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using frequent flyer and a pay ticket to Tokyo- is this a good deal?

using frequent flyer and a pay ticket to Tokyo- is this a good deal?

May 12th, 2004, 08:21 PM
  #1  
emd
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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using frequent flyer and a pay ticket to Tokyo- is this a good deal?

This is the first trip I've planned to Japan. I made a boo boo and missed the date to book frequent flyer miles for the trip in March 2005. I was supposed to call on May 11 and missed it by one and half days- big mistake, believe me, I know. I had hoped to get two round trips in coach on Continental from Washington Natl. to Narita for 60K miles each, March 11 returning on March 26, 2005. Instead, I can't get out on FF miles til March 13, although I can extend the trip by a day and return on March 27, but I can only get one FF tciket for a premium of 90K miles, and pay for the other ticket at a rate of $1068. What do you think- should I do this, is it worth the miles or will I be able to get good paid fares later for both tickets, and save my miles? The timing is important, as the trip revolves around my son's spring break from school, so I don't have alot of wiggle room there. I have no clue on this and would appreciate experienced opinions.
emd is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 12:09 AM
  #2  
 
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$1,000 is way too much for this trip. I'm looking at CO's website, and what's happening is that they're only putting the "B", "N" or other high-fare classes on their web right now.

I'm sure you can get cheaper fares for March travel much later on co.com ~$700 is reasonable. Or check out a consolidator or travel agent.

I wouldn't spend 90K miles either. If you pay for your tickets, a roundtrip will give you almost 15,000 miles already. So, your actual "cost" is 105K miles, or 4 domestic roundtrips. And I'm not even considering the EQMs that you're not earning.
rkkwan is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 02:52 AM
  #3  
 
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I've been watching WAS <-> NRT prices for a few years now and $1000 is about the going rate at sites like travelocity, sidestep, ua.com. That $1068 fare would be tax inclusive, I expect.

You can probably get a ticket at the rock-bottom price of $600 for that time if you wait until January, but it might require more flexibility in travel dates.

The 90K miles is a lot to pay for a coach ticket to Tokyo. I would expect a business class seat for that price. Maybe you can use the miles to upgrade? Did you see if you could get FF seats flying out of Newark?

But, you've got to wonder why save FF miles if you can't use them for the travel that you want to take.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 03:12 AM
  #4  
emd
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Thank you both. Hi mrwunrfl. I thought you were in Japan now, but your plans must have changed. I was told by continental that the business class trip would be 120K miles. The fare for business now for that flight is a staggering $7500. I would be willing to spend 120K miles (my total FF account) for one business seat and pay for one coach (so that one of us could get better sleep on the flight; or maybe they'd let us switch seats and both get a few hours of better sleep than in coach) but no biz seats are available for a week before or after we need to go. The upgrade idea is a good one, perhaps I can use my remaining miles to upgrade my paid ticket to business, I will check on that, or maybe upgrading two paid tickets- anything to get in business for a trip this long is a good thing. Will also check on getting FF seats out of Newark.
I have 3 days to decide if I want to buy my paid ticket. My son's FF seat is saved for 10 days.
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May 13th, 2004, 03:33 AM
  #5  
 
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Today, you can buy roundtrip non-stop flights from Dulles on All Nippon Airways for $1038 for the dates that you want to travel. The fares on other airlines are comparable but they would be connecting flights both ways. Typically, the ANA fares don't vary as much as United, so the best price you could expect would be around $800. You MIGHT find better, though, e.g. I took the ANA flights between IAD and NRT in May '02 for $622 as a United sale fare (code share). It must have been a 777 because it had seat back videos. There were game controllers in the armrest, so I played vid games for a good bit of the trip.

You might try getting FF tickets flying into Osaka or Nagoya (on partner Northwest) instead of Tokyo.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 03:46 AM
  #6  
 
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Hi emd! I just saw your second post. I would call them every day for the next 10 days to try to get the second FF seat. The fare for your ticket almost surely will still be available 10 days from now. Check with Continental, but I would expect that if you find a better fare later that they will refund the difference (in the form of an MCO).
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May 13th, 2004, 05:44 AM
  #7  
 
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how about trying a c/o partner, like n/w...i use FF tickets frequently for thailand...i think it is the best use for the miles, except for upgrades...i find that they release the miles slowly after the intitial release...if you don't get them now keep trying...you can always buy the tickets later...n/w releases the tickets frist in, i think, 352 days...i did tickets for next week last june...
try calling directly to the f/f dept and see if they can help you or what they suggest...good luck..
rhkkmk is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 07:15 AM
  #8  
 
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As you can tell from the price comparisons you found, the best use of your frequent flier miles (most $ value per mile spent) is to upgrade from Coach to Business. I don't know what CO's rules are on this. On United, I can buy a coach ticket and upgrade to Business class for 60K miles per person. We still get frequent flier miles for the flight (substabtial, as Premier Execs we get double miles), as well as credit toward next year's premium status. The upgradable tickets are a bit more than the rock bottom price, but it sounds like you $1000 tickets would be upgradeable.
Kathie is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 07:16 AM
  #9  
emd
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Thanks again to all of you. NW has no FF seats available to Narita as of now (another boo-boo- I didn't check them to find out when they release FF seats, didn't know that NW had flights to Japan). But I will try Osaka and Nagoya- how far are they from Tokyo and Kyoto (the two areas we want to go to so far- I thought we'd spend our first three jet lagged days in Tokyo and then move on but certainly can rearrange that)
mrwunrfl: good info on the ANA flights- I didn't realize they fly direct from Dulles.
I can't get two FF Continental flights if they are going to charge me 90K apiece, as I only have 120K points. One nice thing about Continental flights I have booked now is from Newark to Narita are 777s both ways.

What I should have done was post questions on this to you all before I ever started this process. I'll never make this mistake again (of course, I won't be going back to japan if I have no FF miles left- ha!)
emd is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 07:18 AM
  #10  
emd
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KAthie: I think you are right. I am calling Continetnal now to find out about upgrading process. Miles for business class upgrade (when the biz tickets are $7500 apiece to buy) is sounding better and better.
emd is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 08:40 AM
  #11  
emd
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I called Continental. Their upgrades for paid tickets on this flight work as follows: I would pay $1098 now and get on a wait list for upgrade. This June (9 months from date of travel) they will release a "significnat amount" of upgrades, and I will possibly get one (or two if lucky, and if I go the paid route for both tickets). If I get the reward for each direction, then I have to pay another $300 each way for each ticket (or $300 if I only get it one way). SO the tickets could become $1698, plus they will charge 25K miles each way- 50K round trip, and possibly adding up to 100K if both of us get the upgrade on paid tickets. That seems like alot, and a gamble- I'd have to give up the one rewarad ticket I have now and pay for both tickets, and wait and see if I made the right desicison, then get zapped w/alot more $ and alot of miles (I don't mind losing the miles for upgrade to biz class, but the extra $ is significant). What is your experience w/getting these upgrades, do they come through?
Also, no NW flights to Osaka or Nagano are available on the way back ont he days I would around when we'd need to fly. Sigh.
emd is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 10:08 AM
  #12  
 
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A few points:

1. The only reason why you should book this early is to get a "Standard" CO award (not EasyPass), which is 60K miles to NRT. EasyPass (with more seats availble) is 120K miles. If they want 90K miles from you, that means on one of the legs, there's no Standard award available. You should figure out which one.

2. If you must uses miles to Japan, note that you can get BusinessFirst on CO or DL for 120K miles, or you can get WorldBusiness on NW for only 90K. So, for the same 90K, you can be getting a roundtrip to NRT on NW on business both ways. [Apparently, only one of you can be seating in business class.]

3. $1,000 is really not a good price to NRT for March travel. NW has SEVEN flights a day from NRT to the US, and they are known to have cheap fares, often through consolidators, or through fare sale. There must be some sales between now and next March. Middle of the winter is time when these cheap fares are available.

4. Again, understand what awards are available to you on which flights, not only CO and NW, but also DL; and which are not. They can combine different award types/class on several airlines - CO, NW and DL. Together they have about 10 flights a day from continental US to NRT. All are possible for you. And you can even do something like 30K miles for one-way on CO, 45K miles for one-way business on NW, for a total of 75K miles, for example.

Anyways, if I were you and this trip is a MUST GO, then I'd call Onepass's desk again and find out if there's any possibility of using 60K miles only (120K for two tickets) on all possible routings on CO, NW and DL. Insist that they search for all flights.

If not, consider 90K miles for a roundtip on NW Worldbusiness, and buy a seperate economy ticket. You can enjoy the bigger seat on one way, your spousse the other.

If still not, I'd just wait for a fare sale this winter, or go with a consolidator to get a pair of ~$700 tickets there.
rkkwan is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 05:24 PM
  #13  
 
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There is NO WAY I would pay $1700 AND 50,000 miles for a business class rt to Japan.

Osaka Kansai airport (KIX) is a 72 minute train ride to Kyoto. Nagoya airport to Nagoya station is about 35 min by bus. Nagoya to Kyoto is 40 min on the shinkansen. Nagoya is between Tokyo and Kyoto. The shinkansen from Nagoya to Tokyo is about 2 hours.

So, all three airports are convenient for your trip and you can save time and money by using two of them on an open jaw ticket.

That is, you could fly DCA->NRT and visit Tokyo. Buy a one-way shinkansen ticket to Kyoto and visit there and Nara and then fly KIX->DCA (i.e. from Osaka Kansai airport home). This would eliminate the need to return to Tokyo for your flight home. Or do jaw going to NRT and returning from Nagoya (NGO). Or the other order.

Yet another option is to make sure they try BWI, DCA, and IAD as your departure/return airports. That would be an open jaw on this end, e.g. flying DCA->NRT->IAD, or IAD->KIX->BWI.

I leave for Japan on the 26th.
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May 13th, 2004, 05:55 PM
  #14  
emd
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mrwunrfl, your practical advice and everyone else's is cheering me up (in btwn. beating myself up for getting into this mess). I never would have known about all these options- certainly Continental and One Pass has not raised them. Now I just need a day off work to make the calls. I will report back on what ends up happening (unless I cry for more help in the process). Have a great trip at the end of May and let us hear about it.
emd is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 06:45 PM
  #15  
 
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My experience in geting upgrades is to NEVER expect that being on a waitlist will produce an upgarde. On United, you can buy tickets 11 months in advance, and you know at the time whether you van get an upgrade (or be placed on a waitlist, which typically means no upgrade). I wouldn't go with the deal CO is proposing.
Kathie is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 02:55 AM
  #16  
emd
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Thanks, Kathie. It's a screw job with their upgrades- it gets you to consider buying the tickets to get the elusive potential upgrade. I think my best bet is to make more calls and try all the options for other segments, airports, different award types on their different partner airlines that can be combined, etc. And pray for a decent One Pass agent on the line when I call again today.
emd is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 07:19 AM
  #17  
emd
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Good news, thanks to you all! I have been calling Continental alot last few days, and this a.m. I was able to get two FF seats for 60K apiece on a 747 plane (YES! the largest plane available!) from Natl. airport (my preferred one) thru Minneaplois to Narita on the days I originally wanted to travel!! This is great! I checked NW flights to Osaka and Nagano also but I think the one to Narita is best for us as if we go to Osaka or Nagano we would need to go first from DC to Minneapolis, then to Seatlle or L.A., then to Japan. So I have now gotten the best deal available for coach free tickets on the biggest plane in the sky on the days I want. I did check on buying tickets in coach and trying to upgrade to business on NW. But Continental can not put me on the wait list for NW upgrades, and NW has none available now, so I am ditching the upgrade idea (unless you point out something I am missing on that).
BTW- the nice NW Worldperks agent I just spoke with told me that this summer NW and Continental and Delta and other affiliated airlines are starting a program called "SKYTEAM", that will consolidate their frwquent flyer programs, and at that time alot of upgrade seats will become available on all those FF programs. So he told me to call back and see if I can purchase tickets in caoch on this flight and upgrade w/miles then. I thought I'd pass that on to you all- I am goign to cal back this summer and check on that.
THANKS so much for all your help, rkkwan, mrwunrfl, and Kathie. You all have been a big help w/the international FF maze.
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May 16th, 2004, 07:42 AM
  #18  
 
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emd - Delta is one of the founding airlines of Skyteam, which is the 3rd largest airline alliance of the world (after Star Alliance and oneworld). NW and CO will be joining Skyteam, reportedly in September according to Air France/KLM's chief a few days ago. Since DL/CO/NW already have lots of common programs, there won't be too much change in the US. However, as a CO Onepass miles owner, that should be the opportunity to claim miles on Korean Air, Air France, etc which are not available right now.

I am sorry to let you know this, but a Northwest 747 is one of the worst ways to travel to Asia. You'll be sitting in one of the last airline seats between N. America and Asia without a personal video screen, and no extra legroom. AA, DL, CO, ANA, JL, CX, SQ all have individual screens in every seat. CO's 777 is way more comfortable than a NW 747 on long routes.

But glad you get your tickets with 60k miles each. That's a decent way to spend the miles, and you'll enjoy Japan.
rkkwan is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 08:20 AM
  #19  
 
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That's great news, especially that you got the dates that you wanted!
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 08:22 AM
  #20  
emd
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thanks again rkkwan- also for your other info on seating prefernces. It is good to know what to expect. We will take our personal DVD player w/splitter for the headphones so we can both watch it. I think it is worth it to get the two seats free, as you said.
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