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Old Sep 30, 13, 11:32 am   #1
 
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Any tricks to getting earliest seat availability?

First off - I'm not sure where this is the right place; it seemed to be the closest I could find...

I'm guessing that it's just the way it is, but wondering if there are any "tricks".

The issue is that you can't book any ticket more than X days into the future. So if you're planning a 3 week trip, by the time you're allowed to book the return, the first flight has been open for three weeks already. Off season that may not be an issue, but in peak it can mean jumping through hoops just to get a flight, never mind a preferable one (class, route, seats).

FWIW, I have miles available through Delta and United.
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Old Sep 30, 13, 12:46 pm   #2
 
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Some airlines allow you to book one-way awards. So you can book your departure at a later time.

Of course, you may have to sacrifice the option to have open jaw flights or stop overs using this method. Those are usually only available on round trip bookings.

Also, once you have booked the one way outbound, and the one-way return, you can call the airline and see if they will allow you to combine into a round trip PNR, but this may have fees associated, as it is technically redepositing the miles into your account and issuing a new award. But it may be worth it to secure the flights that you want.

Here are some United threads that may help:

Saver-award-inventory-not-released-far-out-merged

Open-jaw-stopover-award-flights-consolidated
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Old Sep 30, 13, 2:48 pm   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnwaldmann View Post
First off - I'm not sure where this is the right place; it seemed to be the closest I could find...

I'm guessing that it's just the way it is, but wondering if there are any "tricks".

The issue is that you can't book any ticket more than X days into the future. So if you're planning a 3 week trip, by the time you're allowed to book the return, the first flight has been open for three weeks already. Off season that may not be an issue, but in peak it can mean jumping through hoops just to get a flight, never mind a preferable one (class, route, seats).

FWIW, I have miles available through Delta and United.
United allows you to book OW flights at half the mileage. I did this about a year ago on a 4-week trip for the reasons you mentioned, and it worked out fine. There are two possible downsides: 1) no stopover is permitted (open jaw is not an issues, since you're booking two OW flights); 2) if you need to cancel and redeposit your miles, you will be charged twice, since you have two separate reservations. But I was satisfied with what I did, and have recently done the same on AA.

Delta charges the same in mileage for OW as for RT, so this procedure isn't useful on DL.
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Old Oct 2, 13, 8:09 am   #4
 
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Thanks for the tips, especially the links to the other threads, one of which mentioned the "ExpertFlyer" - I may well make use of that.

As to booking one-way tickets, that may work too, and a search on United does indicate it's possible. But I'll admit I'm surprised they allow one-way to Europe (on principle).
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Old Oct 2, 13, 9:56 am   #5
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If you have elite status that gets you free changes to award tickets (for example, PM and DM on DL), when you book the outbound, just stick in some placeholder return flight, perhaps on the following day or to a destination in the same region you wish to travel. If you have lots of miles, you don't even need to bother looking for low award availability.

Then when flights open for booking on your desired return date, change the ticket for free and have any excess miles returned to you and any excess fees credited to your original credit card.

Some people even consider it worthwhile to pay the change fees, currently $150 per ticket, to grab the outbound space they want when it becomes available.

However, airline FF programs now seem less likely to necessarily release award seats at 330 days or whatever. At one point, people believed that all award seats were released when the schedule opened. Now it's all based on yield management and seats can be released or repriced in miles at any time.
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Old Oct 4, 13, 8:12 am   #6
 
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
However, airline FF programs now seem less likely to necessarily release award seats at 330 days or whatever. At one point, people believed that all award seats were released when the schedule opened. Now it's all based on yield management and seats can be released or repriced in miles at any time.
Yes, this is a new concept for me too and I value the input received regarding that both here and on the other thread.

Unfortunately I do not have the required status to re-book without penalty as I only fly a few to maybe 10 times a year. Most of my miles/points are from CC purchases.

I suppose the $150 rebooking fee is still a pretty good value, but I'm going to try and get the Saver Award seats anyways. Thankfully I do have a bit of flexibility in my schedule so that helps.

Thanks again,
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