Just when I thought I was all set with a pretty big trip I was putting together, award availability opened on another day that I had really preferred to travel on anyway. That was the last ticket I had needed and I had the date that I was going to book on hold, but when I saw my preferred date open up, the wheels immediately started turning in my head.
Hint: The award seat that opened up is on one of the rarer commercial flight paths and a somewhat difficult award to snag in business class – comment below if you know which flight I am referring to!
Here is what the trip was comprised of as far as reservations:
- 6 different airlines
- booked as awards with 5 different airlines
- as 6 separate reservations
- with 2 hotel reservations in 2 different cities
Some of the flights that I had reservations with did not offer much in the way of availability on other days while one particular airline was not seeing another airline’s availability at all for the new dates. So, do I make the switch or keep what I have even though it would have put more strain on me?
Unraveling and Rebooking A Multi-Reservation Trip
I decided to move to the new, preferred date. That meant mapping out a process to follow as not all award availability immediately becomes available again when reservations are moved and if one airline’s availability filled, I could be stuck (especially since two of the flights I had to have were only showing 1 seat available).
Step 1 – Put the ticket on hold that started everything
American Airlines lets you actually hold tickets for several days before you must follow through with the purchase/ticketing. This is hugely helpful to make sure that you are able to make sure you have a spot before you start booking everything else to match it and it is no longer available – Step 1 DONE in 2 minutes.
Step 2 – Deal with the flight with the least availability
I started with the longest haul flight that had a single seat available. Of course, that took over an hour on hold with American Airlines to take care of and hoping the seat wouldn’t be taken. Once I was able to get through, I had the ticket switched in under 2 minutes – Step 2 DONE in 2 minutes after waiting over an hour on hold.
Step 3 – Move to the flight that has availability currently showing
The next move was to take on the flight that involved a partner booking and could be done online. This was one of the tickets that I have that was the last seat available on the current reservation so I did not want to mess with this until I had the first two flights locked in. This was able to be accomplished and I got the exact flights and class of service I wanted (and got first which was not available on the reservation I had before – so a nice plus!). Step 3 DONE in 5 minutes online.
Step 4 – Take care of hotels
This was a somewhat easy step. I have multiple options for free nights at hotels and had simply used this option because it gave me a great way to use my 2 free nights from the Into the Nights IHG promotion so I went with that. Worst case, I knew I would get my nights back but I had already looked and knew that there was availability on my new nights so I went ahead and rebooked those nights. Step 4 DONE in 5 minutes online.
Step 5 – Wait on ticket changes
The other tickets unfortunately are involving availability with an airline that, for some reason, is not currently showing to United after September. Since making a change here involves a fee of $75 (which will be wiped out thanks to my American Express Platinum airline reimbursement selection – up to $200 in a calendar year), there is not a huge rush for me to get this changed. It is currently in business class and I would like to keep it there so I will have to hope something changes before the end of this month (booked using United’s award discount sale). If not, I will easily be able to find something as time gets closer. Step 5 Not Completed will wait and see.
This is certainly not the first time I have had to make changes to a multi-reservation trip and I am sure that many of you can add tips to how you handle it as well. But, some of the things I like about my choices of travel partners have to do with how easy/cheap it is to make such changes.
With American Airlines, you can make changes to dates as often as you want as long as you are outside of the 21 days of departure – and it is free. That is for everyone, not just elites. Plus, American Airlines gives the ability to hold a reservation before ticketing so that you have time to secure your travel and miles. For award travel that may require changes of dates, American Airlines is a great choice with free changes.
With Alaska Airlines, you can also make changes up to 60 days of departure for free. While not as great as AA’s 21 days, it is still plenty of time to make changes on future reservations if you need to. Plus, I was able to handle it all online for a great experience.
When it comes to United, changes outside of 21 days used to be free but they changed that a couple of years ago to now cost $75 for non-elite members. It has been less than a month since I lost my United elite status that would have made these changes free and it is certainly a missed benefit! But, by letting my airline fee reimbursement credit from American Express catch fees such as this up to $200 in a year, I am saved having to actually put out the money.
For hotels, most hotels allow cancelations and changes at no charge (unless booked a prepaid rate of some kind or involve certain hotels) so they are always easy to use for travel changes. It is always a good thing to check the terms of the room you are booking to make sure that you can, in fact, get your points/credits back if you cancel but you can most of the time.
If you think you are going to have travel plans that may shift in dates, choosing the right travel providers can save you a lot of money. If you use foreign carriers (such as British Airways or Aegean Airlines) to book domestic tickets, your change/cancel fees are much lower – only 20 euro for Aegean and domestic tickets (with AA, Alaska, or US) booked with British Airways will just cost you the small amount of fees for the award ticket. Making changes with an airline like Delta would have cost me $150!
Of course, having elite status with an airline makes all of these change fees go away anyway (if you have high enough status) so having that in your pocket can never hurt!
What are your routines for making changes to multi-reservation itineraries?
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