Monday, January 21, 2013

Extreme Booking: A True Story of Trip Planning with Frequent Flier Points - Part 2

Part 1
Part 2: Below
Part 3

Previously on Bottom-Feeding the High Life:

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.

We already knew that.  So what happened?

The points we needed didn't show up until Saturday.  I tried to rebook but by then there was one fewer seat available between SFO and HND.  Apparently there was someone on the JAL waiting list.  We didn't want to travel separately such a long distance to a place where we wouldn't be able to read most signs, speak the language, know our way around, or have a working cell phone.  There were no other flights with seats available that would have worked for us.  EPIC FAIL.

The Moral

It is possible to make reservations TOO early, if you don't have your points yet.

Plan B

Next, we tried to do something different: take advantage of the LAN flight between SFO and Lima to bundle a trip.  I wasn't sure if Peru would be a great place to travel with the kids, given that it would be a lot of hiking and sightseeing, but we had friends who just got back from Guatemala with their kids and they had a great time, and we thought, why not.  Plus, how great would it be to bundle it with a side trip to Hawaii? 

This is also not bookable online, so I made a few phone calls trying to book Hawaii to San Francisco, then San Francisco to Cuzco (via Lima).  I got a very good and patient agent who was able to route me on Alaska Airlines, from Maui to San Francisco, after about an hour on the phone.  She also was able to book SFO-CUZ on LAN via Lima, but the AA computer would not let her book Maui to CUZ with a stopover in San Francisco, even though the agent fully understood and was supportive in my efforts to bundle segments across a stopover.  I never did figure out why it wouldn't work, since I thought this would meet all of the rules.  (fyi, I also tried SFO to Buenos Aires via the SFO-Lima LAN flight, but the AA computer also disallowed this since it crossed 2 zones, South America Zones 1 (Peru) and 2 (Argentina)).  Also, for some reason, AA reservations on LAN cannot be held for a few days as on other AA reservations.  After several attempts, the plan was scrapped.

I never bothered to try to bundle a trip to Peru with a trip elsewhere in the U.S.  Since all of my research for this was on the phone with AA agents using a very slow booking interface, it took several hours and I got sick of it.  Also, at some level I was really just trying to figure out a complicated way to get to Hawaii with a free trip to Peru attached to it.

1 comment:

  1. AA has a rule that the over-water carrier must have an end-to-end fare. In this case, does Alaska have a OGG-CUZ fare? Probably not. Check on ExpertFlyer.


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