QF Award bookings to the US the angst! | Australian Frequent Flyer
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QF Award bookings to the US the angst!

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ellen10

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Just booked our award bookings with much angst, to the US for 2015.

I am writing this to maybe help others and to acknowledge the help and suggestions I received from AFF members.

This is what I have learnt and experienced in the process.
I started looking at availability back in June/July to try and get a feel for what is on offer. The flights we wanted to book were for September, so time to see what the possibilities would be.
I read many a thread on AFF and asked a couple of questions.
This was to be our first J award booking. Our travel is all self funded and with the added help of CC points we finally made the magic number of points.
Our first choice was Qantas SYD to NYC. I learnt early on in the process that Qantas awards are 353 days out.
So for 2 weeks prior to our preferred departure dates in September, every day I would check the QFF site with dismay at the lack of availability. I even rang Qantas to ask if they could see better availability than I could. The lady stated that September is a very popular month and couldn't offer any more help but to keep looking. I did ask if they were released at 10am but she would not confirm this.
My plan of attack was log on at say 9.30am check the no availability and then log back in at 10am. Sometimes if I got on by 10.04 all Qantas J awards gone, sometimes some economy was available, other days not even that.
I became a woman obsessed! And the angst and stress increased. Finally success! not our preferred dates but flights at 10.03 am. Only downside was the leg LA/JFK would be in Premium Economy but of course at Business points. But there was no way I would let the flights go. So book we did yahoo!

Now I thought that was the worst part. But getting the return flights was even a greater nightmare.
Long story short there was nothing on QF from NYC to SYD. Not even economy. Not via Brisbane , not via MEL, nothing. for over a week I searched. Yes I could have got flights with Ba via London but the LON/SYD leg was in economy (but Business points). I looked at the CX options but we didn't have enough points. I rang Qantas on 2 more occasions, one lady was very helpful and tried so many combinations but nothing matched. I even looked at using Dallas Fort Worth but best I could do was economy (Dallas Fort Worth flights were the only QF on offer for the whole 2 week period).
Our return dates passed by and it was looking like I would have to cancel the 1st leg and our plans would be dashed. My husband just said give up, the stress is not worth it, he was over it but I was determined.
So reluctantly I asked my son if we could borrow some points to make the cut to fly CX. Family transfer done. I logged back on the site and booked CX flights for 1 week later than my holidays, so I will have to beg for more time off. I could have got CX flights earlier but was hoping for QF to appear. But by the time I realised there was no hope the earlier CX flights were gone.

What I learnt from this:
Was that QF are offering nothing at the moment in Business class to and from the US
Or only economy from Dallas Fort Worth.
The Dallas flights came up at 11am, maybe because of daylight saving?
CX have many more Business class options but more points and offer them earlier than the 353 days out.
CX taxes are about half that of QF
I tried just getting flights from LAX but nothing also available to SYD/Mel or Brisbane. You would think that with so many flights from LAX to Aus there would be something.
This may be totally unrelated but ever since the massive thread post of a paying couple being downgraded from Business from LAX there has been no QF ward flights from NYC or LAX.
We will no longer save up our points for Business award seats, just buy economy and pay for exit row seats.
We are NB QF Frequent Flyers, we almost make silver every year but not quite.

I hope this may help others in their award flight endeavours, I will savour my hard earned flights next year. :)
 

mannej

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Are you sure they are charging full J points for the mixed class fares? That used to be the case, but many are saying that QF charge per leg and for the class flown?
 

aaflyer

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Are you sure they are charging full J points for the mixed class fares? That used to be the case, but many are saying that QF charge per leg and for the class flown?
If you book A to C via B, and A-B is in Business but B to C is in Economy, you'll pay J points for A-C, regardless of the fact that B-C is in coach.

If you book A-B and B-C separately, you'll be charged as two one ways in the highest cabin.

As a side note, I see availability in September next year for SYD-JFK in Business on QF, but i'm a Platinum. I can only assume that WP and SG availability is indeed better (there's not huge availability, but I can get at least one day a week with a seat).
 

aaflyer

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Jul 24, 2014
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Yes charged me 256000 points.
You may want to look at the 'round the world' in business option for 280k. You could then do SYD-LAX-JFK on Qantas, JFK-LHR on British Airways, and LHR-HKG-SYD on Cathay Pacific. The taxes would be higher, but it's a better bang-for-buck in terms of miles IMHO.
 

ellen10

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As a side note, I see availability in September next year for SYD-JFK in Business on QF, but i'm a Platinum. I can only assume that WP and SG availability is indeed better (there's not huge availability, but I can get at least one day a week with a seat).
Yes I thought that maybe higher status people may see better.
Could you see any for JFK/SYD mid October?
 

ellen10

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The "round the world" was my ultimate quest. That I had been looking at for a couple of years.
But after the initial difficulties I gave up on that thought.
 
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Don't forget that September is school holidays, if you were searching during those times it's always harder to find award seats I believe. I've done several awards in recent years MEL-LAX and not had any problems so long as I grab them at 353 days out, or close to.
 

ellen10

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Yes garybatz, I work in a school so my holidays are always based on school holidays.
But we had added LSL to the mix. So flying out 12 days before school holidays start and now back 2.5 weeks after the end of the school holidays.
I knew just flying school holidays was not an option for awards. But was amazed at the non award offers in Oct after school went back.
 

sergeyvzn

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The "round the world" was my ultimate quest. That I had been looking at for a couple of years.
But after the initial difficulties I gave up on that thought.
Ellen, the 280K RTW is actually easier to book as you have much, much more flexibility. You can use lots of airlines and vary your route as you please as long as you comply with simple rules (no more than 5 stops, no more than 16 segments, can't go through the same stopover city twice etc).

Partner and I have just done one (Sydney-Hong Kong-US West Coast-US East Coast-Europe-South Africa-Sydney) and the only QF flights we had was a short domestic flight from SYD to BNE to catch a CX to HKG (no seats on the direct SYD-HKG service) and the last one - JNB-SYD. As you described above, there is virtually impossible to snag 2 J seats on QF between Australia and US so you should always think Cathay or JAL if travelling between Australia and the US. And the product is better anyway
 

aaflyer

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Yes I thought that maybe higher status people may see better.
Could you see any for JFK/SYD mid October?
I have exactly one on the 5th of October showing at present from JFK to SYD. Routing is showing as JFK-LAX-BNE-SYD.
 

ellen10

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I have exactly one on the 5th of October showing at present from JFK to SYD. Routing is showing as JFK-LAX-BNE-SYD.
As we are doing a tour, 5th Oct was too early to fly back to Syd. After that there is nothing, not even economy. I don't think they released any.
 
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ellen10

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Ellen, the 280K RTW is actually easier to book as you have much, much more flexibility. You can use lots of airlines and vary your route as you please as long as you comply with simple rules (no more than 5 stops, no more than 16 segments, can't go through the same stopover city twice etc).
My husband would have a fit if I reopened the RTW idea, after all the previous angst. But I will secretly have a little look. He thinks I spend too much time looking at options now! :)
 

sergeyvzn

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My husband would have a fit if I reopened the RTW idea, after all the previous angst. But I will secretly have a little look. He thinks I spend too much time looking at options now! :)
It's just so much easier to get out of the U.S. to Europe or Middle East on Qatar, BA, Iberia, Finnair, American Airlines, US Airways - you name it! One tip from me - JNB-SYD has excellent availability (pretty much 2J seats everyday) so you might want to go home via South Africa
 

mannej

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If you book A to C via B, and A-B is in Business but B to C is in Economy, you'll pay J points for A-C, regardless of the fact that B-C is in coach.

If you book A-B and B-C separately, you'll be charged as two one ways in the highest cabin.

As a side note, I see availability in September next year for SYD-JFK in Business on QF, but i'm a Platinum. I can only assume that WP and SG availability is indeed better (there's not huge availability, but I can get at least one day a week with a seat).
That's what I thought, but there are members on here swearing that isn't the case no longer.
 

serfty

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I have been booking and travelling transpacific U two or three times a year for several years ... 353 days or a little later is where it's at.

Once daylight saving starts seats become available at 11am in Vic/NSW/ACT/Tas and 10am in Qld.

Now here's a thing ... Looking for awards SYD-JFK & vv solely is really tough.

You are far more likely to get those U seats between MEL or SYD or BNE and LAX than just SYD & JFK. It does surprise me that you had issues with even that.

Once you get to LAX it is easy enough to get a relatively inexpensive first class fare to/from New York. (Often for less than the +++ for a QFF transpacific business class award.)
 
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ellen10

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You are far more likely to get those U seats between MEL or SYD or BNE and LAX than just SYD & JFK. It does surprise me that you had issues with even that.
Yes Serfty it surprised me too that with all the LA flights back to East Coast Aus there was nothing. I thought I could make my way from NYC to LA and pick up an award flight from LA. Thats why I rang Qantas on 2 occasions to see if they could see something that I could not. One lady was very apologetic and tried lots of variations, the other on another day just looked and said there was nothing and to keep looking.
I can perhaps understand the lack of J reward seats (maybe they were available to higher status passengers). But not even economy from LA that surprised me.
 

nickfromeastryde

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We have booked a RTW 280K award x 2 ticket with our final flight home from DFW to SYD in late June 2015. I had to book this flight about a month after I had booked all our other flights from Aust to Sth Africa, Qatar, Europe and through to east coast USA. So I was actually quite anxious about this flight while waiting for our preferred date to come up as there really was no plan B. At that time however, there was J availability from DFW just about every day (well at least the days QF flies home from there). In the end, it was quite straightforward, we got the date we wanted and booked with no issues even though on the day I forgot all about it and actually booked about 11pm that night!!!. However I did notice about a week later, that just about all the J availability from DFW to SYD dried up and being the curious person that I am have continued to monitor on and off since then. I too have noticed that there are rarely any J award seats available on this route anymore though quite a bit of Y and PE

I do wonder if there is traditionally more J availability earlier on in the year or in my case, were people just a bit slow to cotton onto the new DFW to SYD service on the A380? Did QF actually release more seats because of the new service?

Going forward, I do hope to book these awards every couple of years but may have to change my strategy and actually head over the pacific as my first leg. There was and still is so many options for all the other legs of my trip so going via the US first may well be the most practical and least stressful approach. I can just take the first flight I see and there's flights via HKG and even Sth America as fallback options. At the very least, only have to worry about one award flight over the pacific

So Ellen, as has already been suggested, the 280K awards may well be a better option going forward, maybe just do your research when hubby not around
 

ellen10

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Jul 18, 2008
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Thank you nick for your reply,
I'm glad you got all your RTW 280K bookings sorted well. Sounds like a great trip.
I still look most days for award availability and was aghast to see today a J award flight for 2 from LA to SYD for sunday 18 Oct, first leg with CX, second leg with Qantas and the asking points are 328000, ouch!!

I am happy now that the flights are sorted and I can fill in the blanks. RTW in J will still seem like a dream for us I think.
I just wanted to share my experience and forewarn others that it isn't as easy as some may think and to thank those that have helped along the way.
 
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