It’s a problem we all seem to face at one time or another. With many workplaces shutting down over Christmas and New Year, we may be forced to take annual leave during this peak period. If you want to use the time to travel overseas, school holidays often mean a shortage of cheap Economy fares and award seats. As a result, our preferred method of travel can cost more than we expect. Find the best value for your money can be difficult. For a frequent flyer, the lure of status credits can also complicate things, as one of our members discovered.

Is it worth spending ~AUD600-700 more to fly Hong Kong-Sydney with Qantas A380 and 747 earning 200SCs as opposed to A330 both ways. Or Emirates 777 one-way and Qantas A330 the other but only earning 80SCs?

With fares being high, reward seats are often at their best value when it comes to redemptions. However being peak travel time, the airlines usually release a limited number of Economy award seats, so a bit of long term planning and a lot of luck is required. However, if you’re looking at travel in Business or First class, the slower business environment can help resulting in the availability of premium cabin, sometimes very close to departure.

This is where being ballsy can pay off. For the past 10 years I’ve been getting First & Business award seats (>50) by waiting until the last week/s. Qantas Frequent Flyer will (or nearly always) cough up Cathay and British Airways seats at the last minute…..this is how the amaroos have been travelling as a family pack up at the pointing end.

If the frequent flyer point balance doesn’t stretch to the pointy end, all is not lost. Qantas and Virgin Platinum flyers do have some advantages in this scenario. With Qantas, you can request an award seat be made available, but there are no guarantees. While with Velocity, if you ask 6 months out, up to 4 guaranteed economy seats can be made available on request for redemption with any of their partners ex Australia. That’s a very good benefit for the annual family holiday. However it can only be used once a year.

If all the avenues for award seats are exhausted, or you don’t have enough points in the first place, then it’s time to start thinking outside the box. Business fares are also often discounted over the holidays, but may not be well advertised. In many cases – and for not much more than the economy fare on offer – you could be travelling in Business, with some handy status credits. In combination with an award booking and indirect routing, this can result in the best of both worlds, a point earning fare and a good value redemption!

How do you cope with getting the best value when travelling at peak periods? Would you pay more for travel in the premium cabin or go indirect with an airline partner, or would you risk waiting to the last minute for a premium award? Follow the discussion HERE.

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