Making Complex Award Bookings

Booking complex award itineraries, made up of multiple cities and multiple connecting flights can be very painful. I just booked such a trip myself. When I started out I had no idea how cumbersome and time consuming it would be. I really thought I had it easy. After all, I had enough miles on all three Airline Alliances to redeem for the award trip. So I thought I would have multiple options to choose from. Instead it turned out to be a major time drain and resulted in a complex itinerary that was not fun.Air Jamaica A320 cockpit.jpg

What I wanted to do was book an award trip form Washington, Dulles (IAD) to Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) And return to DC two days later from Kingston, Jamaica (KIN). A return form Montego Bay was also OK.

Easier said than done.

Star Alliance was my first choice as I have maximum miles on Star Alliance airlines and have Star Gold Elite Status. I used the ANA Award finder tool to look for awards on Star Alliance airlines. No luck. Nothing was available.

My next choice was OneWorld. My miles on OneWorld are on British Airways. I was hoping to leverage their newly minted alliance with American airlines. No juice.

Last choice was SkyTeam. I have tons of miles on Delta that I had accumulated on Northwest. I was avoiding using them as they do not have any flight from Kingston. I would have had to drive back to Montego Bay. Flights were available, only in First class though. I needed 65.000 Delta miles for the trip. Delta A330.jpg

I could have booked it, except that I was adding a 4 hour car ride back to the north side of the island. So, I decided to look for alternate routes back to the mainland. I had some points on my SPG account. One of the unique features about SPG is the ability to redeem points for a booking on any airline. I used 15,000 SPG points to book a one-way ticket from Kingston to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I changed my Delta award ticket to an open-jaw IAD-MBJ and FLL-IAD. Being Delta, all flights routed through hell, I mean, Atlanta (ATL). This also reduced my Delta miles needed to 50,000.

All in all, pretty complex. Taxes were low so out-of-pocket cost of redeeming the miles was only $20. Was it worth the trouble?l Yes. But it took time and knowledge to get it done.

I have a lot of experience doing this, as you can tell. I do offer my services to anyone needing help booking award reservation for a very nominal fee. Just send me a message by clicking on ‘Contact Us‘, I handle all airlines, hotel and other point programs. I am not ┬átravel agent, so I only do award bookings. No revenue trips please.

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  1. Gene, good point about buying a ticket. As I was booking 4 days before my travel dates, the ticket was almost $600. Also, I have way too many miles lying around… (see post on Million Miles)

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