Book Something, Then Keep on Checking

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In the world of airline awards (and hotels award nights for that matter), sometimes when planning a big trip it pays to find something that will work, book it, and then keep on checking for something better to open up.

It can be rare for the perfect flight, with the perfect seats, on the perfect date,s to appear exactly when you are ready to book.  It happens, but it doesn’t always happen, and that shouldn’t stop you from going forward with making plans.  I’ll give you a real life example of what I mean…

My in-laws are planning a big trip to Europe for this summer, but when it came time to book the best I could get them in business class using American Airlines miles (without fuel surcharges) were tickets on airbelin that required an overnight in Miami.  That was fine, and it would work, but it wasn’t perfect.  They didn’t want or need an overnight in Miami on the front-end of an already pretty long trip.

Today while we were in Aruba (and mostly off-line) I saw a tweet from @garyleff that there was lots of availability on US Airways this summer in business class on various dates to various destinations.  I briefly logged on and saw that my in-laws desired date to travel indeed has US Airways business class availability with no overnights required in transit to get to Europe.  I took a screen shot and texted them to let them know of the availability in case they wanted to call in and try to get their ticket changed.  Then we went back to the beach…

Since they booked using American miles they were able to change the routing without an additional fees since they weren’t changing the date of travel.  Every award program handles fees like this differently, so check before assuming there is (or isn’t) a fee for certain changes on your specific award.

Even if there is a fee of some sort, the message remains the same.  When you want to book a big trip for your family, just get something that will work on the books and then keep your eyes open for ways to make it better.  You never know when you may see a helpful tweet on the way to the beach.

Anyone else get to optimize an award trip this weekend?

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  1. I was lucky enough to get direct flights to Venice this morning. After reading this I am worried they will cancel my ticket. Do you think this will happen?

  2. Just to clear things up, with American miles, you can change the dates with no fee as well, just have to keep the origin and destination the same as long as it’s still, I think 20 days out from departure.

  3. The most impressive part of the post to me was that you texted the info to them and they made it happen.

    When did the “switch flip” on that, so they’re now able to run with it?

    I believe you just taught a man to fish! congrats!

    • They have historically been pretty good with picking up the phone to call the airline – just helps to know what to ask for. I still search for the deals for much of the family, but most of them are pretty good at then using that info. If they choose not to in any instance, no skin off my back. 😉

  4. Thanks to your post and another blog, I decided to check to see if there was now availability with American in business on the flights in coach I had booked last summer for my return trip from London. Sure enough, a U.S. Airways flight leaving an hour earlier had 2 seats available. Done and done! Wouldn’t have checked if I hadn’t read your fabulous blog and others.

  5. Absolutely. Might not have slept all night last night because availability kept rolling in! Originally was flying separate from my wife to Paris, then back from Rome (again separate). Our itineraries were insane and now everything is perfect. My first international business award booking, and I think I am learning to just book something so you can get on with planning the trip, and then make it better until you travel.

  6. I find this to be true for me on Southwest. There have been fare sales all year with a new one starting today. Fares on routes I fly are down for the first time in as long as I can remember. PLUS I checked again today (with the new sale), and I was able to get some funds back on a paid ticket and some points back on an award ticket. I love that Southwest makes this so easy!

  7. thanks again, Mommy Points! You CAN teach old dogs new tricks!! :-)) you continue to help so many of us, and we are grateful (from far-away grandparents)

  8. For United can a change of itineraries be done online? Asking because it seems that they have all these numbers to call and they will charge for any changes. Thanks!

    • David, yes, basic changes can be done online with United. If you can’t do it online, tell them when you call the website wouldn’t let you do it and ask for the fee to be waived.

  9. No truer words spoken. Getting from the West coast to South Africa over Christmas is a nightmare. So I booked SEA-YUL-ZRH-BRU-NBO-JNB with AC/LX/SN/SA. Kept checking back over the next few months and a direct ZRH-JNB opened up 15 days before departure. SEA-YUL-ZRH-JNB with a ~24 hour stopover in ZRH (and all in J) was exactly what the travelgods ordered.

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