Monday, 18 March 2013

Is it just me or is Award Booking getting more difficult

I was checking the availability of flights for NYC to Dublin in late May using Googles ITA search engine and the cheapest I could find per person for non-stop was $930

Price for 2 adults
Ticket cost per passenger$929.97
Price for 1 infant in lap
Ticket cost per passenger$123.20
Total cost for 3 passengers$1,983.14

and $730 with a connection

Price for 2 adults
Ticket cost per passenger$729.00
Price for 1 infant in lap
Ticket cost per passenger$105.20
Total cost for 3 passengers$1,563.20

Add a lap infant and it all adds up to be not exactly a bargain. I needed to find another way as cash is a little tight right now and I refuse to rack up debt on a credit card.   

Even after using miles to splurge on first class to Argentina back in December, I still have almost a million miles spread among the various airline accounts of the missus and I.

I checked pointhub (which can hit or miss) for award availability but it was giving me outlandish 120K+ award availability for coach? 

I doubled checked on several airline sites directly and sure enough it was 100K+ for Delta and US Airways.

American wanted 90K although I could have got it for 40K if I was flexible on the dates but alas I am not and I don't have enough miles anyway.

United was 60K but I didn't have enough miles although I could swap in some Ultimate Reward points but I'd rather hold onto them for a rainy day.

I have 400K Avios (British Airways) points but they are notorious for exorbitant fuel surcharges of $500+. Searching the BA site is also a frustratingly slow waste of time.

It's been widely publicized on the forums and travel blogs that you can book Boston to Dublin return for only 25K Avios points flying with Aer Lingus who remarkably charge minimal fuel surcharges. You can search for availability using the United or Qantas websites (partner award availability). Once you find the flights you want you need to call BA to make the booking. So I gave it a shot and it worked like a luck Irish Charm!

I got Boston to Dublin direct for 2 adults & 1 lap child for 52,500 points + $274 in taxes/fees. I still needed to get a return from NYC to Boston which I found for $156 x 2 on United.  Total outlay for the trip is $586 + 52,500 Avios points.  

That is still more than I'd ideally like to pay because of the connecting flight and I could possibly have used those Avios for multiple short hop US flights but I still have a nice little nest egg for that. Sure ain't easy getting from A to B for a reasonable amount of points & taxes these days.

Tags: ..Avios British Airways Aer Lingus Avoid Fuel Surcharge..
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KG,  March 18, 2013 3:57 pm  

How did you get 271500 points from Avios?

InACents March 18, 2013 4:04 pm  

I've never flown internationally, so pardon my ignorance, but I had no clue they charge you for an infant in lap. Atrocious!

Paddy in BA (Quickroute) March 18, 2013 9:46 pm  

@KG - glad you asked. I got credit card sign-up bonuses on the AMEX Business Rewards of 100K + AMEX Premier Rewards 75k which I then converted to Avios (with the min spend points of 5K) while there was a 50% bonus promo = 271K

@InACents: yes typically 10% of the adult fare or points are charged for lap infants on International flights from the USA :-((

Leigh March 22, 2013 2:14 pm  

I don't have a ton of points but I do have some on Aeroplan. Even booking the day the flights open up which is 356 days prior to going is getting harder and harder. Your post is timely as I've been wondering if they don't have a hidden agenda to make you use more points to get the better flight times - 6 am leaving and 10 pm returning is never fun. Want to leave at 9 am and return on a 6 pm flight - add 15K points.

Paddy in BA (Quickroute) March 22, 2013 2:46 pm  


It is indeed complicated e.g. several carriers only release award availability just before the flight so unless you are prepared to gamble on getting availability it's tough

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