Any Suggestions Before I Go MAD???

Old Oct 21st, 2021, 11:21 AM
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Any Suggestions Before I Go MAD???

I have been trying for weeks to rebook two tix for our twice-COVID-postponed flight from LIH (Kauai) to NBO (Nairobi) for an August or September ’22 safari. Ideally, we want to be in Kenya 12 – 14 full days, but I have some flexibility.

I am trying to use AA FF miles to book the main leg of the journey (14 – 16 hours) in a Qatar Air Q-Suite. I am willing to leave from almost any gateway. A few weeks ago there were flights available from SAN, SNA (L.A. area), LAS, PHX, SJO, SEA, and PDX—all connecting to Qatar Air in Chicago -- but no return flights that would work with any of the available dates.

Now, there are return flights available on multiple days—but no flights to NBO within a month of the available return flights.

Taking my madness to new levels is the fact that the “Calendar” function (that would show all availibility from a given airport) never works. And did I mention that twice, when I found flights and went to book them, I received a message that the flight was no longer available. ARGGHH!

I don’t want flights on British Air (which are available) because they incur $1,041 per person in fees (each way) and include ridiculously long layovers. Nor do I want “Premium Economy” for such long flights.

I’m about ready to call the airline multiple times each day and ask them to check. I assume the celendar function will work for them. Any other suggestions?
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Old Oct 21st, 2021, 02:37 PM
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This is a case where I'd bite the bullet and register on FlyerTalk and post my questions there. You have such specific needs and from what I've heard wait times on all the One World CS phone lines are really long - like hours. But the community knowledge on FT is amazing and they usually can give you suggestions immediately.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2021, 10:58 AM
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A few comments.

First, you're trying for something of a rifle shot - a specific seat type on a super long haul at pretty much the far edge of the booking window. Like most airlines, Qatar releases award seats on a dynamic basis, meaning inventory comes and goes day by day or even hour by hour. Trying to outsmart these algorithms is a fool's mission. So first, patience.

Second, using AA miles on Qatar is historically a frustrating deal - the two airline's booking systems don't seem to like each other very much. You might want to suck it up and go through this (very) long thread on the AA board at Flyertalk - Qatar Airways / QR: Redeem AA Miles for Award (master thd) - FlyerTalk Forums

Third, coming from Hawaii you might want to consider how important the Q-suites are if the connecting flights - to LAX or ORD or MIA or wherever from which the DOH flights depart - consumes so many hours when a more direct routing that doesn't involve QR transatlantic might be available. For example, with a (very brief) random search on Expert Flyer (a paid award-finding site) I could find availability on Finnair (from ORD and LAX) to Helsinki, connecting to QR (HEL-xDOH-NBO) there, for example leaving LAX on 9/1 on AY 2, connecting at HEL the next evening and and getting into NBO on the morning of the 3rd. Obviously you won't get a QR suite flying to Finland, but Finnair's business class seat is up there with the best, and you won't pay the big BA surcharges. Good enough? Only you can decide.

Fourth, remember that all AA awards are for one-way travel, and AA no longer charges a fee to cancel and redeposit award miles in the event you want to cancel or change an existing reservation. So you could book in one direction, maybe not using Qatar, then cancel and re-book on QR if something comes up in the next ten months. Yes, it's a bit of a crapshoot - you might not arrive and depart on precisely the days you'd like, but a bird in the hand and all that.

What I'd do in your shoes is to become familiar with all the US places from which QR flies to DOH. Did you remember Seattle, for example? Keep looking for flights for specific city pairs, not connecting itineraries all the way to NBO. Since Covid, I don't think AA charges for phone award booking either, and in my experience you will have a very positive experience if you get on the phone and say "I'd like to fly Finnair flight xx to Helsinki on date yy, connecting to Qatar flight xx to DOH then flight xx to NBO. If you've seen availability on each segment before calling, they can bang it out even if the website award booking engine burps and offers you coach seats to Little Rock instead.

Most of all, patience. A lot of airlines (Qatar included) reduced flight frequencies (and destinations) temporarily, and presumably this will improve over the coming months.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Oct 22nd, 2021 at 11:04 AM.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2021, 10:01 AM
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Gardyloo: Thanks for the help. It sounds like I might benefit from Expert Flyer.
FYI, all the flights I've found from SEA go through London on BA and the fees would add $1,031 pp.

If I were to fly to NBO from somewhere in Europe I wouldn't care about the Q suite for that final leg. The issue is getting it for a leg that could be up to 15 hours, depending on which city I leave from.

I will keep trying -- and will likely phone an agent.
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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 12:01 AM
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The agent I spoke with at AA was no help whatsoever. She sounded like she could barely contain her irritation at having to deal with me. She said that anything available would show on their website. It was impossible to find First Class/Business flights from anywhere on the west coast (or DFW, PHX, or LAS) that would allow an approximately 2-week stay in Kenya during July, August, or Sept. '22 -- even if we were willing to pay the more than $2,000 in fees to go through London.

After spending way too much time on this, I finally booked flights today for mid-August '22. YAY!!! We'll have 13 full days in Kenya.

Las Vegas -- Chicago to Doha in a Qatar Air Q-Suite -- and DOH to Nairobi, also in a Q-Suite. (I'll fly the day before to Las Vegas from LIH, Kauai on a separate ticket) 92,500 AA FF miles per person.

I didn't do as well with the flights back, but it will do. The only thing that worked was Premium Economy on British Air to LAX -- with almost $900 in fees (total) because we'll change planes at Heathrow. 65,000 AA FF miles per person.

I'll keep looking for First/Business class openings for the return trip. If not, hopefully, it won't be awful.

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