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Possible FF dilemma - looking for options, any ideas?

Possible FF dilemma - looking for options, any ideas?

Jan 15th, 2012, 12:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,109
Possible FF dilemma - looking for options, any ideas?

I'm trying to book a flight from Buffalo, NY to Cairns, Australia on AA miles for a "once in a lifetime trip."

AA reward mile agents have mostly been wonderful to work with, however, not all the legs of my flight are available. I have been on the phone with them for 4 days and as it stands now they can find flights available for:

Buffalo to Chicago
LAX to Cairns, Australia

So the flight that is not available for booking right now is Chicago to LAX, which I find ironic as one would guess that there would be most flights available btwn major markets.

There are no direct flights from Buffalo to LAX.

Tomorrow is the last day before my hold on the LAX to Australia legs expire. Are these my only options?:

1. Take the BUF > ORD flight, and then buy our own tickets to LAX and continue on our LAX to Aussie flight. Would AA allow us to do this or would they see it as redeeming points twice?

2. The first agent I spoke with suggested a routing from Toronto (2.5 hr drive away). Obviously we'd have another border crossing to contend with and we would have to see if the Aussie flight was available the next day as the current departure day is a workday and we would be unable to leave work so early. Also we'd have to take a bus to Toronto. The flight is direct to LAX, a big plus as another transfer possibly means another opportunity for our luggage to not make it.

A subsequent agent told me it was ridiculous that the first agent said they were not allowed to put a request in for a flight with two legs (BUF>ORD>LAX) and put in that request.

I have very little experience redeeming airline miles (and no experience redeeming for overseas) and am wondering if there is something else I could suggest or another possible solution to this. It's possible that when I call tomorrow AA will allow that ORD>LAX leg but if it doesn't I want to be prepared with some other options. Obviously the most expensive part of the journey is the flight to Australia so I'm hoping to keep that.

Any suggestions much appreciated - enjoy-la!
klam_chowder is offline  
Jan 15th, 2012, 12:17 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,172
Could you do BUF/JFK/LAX? Perhaps buy the BUF/JFK routing on Jet Blue, and use miles for the remainder?

Good luck - sounds like a great trip!

cynstalker is offline  
Jan 15th, 2012, 12:36 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 210
I would try to find any way possible to get from BUF to LAX, because the transpacific is the hardest part. Once you have the origin BUF and the destination CNS in Australia, then it I think you can change the routing without a fee (AA's rules are never quite clear to me on this), or there is a fee, but it is better than not getting the transpacific leg. What about BUF-ORD-DFW-LAX? Or BUF-ORD-DEN-LAX? Or the prior idea of getting yourself to JFK. I think LAX-JFK can be hard to get, but there are lots of flights.

If you have UA or CO miles, they let you get to Australia via Asia, so there are more choices.
To SYD on UA from LAX or SFO can be hard. CO actually flies to CNS, but it is a convoluted routing through somewhere like Guam.

I've managed to get frequent flier tickets to Australia twice (in 2011 I used two one way awards, outbound using CO miles for United and home using AA miles for Qantas), but it usually requires an unfortunate routing in one direction or the other.

Good luck.
traveler318 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2012, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,431
If you could indicate dates, I can look at various options. Without dates it's close to impossible what to suggest.

If you break the trip at ORD, AA would charge you for two separate one way trips - BUF-ORD and LAX-Australia.

Qantas flies direct from JFK to Sydney (with a stop in LA to add fuel and more passengers) and also from Dallas, both of which are AA hubs. If you're at all flexible on dates, either of those might work for you. (Assuming you could get from Buffalo to Kennedy on your own.)

But provide some dates and let's see.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jan 16th, 2012, 03:29 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
Personally would fly into Toronto on FF miles
maybe some Niagara Falls to recoverfrom jet lag
then BUF all very close. Greyhound.com short ok
ride CA toUS easy crossing $20 for me last.

Other routes more hassle will cost you lots more probably.
qwovadis is offline  
Jan 16th, 2012, 08:30 AM
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Posts: 2,109
Thx a mint all for taking the time to read my long post and offer suggestions - all much appreciated - Fodorites are the best!

Requested date is Nov 16 if we can get the 4:45pm flight out from BUF>ORD>LAX.

If we have to go to Toronto, I would need to see if the Aussie legs are available on Saturday Nov 17 (as the 16th is a workday and it is impossible for us to leave at required 1:30pm to get to YYZ on time).

Sorry, I omitted the date in my OP as I never considered someone would be so kind as to offer to look, and because my post was already too long.

I phoned AA just now to see if the ORD>LAX leg had been approved on appeal but there has been no response yet. I was told to call back later today to check.

Here's hoping they have good news for me when I call back - enjoy-la!
klam_chowder is offline  
Jan 16th, 2012, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,431
Well, AA has pretty much zeroed out award space between ORD and the west coast for your day and the ones before and after. The good news is that Qantas appears to have decent space available on other days, but the week following the 16th is Thanksgiving, and your chances of getting award seats within the US for that week are going to be lousy, period.

I can offer an approach that could work, but it's rather roundabout and would require you to get to JFK, which might be more bother than Toronto. You could fly on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver BC, then on Alaska Airlines from YVR to LAX, in time to pick up your Qantas flight (assuming you're leaving in the late evening out of LAX to Brisbane or Sydney.) Cathay and Alaska are both partners and eligible for award redemption using AA miles, and there appears to be a fair amount of room on those flights on both the 15th and 16th, but the JFK-YVR flight is a red-eye and you'd arrive in the middle of the night in Vancouver and then have to wait several hours for the LAX flight.

It might be easier and cheaper just to purchase a one-way flight from BUF to LAX, rather than having to spend two awards to get to Oz (BUF to ORD, then LAX to CNS.)

Sorry there's not better news. Peak travel period.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jan 16th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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Wow, your route finding skills are incredible, Gardyloo! Much appreciated

I called at 1pm CST, and there was no reply to the appeal.

Phoned again at 2pm CST, and they told me basically what you had said: nothing was going to be released "based on yields."

Went thru the many permutations listed here with a couple of agents (not the same scenarios). All a no-go. Either the flights were not available or not available on Advantage points. I tried DFW, going thru Denver, Miami, nothing.

When I tried the via YVR option, the agent was impressed! However, going out of Canada would move the points from 37.5 to 50K pp, and because we don't have enough points for that, it was a no-go too. Heading out from Toronto was also not viable because of this.

So our current situation is we have a hold on a 11:50pm flight for Saturday. Likely we will book this and then have all day to get from BUF to LAX - hopefully substantial window will allow us to find a seat sale fare less than the going rate of $400+pp. I am unable to check Southwest fares this far out but their current "off season" rates are a reasonable all-in total of just sub$200pp.

For some reason, the agent said to put in a request for BUF>ORD>LAX for Saturday and to phone again tomorrow to see if it is approved. I doubt anything will come of it, however, she'd spent a lot of time with me and I wanted to be agreeable.

All the agents were very patient and courteous. Interestingly, I found out in a subsequent call that one agent cancelled the BUF>ORD hold even tho I never requested any changes to the holds. In the end, it is irrelevant because we've moved to a Saturday date, but it is a good reminder to end every call with a recap of what is on hold to ensure the agent and I are on the same page.

Thx a mint again for all the help, everyone. If by some miracle that flight to LAX comes thru, I'll be sure to post back.

klam_chowder is offline  
Jan 18th, 2012, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,431
Note that selling miles is expressly against American Airlines' (and AFAIK every other airline's) T&Cs and can (and very often does) result in your miles being confiscated, your account terminated (forever) and any trips acquired through "purchased" miles being canceled. Just sayin'.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jan 18th, 2012, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,317
Gardyloo: apparently that was an advertiser and the eds nuked the posts.
janisj is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2012, 02:18 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,109
I can barely believe it...I'm going to Australia!!

After nearly 2 wks of phoning in to get my flights, a savvy agent - both technically and policy-wise, took it upon herself to resolve the ORD>LAX leg. All the other agents were surprisingly courteous and professional, but with varying degrees of technical/policy know-how.

I am beyond excited...and am really going to enjoy the research and planning.

Again, many thx Fodorites for sharing your experience and expertise...you made this trip possible!

klam_chowder is offline  
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