I'm not going to recap the story up to this point, since it's way too complicated to summarize in a few sentences. Instead, I encourage you to read parts 1 and 2 sequentially before you read this.
By the last week of December 2012, the long-awaited miles from the new credit card bonus had posted to my AA account, but the seats to Japan that we wanted for the spring were no longer available. However, at this later date, I realized we could book for the following Thanksgiving, using AA points on Alaska Airlines, but not yet on American. Alaska seems to be available about 330 days ahead, in accordance with AA rules, but AA's own seats seem to show up in the booking engine about a week later. I called my sister, on vacation in Hawaii. We invited ourselves to her house in Phoenix for Thanksgiving 2013, and decided on the following:
Wife and kids have ticketed reservations from SMF to TUS
using BA points (9,000 points + $9 each).
They also have unticketed TUS to San Jose, and SFO to Tokyo HND, and HND
to SFO, and SFO to New York. TUS-SFO-HND was 25,000 miles + $45 per person;
HND-SFO-JFK was another 25,000 miles + $32 per person, or thereabouts.
I had the same reservations (except for the SMF to TUS and
TUS to SFO parts).
Some of the reservations were to expire Friday, but I was
still waiting for my new AA Citicard bonus points that I needed to execute the
transaction. I had enough charges on my
billing statement, which closed on Tuesday, and I needed the bonus points to
show up within 3 days of the statement closing. The reservation home was to expire at midnight Friday, Japan Standard Time.
Frequent flier points are generally not easy to use, given that the "saver" seats you can use to fly with mileage points are typically extremely scarce on most flights. You can easily find "anytime" seats which require twice as many points, but this is a big waste of points and it is seldom better than paying cash, so I don't really count that as using miles. For someone with a day job, such as myself, and anyone with kids who attend school on a specified schedule, it is that much more complicated, as it is when a family of four wants to travel together on an impacted routing. And the reality is, pretty much all flights, or at least some flights on just about any routing, are impacted.
This is the very true story of the planning of such a routing.