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Please help me redeem my FF miles for travel to Europe

Please help me redeem my FF miles for travel to Europe

Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 04:07 PM
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Please help me redeem my FF miles for travel to Europe

My husband and I will be cruising out of Rome next September, with a final stop of Venice. Therefore, I think I should be looking for open jaw reward travel. I have about 60,000 FF points with Delta and 60,000 FF points with US Airways. I understand that it is too early to book the flights, but I'm just trying to get some insider insight on the best way to use my (limited) FF points. We want to fly Envoy/Business class on at least the international portion.

Any suggestions, tips, etc., for getting the biggest bang for my FF buck? Thanks in advance!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 10:50 PM
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I'm not an expert on Delta's or USAir's FF programs but I don't think you have enough miles in either of your accounts (Delta or USAir) to get one r/t ticket from the US to Italy let alone tickets for both you and your husband.

I did a quick search on Delta and it will probably run you around 100,000 FF Points per person for an economy award ticket. Not sure how many miles you'll need on USAir but it's probably a similar amount.

On Delta I believe you can purchase a coach ticket and use miles to upgrade. Depending on the "fare class" (i.e. full fare economy or restricted fare economy) and it will cost you either 15,000 miles PP each way to upgrade from a full fare economy ticket or 25,000 miles PP each way to upgrade from a restricted fare economy ticket. Whether or not you are successful getting an upgrade at the time of booking depends on the availability of "upgradeable seats" on the date(s) you are planning to fly. If you are flexible on your flying dates you stand a better chance of success.

To upgrade on USAIR I believe you'll need 30,000 miles plus $300 PP each way. Like with Delta your success in getting upgrade seats will depend on the availability at time of booking.

I believe with USAir there might be some additional restrictions and/or FF miles "costs" when booking an open jaw itinerary (not sure about Delta).

So with 60,000 FF miles in your Delta account, you have a slim chance of upgrading in both directions (assuming you purchase restricted fare tickets and upgrade seats are available). If not you might only have enough FF miles to upgrade in one direction. On USAir it appears you only have enough miles for you and your husband to upgrade in one direction (again assuming upgrade seats are available.

If you have elite or preferred status on either airline you can purchase economy tickets and request a FF mileage upgrade which, depending on your FF status (Regular, silver, gold, platinum, diamond, etc.) , level are released within certain intervals prior to departure but there are never any guarantees upgrades will be granted and if so, they are given in order of status.

Others more familiar with Delta's and/or USair's FF programs may be able to offer more help.
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 05:58 AM
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You would be incredably fortunate to get a TATL biz seat for 100,000 miles on Delta. More likely 200,000+ miles. Delta's "three tier" award "system" is the pits. All you can do is get on the Delta website daily and hope.
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 09:27 AM
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You'll be very lucky to get one coach seat on US and one coach seat on DL. Good luck.
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 08:20 PM
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"<i>Any suggestions, tips, etc., for getting the biggest bang for my FF buck? Thanks in advance! </i>"

Unfortunately, you don't have enough miles for <i>any</i> sort of 'bang'.
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 08:33 PM
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I have the same question, more or less. We have 280,000 AMEX points and would like to go RT San Francisco to London or Milan next June/July. I would prfer to use them for business class upgrades. A few years back we did it with Virgin to London by purchasing an economy fare and a companion fare and then using miles to upgrade to business but I haven't seen anything similar since. I'd appreciate any suggestions or tips. Thank you.
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Old Sep 26th, 2010, 03:57 PM
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Sarahmarie: You could convert some of your Amex points into British Airways miles, then buy Premium Economy tickets (probably about $1600 a piece) and then use BA miles (about 30,000 per ticket, I think) to upgrade your flights to Club World (business class on BA). Upgrading from Premium Economy to Club on BA is one of the best values around for BA - and you will know at the time of booking that the upgrade is available. There is, however, limited availability, so you might not get the dates you want.
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Old Sep 26th, 2010, 05:44 PM
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We did it last year on USAir - it was 50k/pp (base fare) for flights. However, I watched for the 6 weeks prior to our planned date as they were opening up on the calendar - I discovered that flights on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays to Europe were never base fare. We ended up flying out on a Wednesday night instead. We were able to fly home on a Sunday, so at least that was good.

I did "open jaw" although I hate to call them that - I prefer "multi-city". We flew into London and out of Paris for the 50k/pp (we were a family of 5, so a total of 250k miles).

How flexible are you ? What is your destination city ? That is another thing - while you can buy a flight on USAir website using cash, certain cities and combinations are not available using points. I would call and try and get an agent on the phone and explain what you are doing. She will not be able to help you, but she can tell you about 330 days out from NOW... what is availability on certain flight combinations/routes. While it isn't a perfect predictor, it is a good data point to tell you if you have any hope.

I would think your best alternative is to use pts. for one flight and buy the other with cash.
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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Thanks all for your advice. For clarification, I realized that my points would only buy miles for one, but one free roundtrip would go a long way to keeping the total cost of the trip down. Appreciate the suggestion on purchasing economy and using points to upgrade....that thought had not even crossed my mind.
As for flexibility, we're cruising, so our dates are not flexible. The good news is that we'll be flying into Rome on a Thursday and out of Venice on a Thursday. I know that Thursdays *tend* to have better deals so that is a plus.
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 10:20 AM
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The main reason that I haven't been to Italy yet is difficulty in getting tickets using miles. Whatever you decide to do, I'd try to get the tix as soon as the dates are available in the system.
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 12:48 PM
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The other thing to keep an eye on - depending on what type of fare you purchase - many of them are not upgradeable with points at all. Also, I didn't fly Delta much this past year, and lost my status, so my 175K of miles doesn't do me much good, and when we looked at trying to fly Delta to Europe next month, the cost of the fare that was upgradeable to Business class with points was ridiculously expensive. Good luck!!!
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Old Sep 30th, 2010, 05:42 AM
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Saramarie--I agree with converting your Amex to BA points. I love BA's FF program because I've never had a blackout date and upgrading is easy. I'm flying Philly to Paris next week in FIRST CLASS for $162.02 (taxes) and 75K miles. That's one way. The return is in WTPlus and, since I booked my husband r/t (coming in a week after me) and my return at the same time I don't remember the cost/miles.

Also, you can use part miles, part cash in several different increments.
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Old Oct 4th, 2010, 08:59 AM
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US Airways is running a special right now where you can get 2X the miles for 2.75 cents per mile. Therefore, I could get 100,000 miles for $1,375....by doing for my husband and I, and coupling it with our 65,000 current miles, looks like I would be able to at least get us Business class seats for under $3,000 total (ORF-FCO, VCE-ORF).

Has anyone else done this in the past? Any words of advice?
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Old Oct 4th, 2010, 09:44 AM
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suz, you are assuming that the business class seats would be availabe <b> at a base ff fare </b> for the days you wanted. My experience with them for base tickets was that we could only fly to Europe on a M, T, W. Do you have that flexibility ?

How long are they running the special ? When September comes open, could you have them hold the flights for 3 days and then buy the miles ?
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Old Oct 4th, 2010, 05:37 PM
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surfmom, I did a check for similar dates in August 2011, assuming that August would be more expensive than September. I did find a Business Class fare for 95,000 points from ORF-FCO, FCO-ORF (you have to contact an US Airways agent to book multi-city). If I bought the miles, I know that we would use them at some point, as we are planning on doing more international trips in the next few years.
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