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Avianca "Lifemiles" - Questions and Discussion

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goldenhorn

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Hum, @goldenhorn - I would grab the seats as NH are unlikely to release any (more) seats until close in and in spite of AC coping a bit of a bashing in letters to the travel editor in the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) recently - I have travelled SYD<->YVR on AC J many times (on LM awards) and find them just fine - not SQ but it's non-stop, convenient and service is usually friendly (the food is a bit of a low-light however). Also, if you've never transited YVR it a nice compact airport (and I don't think you need to clear Canadian immigration if in transit but double check this and get a Canadian eta (oh wait a second you will already have one).
I got SYD-YVR on AC via LM just over a week ago, so would be fine to go back home with them too.

What's the criticism in the SMH?

I'm looking at leaving the US mid-July 2020, so perhaps I could give it another week or so.

The other option I'm looking at is IAH-SYD on UA. UA is nothing special, but I LOVE the Polaris lounge and they serve nice Champagne. Did the same route back in May and booked with LM last year.

I'll be in New Orleans already so it would be easy to get over to IAH. Just need to wait a few more weeks as I think I'm a little early for those award flights to be released yet.

Decisions, decisions...
 

MEL_Traveller

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Who knows the impact of UA moving to dynamic pricing will be. Any ‘saver awards’ - required for booking via partners - are likely to be snapped up immediately. That will potentially wipe out inventory for partners on some high-demand routes (inventory has already virtually dried up now from Au to USA on UA, except of course at the 200k level).

I’d be grabbing air canadia asap whenever it’s available.
 
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What's the criticism in the SMH?
The comments in several letters were all about Y travel - cramped seating, indifferent service, yuck food. I would have written a letter in AC's defence but since my experience is in J it would not have been a valid comparison also could come off as bit 'high and mighty'.

We fly this route at least once per year mainly to go skiing at Whistler - a couple of years ago we did not book until 6 months prior (for health reasons) so ended by buying a J fare on QF - direct (seasonal) service SYD-YVR on a clapped out 747 and return via LAX on the A380 - both were inferior IMO to AC J.
 

goldenhorn

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Who knows the impact of UA moving to dynamic pricing will be. Any ‘saver awards’ - required for booking via partners - are likely to be snapped up immediately. That will potentially wipe out inventory for partners on some high-demand routes (inventory has already virtually dried up now from Au to USA on UA, except of course at the 200k level).

I’d be grabbing air canadia asap whenever it’s available.
Yes, that's a great point you make.

The dilemma is the awards are not yet released for the week I need to come back. Looks like I'm 2 weeks away from those awards being released.

I can come back anytime in that last week, so I'm flexible.

As you can see from the chart, there are only 2 dates with 2 awards so I'm now thinking after what you've said is it's pretty risky. UA awards.jpg
 

MEL_Traveller

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And I'm pretty sure those 90K will be air canadia -at least for the transpac? The UA award would be 80K, partners are 90K. I think I've seen one route on Air China, the rest al AC.
 

goldenhorn

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And I'm pretty sure those 90K will be air canadia -at least for the transpac? The UA award would be 80K, partners are 90K. I think I've seen one route on Air China, the rest al AC.
My mistake. Yes, they are the AC flights.

IAH-SYD is showing 4 dates in June but haven't released mid-July yet. UA IAH.jpg
 

goldenhorn

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Has anyone had success with booking an award flight through LM with CS the phone when it doesn't show on their website?

I can see NH F class ORD-HND on LM and it's bookable, and on Expert Flyer I see the connecting J class HND-SYD, but the HND-SYD is not showing on LM.

Just wondering if it's worth calling or is it a case of that second sector inventory is not available on LM.
 
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MEL_Traveller

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Has anyone had success with booking an award flight through LM with CS the phone when it doesn't show on their website?

I can see NH F class ORD-HND on LM and it's bookable, and on Expert Flyer I see the connecting J class HND-SYD, but the HND-SYD is not showing on LM.

Just wondering if it's worth calling or is it a case of that second sector inventory is not available on LM.
Unfortunately LM must be able to see the sector in order to book it, whether by phone or via the screenshot method.

Even if the flight is showing on every other star alliance booking tool, LM’s response will be that availability isn’t guaranteed to match across all programs.

This can be frustrating, but it actually works both ways... sometimes LM shows availability not found on other sites.
 

goldenhorn

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Unfortunately LM must be able to see the sector in order to book it, whether by phone or via the screenshot method.

Even if the flight is showing on every other star alliance booking tool, LM’s response will be that availability isn’t guaranteed to match across all programs.

This can be frustrating, but it actually works both ways... sometimes LM shows availability not found on other sites.
Thank you @MEL_Traveller

I thought that might be the case :(
 

goldenhorn

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Thanks for your help and advice for booking my return LM journey @luxury-lizard and @MEL_Traveller

I took your suggestions and rang LM CS this morning and booked the ORD-YVR-SYD J flights on AC instead of waiting and 'hoping' that something else would show up on NH or UA.

Thanks @luxury-lizard for sharing your experience of AC. I'm sure they will be good, and they must be better than UA J, which we booked SYD-IAH this year. We found the food to be VERY average, they ran out of Champagne, and the customer service SYD-IAH was appalling (the crew return was much better).

Just waiting for LM to call back to process payment.

They were available on the day we wanted to come home and with such limited LM availability, I took your point that when you see these flights, you grab them!
 
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jarradbrown

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Trying to get Melbourne to CDG in late July/early August for two in business but can't see to find anything. Should I be using another system/carrier to check for availability first? And a the max lay over for a screen shot is 8hr?
 

RB

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Trying to get Melbourne to CDG in late July/early August for two in business but can't see to find anything. Should I be using another system/carrier to check for availability first? And a the max lay over for a screen shot is 8hr?
Have you tried doing the search for 1 passenger? When we were searching a while back we searched for 1 & often the result showed up as 2 vacancies
 

MEL_Traveller

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Trying to get Melbourne to CDG in late July/early August for two in business but can't see to find anything. Should I be using another system/carrier to check for availability first? And a the max lay over for a screen shot is 8hr?
I would start by using United's search engine, see if you can find availability. Thai seems to be restricting a lot of their long haul premium award space until around two weeks before departure, which makes things a bit too tight for many people making plans. This really restricts your choice of carrier.

Options out of MEL might be available on Air China (via PEK), or on Air India. Out of Sydney you might be able to expand that to include Asiana or ANA. LM was showing some connections the other day out of the USA all the way to SYD, so you might be lucky.

Other options, not as palatable might include SQ economy to SIN and Turkish from there. Out of BKK there's also Egyptair. But the leg to BKK is likely to only show in economy at the moment.

With screenshots the transit can be longer than 8 hours. In theory I guess you could try for a connection as long as 23hrs59. If they don't like it they will tell you.
 
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I have been searching for 2 business awards SYD-xxx-FRA (or MUC or ... in Europe) in Mid-July - the only thing I found with 2 seats was CA via PEK with a very long layover (so gave it a miss). However as @mel-Traveller said if you look for 1 seat only you might find something (but I only ever saw one seat - on ANA). Also try via Canada (search SYD-YVR then YVR-CDG) - you might get lucky. Also search other major European cities; e.g. FRA and LHR probably have the most flights.

Searching with United is fine but keep in mind the UA calendar only goes out 335 days which makes it useless for dates beyond that - I use the Aeroplan (AC's FF program) web site as it goes out 360 days and often comes up with 'imaginative' itineraries - you must join the program to use the tool. Or subscribe to AwardNexus (for a fee) - it makes searching less painful.

(I've since given up looking for my date in July and booked on SQ using KrisFlyer points which I try to conserve as they are more 'valuable')
 

MEL_Traveller

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Yeah. For some reason Air China's connections to/from Europe are not great. And with the USA USD these says, even at 1.345c each for LM in a 145% promo, for just $500 more you can get confirmed flights on the day you want with Vietnam Airlines. (And earn points.)
 
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jarradbrown

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Hey guys thanks for the replies. I didn't expect them so soon. I will be checking your suggestions tonight to see what I can find.
 
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