You’ve worked all year collecting points & miles and now it’s time to use them. Let the nightmares begin! Booking award travel – even for an avid traveler like me – can be an ordeal. Luckily, booking hotels is a whole lot easier than booking airline award tickets.
Each year, I plan a major trip for December. This year, I’m going on a girls trip to South East Asia with 3 other women. Booking air travel is the most painful part of the annual trip. Every year I spend hours pouring over flight options, comparing routes, searching the ANA website (for Star Alliance award flights) before finally calling US Airways to book. I usually spend anywhere from 1 hour to upwards of 3 hours on the phone with one, or more, US Air agents trying to nail down the perfect itinerary without breaking the points bank.
This year, I couldn’t stomach the idea of spending that much time on the phone and on the internet planning this trip (not to mention the fact that I didn’t really have time due to a very crazy schedule.) So I started looking for Award Booking Services. I found that several boarding area bloggers offer this type of service. I decided to ask Gary aka View From The Wing for assistance. Gary’s service Book Your Award was a great way to go. Instead of having nightmares, within 24 hours I had an amazing itinerary. The process was so easy! Answer some questions, provide Gary with your points/miles info, and away you go! Now, normally Gary will call the airline and book the award for you, but I decided to call on my own. With the itinerary Gary planned, I called US Airways (Chairman Preferred line) and spent no more than 20 minutes on the phone start to finish. Now, if you’re not calling an elite/preferred phone number, you might opt to have Gary call so you can avoid longer wait times.
So what did Gary help me book? I booked a 25 day vacation to some of the most exotic and exciting locations in South East Asia. I spent 120k US Airways miles to fly all but 1 segment in First Class (there’s one segment in Business on Singapore Airlines)
- I’ll fly from LAX to PEK (Beijing, China) on Air China in first class (thanks to @JohnMooreNow for helping me confirm that the Air China flights are in the new lie-flat first class configuration!) From PEK I’ll fly onto SIN (Singapore) on Singapore Airlines in first class (not a suite). I’ll spend 5 days in Singapore. Two nights at the St Regis Singapore and 3 nights at the Sheraton Singapore Towers.
- From Singapore I’ll fly to Langkawi, Malaysia. I’ll spend 4 nights at the Sheraton Langkawi Resort. From Malaysia I will fly to Cambodia and spend 3 nights at the Le Meridien Angkor Siem Reap, Cambodia. From Cambodia I’ll fly back to SIN for 1 night – have no idea where I’ll stay yet. (NOTE: The flights on this portion of the trip were not booked using miles)
- From Singapore I’ll fly to Bangkok on Singapore Airlines in Business Class (the only business leg of points ticket I booked). I’ll spend 3 nights at the St Regis Bangkok and 2 nights at the Sofitel Sukhumvit Bangkok. Christmas Eve Dinner at L’Appart at the Sofitel.
- From Bangkok I will fly to Vietnam and spend 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers. From Vietnam, I will fly to Krabi, Thailand and spend 3 nights, including NYE, at a hotel TBD (NOTE: The flights on this portion of the trip were not booked using miles)
- Finally, I will fly back to BKK from Krabi to start the journey back to the US. I will fly from BKK to PEK on Thai Air First Class. I will then fly from PEK to LAX on Air China First Class.
So that’s how you use a booking service to plan an amazing adventure. The time that Gary saved me is invaluable and I would highly recommend using a booking service. In addition, I have taken all of the suggestions from my blog post: Help Me Plan My Next Vacation into account for this trip! Thanks for all the great advice. I am really looking forward to the vacation and sharing some great trip reports.
What is your dream destination? Enter to win 10k Hilton Honors Points by telling me what your dream destination is and why its your dream destination. I will pick one winner from all the comments.
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