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A Tale of Three Awards...

A Tale of Three Awards...

Old Mar 6, 07, 7:29 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Nov 2002
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A Tale of Three Awards...

So I'm planning our Fall/Winter trip. Hotel availability is not an issue, so the gating item is the flights. Looking for premium class travel across the pond.

I've got enough miles in AA, BA, and NW. Let's give it a shot:

1. AA - log on, click on "redeem miles", pick the days, pick the flights, done. Plenty of availability, fast website, no sweat.

2. BA - log on, click on "book with miles", pick the days, pick the flights, done. Plenty of availability, easy website.

3. NW - ...? First of all, it's slower than a used car dealer's refund. They can only look at +/- 3 days (AA and BA are a month at a time). And (standard) availability is just a dream. Even Coach usually winds up with at least one leg at double price. Fooling around takes forever. I gave up eventually.

It's a pity, because NW is the only airline where I have any status at all, and I flew a lot of flights (and stayed in a lot of hotel rooms) to get those miles. I guess other folks were right -- NW is fine if you want to enjoy the domestic upgrades, but forget it when it comes to awards, especially international.

I know, there are techniques like trying one segment at a time and putting it together, but it takes time and the website doesn't make it any easier.

<sigh>

Has this been everyone else's experience or am I just running into a string of bad luck? Maybe if I try to pounce at day 330? Any other secrets? I hate to let those miles go to waste, since once they're into NW, they don't come out!
BigLar is offline  
Old Mar 6, 07, 7:50 pm
  #2  
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I think UA does this too, but what really bugs me about NWAs site is that you cant like look at what awards are available unless you have the miles in your account! I know I will soon (waiting on a promo) but since I do not yet have enough, I can see NOTHING!

AA lets you see awards as they exist.

UAs site stinks in my opinion, but at least you can redeem some things.

NW sometimes does not have it, but I find if you book a NW award from miles on one of their partners, you can get the award! It's as if their partners have better inventory sometimes! AND, if you call NWA, sure you have to pay the $15 booking fee but the phone service ALSO often has more flight options for award bookings than the web site does. Go figure.

Anyway, Good luck. I have yet to book some awards as well and who knows what will happen.

MM

PS: I have noticed a few things I do a lot got slower. One is that when you go to pump gas these days, it seems to take a lot longer to authorize the pump. Does not have much to do with flying but what a frustrating thing that is. I used my NW visa to get gas tonight so um, that's why it's on my mind. Maybe it's the NW gods?
Marathon Man is offline  
Old Mar 7, 07, 12:32 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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What's interesting is that the AAward system was just upgraded to be much more useful and easier to see the potential availability. When I was booking some award seats around this time last year, the NW site was reasonably good to help me find what I wanted and get the tickets booked. Their system will give you the month calendars if you use it for a little while, but I'm not sure what kicks into that mode. (That mode also only works with NW availability, and you have to poke around on your own to find out about CO and DL and other codeshare partners.) I seem to remember that it came up after I'd searched a few times trying to find saver awards and couldn't get any results. I just had it come up for RDU-AMS which is telling me that there are F seats available at 50K miles on 10 different days through the end of the month. I'm still not sure how to get it to show up, but I got it to come up when searching from the "more details" award page and selecting "Search PerkSaver Award Only".

I haven't tried US since the HP merger, but the old system was reasonable to find availability based on the mileage you wanted to use except that it couldn't support split awards (saver one direction, anytime other direction).
StSebastian is offline  
Old Mar 7, 07, 12:35 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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Originally Posted by Marathon Man View Post
I think UA does this too, but what really bugs me about NWAs site is that you cant like look at what awards are available unless you have the miles in your account! I know I will soon (waiting on a promo) but since I do not yet have enough, I can see NOTHING!
NW just let me search for flights far outside my mileage balance and just told me I had insufficient miles to select those flights and continue down the booking process. I've not run into that with them, but I remember hitting that problem on UA.
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Old Mar 17, 07, 12:28 am
  #5  
ET
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I have not tried AA's new system, so I don't know how good it is now.

For NW, if you choose "flexible", they will give you a grid of up to +-3 days and the minimum miles for each. This is just on NW. If instead you choose a specific day, it will give you options on NW and all its partners. If you get really restrictive(ie saver only) and just pick a specific day it will give you choices if it has it --- if not, it will give you a month grid color coded to show availability in saver coach, 1st class, biz class, etc. Then you can click on any specific day of the month. I believe this is how you get to these screens (from trial and error and poking around alot). One thing that is very irritating is that often the best outbound and return flights that are available are not paired together as a choice they offer! I don't know how to fix that except call NW.

BTW, NW does have a great feature that I've used. You can book an award flight, but can cancel it within a day with no penalty or fee (though you do have to call them to cancel it). NW is among the few (if not only) airline that allows you to do this. I've made many a reservation for my parents and have cancelled, rebooked, cancelled, rebooked all without any penalty or fee.

Also, it seems like if you book an award tix online, then call within 24hrs to ask the agent to change something (like get that available return that didn't get paired with your outbound, or get some better flight that never even showed online that the agent can get), you *will not* incur any tele or change fee because the ticket was originally "booked online" and you made the changes within the 24hr refundable/cancelable window. At least that's what happened to me. I must have asked 5 times to 5 different agents if I would be assessed a "telephone fee" before I did it, and all 5 said no. After I had the CSR make the change, it was as they said and I didn't get charged any fees.

If you *are* subject to fees, don't be surprised if they don't ask for a credit card number or anything --- they already have one onfile associated with your original method of payment and will charge that card. That also happened to me. I guess if you used FF miles, they may ask for a credit card.
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