Award Travel - Never on CO

 
Old Aug 30, 99, 9:37 pm
  #1  
Original Member
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Costa Mesa, CA, USA
Programs: AA (Life Plat), Starwood (Plat) and every other US program
Posts: 5,193
Award Travel - Never on CO

I have *never* been able to successfully book award travel on Continental. (I haven't been elite for a number of years). I have tried at least twice a year for the past four years. Most recently I tried this morning. I wanted to go from LAX-EWR, stopover, then continue to London a few days later, then return to LAX. This was with my family, so I needed 4 seats. I know this is a popular route, but I was looking for travel next July (i.e. - my proposed return flight was 325 days in the future - just about as soon as you can possibly make a reservation). We got the seats from LAX to Newark, although I had to go one day earlier than I wanted because Fri-Sat-Sun are blackout dates for international travel during the summer. I wanted to go from New York to London on Tuesday, July 11. "Oops, there is only one seat that day, the only other option is **20** days earlier, and there is only **1** seat that day." Never even bothered to find out whether it would be possible to get home.

Adding to my continued disappointment, the agent told me that many award seats would be created over the next few months, because otherwise it wouldn't be fair to people who didn't know their travel plans this far in advance<<???>> (I know she didn't know what she was talking about, but she works in the award travel department - what are they telling these people during training?)

Oh, by the way, I called AA five minutes later and booked (for 4 people) the exact flights I wanted, on the exact dates I wanted, including the London-LA nonstop on the return, on the *regular* *restricted* award, *before* I gave them my name or frequent flyer number.

Now, remind me, why do I have 1.9+ million miles on AA, and only 150,000 on CO?
sbrower is offline  
Old Aug 30, 99, 10:07 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: New York City
Programs: UA MM-1P, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Gold, ICH Spire
Posts: 4,078
Amazing... this mirrors my experience exactly. Two years ago, I transferred about 15,000 miles from Membership Rewards to OnePass to top it off for a business first award to Europe. Three times now, I have tried, plenty of time in advance, to use these miles, and each time have had to settle for a booking for coach seats on days other than the ones I want to travel on, with upgrades waitlisted, which then don't clear in at least one direction, resulting in my cancelling the booking a week or so before the trip and booking substitute space on United, in C class, with no problem, & in one instance even in the middle of the summer. Basically, on Continental, unless you're Platinum, you're going to have a tough time using your miles.
RichG is offline  
Old Aug 30, 99, 10:13 pm
  #3  
Original Member
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Costa Mesa, CA, USA
Programs: AA (Life Plat), Starwood (Plat) and every other US program
Posts: 5,193
Why does a program where it is so difficult (I am being polite - I really mean "almost impossible") to get award travel consistently get the Freddie award?
sbrower is offline  
Old Aug 30, 99, 10:19 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Mililani, Hawaii
Posts: 1,236
Upgrades vs. award travel?
Eidetic is offline  
Old Aug 30, 99, 10:27 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Mililani, Hawaii
Posts: 1,236
To expand on my reply on the Freddie question, my answer is: upgrades vs. award travel.

If the airline keeps the seats out of award inventory, they remain available for upgrades. By and large, the "voters" for the Freddie are still paying and flying in the Lower 48, so they care more about upgrades.

In my view, OnePass works great for continental US upgrades and awards... and CONUS travelers are the overwhelming majority of the Freddie voters.

The hidden edges in OnePass, esp. living in the land of no complimentary upgrades (Hawaii, treated as the land of Mu in the OnePass world), led me to put my Asian status miles into WorldPerks, and use OnePass to source miles earned in MR and on carriers that WorldPerks doesn't recognize but OnePass does.

[This message has been edited by Eidetic (edited 08-30-1999).]

[This message has been edited by Eidetic (edited 08-30-1999).]
Eidetic is offline  
Old Aug 30, 99, 10:42 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 3,709
I've only booked one award trip (BDL-ANC). I chose the one or two days between blackout dates during Christmas week, and got the trip without much trouble.

I'd figured the planes would be loaded with award fliers, especially because of the "funnelling" effect of having blackout dates both before and after the very small travel window, but was very pleasantly surprised.

The woman handling the arrangement (sorry, I misplaced the name) was absolutely terrific. She made sure every T was crossed and I dotted, because she said that each minute counts.


------------------
"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own."
Jon Toner is offline  
Old Aug 30, 99, 11:59 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Mililani, Hawaii
Posts: 1,236
Jon,
Was you BDL-ANC itinerary on CO or NW. NW does it with one stop in MSP, and CO in two stops in EWR and SEA?

To all,
What has been your experience in getting US/Europe AWARD travel, and US/Asia AWARD travel, on CO (not on partners)?
Eidetic is offline  
Old Aug 31, 99, 12:02 am
  #8  
Original Member
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Costa Mesa, CA, USA
Programs: AA (Life Plat), Starwood (Plat) and every other US program
Posts: 5,193
Eidetic has a valid comment about the value of upgrades. On a "routine" basis upgrades are more important to me than award travel. However, in the context of my original message, I would note:

1. Award travel isn't an issue because AA has booked *every* award I have ever requested, for the day and flight I wanted, in the class of service I selected.

2. My attempted award reservation on CO was in coach, so there wasn't an issue about holding the seats for upgrade passengers.
sbrower is offline  
Old Aug 31, 99, 1:02 am
  #9  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: TX
Posts: 711
Award/upgrade travel on CO to Europe, is one of the drawbacks of the program.

Have been saving the NW/CO miles for the big skiing trip to Zurich in Feb/Mar. Of course, I'd love to buy the tickets and use my miles for buz/first upgrade on CO.

Can do it on NW, can do it on UA, and likely many others. Instead, a guessing game with CO. 30 day window. maybe, maybe not. This is really inane for those of us who value miles for vacation planning. As the above poster mentioned, he was denied several times. There is nothing automatic/likely here.

For those of you who would like to somehow justify CO's policy here, I'd like to hear it. Yes, you can say it's a profit, sell-the-seats issue. It is. But it is also less beneficial to One Pass or WPerks members. How, in this respect is CO better than the other airlines (most)? They are not. I ask the question to CO, "can I upgrade to bus/first" and the answer is "maybe, but you'll have to buy the ticket first, and wait; if we eventually say "no," then too bad, you're stuck." "And we do say 'no" at times."

Again, one of the banes of the "number one" frequent flyer program. Also, see other threads on CO restrictive policy on domestic upgrades using miles (not elite status). More stringent than other carriers.

I love the airline, just wish the frequent flyer program could improve in a few areas.

JeffLewis2 is offline  
Old Aug 31, 99, 6:55 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Central New Jersey
Programs: UA-Platimum 2 MM, HH-Gold, MR-Lifetime Gold, Hyatt-Discoverist
Posts: 6,199
I would have to agree with this as being a major problem for CO. I have always been a big supporter of this airline, and as a Platinum have had 99.8% upgrade success--but their policy on international upgrades leaves much to be desired. One thing that has not been mentioned is CO's policy of upgrading only the higher fares internationally. Earlier this year when fares had dropped substantially, I attempted to purchase a trip to London, using miles to upgrade (yes, there was the 30 day prior problem--but I was told that being a Platinum my odds were pretty good at getting into BC). The thing that shocked me was the fare necessary to use the upgrade. While sale fares were in the $300 R/T area, in order to upgrade I would have to pay a fare of $872! This was 5 months prior to my planned trip. What gives Continental !!!!
mauld is offline  
Old Aug 31, 99, 8:29 am
  #11  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: New York
Posts: 2,115
Maybe CO has a plan. Offer lots of miles, with bonuses all over the place and then make it difficult to use them

No, they would never do that

You could always buy magazine subscriptions for the entire family.

On a serious note, the 2 times, yes only 2, that i've tried to use an award I was able to get the dates and cities I wanted. Both were flights within the lower 48.
Boomer is offline  
Old Aug 31, 99, 9:24 am
  #12  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Guam, USA
Posts: 98
It is very difficult for us to use our miles. NW is so much easier. I book months in advance and offer the reservation agent many different options. It seems like I know the routings better than they do!
diver is offline  
Old Aug 31, 99, 10:37 am
  #13  
BSL
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 622
I'll agree and disagree. The reason BC is hard to get on international flights is that they make soooo much money off of paying customers for those seats. From what I can tell, Co has some of the best FC/BC seats and they would rather sell them. That said, I had little difficulty getting some BF return seats last night for Europe to the US.

Unfortunately, right now the best description of the system is this:

Because CO will only open up availability w/in ~60 days, if you want a guaranteed BC/FC seat for a trip more than ~60 days out you have to book NW. They show their seats well in advance.

After you have the NW seats reserved, then keep trying back within the 60 days for the CO flights to see if they open up. This will happen, I got some CO seats last night for Oct. travel.

Now, I'm out on NW World Business Class and back on CO Business First.

Yes, it sounds difficult but allows you to be sure to get a non-coach seat.

I wonder if NW will figure out that people are holding space on them while waiting for a CO seat?

BSL
BSL is offline  
Old Aug 31, 99, 10:58 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: northern NJ
Posts: 1,352
It might be the luck of the draw when you call. Award seats in BF are sooooooooooo popular to Europe that people jump on them right away. I personally have only had a problem once with award travel, and the was during spring break, on the day before most people had to return to school. I opted to go for the 40000 mile award for coach because I didn't want to pay the $600 fare from Newark to Florida.
Tute84 is offline  
Old Aug 31, 99, 12:46 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: SFO
Programs: No status anymore. Former CO PLT, NW PLT, AS MVP
Posts: 502
I had an interesting trans-Atlantic award story last year. You may recall that about 15 months ago, CO and VS started to code-share. So all of a sudden I was able to use miles for VS flights.

Well, I had a business trip to London, and my company pays for BC under certain conditions (I matched them). So I went SEA-EWR-LGW. It was nearing my dad's b-day, so I burned miles to get him an Upper Class ticket LAX-LHR to meet me in London. The cool part was, since the code sharing was so new, I was easily able to get the tickets at the lower price (100K), even though it was only two weeks out.

And VS Upper Class is second to none for trans-Atlantic. We went back together LHR-LAX, and the service was impeccable.

However, every other time I've tried to get BC on international CO, I've failed.
mweiss is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: