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A few flight tips...


Stockjock
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Since some of us are traveling more now that covid is largely behind us, here are a few tips in terms of air travel. I've given at least one of these before, but most probably didn't see it.

1. If you call an airline and have a long hold time, call back and press the Spanish option. You may have to know a tiny bit of Spanish, or guess, but usually the wait times are much shorter, and usually, even the Spanish-speaking agents speak good English.

2. If you book using award miles and can't find the flights you want at the mileage levels you want, consider booking something a day before or after the date you are after. If there is a cancellation or a substantial schedule change (usually more than 60 minutes), you can choose another date, potentially the date you want, usually for no extra cost. It works best if you do this many months in advance. But here's the key, if that doesn't happen, be sure to cancel that reservation and credit your miles back to your account.

I currently have 3 dummy reservations booked from Europe to the USA, one on United, one on Alaska and one American. My hope is that at least one of them has a leg cancelled, or a major delay. Obviously, if that doesn't happen, I'll cancel all 3 of them. Also, I think United and American, in the event of a major change or cancellation, lets you pick something else within 7 days, but some of the others won't go more than plus or minus 24 hours.

3. Let's say you paid for flights and for some reason you can't make it. But if you cancel, worst case, you lose all of your money and best case, you can cancel for a flight voucher good for one year, but if you don't use it, it expires worthless.

You can potentially wait to cancel on most airlines pretty much until the last day. As mentioned above, if the airline cancels your flight, or you have a schedule change of an hour or more, that non-refundable flight just became refundable.

Example: I booked a flight from Alaska to San Diego on Alaska Airlines and we couldn't do the trip. Rather than cancel, I just rode it out to see what happened. I got several schedule changes, all of which were less than an hour, but added up, equalled more than an hour. I called Alaska Airlines, and at first they argued that the change was less than an hour, so no refund. But I asked them to add all of the changes together, they did, and it was more than an hour. I got a full cash refund on a non-refundable flight. Had that not happened, I'd just take the flight credit, if available, but being patient allowed me to get a full refund.

Edited by Stockjock
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6 minutes ago, d9704011 said:

These 'tips' seem more oriented to not flying.

Not really.  The goal is to get what you want for the lowest price or fewest miles as possible.  Obviously, on the 3rd tip, the goal is to take a shot at getting a full refund on a non-refundable flight if your plans change.  In other words, try to use their rules to your potential benefit.

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I am not sure what you mean by "dummy" reservations.  You have three reservations (award?) that you are holding?  You know while you are "holding" these reservations, most of which you have no intention of flying, you are removing them from inventory for other pax.  Nice.

Edited by 6rugrats
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10 minutes ago, 6rugrats said:

I am not sure what you mean by "dummy" reservations.  You have three reservations (award?) that you are holding?  You know while you are "holding" these reservations, most of which you have no intention of flying, you are removing them from inventory for other pax.  Nice.

Yes, I cannot fly on those flights.  I have booked them in the hopes of a schedule change.  Once that occurs, or I've booked something else to my liking, those reservations will be cancelled.

 

As an ex-cop, I am quite direct.  I don't care about other passengers even a tiny bit, at least in this context.  I am playing within the airlines' rules to potentially benefit myself.  Anyone who is more concerned about random and unknown other passengers versus their own interests, should not try this.  FWIW, I don't reserve seats, since I likely won't be on these flights.

Just looking at things another way, who's to say that my cancellation at some future date won't benefit someone who needs it at a later date?  My expectation is that these reservations will be cancelled months in advance of the flight date.

Edited by Stockjock
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1 minute ago, Zach1213 said:

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I can always see these responses in advance.  Oh, you're such a bad person because someone might need the seats!  Heck, I can't get what I want and I started looking 330 days in advance.  I found the outbound just fine, but inbound?  Forget about it!

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#2 is solid advice. We just did this for flights we booked for January. I feel like if we book early enough, there's usually a decent chance there's a change to the schedule that gives us the option to rebook.  Another piece of advice I have for booking flights is for those of us who aren't lucky enough to live at a major airport hub. If you book an international flight all the way through from your starting destination, connect at a hub and continue on to your final destination and the price seems really high - try separating the flights. For example, our flight all the way through from Cleveland >San Francisco >Singapore was more expensive than usual. When I booked the Cleveland>San Francisco flight independent of San Francisco >Singapore, the total price fell by over 1k per ticket (business class). It's not without risk and it helps to have a long layover if you go this route as you'll have to go back through security/recheck bags. I've seen it work both ways. Sometimes connecting them can actually save money. Other times it can cost significantly more. It pays to check.

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21 minutes ago, keysey222 said:

#2 is solid advice. We just did this for flights we booked for January. I feel like if we book early enough, there's usually a decent chance there's a change to the schedule that gives us the option to rebook.  Another piece of advice I have for booking flights is for those of us who aren't lucky enough to live at a major airport hub. If you book an international flight all the way through from your starting destination, connect at a hub and continue on to your final destination and the price seems really high - try separating the flights. For example, our flight all the way through from Cleveland >San Francisco >Singapore was more expensive than usual. When I booked the Cleveland>San Francisco flight independent of San Francisco >Singapore, the total price fell by over 1k per ticket (business class). It's not without risk and it helps to have a long layover if you go this route as you'll have to go back through security/recheck bags. I've seen it work both ways. Sometimes connecting them can actually save money. Other times it can cost significantly more. It pays to check.

Agreed.  I have an upcoming cruise and I had the same issue.  Outbound flights to Europe, worked out great.  But I couldn't find an inbound at a decent price from Barcelona to San Diego.

 

But...what I did find was a one-way ticket on TAP Air Portugal for only $228 from Barcelona to San Francisco.  I spent an extra $200ish to make the seats fully refundable, provided 2 checked bags instead of one, and instead of no seat assignment, I got assigned seats with extra legroom and recline.

 

I was later able to find a flight on Southwest from SFO to SAN for only $38 during a sale, which is ridiculously cheap.

Unfortunately, I'm not seeing any of those $228 flights at the moment for my summer needs.  There are some decent fares into NYC or BOS, but the route and timing aren't ideal.  I'm just keeping an eye on things, looking for a price drop.  I also have Google Flights tracking a few routes that I'm interested in.

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42 minutes ago, Stockjock said:

Yes, I cannot fly on those flights.  I have booked them in the hopes of a schedule change.  Once that occurs, or I've booked something else to my liking, those reservations will be cancelled.

 

As an ex-cop, I am quite direct.  I don't care about other passengers even a tiny bit, at least in this context.  I am playing within the airlines' rules to potentially benefit myself.  Anyone who is more concerned about random and unknown other passengers versus their own interests, should not try this.  FWIW, I don't reserve seats, since I likely won't be on these flights.

Just looking at things another way, who's to say that my cancellation at some future date won't benefit someone who needs it at a later date?  My expectation is that these reservations will be cancelled months in advance of the flight date.

🙄

Edited by Ex-Airbalancer
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I didn't know Alaska flies to Europe.

 

The first thing that leaps to my mind is than many people don't have the miles or money to book three "dummy" flights, just having the money or miles committed. I don't have that sort of miles available, although with 6 flights booked for 2024 right now, obviously I have the money. 

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8 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

I didn't know Alaska flies to Europe.

 

The first thing that leaps to my mind is than many people don't have the miles or money to book three "dummy" flights, just having the money or miles committed. I don't have that sort of miles available, although with 6 flights booked for 2024 right now, obviously I have the money. 

In this instance, I'm referring to miles only, and of course, if you don't have them, you don't have them.  I had enough on Alaska, AA and UAL to do this.  I probably have enough to do it on Delta, but I cannot find good value using their frequent flyer program.

When I book international award travel, I'm usually looking to spend 25,000 to 30,000 miles each way.  Some of those same seats on DL can be 80,000 to 120,000+ miles for economy, so usually searching for international flights on DL is kind of pointless, for my needs.  I also pay attention to the taxes and fees.  For example, if I do award travel on AA but using their award partner British Airways, commonly, taxes and fees alone run in the $600 to $700 range for 2 travelers, plus the award miles required for the flight.  But if I can find the award flights using AA's planes and equipment, it may be less than $100 for 2 travelers.

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48 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

I didn't know Alaska flies to Europe.

 

The first thing that leaps to my mind is than many people don't have the miles or money to book three "dummy" flights, just having the money or miles committed. I don't have that sort of miles available, although with 6 flights booked for 2024 right now, obviously I have the money. 

P.S. Alaska doesn't fly to Europe, but you can book European travel on Alaska via their partners, or some combination of the partners and Alaska.

Partners include, but aren't limited to, American Airlines, Air Lingus, Finn Air, Iceland Air, etc.  So you might book something like this: Air Lingus BCN to DUB.  Air Lingus DUB to SEA.  Alaska SEA to SAN.

Edited by Stockjock
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7 hours ago, Stockjock said:

I don't care about other passengers even a tiny bit, at least in this context. 

 

And that frames my further commentary on this poster and this thread. On behalf of the serious posters here in this forum:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, FlyerTalker said:

 

And that frames my further commentary on this poster and this thread. On behalf of the serious posters here in this forum:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOL.  Well, I don't.  I am interested in my own flights.  Not interested in how many miles some random person may or may not spend.  Not a virtue signaler either.

Let me add that the flights I book are usually offered at a very low mileage level, which typically means the flights are empty, or nearly so.  Just booked flight #4.  Not a single passenger with a seat assignment on the entire flight.  Only 21k miles BCN to SoCal.  Once I find what I want, the other reservations will be cancelled.

Edited by Stockjock
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17 hours ago, Stockjock said:

I can always see these responses in advance.  Oh, you're such a bad person because someone might need the seats!  Heck, I can't get what I want and I started looking 330 days in advance.  I found the outbound just fine, but inbound?  Forget about it!

Sir, this is a Wendy's

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5 hours ago, 6rugrats said:

Looking at the seat map, and using it to gauge how many seats are booked is not accurate.

Well, if there are no seats occupied, or very few, then that certainly suggests that not many people have booked the flight.  And I’m referring to the types of flights that I attend to book, which typically have seat assignments included.

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1 hour ago, FlyerTalker said:

And your taking seats that you won't use means that others may be redeeming at a higher level.

 

On behalf of them....thanks for nothing.

 

 

You’re welcome.  As mentioned, I am also not a virtue signaler.

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2 hours ago, Stockjock said:

Well, if there are no seats occupied, or very few, then that certainly suggests that not many people have booked the flight.  And I’m referring to the types of flights that I attend to book, which typically have seat assignments included.

Not true. There is a basic lack of understanding illustrated with this comment.  

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Somewhat interesting thread.  I am not sure how well the OP's strategy works, but attempts at the "gaming" of any system are always present.  I recently posted a thread on my attempts to get a better price by booking a nested tickets.  Is that bad?  Does it effect other passengers?  I doubt it, but don't know.  Perhaps "nested ticket" purchases are the reason why airlines eliminated Saturday night stay over requirements?  Regardless, everyone should expect people will do what they can to maximize their benefit. If the impacts are significant enough we should also expect the airlines to react just like casinos not permitting card counting.  

 

Just my $.02

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10 minutes ago, SelectSys said:

Is that bad?  Does it effect other passengers?

 

No, that's completely different. You're booking flights that you plan to take, but finding a (perfectly legit) way of saving some money doing it. Nesting is a very creative, but legit, way of "gaming the system". 

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1 minute ago, Zach1213 said:

 

No, that's completely different. You're booking flights that you plan to take, but finding a (perfectly legit) way of saving some money doing it. Nesting is a very creative, but legit, way of "gaming the system". 

I think the main reason the airlines don't care about this practice is that it is possible to implement the strategy outside of a single carrier - e.g., outer ticket AA and inner ticket DL.  I really think this may be why Saturday night stays went away as consumer behavior drove the airlines to change their ticketing model.  

 

While I have never done hidden city ticketing, I have thrown away a dummy return ticket for a better price which I guess did effect other passenger pricing to some small extent.

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1 hour ago, SelectSys said:

Perhaps "nested ticket" purchases are the reason why airlines eliminated Saturday night stay over requirements?

 

1 hour ago, SelectSys said:

I think the main reason the airlines don't care about this practice is that it is possible to implement the strategy outside of a single carrier - e.g., outer ticket AA and inner ticket DL.  I really think this may be why Saturday night stays went away as consumer behavior drove the airlines to change their ticketing model.

 

I doubt it. Saturday night minimum stays haven't universally gone away. You still see them on long-haul fares, together with the feature that one-way fares are often much more expensive than cheap round-trip fares. And there, I think, is the more likely driver: just look for why one-way fares are now cheap in many (typically short-haul) markets.

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