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What order? Book frequent flier award tickets THEN safari?

What order? Book frequent flier award tickets THEN safari?

Feb 15th, 2006, 10:30 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 218
What order? Book frequent flier award tickets THEN safari?

We cannot book (or even try) to book frequent flier award tickets to South Africa until 11 months before our proposed June or July 2007 trip, but we are being told by CCAfrica that we should book our safari NOW, even though 2007 prices are not available and that we can change it around later. What would you safaris gurus do? Would you wait and book the air travel first, then work the safari around it - or the other way around?
merrittm is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 10:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 159
CC is doing what they are supposed to do: Sell. Don't book your safari unless you are comfortable with their cancellation rules, prior to having a flight. After all, what good is the safari if you're not in it? And book using Amex, they have pretty good buyer protection.
lessthanzero is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501

I'm not sure where you're planning on going, but I've used FF miles for most of my safaris and found that it depends on where availability is tighter, which in turn depends on a number of factors:

1. Size of your party: If you need several rooms, you are better off booking your safari as early as possible, particularly if you are interested in small, exclusive camps like CCA's camps.

2. Size of camp: Again, if you want a small, exclusive camp, it pays to book early.

3. Length of stay: If you want four or five days at one camp, you probably want to book early as it's hard to get those long stretches if you book later.

4. Time of travel: In the high season, booking early is advised.

In other words -- if you want to include a very small, exclusive camp in the high season, I would book your safari first and flights second, but if you are travelling in low season or staying at less popular places I would book your flights first.

If you can't or won't go unless you can get free flights, you obviously need to wait and take your chances with accommodation.

I've travelled quite extensively with CCA, and they are very flexible about re-scheduling to fit your flight dates providing there is availability.

jasher is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 05:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 682
We were in this position last year and we booked our lodges first and then our award plane tickets (exactly 331 days out when the schedules come into the system).

We did this because our desired lodges - we are fussy - were already filling up. There was always the understanding though that we could change our dates with the lodges if the plane tickets gave us trouble.

IMO, if you have your heart set on a particular lodge, go ahead and hold a room as long as you can move the dates later if needed.
Ericka is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 09:34 PM
Posts: n/a
Hi! Yes, talk to CCAfrica and see what their policy is about this type of thing........also, usually it is better to book your mileage tkt well in advance.

As airlines have a fixed policy about number of seats available per flight for award miles redemption. (All classes of travel)

However, sometimes even if CCA is willing to swap dates of your booking at the last minute, chances are, that the lodges are full......
Feb 15th, 2006, 10:32 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 148
This really depends on how many people in your party, whether you have the flexibility to take individual flights (vs all travelling on the same flights) and the airline you are using. I've found United in particular very very difficult. As well as the time of year.
The larger the group travelling together, the more difficult it is to get the flights you want...even more difficult than getting safaris booked. United (now partnering with SAA) in particular plays games with ff award availability. So I wouldn't book until you have tickets, unless CCAfrica will provide IN WRITING assurances that they will move your dates to match the flights you eventually get. Sounds like they are pretty good about this, so that might work for you.

ddgattina is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 10:02 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 218
There will only be two of us. We're going on safari even if we don't get FF tickets, but with FF mileage, we can afford to go business class. If we have to buy tickets, we'd go coach. United is where we both have enough miles to do it and their rules say 330 days from your RETURN DATE!

Thanks for your help, we're still mulling it over.....
merrittm is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 10:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
I would always get the tickets first. There is a very limited number of flights, but a large number of camps, and notwithstanding the very, very fine distinctions made by some on this site, the lodges are much more similar than dissimilar, and the animals have no idea where you are staying. Much better to stay in your second- or third-choice lodge, than to have to totally restructure trip due to an inability to secure tickets.
thit_cho is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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330 days from RETURN! You may want to grab two flights 328 days before your departure, and then grab the next available return two days later, and then keep delaying your return. I did that with a different airline and I got exactly the dates I wanted.
thit_cho is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 07:14 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,148
With American Airlines I have been able to "hold" the departure flight from 330 days from departure and then the return flight 330 days from return. That is what I have dones for example for AA/BA to Turkey and for AA/JAL to Thailand. The "hold" times for FF flights at least on American are usually about 3 weeks so enough time to wait and book the return for say a 2 week trip. Call on day 330 from your departure and tell them what you are trying to do and see what they can arrange.
laurie_ann is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 07:20 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Another thought-
If you choose to book your safari before the flights, can you build in "buffer days" on either end...for example days that could be spent in CPT or at a beach....that way if you do not get exactly the flight days that you want and need to take flights a day or two before or after your optimal dates, the safari portion of your trip would not need to be moved.
cruisinred is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 12:04 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 148
And if United won't hold the flights (the way American does) you might try and see if they will ticket with an open return...which you will then book exactly 330 days before. Let's face it, as long as you get to your safari, you'll have a vacation. If you have to go back a few days later than preferred...well it's only a return to work that gets delay. I think we all know what is more important.
ddgattina is offline  
Mar 9th, 2006, 03:38 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 72
A bit of a late reply but I just found this forum.
I recently used my Delta FF miles to book 2 tickets to SA on SAA via Atlanta. I booked my outbound exactely 331 days in advance. Obvously at that time I could not book my return. They hold the booking for 2 weeks. As my return was 18 days later, I had to call back after a week and have them rebook me, so now the 2 weeks cover my return. You can also have them ticket you then pay a $50 change fee to have the return leg added.
However you do it dont wait until 331 days before your return, these FF tickets dissapear within a few days.
shmulb is offline  
Mar 9th, 2006, 05:20 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,132
Sorry to butt in and hijack but while I've got the experts here I have a question.

We were bumped from our Nairobi - Seychelles flight and rerouted instead Nairobi - Dubai - Seychelles - haven't checked the milage yet but it's got to be high.

Do you think it's possible for us to be rewarded those extra miles for FF award?
Thanks for any help.
cybor is offline  
Mar 9th, 2006, 05:39 AM
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Posts: 17,061
Were you on paid tickets or award? What airline were you riding and what FF plan do you use?
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 9th, 2006, 06:22 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,132
Yes, we had paid in full for the tickets. We were bumped from our confirmed seats by Kenya Air. World Perks is our FF program.
cybor is offline  
Mar 9th, 2006, 07:17 AM
Posts: n/a
You should accrue the miles for the legs you flew, even if another flight was added. Did you provide your FF # when booking these tickets? Was this number confirmed to you when you checked in for your flights? This number often appears on the top of he boarding pass stuff. Just be certain you have your boarding pass stubs. Then when you get your statement, if miles for this additional leg is missing, just write to the program. Send along with copy of your stub and the miles should be added to your account.

Mar 9th, 2006, 09:49 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 382
HI, I am not sure I understand how to play the FF game. In the past I guess I have been less than 331 days out so going to Europe Icould always book the outbound and return at the same time. I do not understand how to do this for Africa. We are going the last two weeks in June of 2007. If I book the outbound trip, how do I do the return trip and still use the miles and assure my return. My miles are on UA and I think they only hold for 3 days.
spiegelcjs is offline  
Mar 10th, 2006, 09:04 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5
I was in the same situation when I wanted to book my flight from Florida to Kenya. I called 331 days in advance and was told that nothing was available. I wanted 2 business class seats from kenya/atlanta/amsterdam/nairobi and return kilmanjaro/amsterdam/atlanta/tampa, all using my FF miles with Delta. I must have called at least 100 times within 2 1/2 month period. If one leg was available, then KLM from amsterdam-kenya was not available or vice versa. I started calling Delta at the end of June (05) and finally was ticketed with what I wanted in September. I guess persistency pays off. We are leaving June 22nd and looking sooooo forward to it. Also, in the event if your flight time changes (common since booked so far in advance), Delta works with you. My flight from Atlanta is leaving one hour late, which means that i only have 45 minutes to catch my KLM flight to Nairobi. I told them that I could not change my dates and they had to work with me. SInce the change was not of my doing, they had to open up 2 regular business class(no FF seats available) seats with an earlier flight out of Tampa/atlanta/amsterdam, so i will be able to make the KLM flight. I still have almost 3 months before I leave for my trip and hope that the times do not change that much. If they do, I'm sure that Delta will work with me as they have before.
yamini is offline  
Mar 10th, 2006, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5
I posted my reply without telling you that after my flights were confirmed, then I booked with Good Earth Tours. It was very convenient for me as their USA office is in Tampa(40 miles from me). I actually met with the agent/owner and he answered all of my quesitons, concerns and gave me many brochures, maps to look over. I decided to with Good Earth Tours from what I have read on this site as well as someone I know who has used them in the past and is planning on using them again. Hope this helps.
yamini is offline  

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