This past weekend I was at FTU Seattle. It was a great weekend and I learned great new information. I also was reminded of some old information I still need to jump on. One thing I didn’t heard, but was posted about online on Wednesday by all the big bloggers, was US Airways is not collecting fuel surcharges for flights on British Airways like they should be for award redemptions.
This is a really big deal!! Fuel surcharges are easily $1000 on flights, from what I hear. Not all airlines collect fuel surcharges, but BA started a few years ago and they are mighty spendy. There is a LOT of speculation this loophole will quickly be closed. No one really knows for sure, given US Airways is still in the process of combining with AA.
When I first heard the tip, I thought, shoot, that would be awesome, but oh well. After a day of thinking about it, I asked Nick if he cared if I took a solo trip and he took care of the kids for a week. He said go for it, so I started putting together an itinerary.
US Airways has a really fantastic award redemption from the US to North Asia (Hong Kong, China, Japan, etc) in which you can route via Europe all for 120,000 miles in first class. That is a spectacular value!! US Airways is due for a devaluation as this is a much lower redemption rate than you will find on other airlines.
I only wanted to be gone for a week. I really wanted to be on BA and Cathay Pacific first class. After that, I didn’t care. I knew I could fly to Europe, have a stopover, to a destinaton in Asia, then to the US. This is 3 long haul flights in premium cabins. Without knowing how long the loophole would stay open since it was posted openly, I acted quickly. Long story short, I booked SEA-LHR (stopover)-FRA-HKG-LAX-PHX-SEA. From SEA-FRA is with BA, then two flights on Cathay, and US Airways to SEA. I don’t live in SEA, so I will use some Avios to book a round trip positioning flight for 9,000 points. My total fees and taxes where $457. These would have been lower if my stopover wasn’t in London as they collect a departure tax that is expensive. I haven’t done much in London before and thought I would make it my stopover since I was going to be solo on this trip. I do wish I would have gotten in and out of BOI, but when I was doing my research, I didn’t realize I couldn’t book flights on Alaska with my USDM. Oops. I had it all built and didn’t want to start over as I didn’t know how long the loophole would be open (it is still, 24 hours later). Getting to SEA from BOI is easy though, so I am not worried. And who knows, Nick might make it a business trip out of picking me up on the way home and go on a motorcycle run.
How did I build it? I used the BA website to search for award flights. First, you need to log into your account. If you don’t have an account, set one up. You are not required to have points in it.
After you log in, hover over the Executive Club tab, then under Using your Avios, click on Spending Avios.
It will then take you to this page:
Once here, click on Book Flights with Avios. Then you get this screen:
This is where the fun starts. They key here is to search one segment at a time. Make sure you don’t have stops in it, although the search will pull up non-direct flights as well. Put in your where you are starting, where you are ending, the day you want to depart, click on one-way only, which class you want (in my case, first), and hit Get Flights.
For what I entered, I got the above results. In this case, there is no first class flights available for avios points on the direct flight, but there is business class available on a non-direct flight. You have two options now – you can click through the days at the top (the day in blue is the day you are looking at) or you can click on change (not shown in this picture, but just above the week toolbar) and change as many parameters as you want. I did until I found an example with seats available, shown here:
Once you find one segment, start again with the second segment. To build my itinerary, I think I spent about an hour. However, I also spent an hour looking up wiki pages for airports and figuring out what routing I wanted. Once I had the routing built, I called US Airways. I didn’t bother looking up the domestic connections as I was booking so far out, I was very confident I could get seats (and I was right, in this case).
This is where things are a bit tricky. You can’t call them up and say you did all this research, found the flights you want, now look them up and book them, please. What does work, is to say “I was working with another agent and we got disconnected. I wrote down what the flights were, so can I give them to you and we try again?” It will take some convincing that you didn’t have a confirmation number, but really do have some flights, but stick with it, stay very happy, and act innocent. I was on the phone for about 45 minutes, which is actually pretty quick.
I am very excited about this trip! I am going to be gone for a week, will miss the babies like crazy, but will get to have a bit of fun on some really awesome first class products!