Different award availability between partners [QF/AA/CX] | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Different award availability between partners [QF/AA/CX]

NM

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I spent quite a few hours over the last few days/evenings making bookings for an upcoming family trip to NZ. In true AFF form, I was looking to maximise FF program points/miles in both earn and burn ends of the spectrum, while minimising the $$$ cost. The challenge was to get three of us from Brisbane to Auckland for about a week during the school holiday period in July. Yes, I know, I really should have been booking this in July/August last year. But family circumstances back then were different and such a family vacation was not an option. Circumstances change and now we can make it happen.

So I obviously started checking award availability on flights and dates that suited. To my amazement QFF were showing 2 x U class available BNE-AKL for the morning flight on the very day we wanted to travel and nothing much else aither side. AAdvantage was showing 2 x U class on the same day, but for the evening flight! Hmm, that seemed strange but double and triple checked and that was what was showing. Of course, QFF wanted lots more point/miles and lots more $$$ co-payment, but QFF points are more readily available to me so overall probably similar "cost" in terms of value.

Then to check the return. Nothing at all available AKL-BNE direct or via SYD or MEL when checking QFF and AAdvantage. So I checked my CX AsiaMiles account where I dumped some Amex points during the recent devaluation assuming I would be able ti use them within their 3-year validity. Hey presto, AsiaMiles showed 2 x U class via MEL on the very day we preferred to return. QFF and AAdvantage would not return that option no matter how I tried to manipulate the search options and filters. Not even as multi-city.

So Mrs NM and Mini-NM were duly booked into U using the combination of QFF and AsiaMiles awards.

Now to book paid ticket for myself, with the aim of earning AAdvantage miles on the booking and edging me closer to 2MM and Lifetime Platinum - so paid business class was the goal. My outbound was pretty simple - QF Business Sale fare paid for the same flight so we are all in the same cabin and seats selected in the same row. But when trying to book as a return fare, I could not get them to offer the return combination that matched the rest of the family. And the return segments that were offered were showing as really expensive.

So I booked BNE-AKL as a one-way I-class Business Sale fare. That is when I noted that the QF NZ site was offering business class fares significantly lower than the return segment of the outbound if booked from QF AU site.

The return for me was not so simple. Cheapest paid business class option was direct AKL-BNE, departing a few hours after the other and arriving a little earlier than their MEL sojourn. But preference is to travel together. QF paid booking from NZ site was offering a reasonable Business Sale fare, but the MEL-BNE was in economy. Hmm, that seemed strange since I was just able to redeem 2 x U using AsiaMiles points so obviously some availability. There were even QFF awards available for U if just booking the MEL-BNE sector, but it QF NZ would not sell me the AKL-MEL-BNE in J at any fare rate - only option was AKL-MEL in J and MEL-BNE in Y.

So I ended up with paid business sale fare AKL-MEL and a separate QFF award U-class MEL-BNE on the same flights as the others.

So we have 5 different PNRs between us, and 7 different tickets. 6 of the tickets were issued immediately (2 x QFF awards BNE-AKL, paid QF fare BNE-AKL, 2 x AsiaMiles awards AKL-MEL-BNE, and paid QF fare AKL-MEL). But the final AFF award MEL-BNE is yet to be issued. I have the PNR and can via via Manage My Booking and select seats etc, but no e-ticket receipt received yet and points not taken from my account yet.

So it definitely worth checking award flight availability from multiple programs if you have points/miles in the programs. I expect the differences I was seeing are to do with the point-of-sale, being Australia for QFF, USA for AAdvantage and Hong Kong for CX AsiaMiles. This seems to impact both availability and married sectors in the case of AKL-MEL-BNE flights based on point-of-sale.

Anyway, we are now all booked and seats assigned. Just need to ensure my final award segment gets issued and not cancelled by QFF because the paid J class fare for MEL-BNE is way more than I am willing to pay (almost double the AKL-MEL fare).
 

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