Persistence (or A Newbie Books Award Travel)
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary.
Posted by Ryan Neal
Persistence (or A Newbie Books Award Travel)
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal

A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. - Elbert Hubbard
I'm very much a newbie when it comes to booking frequent flier award flights. So while I was booking my flight to India a couple of months ago I settled on flying American Airlines / British Airways. I wanted to fly Cathay Pacific, but didn't know how to get the person I was speaking to at AAdvantage to give me the CP ticket. She told me only the AA/BA flights were available. I knew that wasn't true, but I didn't know enough to get around it.

So I booked a series of flights that left DTW at 6:30am for a nice 9 hour layover in Chicago's ORD airport! The rep told me there were no later flights available even though that was a lie. They just didn't want to offer Award tickets on those flights. After being on the phone with them for upwards of 30 minutes I didn't feel it was worth my time to try to figure out how to get them to book me a better flight.

A couple of weeks later I read this article by Gary Leff:

You can see I was the first to comment on it.

Not much I could really do about the already booked flight, but now I had a plan for the future.

And then I thought: "I should use this to decrease my layover time in Chicago. 9 hours is dumb."

First Try: Failed, Sort Of

I called AAdvantage up and asked for a later flight. "All they could do for me" was put me on the 9:40am flight. 3 hours later than 6:50am so already a win, but not a very big one. I wanted on the 12:55pm flight with an arrival at 1:05pm (only 10 minutes later due to time zone difference). That would leave just 4 hours layover before my flight to London (and then finally on to Mumbai!) and I wouldn't have to wake up early to get to DTW airport.

But I let it be. I booked the 9:40am flight and figured I'd try again later.

Try Again

I tried exactly 2 days before my flight's departure.

And this time I was going to get my 12:55pm flight. I didn't care how long I'd have to stay on the phone. I was going to make it happen.

I called AAdvantage and got the regular old spiel. "Sorry, there are no Award flights available on that flight." Which was a lie, because I was looking at a booking screen that showed 2 available Award seats for 25,000 miles each. These are the "expensive" award seats. 25,000 miles one way domestic!

They said my particular Award ticket wasn't bookable there.

So out comes a variation of Gary Leff's little white lie tactic.

"I know you're not supposed to book the ticket for me, but I don't think I'll be able to make it to the airport for the 9:40am flight. Is there anything you can do?"

"Let me check with a supervisor. Hold please."

3 minutes later...

"Yes, you're booked on the 12:55pm flight."

"Wow, thank you for doing that!"

And there it is. Nobody got hurt. Karol got the later flight. Thanks Gary Leff.

As an aside: The Business Class seats on both airlines were great. BA was better than AA because the seat folded completely flat and I got a great sleep. I have a strong feeling Cathay Pacific would've been considerably better, but I'm surely not going to complain about traveling in a very comfortable business class seat.

Do you have any stories of booking award flights or being persistent and getting what you want?