To take advantage of the best travel deals, you often have to wait until the last minute to book your tickets. That’s because some airlines only release those business or first class seats weeks or even days in advance. I can’t deal with that. Patience is not one of my virtues (Note from Sharon: No, it is not). Since I have to plan vacations months in advance, I want to have our travel plans locked in place. I can’t afford to find out there’s no award space to get us to our destination.
When I want to use points to pay for our flights, I book whatever I can find as soon as I see it. I can’t afford to wait and see space disappear. Of course, I’ll keep looking for what I really want, but I’ve never actually had the opportunity to change my travel plans. So what did I do when I had the chance?
For our trip to Germany, I found our perfect flight there with Singapore but I needed to find a flight home. There’s only one airline that flies direct from Frankfurt to Orlando, Lufthansa. They weren’t releasing any seats for reward redemptions in advance. I eventually found award space on Delta using Flying Blue points. Our original flight was through Detroit but we were changed to flights through JFK due to a schedule change.
I had all of our plans completed and I just had to wait for the trip. I set an alert with Expert Flyer to see if two seats in business class on the direct flight ever became available, but nothing ever did.
Until two days before we were coming home.
While in Germany, I received an alert that two seats in business class on the FRA-MCO flight were available.
Now I didn’t have any points with Lufthansa’s Miles and More program, but I could book this space through their partners. I had some United miles and could add to that balance using my Chase Ultimate Rewards. I also could have booked the flight through Air Canada’s Aeroplan program by moving points from my AMEX Membership Rewards account. If I wanted to save points, I could have tried using Avianca’s LifeMiles program, which is transfer partners with AMEX and Citi ThankYou points.
I was going to start looking into changing our flights but I had second thoughts.
To cancel a flight with Flying Blue would cost €45 to redeposit the miles into my account. That’s not a huge penalty but I’d still be out that money.
Once I redeposited the miles into my Flying Blue account, those miles would expire in 24 months with no account activity. That’s a bunch of miles to have tied up in an account that I don’t use very often. Sure, I could credit a Delta flight to my account every 2 years but I didn’t know when I could use those points again.
I Liked My Delta Flights
We like flying with Delta. Of all the U.S. airlines, they’re our favorite. As it turned out, I was looking forward to flying in Delta One for the first time, even if it was in the “worst” product they have on their 767-400.
Part of me didn’t want to cancel that flight. I was thinking I’d be taking it for months and grew to love my booking.
I’d Not Heard Great Things About Lufthansa’s 747 Business Class
FRA-MCO is mainly a leisure route for Germans, so it doesn’t get the best plane. They cram as many seats into business class on their 747 as they can (and there are no first-class seats).
While we’d be on the plane for a non-stop flight during the day, would I want to take a less comfortable product? I usually say yes to that question because we value our time more than a little extra comfort. To Sharon, a seat is a seat, and to a degree, I tend to share that opinion.
Would It Be Worth It?
This is the million-dollar question. Is it worth me using transferrable miles to book new tickets while paying to cancel our existing reservation, leaving those points in a program I’ve never used before and have no idea when I can use them again?
I decided it wouldn’t be worth it. While I would always prefer to book a non-stop instead of a connection, I was satisfied with our flights on Delta. Canceling those flights and rebooking on Lufthansa wasn’t worth all of the hassle.
Would I Do It Again?
As it turned out, everything worked fine with our flights home on Delta. But what if the same situation happens again. Would I do anything differently?
I’ll be able to find out on our flights to Japan. I was able to find flights on American for 60,000 miles each. However, I would really like to fly on JAL. I’m coming across the same issue that awards are usually released only a few weeks out. I have an advantage with this case as JAL and American are partners and American allows free changes to awards. So if award space shows up on JAL, I can change our flights and only have to pay the difference in taxes, if any. I can deal with that.
The one issue I have with booking flights so far in advance is that some award space doesn’t show up until the last minute. I can’t wait to see if flights become available, so I end up booking whatever I can.
That also means that if I want to change plans, I’ll have to pay whatever change fees are due and possibly redeposit those miles into my account. Then I’ll have to eventually find a use for those miles.
Whether doing that makes sense or not would depend on the flights I have currently booked and what my options are. If I’m talking about a serious upgrade, I might take advantage of it but if we’re talking a moderate improvement leaving me to deal with the aftermath, I might decide it’s just not worth it after all.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary