Air Travel Booking Dilemma

chisueFebruary 10, 2013

I'm trying to book our 2014 trip on AA: Chicago-Dallas-Maui. DH and I want to use miles to upgrade to first class. We want to fly on a 767 for the long leg Dallas-Maui.

The problem is that we can't book our return flight for early March until the airline opens bookings in mid-April. By then, all the upgrades will be gone for our outbound flight in early January.

I know, nothing *serious*, but does anyone have any ideas?

Could I book a one-way outbound now and pay a ticket change fee to convert to a round-trip when the reservations open in April?

Could I book a round-trip now with a fake return date and pay a ticket change fee to change the return date to March when the reservations open in April? (For instance: Depart Jan. 1; Return Jan. 6, then change to return Mar. 3.)

The second seems dishonest, and I don't know how pricing is affected by the first option. We *used* to do this easily, but now retiring Boomers snap up the available upgrades VERY fast.

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What does your travel agent suggest? It sounds as if you're trying to do the booking yourself.

I just booked a vacation trip to Arizona. We'd checked online, then went to AAA. The only difference in price was that AAA charges a negligible (think it was $25) fee to do the booking. The airfare price was the exact same as the discount internet sites. And the difference to me? The agent was so much more helpful than an internet page.

Check with your local AAA office (I assume you're a member) and see if they don't have an honest solution to your dilemna.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Toni S

Well, I just sat for hours at Chicago last night, until they canceled our flight. To many cancellations in Jan/ Feb for me to ever travel out of there ever again. AA sent my baggage on a flight I couldn't get on, and to a city I didn't land at. Chicago would be my last choice to head out of in winter. I suppose you have been doing this for many years though.

If that is your only choice, I'd use an agent to negotiate your dates and upgrades. They know the ins and outs of all of the airlines .

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:53AM
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We probably should rejoin AAA anyway. Thanks azzalea. We almost never 'travel' these days, except our two months on Maui.

toni_ne -- Sorry for your delays. I suspect the snowstorms in the East were a least part of your flight problem. We've been doing this trip to Maui out of ORD for decades -- only once had a cancellation, and we were notified of it a day in advance so just stayed home until they could give us back our first class reservations two days later.

Guess I need to hunt for a TA!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 12:47PM
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It's Midway that is the problem in Chicago. OHare can be persnickety, but nothing compared to Midway. It does seem like Dallas would be the better option for the Maui trip since that's their hub. Would it also work for you? And maybe cost less? I've booked tickets and upgraded later on. Would that help? Shoot, I can hardly ever get an upgrade first go-around anyhow.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 1:51PM
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If you don't want to use AA, is there another travel agency in your town? I think they do have to have some certification--etc, not sure about that. Also don't forget to get travel insurance. There is alot avaiable now for all sorts of reasons.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 1:59PM
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I wish I could get a definitive answer from AA. Maybe there's some sort of Help Desk?

We've done this trip probably 30 times without this sort of difficulty, but now the airlines are counting every bean (twice)! LOL

All the search engines are geared to finding the cheapest flights. I don't want that. I want the shortest, most comfortable flight I can get without paying $3K pp for first class seats.

Our miles are on AA. The only flight AA offers now on a 767 is via DFW Flights #6 and #7. That's not a lot of seats, period.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:43PM
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I see nothing wrong with booking the flight and then changing your mind for the return flight.
Do what you need to do to get your best price.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 4:48PM
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I think I will do the 'fake' booking. I'd only be out the $150 pp ticket change fee. I may face a higher fare in April, but that would be the case anyway.

Today fares went up $200 AS I WAS SEARCHING online. (Now you see it; now it's 'not available'; now it's $200 more!) I've read that best fares are posted after 3 p.m EST on Tuesdays and removed by midnight Wednesday. I can wait another day to search.

I think this is a stupid way to run an airline. It must create fake bookings and more changes. They should let you book a one-way and modify it when the returns are open to be booked. You can do that if you're using miles to pay for the seat; mileage required is a flat amount whether you book one one-way or two one-way fares or a roundtrip.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:51PM
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