Plan a Last Minute Holiday Trip Using Miles

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Did you drag your feet planning a holiday trip on miles and now you have the itch to go somewhere?  One of the great things about airline miles is that they can make those last minute trip ideas possible without your wallet taking a huge hit.  Saver award availability in the weeks leading up to the holiday season can be your nemesis, or you may find availability actually pretty decent, especially if you have some flexibility.

It really isn’t too late to put a trip together around Thanksgiving, the December holidays, or New Year’s.  Here are a few examples of saver awards I saw available this morning (for at least two people) during the upcoming holiday season.  Some were nonstop flights and some required connections, but they were all available for the taking at the lowest mileage rates on the respective award charts.

Last minute award trip

Christmas in NYC

Head to a Christmas Market in Europe in Business Class:

Houston – Munich in Lufthansa business class December 17 – 13th

Long Weekend Enjoying Christmastime in NYC:

LAX – LaGuardia on Delta December 5 – 9th

New Year’s in Vail:

Houston – Vail on United December 30th – January 5th

Thanksgiving in Hawaii:

Chicago – Honolulu on United November 24th – 28th

Christmas on the Beach:

Dallas – Aruba in economy via American Airlines December 22 – 29th.

Last minue award availability

If none of those sound like fun ideas, here are a few tips when trying to put together a last minute award trip around the holidays. 

  • Be as flexible as possible.  If you have a desire to ski or hit the beach, then try not to zero in on one specific mountain or beach, but instead keep trying different mountains and beaches until you find one with availability.
  • Try many different programs.  Don’t forget about some frequent flyer programs you may not use as often.  Even if you don’t have miles in a specific airline program, you may have transferable points via Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, or even the Starwood Preferred Guest program that you could transfer into the program that has the availability you want (just be aware not all transfers are instant).
  • Use programs with no black-out dates. If you can’t find award availability with traditional programs, turn to programs like Southwest or JetBlue who don’t have black-out dates, but instead charge a variable amount of miles based on the cash selling price of the award ticket.  This may result in a higher mileage price when locking in a last minute ticket, but it may get you where you want to be when other programs can’t.
  • Book via programs with no last minute booking fees.  Elite status will sometimes get you out of last minute award booking fees of up to $75 when booking within 21 days of departure, but if you don’t have elite status to fall back on, look to programs that don’t charge last minute booking fees.  If you want to avoid last minute booking fees, you can book with Delta, Alaska, Southwest, JetBlue, American Airlines operated flights via British Airways, or United flights via ANA.

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