Advice needed on booking award flights LAX-HAN/KUL-LAX

 
Old May 1, 11, 4:19 pm
  #1  
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Advice needed on booking award flights LAX-HAN/KUL-LAX

Hello!
I just got off the phone with AA reservation and I am now discovering how difficult it is to redeem awards on partner airlines...

My husband and I are planning to travel to Vietnam in Feb, 2012, and we have saved enough miles to redeem for business class outbound and coach inbound.

We need to go LAX-HAN (Wed, Fri, or Sat departure, J) and return from KUL (coach) back to LAX. The only flights AA reservation was able to find was flights with 10+ hours of layover. That's a problem, because we only have 2 weeks of vacation time and a packed itinerary through Vietnam and Angkor Wat. I am more concerned about the outbound flight, as the returning flight can originate from KUL, SGN, or BKK. (Any airport we can connect from REP)

Now, when I search award availability on CX site, I see a shorter outbound flight, but in coach. Should I book this one and hope that J seats will open up later? Or should I book the J seats on the less desirable flight and hope for the chance of getting on the shorter flight later? Any tips and advice will be greatly appreciated. I thought once we had enough miles, all we had to do was ask for the flights we want, but nooOO...
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Old May 1, 11, 4:28 pm
  #2  
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I've done this trip a year ago, I routed through NRT then JAL/CX to HAN.
then I booked on my own REP, KUL (cheap)

returning from DPS (bali) to HKG-JFK

no problem finding availability... I recommend to get KVS to search for awards yourself and not to rely in the phone reservations agent.

or get an account in quantas and CX and check for yourself oneworld awards

hope it helps
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Old May 1, 11, 4:34 pm
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Originally Posted by jcee View Post
...have saved enough miles to redeem for business class outbound and coach inbound.
Now, when I search award availability on CX site, I see a shorter outbound flight, but in coach. Should I book this one and hope that J seats will open up later? Or should I book the J seats on the less desirable flight and hope for the chance of getting on the shorter flight later?
Perhaps you should go shorter coach outbound and longer Business inbound. Or if you book the longer Business flight, there are no penalties to change of the shorter one has the same route and carrier.

Also to echo - get KVS or get a QF / CX account and search.
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Old May 1, 11, 4:38 pm
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Originally Posted by jcee View Post
I thought once we had enough miles, all we had to do was ask for the flights we want, but nooOO...
Haha, if only it were that easy.

If you were able to get 2 longhaul J award seats around your preferred dates, and the only problem was a 10 hr. connection I'd consider yourself very lucky. I would've jumped all over those.
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Old May 1, 11, 4:46 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by jcee View Post
I thought once we had enough miles, all we had to do was ask for the flights we want, but nooOO...
Rip Van Winkle slept for twenty years. Your expectations are at least twenty years outdated for U.S. frequent flyer redemptions. Spend 2x the miles for AAnytime awards to loosen availability restrictions (but those aren't available for partner carriers, and AA needs a lot of partner flights to serve many cities in Europe and Asia today).
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Old May 1, 11, 4:54 pm
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Oh I see... Clearly, I'm out of touch with award redemption reality!
I have been searching with a CX account, but will try KVS also.
Thanks, folks, for all the advice.

If we fly out in Business and layover in HKG for 10 hours, can we go outside the airport and have some good dimsum before the connecting flight to HAN? Or is customs and immigration too much pain?

If no dim sum, I think we will just give up on the Business class award and be thankful we can fly to Hanoi in coach with miles. Our itinerary is way too restricted due to our lack of vacation time and domestic flight schedules within Vietnam.
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Old May 1, 11, 6:40 pm
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Originally Posted by jcee View Post
If we fly out in Business and layover in HKG for 10 hours, can we go outside the airport and have some good dimsum before the connecting flight to HAN? Or is customs and immigration too much pain
At HKG, 10 hrs. is plenty of time to have a nice 1/2 day in the city. The Airport Express train will drop you right in Kowloon or Central in 20 mins.

Also, CX is very good about releasing award seats as the flight gets closer. Book the 10 hr. connection, then just keep an eye on it. I'd be very surprised if an earlier HKG-HAN didn't open up...
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Old May 1, 11, 6:57 pm
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In my experience with HKG-SGN, CX for whatever reason doesn't seem to open J until closer in. I booked a December trip which shows J -wide- open but only Y offered. I elected for the Y on that segment because of this, at which point I will hopefully change to J at n/c. I'd check out availability on your flight in the near future to see if this is the case.

ETA: Agree with JJeffrey.

Last edited by alien; May 1, 11 at 7:03 pm
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Old May 1, 11, 8:47 pm
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Originally Posted by JJeffrey View Post
At HKG, 10 hrs. is plenty of time to have a nice 1/2 day in the city. The Airport Express train will drop you right in Kowloon or Central in 20 mins.
That's great to know! We've never been to HKG, so a half day in the city will be a fun addition to our trip (as long as we get some sleep on the flight). Another question is... will the airline hold our luggage, or do we need to store the luggage at storage (which there appears to be a couple at HKG).

What I have on hold is:
LAX-HAN in CX/J 2/29 with 10.5hr layover in HKG
KUL-LAX in JL/Y 3/13 with 10.5hr layover in NRT

I think outbound is acceptable, but we need to find a better flight for return. I'm not having much luck finding availability with KVS, out of KUL, SGN, BKK, or HAN. If we book JL now, will we be allowed to switch to CX later with no charge? Or should we book outbound now and hold off on inbound until something more suitable comes up?
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Old May 1, 11, 9:17 pm
  #10  
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Have you asked for this?

2/29: AA 169, LAX 1125 -> NRT 1615 (arrives 3/1)
1:40 layover
3/1: JL 751, NRT 1755 -> HAN 2210

3/13: JL 724, KUL 2305 -> NRT 0655 (arrives 3/14)
8:30 layover
3/14: AA 170, NRT 1525 -> LAX 0910 (arrives 3/14)
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Old May 1, 11, 11:02 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
Have you asked for this?

2/29: AA 169, LAX 1125 -> NRT 1615 (arrives 3/1)
1:40 layover
3/1: JL 751, NRT 1755 -> HAN 2210

3/13: JL 724, KUL 2305 -> NRT 0655 (arrives 3/14)
8:30 layover
3/14: AA 170, NRT 1525 -> LAX 0910 (arrives 3/14)
I called again and asked for ANY flight on ANY day in a 2 week span... Nothing. It seems what I have on hold is actually the best itinerary...
I asked for dates CX.com and KVS showed availability for coach or biz, and AA agent isn't seeing the same. Is it possible that the agent I talked to wasn't trying hard enough?
I will try again later this week before my hold expires. Thanks for all the input.
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Old May 1, 11, 11:11 pm
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Originally Posted by jcee View Post
Is it possible that the agent I talked to wasn't trying hard enough?
Probably.

Next time, don't say to the agent, "I want to go from LAX to HAN on such-and-such date." Instead, give the agent the SEGMENT-BY-SEGMENT flights that you want. Spoon feed the EXACT flight numbers, not just the origination and the ultimate destination.

AA.com says that both AA 169 and AA 170 are available. So, IF there's an impediment to the itinerary I listed, it is the JL flights. But Award nexus, which got its data from BA.com and JAL.com, says that both of the JL flights are available.

If you truly want better flights, you won't wait days to ask AA to look again.

Last edited by Austinrunner; May 1, 11 at 11:50 pm
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Old May 2, 11, 8:38 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
Probably.

Next time, don't say to the agent, "I want to go from LAX to HAN on such-and-such date." Instead, give the agent the SEGMENT-BY-SEGMENT flights that you want. Spoon feed the EXACT flight numbers, not just the origination and the ultimate destination.

AA.com says that both AA 169 and AA 170 are available. So, IF there's an impediment to the itinerary I listed, it is the JL flights. But Award nexus, which got its data from BA.com and JAL.com, says that both of the JL flights are available.

If you truly want better flights, you won't wait days to ask AA to look again.
Austinrunner, thanks for your advice!
I will try that and report back.
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Old May 3, 11, 6:24 pm
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Originally Posted by JJeffrey View Post
At HKG, 10 hrs. is plenty of time to have a nice 1/2 day in the city. The Airport Express train will drop you right in Kowloon or Central in 20 mins.

Also, CX is very good about releasing award seats as the flight gets closer. Book the 10 hr. connection, then just keep an eye on it. I'd be very surprised if an earlier HKG-HAN didn't open up...
+1 on this. Everybody is different, but if it were me I'd actually plan for the 10 hour HKG layover. You can get a great half day of sight seeing in another country for free on your trip, and still have time for the legendary CX lounges in HKG (even if it is only the J lounge!).

I also echo as you get closer to the date, odds are very high that seats will open up on CX.
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Old May 7, 11, 2:07 am
  #15  
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The more I thought about it the more I got excited about the half day in HKG!
I kept the outbound flights in Business class with 10.5 hour layover in HKG.
And I asked for SGN-NRT segment then NRT-LAX segment, which were both available.
Good thing I did, because the agent was only looking at JL flight #s until I asked for AA 170. The layover in NRT is 7 hours and 50 min.
I'll be keeping an eye on a better return flight, but I don't think what I got is too terrible.
Thank you everyone who replied for the very helpful tips and advise.
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