The best way to secure saver award space during busy travel periods is to be patient and wait.
I spent New Year’s in Germany with my family. We planned to return to Los Angeles sometime during the first week in January, but had no return ticketed booked.
Now I think that would scare most people. It certainly scares many Award Expert clients when I propose it. Go to Europe without a return ticket? What if I get stuck? What if I have work and therefore a hard deadline to return home? My response is always the same: don’t worry. Trust me. I know my award space and it knows me.
Honestly, I had zero doubt that we would be able to get home for saver-level pricing. The question was only by what routing. Here’s how it went down.
I got a call on January 3rd requiring me to stay behind in Europe for a couple weeks. That meant my wife and son would need to travel without me (again) but it also meant finding space became easier: two seats are usually easier than three.
I asked my wife what day she wanted to return and she picked last Wednesday. All this time I had been tracking space and every day, without fail, at least 2-3 saver options opened in both economy class and business class.
On Tuesday night, SWISS opened award space from Zurich to San Francisco in business class for Wedneday. I could tack on a San Francisco to Burbank segment for no extra miles and my wife would have a relatively easy trip home with my two-year-old son. 55K Aeroplan miles each and no fuel surcharge.
But she decided she wanted to spend an extra day in Germany. No problem. Last week was a peak travel week but the end of the last week and start of this week was the peak of the peak week. Even so, I figured space would open.
When she said on Tuesday night she wanted to go Thursday, there was nothing open for Thursday. Not a single option in first class, business, or economy at saver-level prices. I advised her that something as smooth as ZRH-SFO-BUR might not open. She shrugged, knowing I would not let her down.
Nothing opened on Wednesday morning, but by Wednesday evening several choices had opened. While the same option as Wednesday or the SWISS nonstop to LA did not open, I was able to secure an afternoon departure in SWISS business Chicago with a connection in first class to Los Angeles for 55K Aeroplan miles and about $100 each.
The gamble worked. It always does.
If you don’t believe me, check out space between any major city in Europe and any major city in the USA (or Asia) for tomorrow. Chances are, especially using Star Alliance, you’ll find several options. That’s the beauty of award travel. That’s the beauty of being patient.
Parents will appreciate the trajectory of two-year old Augustine. He went from being a little angel in the air, sleeping through to anything, to a little monster, to being a little boy. I no longer need to fly him in first class because he can sit quietly in a business or even economy class seat and keep himself occupied with books and puzzles and toys. I figure in another year or so the IFE system will be able to babysit him.
I’m looking forward to family traveling become even easier…that is, until we decide to have another one…