taking a trip that I’ve been “waiting on” since May 2016; seems like forever but in retrospect I’m glad I waited because finally the stars aligned and I got a good deal.