Amex free flight upgrade?

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Plutonus

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Okay, they replied to my email question. Basically, it is the same as before, except now booking through AMEX.

1. Book flight
2. Cancel
3. Rebook at higher or equal
4. Pay applicable change fees/fare difference
 

SimonF

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Okay, they replied to my email question. Basically, it is the same as before, except now booking through AMEX.

1. Book flight
2. Cancel
3. Rebook at higher or equal
4. Pay applicable change fees/fare difference
Is there any way to know what the difference in the fare is likely to be? Let's say you wanted to fly Melbourne to Darwin. Which flight should you book to ensure you are least out of pocket? Is there some sort of logic that can be applied to working out the value of the amex free flight?
 

Plutonus

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Not that I have found. I have tried to book on expensive days (Christmas, Easter etc) where the VA site is showing $800 return for saver or similar but I don't seem to have got a larger value in credit.
 

Moopere

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Is there any way to know what the difference in the fare is likely to be? Let's say you wanted to fly Melbourne to Darwin. Which flight should you book to ensure you are least out of pocket? Is there some sort of logic that can be applied to working out the value of the amex free flight?

I've never noticed any particularity strange stuff when I've done this previously. Amex appears to get a significant corporate discount compared to the fares one is likely to see at the retail VA web front end, but outside that the fare price is going to be based upon fare class. So, presumably, one could watch class availability using expertflyer (or similar) and attempt to make the booking once the cheaper classes are already gone.

If needing a flexi in order to up to business then you'd look for availability of the cheaper flexi classes in order to keep the margin difference as small as possible.

Amex will always book you into the cheapest class available when doing your initial booking, but they do have a disclaimer of not being able to guarantee seat availability using the 'free flight' - whether this is just a general disclaimer to prevent disappointment if flights are full or whether its an indication of their being a 'ceiling' on price of fare paid I don't know.

I've only ever used this flight for transcon as I'm based in PER so the value has always been reasonable. I think that shorter (cheaper) initial flights might run into problems once one accounts for the cancel fee and rebooking costs. Having said that though, even if you were to essentially 'break even' on cost, at least with this route you'd gain SC's whereas the free flight doesn't gain you anything, no SC no FF points.
 

Plutonus

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Remembering you don't need to book from the city you live in ;)

But yes I agree Moopere, large corporate discounts. For example, that $800 'retail' booking, when I went to rebook Amex said it would cost the same (plus $107 rebooking fee) for a day retail was showing $550.
 

a1ring23

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Has anyone done this recently and had success. I booked my free flight PER-SYD return and was wondering if i could cancel and go up to a flexi fare to get the points and SCs?
 

Sojourner

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Anyone tried the book-cancel-credit shell rebook method recently? Interested to hear if you had any success and how you got it.

I booked two free flights on a PER-SYD return awhile back (nearing the end of the card year), then rang up VA to get my FF number added, but now need to change it and was wondering if if I'd be able to get a credit shell.

Interestingly I just checked the itinerary it has the "payment details" included at the bottom which has zero dollars for the fare but $139 worth of taxes including $64.12 of GST. Assuming the $64.12 was just 10% off the total fare... the Amex paid Virgin $641.20 for two return flights?

Fare$ 0.001. Adult Guest: x 2$ 0.00Taxes$ 139.041. Adult Guest: x 2$ 139.04AU GST$ 64.12Passenger Service Charge Australia$ 45.92Safety and Security Charge Australia$ 15.00Airport Tax$ 14.00

[h=4]Flights[/h]Taxes$ 139.04Total:$ 139.04
 

Plutonus

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Still the same as above... Rebook through Amex paying the fees and you will get points and SCs.
 

Moopere

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I didn't put enough energy into this one this year. Nearly ran out of time so booked something for DEC then cancelled it later. Absolutely refused, despite firm pressing from me, to hand over the associated VA credit shell insisting that the rebooking must be done via Amex, with the associated fee (27$ I think) and of course the cancel fee. The only reason I'd bother now is to get the SC's and a handful of FF.

Still left with the feeling I've been diddled here, I suspect that in fact there really is a VA credit shell hidden behind the scenes, I might try pushing from the VA end with the original booking details to see if I can win. Otherwise, it will all become a bit of a waste of time and will need to reconsider the value proposition of the card.
 

Plutonus

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I didn't put enough energy into this one this year. Nearly ran out of time so booked something for DEC then cancelled it later. Absolutely refused, despite firm pressing from me, to hand over the associated VA credit shell insisting that the rebooking must be done via Amex, with the associated fee (27$ I think) and of course the cancel fee. The only reason I'd bother now is to get the SC's and a handful of FF.

Still left with the feeling I've been diddled here, I suspect that in fact there really is a VA credit shell hidden behind the scenes, I might try pushing from the VA end with the original booking details to see if I can win. Otherwise, it will all become a bit of a waste of time and will need to reconsider the value proposition of the card.

They have done the same to me twice. But I've still gotten a $400 flight for $250 or something (inc card fee, canc fees), so I feel like I came out ahead.
 
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edy4eva

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Is the AMEX credit after the refund free to use as one pleases? or must be booked with VA? And can one uses it to book multiple flights instead of a return?
Thanks!
 
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Moopere

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Is the AMEX credit after the refund free to use as one pleases? or must be booked with VA? And can one uses it to book multiple flights instead of a return?
Thanks!

Haha! Yes, fair question given Amex's stance. However, I'm almost 100% certain that Amex is 'holding' (or withholding if you prefer) a standard VA credit shell ... they just wouldn't pass on the information to me - they obviously see this practise as gaming the system and have closed the perceived loophole.
 

wintergirl

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Just booked in two flights today... And here's what I've learned:

1. You can make a change the day you make the reward flight booking, with the change fees waived. Maybe this has been mentioned earlier in the thread, but I must've skipped over it.

2. I tried to change the flight destination to an airport not mentioned in the list (but that VA flies to) and they wouldn't let me :(
Totally fair, of course, but I'm still sulking :(

3. The rep was insistent that there would be no miles/SC's earned on the flights. The original flight was a non-upgradeable one.
I didn't actually go ahead with making any free changes, so I'm not sure if they would have actually booked it in as an upgradeable flexi or not - I'm guessing changes on the day maybe just go through into the same fare class? I'm still considering calling and changing my flight to one an hour earlier/later so I can upgrade :confused:
 

Moopere

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Just booked in two flights today... And here's what I've learned:

1. You can make a change the day you make the reward flight booking, with the change fees waived. Maybe this has been mentioned earlier in the thread, but I must've skipped over it.

Yes, they seem to ticket these bookings with VA at the end of each day - I've been told this before as well. I made a mistake last year and booked my free flight in the morning and cancelled it in the afternoon ... normally this would result in a credit shell, but as it happened before the booking was actually ticketed I simply received my 'free' flight back.


2. I tried to change the flight destination to an airport not mentioned in the list (but that VA flies to) and they wouldn't let me :(
Totally fair, of course, but I'm still sulking

Mmm. I'm still wondering if they will enforce this thinking on me now that I hold a credit shell with them for a previously cancelled booking. In the past I simply obtained the VA credit shell number, bypassed Amex entirely when I rebooked, and went anywhere I liked.


3. The rep was insistent that there would be no miles/SC's earned on the flights. The original flight was a non-upgradeable one.
I didn't actually go ahead with making any free changes, so I'm not sure if they would have actually booked it in as an upgradeable flexi or not - I'm guessing changes on the day maybe just go through into the same fare class? I'm still considering calling and changing my flight to one an hour earlier/later so I can upgrade :confused:

Yes, no miles/SC's against the original 'free' booking. However, in previous years I've always booked, cancelled, paid the cancel fee out of the credit shell, then rebooked, added a bit of money to take it up to Flexi then added some FF points to take the flexi up to business and have received flexi FF/SC's every time.

This year will be the first year when Amex has insisted upon holding the credit shell and not telling me what the VA shell number is ... so all bets are off - perhaps they will try and book me back into one of these inflexible arrangements they have with VA. If so, the Amex Edge card I've been getting these free flights from will immediately lose its shine and I'll let it go most likely.
 

Moopere

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I have always received miles, not SC. As recent as November to New Zealand.

Interesting, you'd have a different card to my 'Edge' as I can't leave the country with the free flights that come with mine - for the domestic flights you'd be able to work out exactly what VA paid for the 'free' ticket given the 5x$ rule that they have.
 
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