Advanced Award Booking
So we've got our three goals if you're following along in your workbook we're on page twenty nine and are three goals today are to help you learn how to book more complex awards not snot anything super crazy but you know this thing's you're having a little hiccup swift we're gonna help you get around booking obstacles to address that question you know that there's no flights available ever and we're gonna help you practice booking your dream trip so I'm gonna hand after chris and he's gonna tell you a little bit about how he's gonna book his drink awesome so at the beginning of this course I had a difficult struggle despite having gone to every country in the world I agreed to take on the sacrifice of planning my own dream trip and I decided to go to dubai flying emirates eight three eighty in first class which I was super excited about fun first cost on lots of other airlines but never on emirates and they haven't onboard bar they have a personal chef they have a sweet you know really...
excited about posting all that on instagram and then they also have the in flight shower which I'm irrationally excited about, so I decided okay, what can I do to make this possible for myself? You know? And I determined that it cost ninety thousand miles I'll show you how I figured that out first of all I went over to emirates dot com I was like maybe I'll buy this ticket not really, but that's what I thought you know? And I realised actually in the previous lessons I was saying this was a ten thousand dollar ticket after I did the actual research I've corrected this is a twenty five thousand dollars ticket, so just as I was unprepared to spend ten thousand dollars twenty five thousand twenty five thousand did not sound especially I was like what's the minutes of the shower you know, I divide that between like, five thousand dollars our you know, my neck but thanks um so anyway, I looked though, and I'm not just looking at the price I'm actually looking at the schedule so I'm like, okay, I don't understand, you know, from what cities you know, is this possible on dh then I think okay, how can I how can I make this possible? So I look at the emirates partner airlines we do talked about, I can't say ok, I don't actually have any emirates miles, but I have miles and lots of different programs and I know how to get more miles in other programs emirates miles are actually kind of difficult to earn, but I look at the partners and I see there's a bunch of different options that are kind of interesting korean air is an option qantas is an option a couple of star alliance partners south africa and tap portugal even some independent airlines like virgin america and shot blue easy jet etcetera lots of partners but the one I'm most interested in is alaska airlines as we mentioned actually a few times in recent lessons alaska miles khun b acquired from anyone anywhere in the world I'll tell you exactly how I got mine in one second so I think that maybe that's a possibility so I'm gonna go over to alaska airlines dot com look at alaska's partnership page with emirates and see ok how much is it going to cost for that itinerary that I want and I'm a look first class that's that's what a shower is there's no shower in economy class s o between north america and india the middle east it's a ninety thousand one way award level all right so I'm like I need ninety thousand alaska miles so a couple of ways to do that I did that through credit cards alaska has a very generous credit card policy in the sense that you can get multiple cards usually on the same day I got two of them on the same day I got fifty thousand miles I think I had some other alaska miles I put those together I'm like ninety thousand there's also a business card that they have so I believe you got cem you didn't have many off alaska miles at all but you got to personal cards in one business card to my correct that's, right? So pretty quickly you were able to earn seventy five or eighty thousand or whatever. S o that's something for some people, but there's a fun fact. Alaska airlines and many other airlines actually allow you to purchase miles. So most of the time, this is not a good deal most of time. It's actually not good to go and just by miles, directly from the airline, because evaluation isn't super great. But if you have of a certain trip in mind, you have a specific thing that you're like, ok, I want to do this thing and here's how much? How many miles it costs? How much does it cost to purchase them? Four times a year? Alaska has a forty percent off sale, eh? So dramatically decreasing the cost of the value cost of the miles. So in the case of this itinerary for what I needed to go first class from anywhere in north america to dubai to purchase the miles would cost fourteen hundred dollars, so I still don't want to spend fourteen hundred dollars. I want to get the miles another way, but fourteen hundred dollars. To go on this incredible like first class experience that would normally cost you twenty five thousand or whatever the huge amount is this is something that anyone could do if you ever planning a big big trip, you can actually just go and purchase the miles I'm rigging them so more than one way to make that happen in this case I did actually have to call alaska to make the booking because it included a stop over we'll talk about that another point but that's basically my process for saying okay, I got this idea in mind here's what I want to do it's not it's, not about the miles for me, the miles of the tool that allows me teo travel so I'm interested in the travel here's the experience that I want here's the partner words here's where I can get the miles, etcetera then I put it all together and that was kind of a thought process for my dream from amazing we're going to talk to somebody we're going to care more about the process of making advanced bookings in a second we're doing fun hot seat exercise, but first we're going to meet a traveler who's built a war chest over the years of about seven hundred fifty thousand miles that he's used to travel throughout europe, the caribbean and probably some other places as well, so current are you with us hey, kurt so I believe I got an email from you you were telling me a little bit about your travel you said you've used miles and points for a long time you just tell us a little bit about how you got started with that, you know, I think I started by accident probably I know I was flying going places and I joined american mileage program and that I was just accumulate miles when I flew and then over time in the last problem, the mid two thousand five or seven long in there, I think I started reading more about, uh, sign up bonuses and travel hacking and things like that so that I graduated kind of ease into it and learned as I've gone and listening to some of the other things you've been saying and I think I don't know anything you have a lot of miles we could do a lot with him. So you mentioned american airlines were there other programs have been focusing on is well, I usually go with american and united as for international travel and then I live in san diego, so southwest is really good here for domestic travel I used those quite a bit they have a good sign up bonus every now and then it comes out that's like fifty thousand points yeah, which is a lot for domestic travels I've used that and those of the main ones that I focus on okay, great. So mostly us programs american, united, southwest can you tell us a little bit about what you've done with some of those miles? Um, simple examples and I don't know this is this is not sophisticated, like some of the things you're doing, but I was a member of united, and they sent out an email one time it just said, would you like to go to europe for a discounted price in the off season? And so instead of fifty thousand miles, they said you could go wrapped her for forty thousand miles, so I'm not going to rome and that's all the more complicated it was I think I went in february, a friend of mine went with me, she had american miles, and so we both flew on different airlines got there at the same time it's been ten days in rome in florence? Yeah, no, this is actually a really good story because we were just talking before about likes off peak and peak, and I actually didn't give a great answer to that, and I was kind of focusing more on the negative. I was telling people like when it's, when it's peak like, you know, be be aware you don't want a book, but you actually use this to your benefit you actually saw, like, essentially a sale, they came out so once in a while, airlines have, like, a sail on redemption of miles, they don't really call it that they just call this off peak thing. So you were you were able to go to rome for only forty thousand miles, which, as you pointed out, it's normally much more expensive than that? Yeah, round trip for forty thousand trips, you know, from from san diego to rome. I'm pretty awesome. That's great on dh. Where else have you been? I think you went to the caribbean. You mentioned something about haiti? Yeah, I was going, teo, I'd like to go toe countries that I've never been into, and haiti was one that I've never been to, and it wasn't like a big, big gold, but I was doing some other traveling. I'm going to a birthday party and st louis, I'm doing different things, and I thought, you know, I could probably go there for a day or two. And so I looked and I could get I got to haiti from san diego for seventeen, five, seventeen thousand five hundred, and I just stay there for a day, and when I went around and went to a museum wrong in all the sort of thing that you do in a day then I came back. But you said, you know, it's only seventeen thousand five hundred miles. It would have been probably three, four hundred dollars to fly there, but miles and then I came back and used some southwest miles on the way back. I stop in st louis. And then I went toe you talk on the way back to go snowboarding. And then I came back to san diego, so I mixed miles from southwest and america, and then I was a block like one or two one way flights in there. So the whole trip, three dollars, okay, great. So that's wonderful. You know, the the audience is smiling a little bit because when you started, you said you're not that sophisticated things exist has told the story of using miles and points for maybe three or four different programs. Tow link all of these different trips together, you went to haiti, you did this, you had a stopover, you had the south with points. I think you actually think, actually getting good at this. Okay, so since you're pretty good at this, maybe you don't have a good answer, but but have you had any struggles in booking an award like, have you had any challenges, and how do you get around those challenges? Well, I think one thing that I realized not too long ago, but when you go online and look it american and you look with the rewards will then they have all these partner airlines that are not there. And I was. I understand it it just mostly because the computers are linked from one airline to the other and that's getting better over time. But so I realised, you know, you do really have to deal with the airlines. If you wantto find those other fairs. I I try teo, learn as much I can about the roots that are available and the partner airlines that are flying with the cash prices are try to get all that information in my head ahead of time before I call american and say, I want to talk about reward travel, birth, so that way, when I get there, you know, my theory is not about this, true, but I think that all those people in america, they're all just like human beings to possibly. Yeah, and so they're nice people, and they're just in there answering the phone all day, so if I call up and I kind of have my act together a little bit than the times I have called their boys been really helpful, and so I think, that's part of it is being able to paul and say, look, you know, here's, what I'm looking at here for that tried and here's what I'm running into, and then all of a sudden, we're kind of on the same team, just having a conversation that supposed to mean making a lot of demand, so I try to just be, you know, be a normal person and realize they're trying to do the same thing, I think that helps out, but I would like to have the idea of all understand what the root is and what, what the possibilities are spare, so if somebody says that we could get her eighty thousand miles, at least I know what the cash prices, and I can't have an idea whether that's even a good deal or no, okay, when you say you look at the route and kind of prepared before you make the call, how do you like, how are you doing that research? Can you give us some tips on how you're doing that research and oh I'm just yeah I'm just looking at some of the normal a kayak or google flights or been using google like lately it seems like it's been I don't know has been promoted more lately it's been online more lately or whatever but I like it and you know it gives me an idea of all the different airlines were there but that's what I'm doing just using of normal search engines that's fantastic has this changed maybe like this is like the last question is this changed how you travel is it's like giving you more opportunities like if you wanted to go to haiti obviously you could probably just buy a ticket and go to haiti but would you have done that without miles like what his miles and points done for you over the past few years in terms of some of these redemptions or some of these opportunities well I think just like going eighty problem I might not have gone on just the fact that I looked into that well that I could go for almost free just and I'm not going to make a big trip out of it I'm just going for a day but it was just like another little added on adventure that I did so that was nice I'm going tio I haven't needs that the nurse and she's doing volunteer work in india and she's been over there for a year so I'm gonna go visit and I booked a ticket on united one way too well. Go the yangon first you travel around the area a little bit and put anyway, I put that on united's web site. It was, like forty thousand miles like that one way, which was a decent thing. So it's, that kind of thing where, okay, I could have, like, set could've paid cash, and I could have done that, but the fact that I had the miles and I've accumulated miles there were there were they were there in my account that I look at other options, and it gives me that that flexibility to do something a little bit, therefore no that's really great. It's great to hear all these stories I love how you kind of accidently stumbled on this. But then, over time, it's become more and more useful and valuable in your life. So thank you so much. Thanks for sharing those stories with us. Awesome. That was a perfect kind of lead into this conversation about you know what happens when you call the airline or when you look online and you hear, like nothing's available. Okay? And this is a very common frustration that people have. We hear this all the time, like people say they get their miles, but they don't trust miles I don't trust the process because they were not able to use them so we're going to talk really specifically about this but maybe first I thought I'd ask has anyone ever had this struggle? Has anyone here ever had miles and then like you're not able to use them you had a story about that kendrick ah yes so last year in december I wanted to go to florida and my girlfriend couldn't take time off work for certain dates so uh air plan actually booked off the last two weeks off december and you can't book anything at all using your point so it was a real struggle and and I got lucky last minute they open up this one tiny spot and just snuck in right away and I grabbed it but it was really difficult but can you come really frustrating this for well um my story is no traveling with my family course and and then you know, stuck between those magic timeframes of spring break or christmas and stuff like that and so actually the miles were available but because it was so much of a peak season I just couldn't do it at which point you know again being embedded in the alaska airlines program we pulled out our companion fair that we get with our visa card and so we I bought the tickets got the second ticket for nine nine bucks plus tax and everybody gets miles and you know, so that that worked I think that's a struggle of a lot of people who are at the boat vacation ist profile because if you're traveling on a schedule if you're traveling with kids you're traveling as a family you have spring break, you have summer, you travel during the times when everyone else travels and so it is definitely a challenge and when we talk about couples and family travel, I know that this back early family had some tips about how they were able to book multiple multiple tickets during difficult times following on that is that's one of the big benefits of things like that chase preferred because I used my I ran into a last minute situation and so I used the miles the points that I got from the chase card to buy my alaska airlines ticket and it was last minute it was a thousand dollar ticket, but I had the points and I got the miles on dh actually got the upgrade awesome good. So curt made a really great point when you're trying to book these tickets. The most helpful thing is to know what you want and you've already done some of this research we looked at how you could do some of this research in the last lesson and so some a few things that will help really help you when you call the airlines is knowing that airport codes when I lived in cambodia, I used to call the airline all the time, and I would say I want to fly from phnom penh, teo hong kong, and they would be like, poonam pen, where is that? You know? And I was like, the airport code is paying an h, and immediately they can put that airport code in and look it up. So when you're doing your research and you're looking at all these different itineraries, especially as you start to go crazy or places, if you give the agents those airport codes, they're really it's really going to be helpful. A lot of them know a lot of things, but not everyone can know every airport code in the world. I don't even think we do no the possible partners. You figure out how to do this when you looked on kayak the other day, another easy way to do it is to go to the to the airline alliance site and look at their route map you can put in your destination, and it will tell you all the routes, all the different places you can fly to from that destination airline routings that say the same. So no, the airlines that fly there but also know the routings that they fly there and kind of determined make a list of those I usually get a book before I'm going to call an airline and I list the places I want to go and what the different options are. I list the possible dates I could travel, you know, if you're super flexible have at least a scale of an idea because they're gonna they're going to search by actual dates, so you give them some specific dates, but you know, no, if you can, you know, do it three days out or two days back, give them some dates to work with and when you're actually talking on the phone to agent has a couple of things that may help you first thing is pretty simple incurred alluded to it very well just just recognize that people sometimes have a bad day or even if they're not having a bad day, all they do, like day in, day out is talking to people about booking trips, so just be patient, be empathetic, you know, I was checking how you doing today? Like, you know, that kind of thing really, really helps if you get the agent on your side because especially looking something complex, they like, we're trying to equip you with a lot of knowledge. But some agents really are experienced some some may have been doing this for twenty years, they know actually a lot of routings, a lot of alternate alternate routings, even, and they can help make it happen for you if they want to write. So it's really helpful to just do anything you can maybe talk about, why you're taking a trip, you know, if it happens to come up while they're searching for something, and I'm really excited about this. Are you really like this airline, really looking forward to making this happen? Specific requests are so much better than general requests, just like hurt alluded to and that's the whole point of knowing what you want, you know, I'm looking for this flight on this particular day, you know, this is the this is the flight number, here's, the routing. Some agents don't like that some patients, like just prefer for you to kind of, say, here's, where I want to go and they come back with something, but I would say if they kind of struggle in that process, but they don't sound find something right away. I always kind of say, like, well, there's, exactly what I'm looking at like, is it possible to do this, ask about that, and then finally um great listen, I think I stole this from gary left, who writes a great block called you from the wing been talking about it for years and doing it years myself is if you don't get the answer that you want you hang up on you call again if some if it's really a struggle if you've been on hold for a long time but it's just not working or you feel like there's you feel like it did the award should be available, but they can't make it happen you just you just try again you say thanks so much, you know, appreciate appreciate your time and then you call right back and try again because you might very well get a different answer a second time and hopefully we'll get a different person yeah that's always hard, even human you know the person's name so you can hang up if they answer helpful phrases for award bookings you know you, you've gathered all this information, and so then when you call you use that information to your advantage. A lot of times when you call what the look at first is just the if you call american what though usually look at is the american flights and you when they might say to you, well, american doesn't fly to that destination, so I'll usually say like well, can you check with can you check on these partner airlines? Can you check a specific flight for me when when we were looking at the emirates flight, what we did was we listed all the places that you could fly to from the u s to dubai on the emirates eight three eighty and we determine that you could go from dallas, you could go from san francisco, you could go from l a and I made a list of those three places and to call I said, can you check the specific flight for me? I knew the flight number of the plane that had the shower on board and so I said, can you check if there's a ward ability on this specific flight? Sometimes they'll say no, you can't get there that way and you know if you're going if you're going teo hong kong there's a lot of different ways you can get to hong kong you can fly from even if you were just going from l a to hong kong, you could get there direct you could get there through singapore you could get there through bangkok and so have an idea of some of the other cities you could go through and if they say no sorry there's, nothing available for singapore you can say, well, can you check writing that through bangkok for me and you check awards on partner airlines that's the question I usually start with but sometimes you're interested in a specific partner airline so sometimes I'll call american and I'll say could you check thie qatar award could you check the qatar award on this specific flight number? How about the day before or the day after you know I'm willing to travel on that flight up to a week and up to a week from the day that I gave you if you could be very specific they'll be able to go through and tell you know you can't do with that day you can't do it that way you can't do it that way but if you the first day that's available is you know two weeks from the date that you gave me so if you give them some ideas of your date you have a much better chance of finding the award this is one of my favorite tricks can you check just the xxx to xx segment because usually there's a piece if nothing's working usually it's because there's one small piece of this whole chain of flights that's broken and so you know if you're trying to travel overseas during the holidays ah lot of times the thing that's tripping you up isn't the flight from l a to hong kong the thing that's tripping you up is the flight from portland to l a right and so they're putting this whole thing portland to hong kong in their in their search engine they're using a fairly similar search tow what what you guys can see online but just with more partners and so they're putting that in and it comes back and it says nothing's available and so what I would say is what could you check just the so I break it up into the pieces and I would say, well, could you check just the segment from l a to hong kong for me and if they say that's not available then that's the piece I try to figure out and I say, well, what about if you could you check from l a to bangkok for me on that day and then I just I go through different pieces of segments until I could find a segment that works and then I build the rest of the trip around that segment so try to determine what piece of the puzzle is causing the flight to not be available and then work from there. And can I get a record locator before we continue? Ah lot of a record locator is the peace when there when they're saving that trip in your file it's the peace when you call that when you call and you want them to look it up again it's the peace that you the piece that you need to get them to find that that booking and sometimes if I'm booking a complicated award and its requiring lots of back and forth like we get a little bit together in the aging keeps putting me on hold to go back, I might ask them before we get too far along in the process just in case we get disconnected or something I might ask them like if you put that first one on hold they had that record locator immediately they don't usually give it to you till the end but sometimes if it's a long thing I'll ask them just so I have it in case I need to call back I can give that record locator and say okay, we got this far you can see the first you know thing but now we need to go back to that so we would love to workshop this out a little bit here in the travel hacking hot seat to help someone as representative of everybody else your struggles and dealing with airlines I'd love to invite matt to come on up welcome to the tribe lacking I see great. Yeah, you wantto you wanna have a seat there? That's great. So feel free to recline your seat there that's good. So in this example here matt wants to go to patagonia, right? And I'm gonna play the part of the airline representative for shall we say, difficult airlines all right we all know difficult airlines right? We've all worked with them at different times so uh so I work for difficult airlines and that's going to be calling me up to book his award and I'm not gonna be very helpful on stephanie's gonna be his coach so are you are you getting at you ready for this you call me in a moment like a method thing or something you know yeah okay cool alright so wear we are ok cool uh hello this is chris from difficult airlines how can I not help you hi chris how you doing? I'm terrible how about you oh that's too bad I'm good I'm great. Um I was wondering if you could help me book a flight probably nice tell me where you want to go I'm trying to get teo party party going so you gotta go you know, I never heard that it's pc jeans like a holding company like fleece and stuff okay, so if you haven't done a little bit of research you know that if you're gonna fly from canada to patagonia you probably can't fly direct you're gonna want to fly through probably bonus area sir santiago and so the airport code for bonus areas is easy. Okay? Okay. And then you're gonna want to fly onward from monasteries to the bottom of argentina and the airport code at the southernmost city of the world is us h ugo can I ask you to check a specific flight for me? I'm trying to get from why? J okay. Too easy. Okay. Through with a connection with us and connect onward to usa. Okay, great. I'm looking in july around the middle of the month. It's really cold there in july. Just drink a little less. December. December. Wait three hours. So, as the agent for difficult airlines, I have no idea what those places are. But my computer system tells me that easy is, in fact buenos aires, argentina. So now I know where I'm looking, and I think you're continuing onto your sh wyatt so I can see that. So that's. Great. But actually, I don't see any fights for that. So I'm sorry. You have to there's something else. I could give you some specific dates. Check. Okay. Can I? Can I? Will it help if I give you like, a specific date? A weekend in particular? Ok, I can take it. I can take a look. Ok. The twelfth of december, actually the tenth of november. Okay, until the twenty fifth chance of november twenty fifth. Okay, let me take a look. So I can see that airport code now and I can conceive something's there but actually you know now that I'm looking at I don't think that we difficult airlines actually fly to south america so maybe there's nothing I can do for you about that we'd like to check on your partner amazing your lines okay okay okay. Um christian yeah, I'm here so is there any way we can check for the same dates to the same location is just on the your partner amazing airline amazing your lines I've heard good things about it a great yeah. Okay, interesting now I can actually see a lot of availability. There is something for amazing airlines but you said something about tenth of december there's nothing on tenth of december. Sorry. Okay, so is there any is a week before work with the same location just from say, let's suit from the third december does that work uh started december. Okay, I'm actually seeing a really great award there. I'm actually seeing something there so I would love to put that on hold for you and here's your record locator. Okay, awesome. Great job. Well done. Thank you very much, john you're horrible customer, you have an amazing flight, so our workbook activity for the day this is questions in a moment but I work for captivity is on page twenty nine thirty page thirty to get familiar with different types of itineraries we've been you know referring to them throughout the course most of you probably know what a one way tripp is most you know what a roundtrip tippet chip is who knows what an open jaw trip is besides scott I'm gonna call on jen what's an open john start in seattle for example and then fly to england and then fly to germany and then go back to see me well then I guess you could stay in germany right and that would be the end of the trip is just not where you begin right? You you you believe from one destination in the new depart so the destination you arrive at you don't depart from the same destination yet you know london berlin seattle okay so in this case there's two ways of doing open john so that's the first one you go to seattle to london then you travel on your own to berlin or something right? And in your return flight is berlin to seattle, right? Right. So that's one example of an open job the other way to do it is if you're flying seattle to london and then you come back to somewhere other than seattle seattle to london wonder and you come back to cape town to be a little bit more complicated but we're going to a totally different region so you take it technically sure back in portland you come back to court that's when open joy so it's not a simple round trip but it is going to one region and coming back another one are leaving from the other ones okay great uh multi city pretty basic that's kind of what kurt was talking about kurt was doing a lot of stuff where he's going more than one place so you could be going seattle to new york and then you go on to london and then you fly back to dallas and you go back to seattle so it is you know you're going from one place and eventually returning there but you're going a few different cities and a stopover ward who can explain what a stopover forward is our stopover ticket other than scott you you stop your let's say I'm going from a to b and then be to see like I stopped and b for a while over rex I'm not transit yeah not just like stopping so in your example we're going from what was your canadian airport victoria so while I j yeah ok great so going there to win us a raise if you just transit and eazy e there a couple hours you go on it's not a stopover but say you actually stop in wearing sari is spent a few days then you go on that's a stopover so yes sorry how long can you stop over for it completely depends on the airline. Okay, every airline has different rules for that. Andi even different awards have different rules for that. We might talk about that more at some point. So being familiar with these kinds of itineraries will help you when you're talking to airline agent will help you when you're planning your trip. Different airlines also to follow up on that have different policies about the open job thing. So some of them are quite flexible. Some of them you can actually do all kinds of things and others you have to be a strict return. That really does depend on your airline. Uh, maybe one final note. What we talked about last time to confirm but never disappoints so that if you get an agent from difficult airlines that gets something that sort of works for you, maybe you should just go for it, you know, because if you call back later, I might be even less helpful. You know, when I was there, what did we learn this lesson? Or do you have any questions at this point? Yes, over here. Quick questions. So just from like personal experiences, I like the open job policy I got out of, like the major airlines, which ones would you say are, like, more flexible then, then others just some personal experience, it's changing a lot it's, one of those things where every few months, the rules change. I've had some amazing awards historically, with us airways, which is an airline that doesn't really exist anymore, since it's emerged with american. But I've also had some good ones with delta. I think daughter is actually still allows that in some ways, what about you? You don't say that's, one of the benefits of the way a lot of the word programs are changing, and more more award programs were let you book one way flights. And so an open jaw is essentially just two to one way flights. Really? A return ticket now is essentially to one way flights. And so you can book two and from any destination on one leg and to and from any destination on your return leg.