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Award Ticket routing advice

Award Ticket routing advice

Old Nov 6, 18, 4:46 pm
  #1  
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Award Ticket routing advice

I have around 250K Membership Rewards Points I want to use on 2 RT tickets to DPS (Bali).
Ive been saving my miles for a while now so that the flights don't cost us anything. We are looking to stay for a month since It's our honeymoon.

Would like to fly Business or first.
Since we are getting married in the Caribbean, I basically can pick a return flight to any airport in the USA to depart from.
I've been looking at ORD since ANA seems to have good availability there and its a an hour flight home & flight is cheap.
Is there a better departure airport to look at ?

Whats the best routing to get to DPS that balances miles with timing ?
I don't mind paying cash for a connecting flight to save MR Points if it makes sense to do so.

I've been playing around with award hackers & ANA award booking and came up with these options.
ANA from ORD to DPS (136K MR)
ANA from ORD to CGK (110K MR) Business class then cash for the connecting flight. ( My #1 pick so far)
ANA from ORD to TPE (85K-90K MR) Business class then cash for connecting flight.

Any other good routing options that could potentially save me a lot of MR points ?

Thanks for the help
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Old Nov 6, 18, 6:00 pm
  #2  
 
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The ANA (NH) award program can be a great redemption for J tickets to Asia. I am currently on one now of PDX-SFO-TPE(11 hour day time layover)-PVG, HKG-HND, NRT-ICN, ICN-JFK for 96000 miles and about $320 in taxes and fees. But remember that you’re not limited to just NH flights. Redemptions include all their Star Alliance partner flights with saver level award space and their non alliance partners too. Use the UA search tool and piece together segments that work to get what you want (availability withstanding) and then call in and have it booked. Their call center people were great to me and even offered me options that I didn’t see or ones that they felt may fit my needs better.

A month is a long time in one place even if it is Bali. I’d break it up a bit more if possible and maybe visit 3-4 places. A first stop can be to get to a west coast jumping point as they often have better availability as LAX, SFO & SEA all have multiple operators and multiple flights per day. Then fly into a more “exciting” city such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Jakarta, or even Singapore though that will require more miles but you seem to have enough. You can also tag on a short stay in Seoul, Osaka or Tokyo before going home again. This works for three reasons in my mind. The first being that it helps with availability as you can be more flexibility. The second is it will help your body adjust to the time change so you get true relaxation and the Bali experiences. And it helps keep you active so the month in one location doesn’t become too much.

BA is another Amex MR transfer partner which is good for the short intraAsia flights on CX & JL.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 6:41 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by Shadowfactor View Post
I have around 250K Membership Rewards Points I want to use on 2 RT tickets to DPS (Bali).
I've been saving my miles for a while now so that the flights don't cost us anything. We are looking to stay for a month since It's our honeymoon.

Would like to fly Business or first.
Since we are getting married in the Caribbean, I basically can pick a return flight to any airport in the USA to depart from.
I've been looking at ORD since ANA seems to have good availability there and its a an hour flight home & flight is cheap.
Is there a better departure airport to look at ?

Whats the best routing to get to DPS that balances miles with timing ?
I don't mind paying cash for a connecting flight to save MR Points if it makes sense to do so.

I've been playing around with award hackers & ANA award booking and came up with these options.
ANA from ORD to DPS (136K MR)
ANA from ORD to CGK (110K MR) Business class then cash for the connecting flight. ( My #1 pick so far)
ANA from ORD to TPE (85K-90K MR) Business class then cash for connecting flight.

Any other good routing options that could potentially save me a lot of MR points?
Cost in MR points transferred to a ffp is only one side of the equation.
Availability can/will be the issue. 2 off long haul business/first class awards is always hard get. Will need to be flexible on routes & dates [Have you flown long haul international business class before?]
What ffp's are you a member of now?
FF miles balance/status?
Can do one ways of different airlines/difference ffp's.
Cash paid flights to DPS from from another Asia airport, like SIN BKK are frequent and can be cheap, as you have found.

Agree with above 4 weeks in Bali is a lot (too much). Spend a week in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand or where ever for 7~10 days

OP's other thread on the same general topic-->Honeymoon Help in Palawan Island
Looking for June 2020

Another USA Bali ward threads
Consider these--> Award booking services - a list and some reviews
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Old Nov 6, 18, 6:58 pm
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We were looking at Palawan but decided against it due to her lack of travel experience and the feedback we got against it. It seems best suited for a different time. We are in our mid 20's with lots of time to travel.

I don't think shes going to want to go anywhere else on this trip. Shes got it set her in her head she wants to lay on the beach for most of the trip. Shes already got the hotels figured out.
So it looks like it will just be Bali on this trip.

I'm looking to book this in 2 months exactly 365 days from the date we fly. I was hoping this would max my chances of finding 2 J tickets.
I haven't flown on any kind of award ticket before. I have flown to SE asia but that was with my parents 8 years ago for HS graduation. I really have no idea what to expect when it comes to booking award tickets.
Based on my previous searches though It seems like its not all that hard to find award space for 2 tickets as long as you book a year ago.

Ideally I would want to fly into CGK unless a different routing would save me several thousand miles.

The only FFP that I have any kind of usable balance in is Delta as I fly them for work. I have 140K.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 10:06 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Shadowfactor View Post
I'm looking to book this in 2 months exactly 365 days from the date we fly. I was hoping this would max my chances of finding 2 J tickets.
<snip>
The only FFP that I have any kind of usable balance in is Delta as I fly them for work. I have 140K.
Awards usually start to become available 355 or 330 days out depending on the airline/ffp. But may be available from then to any time closer to departure. Nothing is 100% guaranteed. Have a look in the forums on the airlines you may use, even if booking using a partner ffp.

International business class, on a better airline, is a step above that in most US domestic aircraft with first/coach. In Asia regional aircraft business can be a lower quality compared to long haul wide body aircraft (A380 B777 etc)
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Old Nov 6, 18, 10:27 pm
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Okay thank you for that information.

Is the routing I listed the "best" routing ?

Would flying out of a different airport in the US affect the price ?
Better airports to fly into SE asia and then connect to DPS ?

So after getting online and looking at the ANA award bookings. It looks like the ORD to DPS for 136K MR is out. Almost the entire flight is in economy. I dont see the point in paying that many miles for economy.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 10:42 pm
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Find a city is Asia 1 or Japan and then buy a revenue or do a separate award (such as the BA low cost awards) to get to Bali. I still think you should approach your wife to be with the idea of at least one additional Asian city. ORD will have limits when compared to SFO/LAX/SEA and donít rule out DEN & IAH too.

Also be sure to familiarize yourself with all the quirks of NH awards and the restrictions as your spouse to be wil not have your last name. Now is a good time to get that out of the way

Donít look at what routings have J & Y now. It wonít matter. It only matters what your find while booking. Just because the awards you find currently have a Y segment doesnít mean the routing you find now will. Also donít just use one booking engine to search. NH doesnít show them all.

Originally Posted by Shadowfactor View Post
Okay thank you for that information.

Is the routing I listed the "best" routing ?

Would flying out of a different airport in the US affect the price ?
Better airports to fly into SE asia and then connect to DPS ?

So after getting online and looking at the ANA award bookings. It looks like the ORD to DPS for 136K MR is out. Almost the entire flight is in economy. I dont see the point in paying that many miles for economy.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 10:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Shadowfactor View Post
Is the routing I listed the "best" routing?

Would flying out of a different airport in the US affect the price ?
Better airports to fly into SE Asia and then connect to DPS ?
Q1 The "best" route is the route that has 2 x business class award availability when you need them. Will change day by day or hour by hour.

Q2 Some ffp's work on zones (like AA) and others work on actual distance (like BA). For example with the AA ffp from any USA airport to any Asia zone 2 airport is same price in ff miles. Real taxes vary with airports/countries.
You need to familiarise yourself with award rules of the various ffp's that have MR as a transfer partner.
Working backwards often helps. Airport wikipedia entries usually list airlines/routes, but can be not up to date
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngurah...tional_Airport
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Last edited by Mwenenzi; Nov 6, 18 at 11:06 pm
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Old Nov 7, 18, 9:46 am
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Given your limited experience with award travel you may actually want to look at one of the award booking services.
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Old Nov 7, 18, 1:23 pm
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I will definitely take a look at them.
what exactly do they do though ? Just find all the routing options and then book for you ? Do I have to transfer all my miles to them ?

with the new MR transfer addition today. I hopefully can find space through a partner alliance and not have to book through ANA. Lower cost of miles as well. Hopefully this makes it easier to book.

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Old Nov 8, 18, 4:47 am
  #11  
 
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Ok, so why now don’t you want to use NH? You can book other Star Alliance award flights via an NH award.

AV’s lifemiles has been known to be a good value, particularly for purchasing miles during bonuses sales, but it does come with many known headaches which to be blunt you do not sound ready to deal with.
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Old Nov 8, 18, 7:22 am
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After playing around with the system for about an hour yesterday and piecing together routing. It still looks like ANA is my best option.

the whole reason I posted here was to get as many different booking options as possible so when the time comes to book. I have a good idea of what I want to do and have a backup plan.

Is is there any helpful articles or threads you can point me towards in order to learn about the complexities of award booking ?

Thanks
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Old Nov 8, 18, 8:44 am
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by Shadowfactor View Post
[left]I will definitely take a look at them.
what exactly do they do though ? Just find all the routing options and then book for you ?
Essentially, yes. That's not always a simple task.

Originally Posted by Shadowfactor View Post
Do I have to transfer all my miles to them ?
No. They call the mileage program as your representative and book the flights for you.

Originally Posted by Shadowfactor View Post
with the new MR transfer addition today. I hopefully can find space through a partner alliance and not have to book through ANA. Lower cost of miles as well. Hopefully this makes it easier to book.
Lifemiles has a lower miles cost than ANA for round trip to Bali in business? Lifemiles charges 78k one way while, as you saw, ANA charges 136k round trip. ANA does collect fuel surcharges, so it's possible Lifemiles will be a better overall cost (due to cash savings), but ANA definitely charges fewer miles.

Originally Posted by Shadowfactor View Post
Is is there any helpful articles or threads you can point me towards in order to learn about the complexities of award booking ?
That's a broad question. Every mileage program has its own idiosyncrasies. Lifemiles in particular can be excruciating. If the search engine shows your full routing available, you should be good to go. The problem is if the search engine won't produce your full routing but the components show available separately, which happens very often with Lifemiles. When you home in on the program you want to use, search around for advice/complexities of using those miles. Some (United, Aeroplan, Delta) are straightforward search-and-book for better or worse, while others (AA, Lifemiles) are not.
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Old Nov 8, 18, 9:20 am
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What fare classes are ideal to book on for ANA awards.
I keep seeing C and J. Both seem to be business class ?
Can you pick is one better then the other one ?

best seat choice for couples on a 77W and 788 or 789 ?

is there anything particular that I need to be looking at fare wise etc when I go to book the tickets ?

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Old Nov 8, 18, 9:41 am
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Originally Posted by Shadowfactor View Post
What fare classes are ideal to book on for ANA awards.
I keep seeing C and J. Both seem to be business class ?
Can you pick is one better then the other one ?

best seat choice for couples on a 77W and 788 or 789 ?

is there anything particular that I need to be looking at fare wise etc when I go to book the tickets ?
Fare class is how airlines systemically control pricing and also impacts mileage earning in some cases. Neither is relevant for awards. Most airlines designate a specific fare class as award availability. C and J are both used in online fora as shorthand for "business" because they are usually fare classes for business. But that doesn't mean your award will literally book into C or J. It's just easier to type "C" (or "J") than "business" . Similarly, flying in F means First even if you're on an A fare (another First fare class). And flying in Y is flying in economy, even though hardly anyone flying in economy is actually flying in full-fare Y fare class.

I don't think any of ANA's long-haul business class have a great seat pair for couples (if you mean to be able to converse). I assume you're asking about ANA's business class specifically. An ANA award could be on any Star Alliance airline, and their seat layouts will all vary.
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