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Strategies for finding frequest flyer tickets ?

Strategies for finding frequest flyer tickets ?

Old Jan 17th, 2008, 06:09 AM
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Strategies for finding frequest flyer tickets ?

Am planning a trip to ZRH and PSA in June using Continental points on Delta - Working with Continental, as Delta told me to, but they say NO ff seats available June OR July !! Do I just keep calling and hoping something will open up ?
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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You are likely out of luck. We book ours about 11 months in advance.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 06:51 AM
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I would think that most of the tickets for June and July were grabbed up many months ago. You waited way too long, b/c most people book their FF tickets 11 months ahead of time (at least for Europe).

But it never hurts to keep checking to see if any tickets open up. You never know. But I wouldn't get my hopes up.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 06:53 AM
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If you are trying to get on specific Delta flights, then you are out of luck. You will have to be flexible. This means you will have to think of all the possible ways to get to ZRH and back from PSA. This may mean flying Northwest to Amsterdam and connecting to a KLM flight. It might mean Continental to Paris connecting to an Air France Flight. It might mean an Alitalia flight to London, connecting to a Virgin Flight.

If you post specific dates and routing, I can do some quick searches for you.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 07:20 AM
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Dear Travel Gourmet - Travel dates as follows:
June 6 CMH - ZRH
June 18 PSA - CMH

I can change dates by a few days one way or the other

Also willing to look at other airports - am visting Bernese Oberland and Tuscany

Thank you for you offer of help
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 08:05 AM
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Well, I have mostly bad news. Most of the trans-Atlantic flights are not showing much in terms of availability. But here is what I did:

1) I used the Northwest Airlines Japan website to search for availability, as it has the best combination of Delta, Northwest, Air France, KLM, and Continental flights. I restricted this search to just likely trans-Atlantic segments. I searched for DTW to Paris and Amsterdam. I searched New York to Paris and Amsterdam. I searched New York to Zurich. I searched New York to Rome and Milan. The goal is to find what you can for the overwater flight, as this is usually the limiting factor. Unfortunately, I came up with nothing for the departure.

2) I used a pay site (ExpertFlyer) to confirm that there was nothing for Air France, and there wasn't.

3) Finally, I did a search on the Virgin Atlantic website to try and find availability from New York to London. This showed good availability, though only on the morning flight from EWR and the 6:30pm flight from JFK. Return flights would be on the late flight.

So, with #3 as the only option, I set back to figuring out how to fit the rest of the trip in.

a) Using #1, I searched for flights from CMH to New York. This yielded either the early flight direct to EWR or the early flight to CLE, connecting to LGA, but neither will get you to the morning flight in time or to JFK, but you will have plenty of time to get to JFK via cab or shuttle.

b) Again using #1, I searched for flights to and from LHR to get you to and from ZRH and PSA. Wide open to ZRH on 6/7 on KLM, through AMS. Return looks to be possible out of Florence, via CDG with Air France.

Now, for the caveats:

i) I have no idea if this is bookable. I'm sure that there is a maximum number of legs on an award ticket and I don't know what it is. And such a trip is a minimum of 8 legs.

ii) This is a lot of connections, and includes both getting from one New York airport to another, as well as an overnight in New York, due to the late arrival of the Virgin flight.

If you do try to book this, make sure that you walk the agent through step by step. You will have to say, I want to take CO from CMH to NYC. From NYC, I want to take Virgin to London. And then KLM from LHR to ZRH, via AMS. And on and on. The agents are both unmotivated and poorly trained at CO. I don't know why, but they are. I have never been able to book tickets much simpler than this without my handing them each leg separately.

Good luck, but with all of these odd routings, I would probably just pay for the ticket.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 08:13 AM
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My son lucked out on booking with Delta two days ago. He decided he wanted to travel with me on May 27. He couldn't get the same arrival city, but he flew into Dusseldorf and will train to Delft. He was able to book the return flight only 1 day earlier out of Frankfurt-exactly the departure city he wanted. I booked mine over 300 days in advance.

Once when my sister and I decided to go to Hawaii on the spur of the moment, I was able to book for 2 weeks later, and that was in the middle of January which is usually all booked.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 08:21 AM
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I don't know how flexible you are with departure/arrival cities but when we book FF tickets (we use AA/One World) we try to be as flexible as possible. This often means flying out of a different airport (for our next trip, we had to fly out of Raleigh instead of our hometown airport of Charlotte) and being somewhat flexible on the cities you are flying into. For instance, maybe you can find a flight out of Rome FCO, Venice, Milan, etc. instead of Pisa. It may be worth the train travel time if you really do want to get to Tuscany.

Good luck!
Tracy
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 08:28 AM
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I don't know if this is helpful, but I looked at the FF calendar on Delta.com and it's showing that ATL-ZRH is available for 75K skymiles on the specific dates you want (outbound skychoice, return skysaver).

You would still have to pay for the CMH-ATL leg, and you'd have to train back to ZRH for the flight home, but that should be a lot cheaper than $1400.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 08:30 AM
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I'll concur on the flexibility issue. I booked 2 tickets last year on Delta FF miles in late February for July to Europe. The agents at Delta were WONDERFUL and spent about 2 hours searching all the possibilities through partner airlines. They also said that getting to Europe was the hardest portion--getting around Europe or US was pretty easy. I was able to give them a range of 4-5 days for departure to Europe and 4 or 5 days on return home to search and I was flexible about what cities we flew into/out of. Using this strategy, I snagged tickets using only 50,000 points per ticket.

Good luck with Continental--I haven't used them.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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Scratch my earlier post - you can do a round trip CMH-ZRH for 75k miles on Delta on your specific dates.

That seems like a pretty good deal to me at this late date. You'd have to train from PSA-ZRH for the flight home, but that beats paying full fare imho.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 09:15 AM
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Thanks - I only have 55,000 points, so not quite enough for the ZRH rountrip .... guess I'll keep calling and hoping
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 09:33 AM
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As you get closer to your desired departure, check back with Delta. They open up seats that don't sell.

I did this with DL for a June trip a couple years ago --- wanting to fly to MUC. They didn't have MUC, but they did have STR, which was a short train ride away.

So, be flexible. Seats can and do open up.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 11:03 AM
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No experience on your airlines, but the policy of many airlines has changed and seats are no longer released 330 days in advance, but rather piecemeal when the software indicates it's the best time, I assume when the likelihood of revenue seats is lowest.

I find that calling daily is the only way to assure you don't miss out on a couple of seats released that day, and even then, flexibility is the key as everyone says.

You might check over at flyertalk.com to see if the very experienced flyers there have any advice.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 11:18 AM
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I don't know about Delta specifically but I do know that at least with United and Continental things are very fluid.

For example, I just booked business class tickets to Europe for late this February with United. I called probably 20 times to check on different routings, etc. And each time I called something came up that didn't come up previously.

In my experience, the hardest part to find (and most expensive) is the flight across the atlantic ocean. So I would look at all the partners of Delta and figure out where each flies into in Europe. Then see if you can take a cheap flight to your final desitination (one you pay for). For example, take Iberia into Madrid and then pay to get from Madrid to Zurich, etc on a discount airline or a regular one if the price is right.

That is what we are doing in Feb. We are flying Swiss into Zurich. And then paying for a ticket to Palermo. And then we are flying on miles out of Venice through Frankfurt on Lufthansa. I am paying to get from Sicily to Venice.

It can be very frustrating, but I have found that if you are flexible, you can often get it to work.

Good luck!
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 11:42 AM
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Expanding on the comment from travelgourmet about expertflyer.com - - it's true that it's a pay site, but it only costs $5 a month, and you can cancel anytime.

For many a seeker of FF award travel, it might be a worthwhile investment.

I have managed to find four award seats for June ("saver"... not "choice", which are basically double miles) starting in December of this year (3 on CO, 1 on AF - - I have four adult children starting in different cities), and two upgradable (M class) coach seats which can go to business (Z class) on Delta (for me and my wife). Starting "so late", I think I succeeded with a combination of luck, persistence and some very helpful "guides" on flyertalk.com

In your case specifically, you might look into Skybus to NYC (Newburgh) or Boston (Manchester) since you live in Columbus, and probe the BOS-LON or NYC-LON market (travelgourmet may not have looked carefully at BOS-transatlantic for you). Then your award travel need not be so many segments.

And/or consider spending an overnight or two in England (you don't HAVE to go into expensive, merry olde London, you know!) and using Ryanair or Easyjet or other low cost options, to/from England airports.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 02:46 PM
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You have obviously missed out on the early 11 month out booking. As much as people talk about booking early,I have never had much luck with it. I have found that seats sometimes open up in March or April after they see how many spots have sold. FF seats do sometimes appear after months of showing no availability. Check different cities for departure and arrival. Look at all the cities Delta and all partners fly to and just keep trying. Be flexible. Good luck.
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