Bizarre reward seat availability

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markirl

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Hi folks,

I've been looking to book a flight to LHR/DUB/MAN during Jun-Aug and have been waiting for my account to tick over the points required. However, I've been keeping an eye on the flights and availability seems to vary massively - anyone else noticed this in the past?

I now have enough points and my ideal dates that were available up until last night. Now they're gone but other dates that weren't previously available (less than ideal though) are available! I also should note that my ideal dates were previously unavailable and became available recently.

Am I better off waiting in the hope that more seats are released or should I just book the less than ideal scenario?

Also, are the call centre likely to have more options than the online process?
 

greenfish

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Definitely worth giving the call centre a ring. They can book on partner airlines which don't show up online (you may have noticed that the reward seats online are on the VA codeshare only).

If you were looking at redeeming on Etihad, consider creating an Etihad Guest account so you can search for reward seats - if you can see them on Etihad Guest, there is "some" correlation with what the Virgin call centre can book.
 

markirl

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Definitely worth giving the call centre a ring. They can book on partner airlines which don't show up online (you may have noticed that the reward seats online are on the VA codeshare only).

If you were looking at redeeming on Etihad, consider creating an Etihad Guest account so you can search for reward seats - if you can see them on Etihad Guest, there is "some" correlation with what the Virgin call centre can book.
You, sir, are a genius! Just had a look and there are seats on my 2nd choice dates, so I will call Virgin this evening to see about booking these. Out of interest, is there any limit to the seats that Virgin are entitled to? For instance, I can see that the Etihad flights that have become "sold out" on Virgin, are showing with 3-5 seats left on the Etihad site...

Is it worth stating that they're available on the Etihad site if Virgin call centre state that they're all booked out?
 

zainman

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Definitely worth giving the call centre a ring. They can book on partner airlines which don't show up online (you may have noticed that the reward seats online are on the VA codeshare only).

If you were looking at redeeming on Etihad, consider creating an Etihad Guest account so you can search for reward seats - if you can see them on Etihad Guest, there is "some" correlation with what the Virgin call centre can book.


Don't even need to create an account with EY guest to search availability with them!

I tried to establish if there was indeed a relation between EY availability and what VA could see on the phone. If you see a 'guest seat' available on the EY website, 99% of the time it means it is available to AAdvantage. Keeping this in mind I tried to see if VA could see the same seats and the agent couldn't see a single seat even though sometimes I could see 2 or more seats in J/F. We tried this for a range of dates and yet she couldn't find anything. I found this hard to believe so asked to be transferred to her "supervisor" and sure enough, he could see exactly the same number of seats I could see on the EY website. Apparently she was looking into the wrong inventory or was just having a lazy day and uninterested in booking any flights!
 

greenfish

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Don't even need to create an account with EY guest to search availability with them!


Yes, you're right, I'd forgotten that login was not required - the link below will let you search without an account.

Reward Flights

I've had a good strike rate booking based on availability on the EY site, but not 100%.

I politely mention when calling that I had noticed availability on the Etihad site. It is important that you speak to the team who handle partner bookings - they're offshore - as the local agents may only look at the VA codeshares (i.e. same as the website).

My most recent success was a mixed Y/J booking back from CDG - availability perfectly matched when I spoke to the VA call centre.
 

zainman

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I politely mention when calling that I had noticed availability on the Etihad site. It is important that you speak to the team who handle partner bookings - they're offshore - as the local agents may only look at the VA codeshares (i.e. same as the website).

I ensure never to mention that because they always come back with "Sir you realise that what they have available may not necessarily be available to us".

In my example the team was definitely off shore and so was the "supervisor". Should have just HUACA. Anyway, it was all an experiment. :)
 
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markirl

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Guys, this is great information!

To add to this for future posters, the correlation that I've found is that the reward seats appear to vanish off the VA site once the EY site shows 3 seats or less (for any one sector). This could be completely coincidental but for the two months I checked and 4 different destinations it rang true for economy seating.

Greenfish - when you say availability was perfectly matched - I assume it was gone off the VA website? This is very encouraging and quite relieving as I thought I'd lost out on our ideal dates for the sake of 400 points!
 

markirl

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I ensure never to mention that because they always come back with "Sir you realise that what they have available may not necessarily be available to us".

In my example the team was definitely off shore and so was the "supervisor". Should have just HUACA. Anyway, it was all an experiment. :)
Hi zainman,
More good info, thanks! As I've never made a booking like this, should I first ensure that I'm talking to someone who handles partner bookings and then if I don't get the result I want, ask to talk to their supervisor?

I guess if it doesn't work, hang up and try again? Mention EY availability as last gasp solution?
 

zainman

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Hi zainman,
More good info, thanks! As I've never made a booking like this, should I first ensure that I'm talking to someone who handles partner bookings and then if I don't get the result I want, ask to talk to their supervisor?

I guess if it doesn't work, hang up and try again? Mention EY availability as last gasp solution?

If EY website shows availability, I would be calling in reasonably confident that VA can see those seats too. If the agent says they can't see them, try a different date that EY is also showing availability (you can easily do this as EY shows one whole week). If they can't see 2-3 days and yet EY shows there is seats, I would be requesting to speak to someone who is able to assist.

Even after I proved to the "supervisor" that the availability did indeed match the EY availability he still said "it is different for us". He is of course correct in his statement to an extent.
 

greenfish

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Guys, this is great information!

To add to this for future posters, the correlation that I've found is that the reward seats appear to vanish off the VA site once the EY site shows 3 seats or less (for any one sector). This could be completely coincidental but for the two months I checked and 4 different destinations it rang true for economy seating.

Greenfish - when you say availability was perfectly matched - I assume it was gone off the VA website? This is very encouraging and quite relieving as I thought I'd lost out on our ideal dates for the sake of 400 points!

VA website showed no availability (and can't search at all certain segments, e.g. anything originating in AUH). Etihad site showed Y to AUH and J to BNE. By going through the call centre, I was able to book Y to AUH and J to BNE.

I've done this a number of times e.g. my daughter is flying to MUC in Y, not available on the website, but good with Etihad - booked fine through the VA Contact Centre.
 

markirl

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You guys have helped a lot - I'll let you know how I go. I'll be going lowly economy as 2 of us need to fly this time!
 

zainman

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You guys have helped a lot - I'll let you know how I go. I'll be going lowly economy as 2 of us need to fly this time!


Goodluck and let us know how you go! There is always the option to apply for a couple of CC's to boost your Velocity balance and maybe aim for J :)
 

markirl

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The plot thickens - perfect dates are available again with Virgin BUT the flight booking page still hasn't updated my points balance! Disaster website!
 

greenfish

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The plot thickens - perfect dates are available again with Virgin BUT the flight booking page still hasn't updated my points balance! Disaster website!

Ring the call centre and explain the problem - don't delay - they should book it for you with no booking fee as this is a known bug. It can take quite some time for the points balance in Velocity to flow across to Sabre.
 

markirl

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All booked! Thanks for all of the help guys, in the end I just booked normally online following a quick call to VA.
 

smit0847

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Good to hear. I would always recommend calling them for EY availability - yes it takes longer but they can often find some random seats you didn't know existed.
 
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