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Thanks to advice here to be persistent, we got the 1st class FF seats!

Thanks to advice here to be persistent, we got the 1st class FF seats!

Dec 20th, 2006, 09:31 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 576
Thanks to advice here to be persistent, we got the 1st class FF seats!

I have been trying almost daily since Nov. 7th to get first class frequent flyer tickets to Australia for next October. We booked coach seats, but were hoping firsts would open up, and with the help of a great agent, we did it. The people here on Fodor's encouraged me to keep trying since we lost out last year (and didn't try calling frequently then) and so I was heartened to keep trying this year. The good thing is that we "HAD" to add 4 days on to the itinerary! So if anyone out there is discouraged about not getting FF seats, just keep calling. I recorded who was the agent and when I called. It is amazing how many agents Alaska Airlines (our FF program) has, I think I only got the same one maybe twice in all the calling I did. Some were helpful, most just checked a few things and said seats weren't available. So, KEEP CALLING and we'll see ya in Oz!

Sally in Seattle, who just got their power back after 5 days in the cold and dark!
SnRSeattle is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 10:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,044
Congrats Sally - not just for the good news on the seats, but on getting your power back. We lost power only briefly (twice the night of the storm, for about 2 seconds each time), but did suffer some water seeping into our basement family room (where I am now) during the rainy part of the storm.

The rest of my family did not fare so well however. My mom & dad lost power in Bellevue, as did my brother in Bellevue and sister and her family on Mercer Island. My other sister and her family lost power in Duvall and my son and his wife in Burien and daughter and her family in Kent. Also affected were 2 of my wifes sister on the east side So... we were the only folks with power end as a result ended up with a VERY full house. Everybody home now but one of my sisters and her family so things are ALMOST back to normal.

Electricity is wonderful, ain't it?

LordBalfor is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 12:36 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,793
Yay for you Sally! Now you can start planning for your extra 4 days!
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 01:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,650
Whoo-hoo Sally! Success at last - sounds like Christmas came early this year...

Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 03:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Congrats Sally!

They really make you work for it don't they???

Using mileage is akin to voodoo!

Glad you were persistent and it paid off - and yes, you're right, you get a good rez agent and it makes all the difference in the world. I've been known to politely say "ok, thanks" and then redial to get another agent.


wlzmatilida is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 06:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 152
Welcome to the small but happy club of first class flyers courtesy of ff miles.

We knew you would get them if you just kept at it! Once you get the game down, it just gets easier each year.

Last year when we booked that years trip the agent told us we would never be so lucky again. Only took me a couple of days to get next years trip booked.

Have fun down under!!!


stevew is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2006, 05:08 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,342

You have truly hit the jackpot. Please give us the details. There are lessons here for all of us.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2006, 06:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 596
Hi, Sally - I am so happy for you. What a great Christmas present. I have first over the end of October and booked for coach back. I am in the process now of calling every day to get the first back for the middle of November. From what I gather, the seats haven't opened as yet. I am following your advice and being persistant.
Louise is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2006, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
Two years ago we wanted to go to NZ using FF to get BC seats. It took a month of calling USAir, but we got them.
Jed is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2006, 08:33 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 576
Thanks for the kind words, everyone. We are really, really excited! Orlando Vic, I don't know what details you want. Let me know if the following is not what you were interested in. We found out that FF seats become available 330 days before you want them. All bookings are supposed to be available to all parties at the same time (i.e., Qantas and their partner Alaska all have access to the same seats equally). I don't know if that is really true, but I asked a Qantas rep after the Alaska agent told me and he agreed that was true. There were NO first class seats available for our dates (and we were flexible to a degree--from 20 Sept. to 10 Oct departing US) and we called 1 hour after Alaska opened for the morning on the first day available, 330 days out. I kept calling every day for a while, skipping a day here and there and randomly at different times during the day. Sometimes one seat would be available, one time business seats to Sydney via Melbourne, which we declined. Sometimes there were no coach seats available. When we booked our coach seats, I called Qantas for seat assignments right away and got row 71, which is a two person row instead of a three person row. BTW, to get the FF miles in the first place, we charge everything possible to our Visa and then pay at the end of the month. We don't go out of our way to earn miles, but they do seem to add up, especially since I became a grandmother and fly to California a lot to see the DGD. Good luck in your search!
Sally in Seattle, celebrating her birthday today
SnRSeattle is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2006, 08:35 AM
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Posts: 576
Louise, I am rooting for you! Keep calling, even if you get a discouraging agent. We got a flight out of San Francisco (they fly M-W-F one flight to Sydney) and back through Los Angeles. Good luck!!
SnRSeattle is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Vic, I just thought, maybe you wanted to know the details of our trip--we are leaving Seattle Oct. 1 and flying to Sydney via San Francisco. Then flying home from Sydney on Nov. 1 with a 2 day stopover in LA to visit aforementioned granddaughter (and daughter and son-in-law, too!). We will be mostly in Far North Queensland and have booked our trip on the Spirit of Freedom dive boat already!
SnRSeattle is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2006, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 234
Husband, 10 yr. old daughter and I did a trip to Australia in August..and used FF miles to book 2 first class both ways and one business on the way over but could only get coach for the third seat on the way back.

It wasn't too hard to get the 2 first seats but I could never get a third one even though we had the miles available and I called very frequently for months. I wonder if they only open up 2 first class seats per flight. I asked that but they always told me to keep checking back...but to no avail.

Also, the thing we learned is that Qantas will not give you a FF first seat at the time of the flight if you have booked for a Business or Coach even if first class is almost empty. American air carriers will usually allow you to upgrade if a seat is empty but not Qantas.

Be sure to check out the first class lounges in all the various airports. The one in LA is great and if you are a first class passenger there is a special section that has free food and alcohol, recliners with Bose headphones and a variety of music, and the best of all: showers!! (and they give you towels at the front desk). We had a more than 8 hour layover in LA so to be able to spend it there was wonderful. Make sure you get the pass into the first class section at LA not the business section as the food and drinks aren't free in the business class section.

On the way over I got the first class seat with my daughter and my husband had business class. On the way back he and our daughter got first class and I was back in Coach (poor me) He was very, very pleased with Business and his comment after comparing at the end of the trip was that he would rather save the miles and just fly Business, but that he never, ever wants to fly to Australia in Coach again.

Other note: in first class on Qantas they give you these great black cotton pyjamas (well, the bottoms are great..the tops sort of look like they are from a Star Trek episode) and most everyone changes into them to sleep. I am a small woman (5 ft. 3 in.) and got the medium size which was the smallest they had. This fit great but when I washed them at home they shrunk quite a bit. We also came home with a large size of the pyjamas and they fit great after washing..I wear them all the time...good souvenir!

Last thing to note..if you are flying first class your bags will be specially tagged and will come off the plane first. This can be a great help if you are rushing to make connections. If you have a tight connection be sure to let airline employees know that you are a first class passenger because we got escorted to a security line and put at the front of the long line.

Have to say that this all felt strange and elitist (after decades of always flying everywhere in Economy!), but I think this meant the difference between missing the flight or not and after already travelling for about 20 hours I didn't want to spend anymore time getting home than I had to!
LynAK is offline  
Dec 24th, 2006, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,342
I, too, followed the 330-day guideline but only persevered for about 3 weeks instead of the 6 weeks that you did. I went through American Airlines and remember calling them just after midnight each day to see if any first or business class seats were available. But, since I live in Florida and American's reservation center is located in Arizona (I think) I had to allow an extra two hours for the time difference. So, I could not call until 2 A.M. EST to find out what new seats were loaded into the system. We ended with 2 business class seats and an "open jaw" itinerary, flying into Sydney and out of Brisbane. Next time, I'll be more persistent and allow for more time to get the first class seats.

I was very interested to learn that partner airlines get their FF seats at the same time Qantas does. I mistakenly assumed that Qantas would give their own FF members some priority before releasing those seats to their partners.
That is good to know!

If I call each evening at midnight, do you think it would be advisable to also call during the day as well? We are already thinking about a return trip in a few years.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Dec 24th, 2006, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
I called most times at midnight (EST), but the time that I did get seats I called about 7 AM. You never know!
Jed is offline  
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