Frequent Flier Miles
March 21, 2004 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I finally have enough miles for a free off-peak RT to Europe (on American). Has anyone ever used theirs? Any tips or tricks to getting flights?
posted by amberglow to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
if they say they can't give you a frequent-flier free seat on that particular flight, call them on a later date. maybe they'll finally say yes -- it's all about the airlines trying not to give away for free certain seats on flights they plan to eventually be able to sell (ie holiday season, weekends, etc)
me, I've been going on holiday using frequent-flier-miles-bought tickets since the mid-90's. the only problem is you have to keep pestering them if they say no.
not taking no for an answer goes a long way -- in life, and also of course in cashing in frequent-flier-miles
and if you have a lot of miles, get a business-class ticket. business class is seldom sold out on intercontinental flights, so they'll be happy to let you burn your miles that way
posted by matteo at 2:17 PM on March 21, 2004

When I traveled with frequent flyer miles on United last year, their web site wouldn't let me book the flight I wanted using my miles, but when I called the reservations phone number they were much more accomodating and I got what I wanted. I'd say this is probably an extension of the "pester them" strategy matteo recommends--if they won't give you what you want, try another method, or try later.

I also agree that business class is great, especially on longer flights.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:57 PM on March 21, 2004

Tip: Be flexible.

I'd be flexible on dates (and times of course), but also even in departure cities or destinations. In Europe, your flight to Florence might be booked, but you could just fly into Rome, Milan, or Venice and catch a train). I just flew on FF miles to Thailand on Delta. The woman who booked my tickets worked with me to find flights that worked, even checking different departure cities, since they'll fly you out there for free.

I.E., if the NYC is sold out, have the agent check on Philly, DC, Atlanta, Boston, etc. It's much easier to find FF tickets in the US than on intercon flights. I assume that its because they only let a small portion of a given flight fly for free. Like 10 seats or something. Seriously, it's small.
posted by zpousman at 7:42 AM on March 22, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks all!

I think I'll go in person (there's a ticket office downstairs in my office building), and mid-afternoon when it's slower. (I don't have enough for business class, but that's ok. I only have 41K, and need 40K--I'm not at all loyal to one airline, so it's taken me decades, incl. old TWA miles)
It's funny you should mention Italy, zpousman, bec. i'm going to shoot for Venice/Milan/Florence for Oct/Nov. : >
posted by amberglow at 7:52 AM on March 22, 2004

Florence is very nice, as is the surrounding area of Sienna, Pisa and San Gimignano (spelling might be off on that last one.)
Florence itself is a great walking city. Lots of museum, good food too.
Have fun where ever you go.
posted by a3matrix at 8:42 AM on March 22, 2004

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