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Redeeming airlines miles - better to call?

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Chat' started by makikiboy, Apr 3, 2013.

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  1. makikiboy

    makikiboy VIP Whale

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    I am trying to redeem my united miles for a r/t economy class flight to europe (from hawaii). When I get on the united web site I can find a number of legs at the economy rate but not all of them. This is when I try to do a r/t trip from hnl to europe with a stopover in DC (hnl-iad, iad-lhr and cdg-hnl). On the web I am able to book the whole trip but for one leg I will have to use more miles.

    I was wondering, if I call united mileage plus reservations do they allow more flexibility and have more economy class seats that can be used when I redeem my miles (versus using their web site)? many of the legs have a lot of open seats (some flights are over 60% empty in economy class for travel 6 weeks from now) so not sure why they don't allow mileage customers to use their miles.

    What is strange is that if I check out my trip leg by leg on the web site I can find redeemable economy class seats and flights for all so I don't understand why I can't just put them all together to make one r/t trip. I thought that maybe calling ual with the legs might allow me to get the whole trip using economy miles. I know that I may have to pay $25 to have them assist me but that is a drop in the bucket compared to having to use another 30k miles (almost another r/t flight).

    I tried to google and use tripadvisor on this but I couldn't find any information so thought I would ask the board if anyone could give me info. I redeemed my miles on the web before with no problems but this time I just can't seem to get all the legs at the economy rate.

    Any assistance is appreciated! Thanks in advance!

    :wave:
     
  2. shifter

    shifter Degenerate Gambler

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    they won't have more seats available over the phone, but they can do more advanced searches. if you're flexible this can work out. I would definitely call and tell them the exact flights you want based on what you searched for and they can plug them in and hopefully get something to work at the lowest miles. I wanted to do something similar recently and searching on the website was a pain in the ass. I called up and they searched everything and gave me the answer in a few minutes.
     
  3. BreakEven

    BreakEven Low-Roller

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    Booking international award trips is one of the few times it's actually worth it to pay the $75/$150 phone fee to book directly with the airline, unless you have the time to do your own research. Note that as with any CSR interaction, there are good ones and bad ones.

    If you aren't finding any availability, or you're really set on specific flights, there are sites online that will help you track when availability opens up. Check out expertflyer.com and kvstool.com.
     
    Only 2nd trip for year :(
  4. Bernie2

    Bernie2 High-Roller

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    Why not look at Flyer Talk.
     
  5. letsgotovegas

    letsgotovegas Low-Roller

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    You can book each leg separately on United

    I may have read your information incorrectly, but it seems that you can look at each leg separately and get the flights you want?

    You can book each leg separately on United using miles. Why not do that?

    The only downside that I can see to that is if you are booking a connection as separate itineraries, but they should be able to join the intineraries together when you check in for the first flight at the airport (get there early).

    Apologies if I have misunderstood your situation.

    Good luck.

    Cheers,
    Kelly
     
  6. BreakEven

    BreakEven Low-Roller

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    Because you'll get sucked in and never leave! :)

    When you do this, make sure they are ALL on the same airline. Otherwise, if there's a problem with one leg, you may miss one of your other flights. The airlines aren't obligated to put you on the next flight when this happens.
     
    Only 2nd trip for year :(
  7. makikiboy

    makikiboy VIP Whale

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    Thanks guys for the responses. I will probably call them to find out. I just didn't want to pay the fee if they could only give me what I see on their web site.

    There is a united office in Honolulu. I visited them last week but they don't handle award travel. I asked the ticket agent about the legs and availability, he said that it should be possible to call and have them book the whole trip on economy and maybe even waive the fee if I had the exact flights that are available on economy. I just thought I'd ask here to see if anyone else had a similar experience.

    I tried to search flyertalk but couldn't pull up any information on this. I thought to ask here first since I'm a member here but I may end up joining flyertalk to ask there.

    the problem is that you are allowed one free stopover when booking r/t with award miles. If I had booked each leg separately I would have had to pay for the extra leg (no free stopovers on one way trips).

    Basically I am going to europe but using that free stopover to stop in DC for a few days (before I go to europe) to try to break up my travel.

    anyway, thanks for the info. was worth a try at least.
     
  8. BreakEven

    BreakEven Low-Roller

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    You won't pay a fee if you don't book a flight.

    Nope, unlikely to happen (either making additional space available for you in economy, or forgetting to bill you). Unless you are a high level member in their mileage program (though it doesn't sound like you are). For those folks, they waive certain fees.

    You couldn't pull up any information on booking award travel on flyertalk?
     
    Only 2nd trip for year :(
  9. nostresshere

    nostresshere Mr. Anti Debit Card

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    flyertalk.com will give you all the rules and nuances of booking award trips

    bottom line - it is difficult, and coming from Hawaii is not helping, since 99% of those in the states want to use their miles to and from Hawaii.

    (okay, 99% is a bit high...)
     
  10. tatterdema

    tatterdema VIP Whale

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    This is soooo, true. Flying SEA to KOA I finally gave up and booked almost a full year out, and still could not quite get the days I wanted. The good side of booking that far in advance, is lots of time to plan and pay for the trip!
     
  11. makikiboy

    makikiboy VIP Whale

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    We'll have to see if they charge even if I don't book a flight. But by the time I call them I will probably have all my flights in hand before booking and will probably book the trip, guess that's why I was asking before I called.

    I tried to search flyertalk but didn't find this situation (too many general posts) so I finally created a signon (actually I already had a signon, created over 6 years ago, I just forgot about it) and created a thread asked the question myself. Luckily I found someone experienced with this situation. here is his response:

    "Write down the flight numbers and call and give them the routing. They should be able to do it over the phone with no problem as this itinerary is fairly simple and direct. Just mention you could not do it over the website and ask them to waive the phone booking fee. I have done this many times and never paid a phone booking fee".

    the problem I had was that when I tried to book r/t flights not all of the legs had economy saver award seats, but when I went leg by leg, every leg had flights that had economy saver award seats. I pm'ed the poster and he confirmed that just because it isn't available (r/t) on the net, if they are available for all legs the agent should be able to book them w/o any booking fees.

    something good to know, especially for those of you who want to go to hawaii and can't find complete r/t legs to your destination. :wave:
     
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