USAirways FF Tickets from US to Europe

Jul 12th, 2007, 11:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 265
USAirways FF Tickets from US to Europe

I tried to book tickets for flights from PHL to MAD for mid May on the first day that tickets were being sold for my return date. The USAirways website did not show SaverAward availability for my dates or for that matter any dates in 2008. According to the seat maps, there were no seats that were reserved on either flight I was considering so it is unlikely that someone booked before me.

I checked on many other locations in Europe on the website and found few if any seats in 2008 (mostly only in the Winter months and then only in one direction). I called the airline and after a few frustrating calls to overseas call centers I finally got someone who could understand my FF number spoken in English and learned that the only availability for flights to MAD were on Lufthansa through FRA and MUC (multiple connection). The website appears to allow booking for most dates for Premium awards (100k per ticket) but the phone reps can only see the StarAlliance options.

The strategy of booking on the first possible date has worked well for me in the past so I'm confused about what has changed. Has anyone else tried to book FF flights and had a similar experience? Does anyone know what might have changed and what strategy works currently?
detraveler is offline  
Jul 12th, 2007, 11:19 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 653
A few ,minutes ago I posted this in reply to a different question:
If you are flying, you will be limited in your advance planning by how soon your travel dates are available in the airline's computer.

My wife and I will spend the month of May 2008 in Paris (actually arriving 30 April), and we could not reserve the outbound flight on American Airlines until 329 days in advance. We didn't get the return flight (June 1) until the night of July 4-5.

I'm sure other airlines also have some limit on how far in advance you can reserve. If you are paying cash, you might assume you can get the date(s) you want--but we used frequent flyer miles for Business class seats (very few are available because business travelers pay a lot and reserve close to the travel date!) and had to call every 15 minutes on the first night seats became available for 29 April to get our reservation. A few hours later, there were no such seats available.
One thing I learned regarding American Airlines is that the over-the-phone reservation people have access to travel dates about 2 days before they show up in the on-line system we can access by ourselves. By the time I could see our dates in the computer, there were no "anytime" "business class" FF seats available. If your airline follows the same policy (and you should ask a reservation person--the one at American Airlines volunteered the info to help me get in early)it suggests booking by phone--even with a small fee--is essential.
d_claude_bear is offline  
Jul 12th, 2007, 11:34 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 218
Same thing happened to me on Delta. I have historically booked FF flights 331 days in advance, never had a problem. This year I wanted to book for spring break from London to Cincinnati 2008 - they only released Business class seats 331 days in advance. Similarly, almost no coach seats were available the entire year. So I just kept checking and checking, every day for 8 or so weeks. What do you know, a couple of weeks ago they released the seats and I snapped them up right away. They apparently DID NOT release weekend flights, so I am flying mid week - but they are free (3 of us!).

Now, I am lucky because the seats are released on midnight in Atlanta time which is 5 am here. I get up around then so it was easy for me to check in the morning. . .
where2 is offline  
Jul 12th, 2007, 11:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,247
I agree, over the phone reservations will give you a better chance. I know the 330 day out MAY be best but I've had better luck closer on to the dates I've wanted. I booked BC FF flight to London for Nov 2007 2 months ago in May . For our trip this past March , I didn't book until Dec 2006, on the phone with AA, BC FF.

FF seats open up all the time
jody is offline  
Jul 12th, 2007, 02:30 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,586
detraveler - I had the same issue with USAir. Never had a problem booking 331 days out; from what I understand, seats have been more limited since the merger, and summer FF tix to Europe are almost non-existant.

I tried the first 2-3 days thereafter, and not a single seat on USair, or on United. We flew Air Canada, which took us out of our way (we changed flights in Toronto) but were able to get 4 seats at the 50K level (which I also understand is becoming very difficult to do).

I never look at the web site; I always call. One morning I kept calling frequently and kept getting the same agent, who asked if I was going to continue to call every 30 mins. How embarrassing.

Good luck.
karens is offline  
Jul 12th, 2007, 03:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 250
A few months back, when looking to book a FF trip to asia via europe, I found that USair wasn't been posting it's european awards at the 331 day mark. For some reason they delayed input closer to 300 days. US does fly direct to MAD, so you may wnat to keep checking. If you get tired of talking to USair reps, you can try using ANA's online Star Alliance booking tool. You need to register at ANA's website, but the tool is usually very accurate re: Star Alliance award availablity. Then you can use that info to call a USair rep and tell them what to book.
Rumrita1 is offline  
Jul 12th, 2007, 04:42 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 31
Ditto for US Airways: we discovered it's better now to call (and re-call) US Air to see when the FF seats will be released, then hop on them--we got 4 of 5 this way for travel to London; the initial date we were given turned out not to be correct, but we followed closely from that point. Also, the operators are variably resourceful or experienced, so if you don't luck into a solidly helpful one, thank them and call back. It makes a difference.
beeze is offline  
Jul 12th, 2007, 04:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,205
LOL, karens. I think your embarrassment was unfounded. I'd have told the agent I'd stop calling if he'd just go ahead and book the darn seats.
Betsy is online now  
Jul 13th, 2007, 06:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 265
One of my co-workers who is a platinum called the platinum desk and was told that the reps have no information about when seats may be released. She maintains that they are not told when or if seats will be released. I will keep checking for either a fare sale or FF seats. Unfortunately I live near PHL and USAirways is too convenient to pass up.

detraveler is offline  

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