While some travelers thrive on last minute bookings and planning, my family does best booking the majority of our trips as far in advance as possible.  Many major airlines open their schedules about 11 months, and many hotels operate even further in advance than that.  Now that we are in early 2014, it makes sense to take a look at your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s plans for 2014 and lock something in if you can.

  • Thanksgiving 2014 is now under 11 months away, so you can lock in not only hotel award reservations with most chains, but also make airline award reservations now.  Of course, airline mileage redemptions may become available at a later point as seats don’t sell as the airlines anticipated, but redemption options may also worsen over time.  Personally, if you see something that would work now for Thanksgiving 2014 on miles, I would grab it.  I just booked Thanksgiving travel myself on miles.  Thanks to elite status with United I have the luxury of being able to later change or redeposit the reservation for free if I want, but you can replicate that to a degree even without elite status by booking your award tickets via a program that has low change or redeposit fees.  Some examples of that are using British Airways Avios to book American Airlines or Alaska operated flights or using Singapore Airlines (transfer from Membership Rewards) to book United or US Airways operated flights.
  • Christmas 2014 is under a year away and closing in on being under 11 months away.  You can lock hotel reservations in for Christmas travel (or a post-Christmas ski trip!), and within the next couple of weeks flight schedules will open on several airlines, so keep an eye out for that if you want to try to use miles for travel during that peak period.
  • New Year’s 2014 is just under a year away so you can now use hotel miles to snag a hotel that is in the middle of the New Year’s Eve action.  Many hotel chains have wised up and have at least a minimum number of nights at New Year’s, or have made all the rooms available just through a NYE package that you have to pay for with dollars, not points, but it is still worth a look.  For example, if you want to go to New York City there are a few Hyatts that only have a two night minimum and are available on points.  I saw several SPG hotels available on points in New York City without a night minimum.  Alternatively, if you want to celebrate in downtown Austin you can lock-in the historic Driskill hotel for 18,000 Hyatt points instead of $400+ for the night.

Driskill New Years Eve

  • Even look to Spring Break 2015 if you really like advance planning.  Some hotel chains such as SPG and Club Carlson allow bookings even more than a year out, so you could look even to Spring Break 2015 if you are so inclined.  We actually snagged a very good paid reservation at a certain SPG hotel that is ski in/out on a certain family friendly mountain in the Aspen area for Spring Break 2015.  I’m pretty sure those rates should be higher for the dates we booked, but good things can sometimes happen when you book way in advance, and we can cancel with no penalty if things don’t work out for us to take the trip.20140104-084549.jpg

Of course making these advance bookings is even more important than normal right now thanks to impending devaluations by Hyatt and United.  Anyone else making lots of advance bookings this weekend?

Posted by Mommy Points | 18 Comments

18 Responses to “Use Miles and Points Now for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve 2014”

  1. […] While some travelers thrive on last minute bookings and planning, my family does best booking the majority of our trips as far in advance as possible.  Many major airlines open their schedules about 11 months, and many hotels operate even further in advance than that.  Now that we are in early 2014, it makes sense to take a look at your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s plans for 2014 and… Read the Rest. […]

  2. Dimitri says:

    Great advice, and overview, thank you.

  3. Nick says:

    No availability on my Thanksgiving route, but thanks for the reminder. I am lining up a big end of year Safari trip to Zambia using UA miles though.

  4. Happy Feet says:

    I tried booking the 2 Hyatt hotels in Maui for 2014 Christmas holiday. 11:55pm was not yet bookable for the dates I wanted. Then 12:00am the rooms were all gone. Do you have other hotel recommendations for Maui? I plan to book the tickets as soon as they open up since we are a family of 4.

    • mommypoints says:

      Happy Feet, I doubt they are all gone. They probably are just not yet loaded or have a min stay requirement or something similar. I hit similar problems with Beaver Creek between Christmas and NYE. Can pay to call sometimes, but sometimes they just aren’t there yet.

  5. JW says:

    Just read the AmEx to Singapore for US and United flights. I’ve never run across this move, can you explain why it might be good? I am thinking domestic, and usually transfer from a card program to an alliance partner or actual airline based on what transfer bonuses exist. Why the shoutout to Singapore?

  6. Nancy says:

    Just booked @ Andaz 5th avenue for Thanksgiving weekend. The rates looked really low for that weekend (on what I assume must not be updated, as thats a big weekend for NYC). Looking at flights for the same trip…hoping to use US Airways companion certificates.

  7. RaiderHoosier says:

    Great tip. Just got $.08/pt on SPG for spring break 2015 ski trip.

  8. DanR NYC says:

    MP, I am looking to take the family to London with AA points. Outbound on AA is available (perfect), but the return leg is giving me angst. Excessive fees / taxes. Suggestions on avoiding the fuel charges for the return leg (JFK / NYC) ?

    • mommypoints says:

      Fly back out of a different city than London and make sure you are not on a British Airways operated flight to avoid fuel surcharges.

  9. Valerie says:

    Just booked our trip in business to Sydney with a stop over in bangkok for thanksgiving. It was a bear. Took a lot of research and almost a dozen calls. Here we come Park Hyatt Sydney! or should we save points and go for the 2 for 1 deal in radisson? I know both are great hotels and we would never even think about the park Hyatt if it wasn’t for the points. But having points in both created a dilemma. Oh, the “problems” of a mile/point junkie :-)

  10. Cole says:

    Just a New Year comment to say I love your blog! Thanks for your work, and happy safe travels this year.

  11. TJ says:

    have you tried westin snowmass? rates look good for spring break 2015.

  12. Up&Away says:

    Anyone else having trouble transferring UR points to Hyatt this morning? I’ve tried several times and can not get it to go through!

  13. Up&Away says:

    Never mind….FINALLY got it!

  14. Cindy says:

    Thanks for the tip. We’re in for Spring ’15 in CO! That’s a great rate! :)

  15. Gordon says:

    Just booked family trip (3 of us) to South Africa for Nov/Dec 2014 on BA from East Coast. Managed to get J outbound and F return on A380 (2 seats thus far). Surcharges were not cheap but great schedule and similar to buying Y ticket and getting double/triple cabin upgrade.

  16. Brian S says:

    Just yesterday I booked the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek for the New Year’s time frame. I also ran into minimum stay restrictions. By calling and being a little flexible I was able to get a 5 night stay (instead of the 6 night minimum I ran into online) and got Dec 29th to Jan 3rd. I would be happy to stay for 6 nights but don’t have the points or the cash for that just yet.

    Based on several reviews of this property from MommyPoints and other bloggers, I am so excited to being staying here. Taking 2 kids, ages 4 and 10, so being close the ski school really helps.

    Now I just need to try and get award seats on United once/if they open up.

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