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Clinic Thread Why is BAs award availability so bad? And why are the fees so high?

Clinic Thread Why is BAs award availability so bad? And why are the fees so high?

Old Mar 29, 11, 3:07 pm
  #1  
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Clinic Thread Why is BAs award availability so bad? And why are the fees so high?

Ahh, that old chestnut. This thread is intended for advice, help and guidance on spending BA miles when you are struggling to find what you want. It may also be a holding place for intemperate rants on the same subject. There is no answer to this as it depends on a whole raft of variables e.g. destination, season, fare class, time of booking, sale or not, special events. Some tips:

The most challenging flights are SYD, SIN, BKK, MLE and certain Caribbean destinations in season. For these you need to book a long, long way out, often as far as 350 days when seats become available.

It is a common misconception that seats are released on all flights on all days. They arent so dont be surprised if your preferred Friday night the week before Christmas to SYD in F is never available

Equally, once seats have gone does not mean nothing else will show up. Revenue management often release more space, even days before departure

MFU and Award space are one and the same

Remember than award seats are not a substitute for paying for a ticket. They part of a deal you enter into with the airline. In return for your loyalty we will give you access to premium seats for very little cash outlay. But the deal is you may have to plan ahead, and seats may be limited

If you arent using a 241 voucher or GUV2, consider partners airlines. You may be surprised by availability (Iberia to Central and Southern America for example) and may even fly on a better airline than BA.

The fees. Sadly BA charge you all the airport and passenger service fees, on top of the fuel surcharge. In addition you also pay the UK Air Passenger Duty for UK originating/stopping over itineraries. These can be substantial. Check them via a dummy booking on ba.com

If you approach this with flexibility and sensible expectations, you can do very, very well. Ive flown Concorde to NYC and F to every continent BA serves more than once using BA miles. It can be done!

So, questions are welcome as are any pearls of wisdom to add above.
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Old Mar 29, 11, 4:25 pm
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Would be useful for those SYD/BKK/SIN/MLE J hunters, to confirm in the write-up:
A) how far in advance awards are released? Some people say 350days in advance, some say 355; are either officially stated anywhere on BA.com?
B) when they are loaded to systems? Is the 350/355 advance availability loaded at 12midnight, or some other time?
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Old Mar 29, 11, 4:46 pm
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Be creative with routings within the same 'zone' and get an 'open-jaw' ticket.

For example, it's possible to fly from London to any US city and return from any other city on one miles ticket, with the ability to use a 2-4-1. I did this last month - LHR-LAS/SFO-LHR in Club for 100k miles and a 2-4-1. The connecting flight was all of $150/pax on Virgin America. We specifically flew back from SFO as there was no return availability from LAS.

Note: You will need to use BA.com to search for availability in each direction 'manually' (use a pen and paper to note down the details of the flights where you can find seats) and then call the EC to book. You might incur an offline service fee, but it's worth it if you can assemble a trip close to what you want.
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Old Mar 29, 11, 4:51 pm
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Originally Posted by BahrainLad View Post
Be creative with routings within the same 'zone' and get an 'open-jaw' ticket.

For example, it's possible to fly from London to any US city and return from any other city on one miles ticket, with the ability to use a 2-4-1. I did this last month - LHR-LAS/SFO-LHR in Club for 100k miles and a 2-4-1. The connecting flight was all of $150/pax on Virgin America. We specifically flew back from SFO as there was no return availability from LAS.
Good advice. Worked for me numerous times ^
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Old Mar 29, 11, 10:24 pm
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Originally Posted by BahrainLad View Post
Be creative with routings within the same 'zone' and get an 'open-jaw' ticket.
Thus the incredible usefullness of one-ways. I almost always book open jaw awards (after spending all that effort to get the miles, I'm reluctant to spend the whole trip in one place! )

One-ways can be booked on-line no problem and, if you have to change your itinerary before you return but after the trip has started, no problem. Can't do it with a round trip.

Can always do a double open jaw, too. Fly A to B, return C to D.

Whoo-hoo!
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Old Mar 29, 11, 10:45 pm
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Well I don't think that the fees are that high. I have arrived this afternnon in AKL, flying BA F as far as HKG and CX J from HKG (no F on CX to AKL). it cost me 300k miles and 559 GBP. I think that to have F & J from LHR to AKL and back for 559 is excellent value. I booked this less than a month ago, so you can get availability. Yes I am GGL, but this didn't use the joker, and Gold extra availability is only in Y
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Old Mar 30, 11, 12:45 am
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Another hint: move to a country full of exceptionally cheap people to which BA is forced to send F cabins for at least part of the year although nobody would ever pay for it.

Hello F award availability ^
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Old Mar 30, 11, 1:18 am
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
and may even fly on a better airline than BA.
Surely not a better airline - wash your mouth out sir! Says he who really enjoyed a flight back from HKG in F on CX

I think it is good to remember bookings are flexible so it can be worth booking something close to your ideal and continue to check in case your dates become availble and then changing your original booking.

Also I have had some luck in booking 2 single flights rather than one return, but alas you cannot do this to get full benefit of a 241.

One question - how can you check partner availabilty when there are BA seats on the route, eg HKG?
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Old Mar 30, 11, 1:18 am
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Originally Posted by BigLar View Post
Thus the incredible usefullness of one-ways. I almost always book open jaw awards (after spending all that effort to get the miles, I'm reluctant to spend the whole trip in one place! )

One-ways can be booked on-line no problem and, if you have to change your itinerary before you return but after the trip has started, no problem. Can't do it with a round trip.

Can always do a double open jaw, too. Fly A to B, return C to D.

Whoo-hoo!
Good advice but I don't think you can use a 241 both ways if you do this.
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Old Mar 30, 11, 1:46 am
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Originally Posted by BahrainLad View Post
Good advice but I don't think you can use a 241 both ways if you do this.
No you cannot use a 241 that way as a 241 has to start ex-UK.
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Old Mar 30, 11, 2:00 am
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You may want to write a short section the 'value' of miles. I've seen a few threads on moans about miles being worth 20 when used to buy discounted economy domestic tickets.

Miles are good for last minute domestic and short haul tickets, possibly even last minute long haul.
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Old Mar 30, 11, 2:47 am
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
or GUV2
Is that a new one?
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Old Mar 30, 11, 2:55 am
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Originally Posted by itsmeitisss View Post
Well I don't think that the fees are that high. I have arrived this afternnon in AKL, flying BA F as far as HKG and CX J from HKG (no F on CX to AKL). it cost me 300k miles and 559 GBP. I think that to have F & J from LHR to AKL and back for 559 is excellent value. I booked this less than a month ago, so you can get availability. Yes I am GGL, but this didn't use the joker, and Gold extra availability is only in Y
Putting the cost of these flights at 559 would be on the basis that you value 300k miles as nothing so they don't contribute to the "cost".

Everyone values their miles differently, depending primarily on how those miles were earned or bought in the first place but to give them zero cost/value for pricing a redemption isn't (to me at least) the right comparison.
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Old Mar 30, 11, 3:07 am
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My advice would be for those of us who live in the regions.

Domestic flights are included in mileage rate your quoted leaving direct from London for straight mileage bookings (including Amex 2F1). You have to pay if it is MFU.

I often find you can get no availability for the domestic leg - or at silly hours - or into the wrong London airport only.

Find availabilty for the flights in/out of London to your destination. I then call up and make the booking over the phone but state you need the domestic connections - requesting the times you want.

I have had a 100% success rate on getting the domestic flights i have requested added on. The agent will book the long haul flight immediatly and then put a request in for the domestic flight to be released. They will call you back to confirm once released (within 2 to 24 hours in my experience).

For what it is worth I try and get a flight arriving in London 3-4 hours before the long haul to allow time in the lounges. Get the first one I possibly can on the return.

Last edited by blawson; Mar 30, 11 at 3:15 am
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Old Mar 30, 11, 3:19 am
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Originally Posted by where2travel View Post
Putting the cost of these flights at 559 would be on the basis that you value 300k miles as nothing so they don't contribute to the "cost".

Everyone values their miles differently, depending primarily on how those miles were earned or bought in the first place but to give them zero cost/value for pricing a redemption isn't (to me at least) the right comparison.
Quite! Valuing the miles at just 1p each puts this fare on a par with the current EK sale in F to Aus/NZ. QF's F saver fare LHR-AKL is 6900, so that values your miles at about 2p each which I believe is a good target to shoot for.
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