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Award booking services - a list and some reviews

Award booking services - a list and some reviews

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This list is not an endorsement of any particular award booking service.
Please do your research and read this thread.


See the FT Disclaimers for disclaimer of responsibility for use of these services, etc.
Please add other services and options you know about to this wiki.
Also, please post any personal experiences you may have with any of these services in this thread.


Award booking services (alphabetical):
  • Award Advocate - Domestic $100 p/p International $125 p/p, no additional charge for last minute. Changes $50. Also 10% discount for families traveling with children and active military
  • AwardBird - Economy: $39 for the 1st passenger and $19 for each additional; Business/First: $69 for the 1st passenger and $39 for each additional
  • Award Booking Service - $25 up front search fee plus $150/ticket & $49 per 30-minute skype consultations (ask anything!)
  • Award Butler - Award Search: $79 for up to two passengers; flight info provided but does not include booking. Booking starting at $149 for first two passengers.
  • Award Chaser - Search fee starting at $79. Itinerary only - no booking provided
  • Awarding Canada - Specializing in awards for Canadians, especially with Aeroplan, but with expertise available for anyone, worldwide. $150CAD for first passenger, $100CAD per passenger thereafter. Infants charged $25 instead. 2% discount if paid by Interace-Transfer.
  • Award Guru - $100 flat fee. Unlimited number of passengers. Website down as of 23-June-2018
  • Award Planners - One way $129, additional person $99; Round trip $199, additional person $99; Multi City $249 additional person $149
  • Award Travel Consulting - Award Search: $125/person; Booking ticket: $75/itinerary; changes: new trip
  • Awardmagic - $179 per person OW/RT plus one stop or $279 per person for three or more destinations
  • Awards & Travel - (iqbalt from FT) $100 for the first person; $50 for additional personnel. Explorer and RTW awards will be $200/ per person. Website down as of 23-June-2018
  • Book Your Award - (Gary Leff/View From The Wing): Booking: $185 per person; changes: $75 per person, each way
  • Boundless Miles - (Dominik Żmuda/Travelling the World): Booking: $50 USD per passenger, $25 change/cancellation fee per passenger
  • CabinChief - Bookings are $49 per pax
  • Cranky Concierge - $75 per person each way domestic; $95 per person each way international
  • First Class and Beyond - "Concierge-style" bookings. Fee is based on the value of the retail ticket, $250/person minimum.
  • Flightfox - Consultative flight searching; fees start at $100 (requires credit card authorization up front)
  • iflywithmiles.com - (Mike/Melissa): 150 USD first person, 85 for additional person on same itin. Change fees vary.
  • JJ Award Travel - $175 for the first person/$75 each additional. Complex awards more. Currently giving 10% discount when you mention FT. 20% off per referral.
  • Juicy Miles - (Adam/Point Me to the Plane): $125 per person for the first two travelers. $100 per each additional traveler. For Round-the-World (RTW) awards, pricing will vary
  • Loophole Travel - Award Travel Coaching $150 for first passenger and $100 for each additional passenger. Points Earning and MS Coaching also available.
  • Luxury Travel Consulting - (Jasper2009 on Flyertalk): $150 per person per ticket
  • MilesConcierge - (callmedtop on FT) "High-touch" award bookings, emphasizing personalized engagement for every customer. $125 for first passenger, $100 for each additional. Not accepting new bookings as of 23-June-2018
  • MilesElite - $99 for award search and $149 for award search and booking. No such domain as of 23-June-2018
  • Miles Help - Domestic: $100 OW; $140 RT/complex. International: $150 OW; $200 RT/complex. $50 each additional person
  • Miles Momma Booking Services - Airline Booking: $200 up to 2 passengers. $75 additional passengers. $50 non-refundable up front. Changes $50
  • MileValue Award Booking Service - (Scott Grimmer): Booking: $125 per person per award; $15 up front. Full payment required for successful search even if not booked. Change fee not currently listed; previously $79
  • PMM Travel Consulting - (Miguel R. Quinones/AwardWallet Blog): Booking: $125 per passenger for the first two, $99 for each additional. Additional charges for complex itineraries. Credit card advice and travel planning services.
  • PointsPros - (Ben Schlappig/One Mile At A Time): Booking: $300 first passenger, changes: $100
  • Reward Flyer - Domestic: $50 first person; $25 each additional person. International: $100 first person; $50 each additional person
  • Shrewd Travel - (skyvanman on FT) Booking: $250 per person; changes: varies; Available via phone or e-mail or even FT PM. Website down as of 23-June-2018
  • SFO777.com - (SFO777 on FT) Booking: $200 first passenger, $100 each additional passenger; change fees vary
  • The Flying Mustache - $100 per ticket; additional fees for more than eight segments. Change fees vary
  • The Points Jet Setter - $150 for the first passenger and $75 per each additional passenger. Website down as of 23-June-2018
  • Upgrd Awards - (MatthewLAX on FT, Live and Let's Fly blog) $150 first passenger, $100 each additional passenger; $250 per person for RTW; changes $75 but can vary. $50/ticket booking fee
  • zainman - FT member since 2009. Booking: $200 first passenger, $100 each additional passenger; change fees vary, consultant services for $ as well
  • Zero Hassle Rewards - $100 per person. Discounts for domestic and one-way
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Old Nov 2, 12, 8:53 pm
  #91  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: NYC
Programs: AA EXP, COdbaUA 1K, Hyatt Plt, Hilton GLD, SPG Plat50, Marriott Gld, Hertz PC, NEXUS/GE
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Originally Posted by yerffej201 View Post
I think this falls under MilesBuzz right?
I'm just interested in how they work. So they take your account and book for you? Aren't there privacy issues?
Outside of your name, you could hand a summary of your account balances to a booking service and they could give the flights with the award inventory you're interested in, leaving it up to you to actually call the airline and book.

This would eliminate some, but not all of the problems that lead people to seek out award booking services in the first place.

Originally Posted by yerffej201 View Post
And, also considering most services operate blogs, isn't their service the exact opposite of what their blogs attempt to provide?
The blogs very commonly teach people how to accumulate miles in the first place (that will then need to be burned with awards). Some specialize in product reviews, which can lead to readers making flying LH F and stopping by the FRA FCT an aspiration.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 9:05 pm
  #92  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: ATL, but want to Expatriate to SE Asia ASAP
Programs: AS MVP Gold, Choice Plat & Hilton+SPG Gold, UA, BA...Etc
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Originally Posted by FlyerChrisK View Post
Outside of your name, you could hand a summary of your account balances to a booking service and they could give the flights with the award inventory you're interested in, leaving it up to you to actually call the airline and book.

This would eliminate some, but not all of the problems that lead people to seek out award booking services in the first place.
Correct!

I have had several clients who wanted help finding space on flights that would get them where they wanted to go in Business or First Class.

I help find that space and when it opens up they call the airlines to book the tickets based on the instructions and info I give them as they weren't comfortable handing over their account login credentials. We do all the hard work and you just call and book the ticket!

Secondly sending your current miles/points account balances lets us know not only where to start looking but also we can help you get points you may lack for a booking.

This is not limited to credit cards as their are lots of other ways to get miles and points!

Foo
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Old Nov 2, 12, 9:10 pm
  #93  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 266
I just dont get why people are paying a high amount of fees ($100-$150) for such simple mouse clicks and searches. Is it really hard to learn all the tricks? From my point of view, they are easy like baby steps. If you do not have search tools like them, just sign up for expertflyer site or buy some special searching tools advertised here on FT. Besides, you are safe with your private information. It is much better with the idea "they can do it, you can do it too". Your personal information is important and think carefully before giving it to a random dude on the internet. You never know what they are going to do with that information. Oh well, this is my opinion and correct me if you have good views on this.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 9:39 pm
  #94  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: NYC
Programs: AA EXP, COdbaUA 1K, Hyatt Plt, Hilton GLD, SPG Plat50, Marriott Gld, Hertz PC, NEXUS/GE
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Originally Posted by nature1370 View Post
I just dont get why people are paying a high amount of fees ($100-$150) for such simple mouse clicks and searches. Is it really hard to learn all the tricks? From my point of view, they are easy like baby steps.
Further, I strongly suspect that the typical demographic of award booking service customers is not the FT crowd. If I have a stockpile of US miles, I might naively go to US Airways' website, try to book an award ticket to Bangkok and find myself stymied by its limited search functionality. I could call in and wind up with an agent unable to find me flights with availability.

I typically spend several hours to find award inventory and build an award trip (note, I don't run a booking service, so I'm speaking of what I've done for myself and assisted friends on). At the prices many award booking services run, this almost certainly undervalues my time (if not for the fun this hobby provides me). For those uninterested in the intricacies of award inventory, $100-150 sounds pretty cheap.

Originally Posted by nature1370 View Post
If you do not have search tools like them, just sign up for expertflyer site or buy some special searching tools advertised here on FT.
ExpertFlyer's *A-wide search is a very, very recent innovation. Previously, you needed to sign up for an ANA account to get that information. That's a moderately high bar for someone who has only flown US Airways (and maybe occasionally United). PMUA was nearly as bad (showing only UA and LH metal).
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Old Nov 2, 12, 10:20 pm
  #95  
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: SF Bay Area
Programs: SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum, PC Platinum, Hyatt Platinum
Posts: 317
Originally Posted by nature1370 View Post
I just dont get why people are paying a high amount of fees ($100-$150) for such simple mouse clicks and searches. Is it really hard to learn all the tricks? From my point of view, they are easy like baby steps. If you do not have search tools like them, just sign up for expertflyer site or buy some special searching tools advertised here on FT. Besides, you are safe with your private information. It is much better with the idea "they can do it, you can do it too". Your personal information is important and think carefully before giving it to a random dude on the internet. You never know what they are going to do with that information. Oh well, this is my opinion and correct me if you have good views on this.
I usually book awards for myself, friends and coworkers. But at times, when I don't have time, I do get help for my own awards. Its a matter of convenience. If I have the time I will book it myself but then sometimes, you value your time spent with your family more than $100.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 11:07 pm
  #96  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,352
Depends on the ticket, really. If it can be serviced by a single airline and to a common city, it's probably not _really_ needed, you can generally figure those out with some well published quirks here.

A multi-stop, stopover, multi-airline, or open-jaw mini-RTW with lots of date restrictions/freedoms? You know, the kind you have to call in multiple times? Yeah, outsource that one.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 11:08 pm
  #97  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: In CT,left my heart in Leicester.
Programs: Work in progress.
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Originally Posted by nature1370 View Post
I just dont get why people are paying a high amount of fees ($100-$150) for such simple mouse clicks and searches. Is it really hard to learn all the tricks? From my point of view, they are easy like baby steps.
For some people who've done their share of research and reading, it may seem like baby steps but for others it may seem very intimidating.

Now I'm not talking about a simple EWR-BDL flight.
I'm talking about a BDL-EWR-LHR-BOM-EWR-BDL partly in Business, partly in Economy and partly in First Class.
And heck even that seems a little simple to me... But when I first started out a few months ago, it seemed insane why I couldn't find any availability on UA when doing a multi-city search.
It seemed insane when ANA wouldn't allow me to do *A searches if I didn't have ANA miles (had to use a script to get around that, courtesy Wandering Aramean)

But slowly and steadily I got the hang of it. With many thanks to the multitide of excellent people here who helped me.

Now compare this with my father. He has points that he got from cc sign-ups and from flying internationally on various airlines now and then. Most of this is beyond his ability. He's a smart man but this is just not his cup of tea. So I do the booking/searching for him.

Similarly people find that paying someone $100-$150 for really complicated itineraries is totally worth it. It's not about being lazy, it's about convenience.
Some of the really good award booking people know tricks that I don't.So when I have a couple of hundred thousand points with UA, AA, BA, etc, for a convulted itinerary I may find it worth my while just paying $150 to have them search the best route and get the best use of my points.

But that's my opinion.
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Old Nov 2, 12, 11:29 pm
  #98  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: PHL (kinda, no airport is really close)
Programs: AA Gold but aiming for Plat Pro. Enterprise Platinum though, woo-hoo!
Posts: 2,733
Over the past two years, booking three trips for my wife to Europe (summer 2011, 2012, 2013) I made a lot of mistakes, and did a lot of learning. I mostly know what I'm doing now, but it was a long slow error-filled process.

I think I went from where I knew 20% of what there is to know, to probably 80%. My wife asked me to show her sometime what I learned, and I realized I could, but it would be so filled with exceptions and one-off knowledge (Lufthansa does not release F space to partners until 2 weeks, Tarom doesn't post availability until 9-10 months ahead, US shows no partner space on their website, DL shows only AF and KL, United shows all, BA has huge surcharges through LHR but AA doesn't) that I really had invested a lot of time and effort. I'm pretty comfortable that the booking services earn their pay, and that a LOT of people would be much happier leveraging their knowledge than trying to acquire it on their own.
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Old Nov 3, 12, 12:50 am
  #99  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: PSP
Programs: AA Executive Platinum, United
Posts: 1,078
Here is a link to a previous thread on award booking services...http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trave...ices-list.html
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Old Nov 3, 12, 1:25 am
  #100  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Australia
Programs: NZ *G
Posts: 5,365
...and others don't "get" why anyone would pay someone else for such simple "baby steps" things as interior/exterior painting, landscaping, meal preparation etc etc..

we are all different... and have different skills and experience....

You may think booking awards is terribly simple... I would bet that many folks do not find it so at all... and given the work/time I have spent on my own award "prep"... I agree that $100-$150 sounds quite reasonable for a complex itin....

Given my hourly rate of pay I should actually NEVER spend the time to research/book awards myself! I imagine that applies to a LOT of folks here

(I tend to enjoy the process so that has its own reward...and again, I imagine many other folks here feel the same)
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Old Nov 3, 12, 1:44 am
  #101  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 5,724
Originally Posted by jatink129 View Post
For some people who've done their share of research and reading, it may seem like baby steps but for others it may seem very intimidating.

Now I'm not talking about a simple EWR-BDL flight.
I'm talking about a BDL-EWR-LHR-BOM-EWR-BDL partly in Business, partly in Economy and partly in First Class.
And heck even that seems a little simple to me... But when I first started out a few months ago, it seemed insane why I couldn't find any availability on UA when doing a multi-city search.
It seemed insane when ANA wouldn't allow me to do *A searches if I didn't have ANA miles (had to use a script to get around that, courtesy Wandering Aramean)

But slowly and steadily I got the hang of it. With many thanks to the multitide of excellent people here who helped me.

Now compare this with my father. He has points that he got from cc sign-ups and from flying internationally on various airlines now and then. Most of this is beyond his ability. He's a smart man but this is just not his cup of tea. So I do the booking/searching for him.

Similarly people find that paying someone $100-$150 for really complicated itineraries is totally worth it. It's not about being lazy, it's about convenience.
Some of the really good award booking people know tricks that I don't.So when I have a couple of hundred thousand points with UA, AA, BA, etc, for a convulted itinerary I may find it worth my while just paying $150 to have them search the best route and get the best use of my points.

But that's my opinion.
*A is easy. Psssh.

Originally Posted by pssteve View Post
Here is a link to a previous thread on award booking services...http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trave...ices-list.html
I was inquiring about how people actually use them.

Originally Posted by nature1370 View Post
I just dont get why people are paying a high amount of fees ($100-$150) for such simple mouse clicks and searches. Is it really hard to learn all the tricks? From my point of view, they are easy like baby steps. If you do not have search tools like them, just sign up for expertflyer site or buy some special searching tools advertised here on FT. Besides, you are safe with your private information. It is much better with the idea "they can do it, you can do it too". Your personal information is important and think carefully before giving it to a random dude on the internet. You never know what they are going to do with that information. Oh well, this is my opinion and correct me if you have good views on this.
It is easy, just tedious. And if you don't spend a lot of time on flyertalk you definitely don't know the ins and outs.

I mean it just feels like I'm missing something. Maybe it's the way they blog about. Like I'm pretty sure I'm as knowledgeable as most of the bloggers. I don't mean to be hypocritical, but for a simple RT YVR-HKG,
you plug TPAC routes +/- 4 days and watch results:
LAX/SFO/SEA/YVR-ICN/HKG/NRT
There ain't anything in J in the next two weeks!
And then OW F:
YVR/ORD/SFO/LAX-NRT/HKG

Nothing, nothing nothing (on the dates I want)!
And that took 1.5 hours of combing through EF, NH, JL, BA, and awardnexus.
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Old Nov 3, 12, 2:24 am
  #102  
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: EZE
Posts: 123
As the proprietor of one of the largest Award Booking Services, I wanted to say a few things. First, to OP's concerns:

For most awards, I need the following info: full legal names, gender, birthdays, account info and pin/pw. For AA awards, I don't even need account info, gender, or birthday.

Then I put an award on hold, and you book it with your own credit card. In some situations, it is not possible to put an award on hold. In those cases, you can choose between giving me the credit card info by phone, which I shred afterwards, or calling in to book the award yourself with step-by-step written instructions.

Now, to the value proposition:

At $149 for two passengers on one award, my price, almost everyone gets incredible value from a good award booking service.

First, it will save you tons of time. Any time you have to get into a phone call with the awfully-trained agents of a few airlines, you are staring at an hour. What do you value your time at?

Second, it will save you taxes and fees. My personal record is saving two people almost $2,000. In many cases, I will save $50 in phone fees by using phone-ticketing tricks.

Third, you can add free oneways and extra legs. You may know the rules for all airlines in this regard. We do.

Four, you will not have to think about which of your 5 types of miles/points is best for the job.

If you just want a domestic oneway on United, an award booking service would be a waste of your money. But if you want anything with any complexity, and you aren't a complete expert yourself, you will get good value.

Finally OP made another interesting point: "And, also considering most services operate blogs, isn't their service the exact opposite of what their blogs attempt to provide?"

The short answer is yes, which is very interesting for me to ponder. If you read and understood every post on my blog, you would basically have the same award-booking acumen I do. I am giving away for free what I charge for. I can't think of other businesses that do that.

Altruistic reason: the main purpose of milevalue.com is not profit.

Selfish reason: It turns out to be a successful strategy because it advertises my acumen and draws in more potential customers.
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Old Nov 3, 12, 10:42 am
  #103  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: MSP
Programs: DL Silver, UA Silver, AMX Plat, Carlson Gold, SPG Gold
Posts: 186
I tried using Ben's service earlier this year. Very poor customer contact experience from an associate of his. No reply to my emails after the initial inquiry. I canceled my request and still received no reply or contact.

I like his blog, but the award booking service needs attention.



Originally Posted by richinaz View Post

I tried contacting Ben but got someone who was working with him (Ben was on the road) and unfortunately he wasn't too helpful and could only find me business class seats so I tried awardtravelconsulting and he was much more capable of finding the seats I wanted.

In the past I used Cranky Concierge who found the seats but I did the booking myself. Now I'm fairly knowledgeable to do this myself but sometimes you just don't have the time to do so and it is nice to have a resource willing and able to do it for you. awardtravelconsulting.com did a nice job for me in finding seats others said weren't available and I would definitely use them again.
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Old Nov 3, 12, 12:30 pm
  #104  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Programs: Club Carlson, Hyatt, National, Le Club Accor,
Posts: 34
There's great feedback here from travel booking services. I don't even have a big profile, but I do my family's big bookings and I save them a bunch of $. They know me and trust me so there's some security in that. I think when you go to some small time bookies, you should approach it in a defensive way. Get phone numbers, email addresses, business locations, names, etc. When I do deal with new customers, I'll get passwords and plans that most (and now credit card in is so easily stored on these sites so its especially vulnerable) people want to protect zealously.

Basic things I need to do is set up a general profile so I can organize my clients info very fast. Then, I use my frequent flyer resources to help my clients maximize their trips going forward, promos, proper churning, and savings strategies.

Recent one I enjoyed for myself was hitting Hyatt Diamond status which I used to book a 7 night executive suite at a Hyatt regency @ $135/night inclusive of regency club twice daily/hours dervs all day.

PM anyone if you have any questions or if you're someone who needs a award booking consultant!!

Last edited by A2Zombie; Nov 3, 12 at 12:33 pm Reason: typos
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Old Nov 3, 12, 12:41 pm
  #105  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 865
I wasn't aware this existed. I recently burned 4+ hours booking my family vacation to Hawaii in 1st. My issue was the hop from Honolulu to Maui. I would have happily paid someone $100 to $150 to do that work for me.

I think it comes down to how much you value your time. The flip side is that someone who is an expert at this can probably do it in under an hour. I I value my time at $50 an hour and it takes me four hours to do this I can end up a net $50 better off hiring someone. If that person's time is also worth $50 an hour and they can do the job in an hour they end up $100 better off. Everyone wins. I'm having flashbacks to my Economics 101 course many years ago.
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