2016 European Vacation for 6

 
Old Feb 23, 15, 6:47 am
  #1  
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2016 European Vacation for 6

Hi All,

Long time reader, first time poster.

Just want everyone's input to see what is the best approach to get a group of 6 people (all adults) to Europe in business class or better, with the least cost on American Airlines or OW partners. The date and locations are still fluid, so this is research to make sure I am prepare for the eventual ticket purchase and travel arrangements. So far, the only thing we have agreed on is sometime after June 2016 (I know - peak season for Europe).

Facts:
AA status - None (but will be doing the Platinum status challenge soon, and with the current travel plans - I expect to be EXP by Oct).
AA miles - 300,000 total miles (post AA and US merger)

I've been doing some research and this is the scenario that I found, let me know if it's feasible:
-Book 2 First class MileSaver OW award travels to Rome (example) for 62.5k per person (total cost: 125k miles + $200)
-Purchase 4 economy OW tickets to Rome, and use 4 SWU to bump to Business Class.
-Book 2 First class MileSaver OW award travel from Paris (example) for 62.5k per person (total cost: 125k miles + $150)
-Purchase 4 economy OW tickets from Paris, and use 4 SWU to bump to Business Class.

Has anyone ever done that many SWU upgrades in one flight(s) as a group? What is the success rate?

Do I need wait until I'm EXP with the 8 SWU, before I can have the other 4 passengers purchase their tickets? Or can they purchase the tickets before hand and apply the SWU later? I'm read through the AA websites and some postings on FT, but I'm a little confuse on the restrictions. My understanding is that you need to have the SWU when you make the purchase, by calling into the Platinum support line; but I've read on FT where people are offering expiring SWU to other FTers with upcoming trips.

Also, I was thinking of not using the First Class ticket award on myself and hope that my EXP can get me upgraded to Business or First class. Is that an unrealistic expectation for a possible upgrade, even as an EXP?

Thanks.
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Old Feb 23, 15, 7:53 am
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I know nothing about SWUs, but for your saver awards, it sounds like you're counting on AA first class saver awards. I've hardly ever seen such a thing for US-Europe. More likely you'll see BA saver first awards, with cash costs of 5x what you quoted. Perhaps plan on business class where you will have AB, IB, US, and AA options, as all have business class and have a reasonable number of saver seats (well, pretty spare with AA, but the rest give you a chance).
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Old Feb 23, 15, 8:00 am
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I've been upgraded on gifted EVIP for tickets purchased long before the EVIP is applied.

I have no idea about success rate. I assumed like some other programs if all 4 are on the same PNR there must be 4 upgrades available at the same time. So if they only release 1 or 2 at a time the entire group will get skipped over.

Since this is AA specific question, I alerted the mods to move to the AA forum for you for more exposure to those with AA experience
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Old Feb 23, 15, 8:00 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by dukerau View Post
I know nothing about SWUs, but for your saver awards, it sounds like you're counting on AA first class saver awards. I've hardly ever seen such a thing for US-Europe. More likely you'll see BA saver first awards, with cash costs of 5x what you quoted. Perhaps plan on business class where you will have AB, IB, US, and AA options, as all have business class and have a reasonable number of saver seats (well, pretty spare with AA, but the rest give you a chance).
You are correct. When searching through AA site, most of the US-Europe flights are through BA. On the OW to Rome, I was able to find one flight that was with a trans-atlantic flight on AA, which reduced the cost. On the return trip from Paris, I was able to see that AA has a flight to PHL, that bypass LHR and BA. Those two factors are what I've seen that has kept the cost to a minimal.
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Old Feb 23, 15, 8:04 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by CDKing View Post
I've been upgraded on gifted EVIP for tickets purchased long before the EVIP is applied.

I have no idea about success rate. I assumed like some other programs if all 4 are on the same PNR there must be 4 upgrades available at the same time. So if they only release 1 or 2 at a time the entire group will get skipped over.
So it sounds like I should have the pax purchase the tickets, prior to achieving EXP, to increase the possibility of a upgrade and lower cost.

I'll probably have the 4 pax split into 2 different PNR, as to increase the success rate for upgrades. I know it'll be difficult to do an upgrade in such a large group in one PNR.
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Old Feb 23, 15, 8:54 am
  #6  
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I would really, really recommend the American Airlines | AAdvantage (Pre-Consolidation forum, and specifically this thread (established to help members with questions such as yours):

The wikipost (top of every rendered page) explains some things, such as what you can book via aa.com, what you must call in for, which other oneworld airlines websites you can use to search for non-aa.com viewable awards, etc. Like this:

Check this oneworld interactive map and timetable by Innosked to see potential routes, and you can sign up for BAEC (as mentioned above) or Qantas Frequent Flyer to use their sites to find awards (look for the lowest level awards) you can't see on aa.com.

Airlines that can be booked for award travel on aa.com:

oneworld alliance Partners
AB - airberlin
BA - British Airways (awards incur YQ surcharge)
AY - Finnair
QF - Qantas
RJ - Royal Jordanian Airlines
US - US Airways
Other Airline Participants
AS - Alaska Airlines
HA - Hawaiian Airlines
All others have to be requested by telephone; calling to book awards one can not book on aa.com or Reduced Mileage Awards no longer incurs telephone service fees.
There are other, non-oneworld mileage redemption airlines, such as Hawaiian, Air Tahiti Nui, etc.

I'd strongly recommend taking the plunge to the AA forum for the amount of information about awards, upgrading, SWU use, etc. etc.

Also, we'll need more details, such as point of departure - that can make a difference. E.g. AA partner TN / Air Tahiti Nui often has award seats nonstop LAX-CDG, not so useful if you live in Philly, but good for SoCal denizens.

Last edited by JDiver; Feb 23, 15 at 9:01 am
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Old Feb 23, 15, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
I would really, really recommend the American Airlines | AAdvantage (Pre-Consolidation forum, and specifically this thread (established to help members with questions such as yours):

The wikipost (top of every rendered page) explains some things, such as what you can book via aa.com, what you must call in for, which other oneworld airlines websites you can use to search for non-aa.com viewable awards, etc. Like this:



There are other, non-oneworld mileage redemption airlines, such as Hawaiian, Air Tahiti Nui, etc.

I'd strongly recommend taking the plunge to the AA forum for the amount of information about awards, upgrading, SWU use, etc. etc.

Also, we'll need more details, such as point of departure - that can make a difference. E.g. AA partner TN / Air Tahiti Nui often has award seats nonstop LAX-CDG, not so useful if you live in Philly, but good for SoCal denizens.
I wasn't sure which forum would be most appropriate, so I started out in the Information one. It can be moved to the AA forum, if that works much better.

Point of departure will be from TPA, so we'll have connecting flights through PHL, LGA, or MIA. I haven't seen any Air Tahiti departing from here, so don't think that will work for us.
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Old Feb 23, 15, 11:13 am
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Originally Posted by FTwatcher View Post
I wasn't sure which forum would be most appropriate, so I started out in the Information one. It can be moved to the AA forum, if that works much better.

Point of departure will be from TPA, so we'll have connecting flights through PHL, LGA, or MIA. I haven't seen any Air Tahiti departing from here, so don't think that will work for us.
That's why I said where you're leaving from makes a huge difference; Air Tahiti Nui / TN (Air Tahiti is a domestic short haul carrier serving French Polynesia) won't cut le moutarde, as it only touches the USA at LAX. OTOH, airberlin and Iberia do serve MIA.

But there are possibilities: oneworld airlines include: airberlin (and Niki), American Airlines, British Airlines (and BA Cityflyer, Comair, OpenSkies, Sun-Air of Scandinavia), Cathay Pacific (and Dragonair), Finnair (and Flybe), Iberia (and Air Nostrum, Iberia Express), Japan Airlines (and JAL Express, J-Air, Japan Transocean Air), LAN (LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador, LAN Express, LAN Colombia, LAN Peru), Malaysia Airways, Royal Jordanian, Qantas (and QantasLink, Jetconnect), S7 (ex-Sibir, and Globus), Sri Lankan, TAM, US Airways.

Non-oneworld partners one can redeem (MileSAAver) awards on include: Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, Etihad, Fiji Airlines, GulfAir, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways (India), Seaborne (Caribbean).

Check the Innosked interactive oneworld map and timetable to see which oneworld airlines might work out for you, and don't overlook rail travel in Europe. 180 mph can get you downtown to downtown faster than going out to an airport, dealing with the security carnival and flying.

Booking for six might require some using different flights, such as some using AA from MIA, ORD, DFW, US flights from CLT or PHL, to LHR or MAD and connecting onward, Iberia, airberlin, different day, etc.

Last edited by JDiver; Feb 23, 15 at 11:39 am
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Old Feb 23, 15, 11:23 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
That's why I said where you're leaving from makes a huge difference; Air Tahiti Nui / TN (Air Tahiti is a domestic short haul carrier serving French Polynesia) won't cut le moutarde, as it only touches the USA at LAX. OTOH, airberlin and Iberia do serve MIA.

Check the Innosked interactive oneworld map and timetable to see which oneworld airlines might work out for you, and don't overlook rail travel in Europe. 180 mph can get you downtown to downtown faster than going out to an airport, dealing with the security carnival and flying.

Booking for six might require some using different flights, such as some using AA from MIA, ORD, DFW, US flights from CLT or PHL, to LHR or MAD and connecting onward, Iberia, airberlin, different day, etc.
Would I be able to get EXP upgrades and use SWU on non-AA metal? I thought it was only applicable if it's on AA and not the partner airlines.

Definitely, we are looking to use rail travel within Europe as much as possible. It'll help to reduce the air travel cost and allow us to see more of Europe.
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Old Feb 23, 15, 11:32 am
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Europe

For July 2015 we were able to get 5 business award seats PHL-MAD-DUB. A little round about to get to Dublin but this is on Iberia and for us is great (2 are actually doing BOS-PHL-MAD-DUB). It did take 500,000 AA miles to book. I spent many hours searching all options. I did see a decent amount of availability on Air Berlin though Berlin and Munich but that was not where we were heading (we flew AB in business last year and I was not impressed).

You may have a chance to get your 6 seats but based upon the miles you have in the bank you probably have a limit as to how many business seats you can "afford".
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Old Feb 23, 15, 11:43 am
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Welcome to Flyertalk FTwatcher

As you've outlined "I wasn't sure which forum would be most appropriate, so I started out in the Information one. It can be moved to the AA forum, if that works much better" we'll relocate this to the AA forum.

Please note this thread originated in the Flame Free Information Desk.

~beckoa, co-moderator Information Desk
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Old Feb 23, 15, 11:54 am
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Originally Posted by flightmedic View Post
For July 2015 we were able to get 5 business award seats PHL-MAD-DUB. A little round about to get to Dublin but this is on Iberia and for us is great (2 are actually doing BOS-PHL-MAD-DUB). It did take 500,000 AA miles to book. I spent many hours searching all options. I did see a decent amount of availability on Air Berlin though Berlin and Munich but that was not where we were heading (we flew AB in business last year and I was not impressed).

You may have a chance to get your 6 seats but based upon the miles you have in the bank you probably have a limit as to how many business seats you can "afford".
At the end of day, if I can't get upgrades for the 4 pax, then they'll just have to live with that. I'm just hoping to improve on the flight experience by upgrading them and the long flight, since we've never flown First or Business class on an trans-atlantic flight.
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Old Feb 23, 15, 12:58 pm
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I second the use of IB for TATL premium awards. Requires a phone call for reservations, I found it to be well worth the effort. VERY EXTENSIVE network of connections throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. One of the benefits - VERY REASONABLE taxes and fees.
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Old Feb 23, 15, 1:00 pm
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Originally Posted by diver858 View Post
I second the use of IB for TATL premium awards. Requires a phone call for reservations, I found it to be well worth the effort. VERY EXTENSIVE network of connections throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. One of the benefits - VERY REASONABLE taxes and fees.
What's your experience with First/Business Class for IB?
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Old Feb 23, 15, 2:26 pm
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Originally Posted by FTwatcher View Post
What's your experience with First/Business Class for IB?
TATL is 2-class A330 with lie-flat seats (no first). Decent service, IFE, meals.
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