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Question by jkclevedet: How can I get Northwest Frequent Flyer tickets for 50K points to Europe around 6/17/07 and returning 7/10/07?
I have over 200K miles in Northwests WorldPerks program and want to take my family of 4 to Europe next summer. How can I ensure that I will get Frequent Flyer tickets flying to Europe around 6/17/07 and returning 7/10/07? I hope all I have to use 50K points per ticket. Thanks for your help.
Answer by southrntrnzplnt
You need to contact either the World Perks 1-800 number or go directly to the website. Frequent Flyer tickets need to be booked well in advanced. Each airline only sets aside a certain amount of seats on each flight for the “free” tickets. While they are considered free, you will still have to pay the security fee. Keep in mind that if you book well in advanced, schedules do change. So, make sure that in the weeks and days before your flight, check your itinerary online to verify the flights and times are still the same. Flight numbers as well as departure times change every season.
Also, since Northwest is part of Skyteam, you can use these points on any of the Skyteam Member airlines. Again, just go through Northwest directly. On their website, click on the tab that says Award Flight.
If you need any help with this, feel free to e-mail me. Im a former employee for a partner airline and this couldn’t be a simpler thing to do. It’s really not that hard, but if you wait too long you may have to be more flexible with your dates. In the next few months you may want to go ahead and get everything done that way you can ensure the dates you selected are the dates you travel. As I said before, there are only a select number of seats available per flight for award travel and people start booking a year in advanced.
Good Luck and Enjoy your trip!!
This is from an article published in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution on June 2, 2006. Pretty much says exactly what I did with a few points I left out.
Know your airline’s partners. If your favorite airline’s frequent-flier program doesn’t have an award seat, check availability on its partners. For example, mileage on Delta can be cashed in for award tickets on any of Delta’s 19 airline partners, including Northwest, Continental, Air France, AeroMexico, Air Jamaica, Alitalia, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines, to name a few.
Talk to a person. If you can’t find an award seat online, call the airline’s awards reservation desk. It will probably cost you about $ 15, but only if the agent finds seats you decide to book. “The online booking tool for award seats is rather primitive. It doesn’t always show partner inventory, and doesn’t show some connecting city availability,” says frequent-flier guru Randy Petersen, editor of InsideFlyer, a magazine and Web site devoted to frequent travelers and the miles and points they strive to accrue and spend.
“There is a growing sense that seats are not available, when sometimes people are just using the wrong booking tool,” Petersen says.
Try early, keep trying, try late. Some seats are released for award travel when inventory is first released, usually 330 days in advance of flight dates. If you shop then, “you’ll be first in line” for whatever inventory is released at that time, says Tim Winship of FrequentFlier.com, a site for mile hounds.
But sophisticated software is constantly evaluating how sales are going, and many seats are released for award travel only when it’s clear that sales on a particular flight are languishing. “Many award seats often don’t open until 30 to 90 days prior to departure,” says US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder.
The best time to redeem miles for summer travel: December. “About 60 [percent] to 70 percent of people redeem miles for summer travel in January,” Petersen says. “Beat the rush to improve your chances.”
Then there are the last-minute giveaways. A couple of weeks out, when it’s clear that a flight isn’t selling out to revenue-paying customers, airlines make additional awards on that flight.
Keep in mind that many airlines are now charging fees, starting at $ 30, if you book less than 14 days before departure. The fees are usually waived for “heavy metal” fliers — those extremely frequent fliers who’ve earned elite silver, gold or platinum status.
Be flexible on departure airports.
For an award on a long-haul flight that would be extremely expensive if you had to spend dollars, you might even consider departing from a far-flung airport.
Be flexible on dates. A willingness to adjust your travel dates, either by days or weeks, could mean the difference between getting and not getting an award seat. Consider searching for tickets before locking in vacation requests. (Some airlines allow you to put a hold on award tickets, giving you time to coordinate plans before committing.)
Your chances are much better if you depart and return on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Friday-night departures and Sunday-night returns are the hardest options. Traveling midweek “improves your chances about 30 percent,” Petersen says.
Be flexible on arrival airports. Many major cities have nearby airports that should be considered. For example, Oakland, Calif., is nearly as convenient to San Francisco as San Francisco International. If Los Angeles isn’t available, consider Orange County’s John Wayne Airport.
A free ticket might be worth an even longer drive. Montreal, for example, is about a two-hour drive from Burlington, Vt. If you can’t get Toronto, try Buffalo, a 90-minute drive away. If Oakland or San Francisco doesn’t work, consider San Jose. A glance at a map will provide more ideas; some travel booking and airline sites also allow you to view flights at nearby airports.
Be loyal. As much as possible, gather your miles in one airline’s basket. You can fly one airline but assign your miles to that airline’s partner. For example, if you have most of your miles with Northwest, give your Northwest frequent-flier account number when booking on Delta. You have to do it when you book or fly; once the miles are with Delta, they can’t be switched.
Use airline tools. It would be nice if airlines could come up with a search engine that would show available frequent-flier seats if you typed in, say, “Europe” and “July,” or “Caribbean beaches” and “December.” Alas, none goes that far. But some have tools that clue you in to your best chances of finding a destination that, while not your first choice, might fit the bill nicely.
Use miles for other expenses. If you can’t find an award ticket, consider rearranging your budget: Buy the airline ticket and use the miles to cover the hotel and car rental. Airlines have so many partners these days that using miles for other travel expenses is ever more possible. Increasingly, airlines are also offering non-travel products for miles. So if you plan to buy a television and take a trip, maybe you’ll do as well using miles for a TV and buying the plane ticket. Be wary, though, and consider the value of what you’re getting for your miles to make sure it’s a fair exchange.
Stay informed. Frequent-flier Web sites such as FrequentFlier.com and InsideFlyer.com update readers on deals at all the airlines. Even reading your credit card statement might alert you to a special. At least once a year, for example, credit cards aligned with Northwest alert passengers to award tickets requiring fewer miles than usual.
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