One-way award travel: are there drawbacks?

Jul 17th, 2015, 04:41 AM
  #1  
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One-way award travel: are there drawbacks?

Both airlines I have miles with allow one-way award redemption. I'd like to redeem the fewest amount of miles for two economy tickets to Europe for next summer.

I assume the best time to look for award travel is as soon as the dates are open (this was certainly the case with Delta!) especially since I'm also hoping to use a small, regional airport as my starting point.

Are there drawbacks I'm not thinking of in terms of booking the outbound trip first and booking the return a month later?
pavot is offline  
Jul 17th, 2015, 05:16 AM
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No. However, the number of miles needed goes up a lot in the summer, so "the fewest amount of miles" would be off-season.

Be very careful if you're booking to or through London, as the landing fees can vary from a few dollars to a few hundred. Another tip: once you make your award booking, you can always call and talk to an international award rep to change it without any fees. Just keep checking for better flights. We booked to Paris first through London, changed it to DFW to Charlotte to Paris, and finally changed again to DFW direct to Paris. However, I checked every single day for the direct flight to open up for award miles.
happytourist is offline  
Jul 17th, 2015, 05:29 AM
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Thanks for that, happy. That's really helpful.
pavot is offline  
Jul 17th, 2015, 06:01 AM
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I assume the best time to look for award travel is as soon as the dates are open (this was certainly the case with Delta!) especially since I'm also hoping to use a small, regional airport as my starting point.

Sure, start looking as soon as flights open; however you need to know that the airlines' revenue management systems will make award inventory available throughout the booking period (usually around 11 months) when and if their forecasts show that the chances of those seats selling for cash are falling. These systems are incredibly complicated and sophisticated and there's really no way to out-think them. Start early, but don't despair if nothing is available right off the bat. Keep checking; sometimes (and this is especially true for business class) the greatest number of seats open within a week or two (or even days) of the flight departing.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jul 17th, 2015, 06:24 AM
  #5  
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Oh, Gardyloo ... I'm a planner. Waiting too long to book would make me -- and those around me -- crazy!

I understand what you mean, though; I won't be crushed if I don't find the ideal itinerary at 330 days out.

In our favor, we have a choice of two bigger airports as well, but our local airport is close, and so easy to navigate.
pavot is offline  
Jul 17th, 2015, 08:36 AM
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The main drawback to using 2 one-ways compared to a single round-trip is that it will cost you twice as much in redeposit fees if you have to cancel the trip.

The bigger risk for the OP is choosing to start from a smaller regional airport compared to a major airport/hub. When you get a ticket nearly a year in advance -- and that's often necessary for getting award tickets for the date and class you want -- it is guaranteed that there will be schedule changes between the time you buy the ticket and the date of your flight. Sometimes the changes are minor; other times the changes require you to either change flights or incur ridiculously long connection times. With a small regional airport, you typically have far fewer flights to the hub that you need to get to. If you begin at a large airport like ATL, for example, you'll have a lot more choices when the original flight times change. So, you need to consider the trade-off between the convenience of a local airport vs. the risk of ultimately having a not-very-desirable final itinerary.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jul 17th, 2015, 10:24 AM
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In our favor, we have a choice of two bigger airports as well, but our local airport is close, and so easy to navigate.

Maybe you could reveal what airports (at home and in Europe) we're talking about, and what airline mileage program you'd be using. They're not all the same.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jul 30th, 2015, 07:49 AM
  #8  
 
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"Another tip: once you make your award booking, you can always call and talk to an international award rep to change it without any fees."

Is this true of every mileage program? We were just switched from US Airways to American (so we haven't redeemed using AA yet) and I had understood that AA charges a fee to switch flights once booked.
GinnyJo is offline  
Jul 30th, 2015, 10:06 AM
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United charges a fee unless you have premier status.
RioD is offline  
Jul 30th, 2015, 02:33 PM
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United charged me $200 recently for canceling a one-way flight. American charged me $150 for canceling the other one-way flight.
JaneB is offline  
Jul 30th, 2015, 03:03 PM
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Canceling award tickets draws a fee on AA; however changing the flight dates or route, provided the city pair remains unchanged, is free, subject to any changes in taxes or fees that might result (e.g. airport taxes or BA fuel extortion.)

Of course this is subject to change given AA's merger with Fly Dougie.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jul 30th, 2015, 05:10 PM
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Thanks for the specific info regarding AA, Gardyloo!
GinnyJo is offline  
Aug 1st, 2015, 08:15 PM
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Gardyloo: isn't AA now Fly Dougie? I thought I read that the US Airways guys were the new AA bosses.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 06:18 AM
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Yes, Doug Parker is the CEO of American. The leadership is pretty evenly split between US and AA suits.
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 12:32 PM
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I've enjoyed US award programs an awful lot in the past. I know that all award programs are changing and certainly not getting better for people like me with no status and who scrimp and save miles. But I did just get award tickets for Rome next April with Biz seats on the way over, so that's a break.
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