For most of us when planning for any event or occasion, the question always arises as to when we should make the booking, particularly in the case of arranging our travel schedules. Irrespective of where we are going, if we have accumulated sufficient Miles our initial concerns will always revolve around when is the ideal time to book award flights?

Generally, how it works, is that airlines schedule their Award seating availability sufficiently in advance to ensure travelers are given reasonable buying opportunities. In certain instances, the booking facility operates to a specific release date, such as 353-days prior and/or to a pre-determined time and departure point.

Review your Terms and Conditions

However, this is not a factor that will necessarily apply to award seats on long-haul international flights, if you are flying:

  • Premium Economy
  • Business
  • First Class

Certain airlines may impose a further requirement in the form of Award seating allocation for Members on a 253-day point’s accumulation. This relates to those who have achieved a determined point’s status. Alternatively, airlines by way of award booking agencies may release further award availability, months or weeks prior to a selected flight departure. However, this is usually on a random basis and should not be accepted as the norm!

Timing – the Key to Redeeming Points

When you are considering redeeming your accumulated points for Award flights:

  • Timing can be the key to a successful conclusion
  • Award flights have the reputation for being sold fast
  • Recognized popular routes naturally have a high demand
  • During peak travel periods

Your next question could, therefore, be about when is the best time for you to book an Award flights?

Award Seating Availability

Generally, you can access the majority of Award seating upon their release for sale. The exact Award release date, however, will be dependent upon the operating airline, and their particular programs. A common issue related to airline loyalty programs is the limitation placed on the number of award-seating availability. It is emphasized in premium cabins on the most popular routes.

This is where timing can influence your booking procedure, and how American Airlines could provide you with that all important information about how far in advance you must book!

Make your Award Miles Booking Easier

Many Frequent Flyer programs have gained a reputation for making the lives of their customer relatively challenging to use their earned Award Miles. Opinions include it not being unusual to be confronted with restrictive conditions when trying to employ earned miles for an award ticket.

It is a factor that seems to have been appreciated by the American Airlines award flights program which has been credited with providing a versatile and flexible service for redeeming your mileage points.

Planning your Award Bookings

The first stage in planning your Award flight booking, especially in the travel season could be to review the differently available award charts for:

  • American Airlines
  • US Airways
  • Partner flights

This will help you determine the number of miles needed; however, be sure to note any discounted off-peak awards. A further consideration is that American Airlines credit cardholders, Citi and Barclaycard, can be utilized for reduced mileage awards within the United States and Canada.

Your Preferred Routing

You can now progress to the next step, which is reviewing any partner airlines that offer flights to your destination and give you the ideal route. By example: if you are provided with a one-way ticket only, you have the option of combining different service classes towards reaching your destination. This is achievable by using a standard award for one stage of your journey, supported by a savers award for the remainder.

First-in-Queue Option

A well-worked solution for some dedicated frequent flyers is attempting to get ahead in the Awards ticket queues and discover available seating before anyone else. They achieve this by determining exactly when these seats will become available. However, although the opportunity of your finding award space may generally improve, further in advance is your search criteria, there is no determined guideline regarding when is the best time to book your Award ticket(s).

It is a 331-days advanced booking concept that originates from the calendars of various primary airlines, which include:

  • American
  • Alaska
  • Delta

Award Miles Timelines

Also to be taken into account are the various timelines utilized by the carriers. This means that the 331-days window cannot be seen as a guarantee in any form. Adding to this is that some airlines permit the booking of paid fares, based on the scope of their respective calendars. This does not, however, imply that you can book your Award travel for those same dates.

Award Miles management requires some dedicated research, but it can prove a valuable financial asset, as and when your booking calculations combine to give you a wonderful travel experience.