FF Booking Strategies?

Old Jun 13th, 2006, 02:12 PM
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FF Booking Strategies?

I am planning a trip for next May (i.e. 2007)and want to use frequent flier miles on Delta.

It's my understanding that Delta (and most other US carriers) will accept reservations up to 331 days in advance. Does that mean that they also release frequent flyer seats 331 days in advance? Do they release some or all of the seats 331 days in advance? Is there anyway to book your frequent flyer seat for the outbound portion of a trip exactly 331 days in advance of travel and hold that seat until the return ticket can be booked maybe two or three weeks later? I've got a lot of Delta miles and I'm willing to book way in advance. What is the best strategy to get the flights I want and use my miles?
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Old Jun 13th, 2006, 02:42 PM
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Delta recently changed their "hold" policy on award bookings; now the outbound flight will only be held for 2 days rather than the previous 14. Thus you can't book an outbound flight and wait 14 days, then book the return when IT is 331 out. That's the bad news.

The good news is that nobody else can book them either, so if you wait till 331 days before the return flight, you won't have to worry about "placeholders" using up the earlier award seats.

This strikes me as cuckoo (too) so I think you'd best phone DL and put the detailed question to them. As I understand it, elite members of DL's FF program can ticket the trip without a return confirmed, then they waive the $50 change fee when then confirm a return. Maybe they'll do the same for non-elites (except for the $50 business) so you can get the seats outbound, then "change" the ticket when the inbound ones come available. If they DON'T come available, I don't know what happens.
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Old Jun 13th, 2006, 02:50 PM
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That's the first possible day to reserve an award seat but it doesn't mean that award inventory will be released on every flight at that time. Award inventory can fluctuate until flight departure and theyre's no guarantee that any specific flight will have award seats, so it's best to have some flexibility with flight times and routing.

Delta has changed their award hold policy this year. Award reservations are held for 2 days at which time they must be ticketed. The procedure is to ticket your outbound and call back to add your return. The reissue fee is waived for adding the return. I don't whether DL will waive the redeposit fee if you can't find suitable return flight(s).

Where are you trying to go? There are a number of partners available depending on your destination so you're not limited to DL operated flights.

Best strategy is to be as flexible as possible in terms of date, time, connection, and carrier, and if necessary, consider alternate airports (or co-terminals if that applies). Do your homework and study the options available to get to your destination on DL and partner operated flights. Start checking early but don't be discouraged if at first you don't find what you need. I generally book my award travel 3-6 months in advance and with some flexibility don't have any trouble getting the flights I need. Call DL and speak with an agent at the partner award desk who can check availability on all partner carriers.

Good luck!
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Old Jun 13th, 2006, 02:58 PM
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Gardyloo,
The one time fee waiver for the purpose of adding a return flight is supposed to apply to all members.

All award fees are waived for Platinum elite members regardless of type of fee or reason for change.

Change fees are also waived for non-Plat members when a waitlisted flight clears. If you make another change at the same time as reissuing your cleared waitlisted flight, I've had luck with not being charged for the other change though I don't know if this is official policy.

I don't know what happens if you can't find a return flight either.
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Old Jun 13th, 2006, 03:37 PM
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Thanks Patty.

Y'know, it's funny... when airlines go into bankruptcy and have to file their BK financial exhibits, inevitably the value of their frequent flyer programs is the one positive thing on the balance sheets. I don't know the specifics in DL's case, but IIRC Air Canada's FF program was valued so highly that the Canadian bankruptcy court leaned on them to divest it - which they did, for a handsome profit (said profit then being used to help get the airline out of bankruptcy.)

So now we have DL making it <i>so hard</i> for people to use their banked FF miles. Well, that makes sense I suppose... the asset value of the program less liabilities = net assets. But if you set up so that you never award high-cost trips (like partner trips to Africa,) well then, you may have contingent liabilities, but not ones that chew up cash...

DL's creditors thank you for flying Delta. In paid seats, please.
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Old Jun 13th, 2006, 04:38 PM
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Best strategy - be diligent. Another factor - it depends on where you are going - if it is a hot spot. Also, try using Premium points (if Delta has them) - you use double the points.

I also played the FF &quot;call the minute the date opens up&quot; game (different airline). The flight to our destination opened up but the return flight had not so I could not book the flights. The airline &quot;held&quot; the departure flight for me for 3 days. The return flight was not opening for 4 days. On the 3rd day I called and the airline rep said they could not &quot;renew&quot; my hold. I called back 5 minutes later &amp; spoke with another guy - he put a hold on them for an additional 3 days.

Also, the airline rep said the flights open at 12:01am Eastern. I called at 12:05am Eastern &amp; the info was not yet in their system so I could not yet book. I called back at 1:05am - the rep said it still was not in their system but should be by 6am. So I got up at 5:45am, called at 6am &amp; got my flights.

What I consider somewhat extreme measures to use my FF but it was the 5th time in 9 months I had tried to use my FF. Every other time there were no FF seats left to the places we wanted to go. I was taking no chances this time!!!!!!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2006, 11:14 AM
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I called the 331 days in advance for outbound and return, and was &quot;booked&quot; for both, but was also told the FF award seats had not been released and that I would be placed on a wait-list. They couldn't tell me when seats would open up, or if seats would open up. I was advised to call back periodically. Could this be because it is a popular destination (Madrid in May 2007)?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2006, 11:57 AM
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Adventuredays, when you say that you were booked, do you mean that they subtracted your miles and charged you taxes, etc., as is normal when booking an FF flight, even though they only waitlisted you? If so, what airline? I'd like to avoid them. I'd heard of people booking one flight and being waitlisted for another, and I've heard of people being waitlisted but not booked, but I hadn't heard of an airline taking your miles without giving you a confirmed booking.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2006, 01:43 PM
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Ignore my previous post. I realized that &quot;booking&quot; was in quotes, so I guess you mean that you were just waitlisted. Sorry, I'm a bit slow today.
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