Ask Me Anything!

Back for September, I should have some time over the Labor Day weekend to put together answers to what’s on your mind.

It’s one of my favorite things to do on the blog (and by email, and in person) – responding to reader questions.

So here’s your chance. I will my best to cover many of your questions about travel or miles and points. Some I may answer right away, others that I answer will take me a few weeks.

Please leave requests in the comments section.

The only promise is that your asking the question won’t lower the chance of the topic being covered. I won’t promise to cover everything, though I’ll read and ponder everything that’s written here in the comments. And I do answer many in standalone posts, in posts that group the questions, or as direct replies in the comments.

I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for reading, and dropping by.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Kerrigan – check out the HK Hyatt Regency and think about staying there and upgrading to a club room. Their lounge is fab with wonderful food all day/evening and a view of the harbor.

    Gary – I still need to know which MR and SPG airline transfer partners have good award availability. I don’t want to transfer and find out they are difficult to book award seats. Thanks!

  2. Always 2 seats in biz. Always international. Anywhere in Europe, China, Israel, S. Africa. We are going all the time! I have a lot of points in MR and UR.

  3. Hi Gary,

    I’m often able to find plenty of availability on Singapore Airlines’ Suite Class from SIN to JFK but when I try to search for Business Class seats it seems to NEVER be available on either the A380 or the other planes they have. Do you know anything about this? We’re trying to do a family trip to Hong Kong and afterwards go to Singapore in July 2016. I’ll be returning home from Singapore in the Suite but my brother + 2 are trying to find availability in business and nothing ever comes up.

  4. What are some of the best airline sites to see award availability on many other airlines ? For example on Alaska Air I can see if British Air has seats available, and a couple other airlines all in the same search.

  5. What Skyteam airline would you suggest crediting Delta flights to besides Delta itself? It seems that there’s a lot of glaring flaws in many of the programs, like only award tickets for immediate family members, bad expiration policies, or no first class cabin awards for non elites.

  6. Hi Gary,
    I have learned soooo much from your site.
    I hope you have a chance to read my question and respond. I am so frustrated with this particular situation I am ready to give up on collecting points. I have a Target Redcard and my local Targets will not allow any way to cash out these cards or even add funds to them.
    I am stuck with a Redcard that has several thousand dollars on it and I need to be able to cash it out and put that money back into my checking account. The only transactions that are allowable using that card seem to be for purchases. How can I get my money back from that card.
    Nothing has worked that has been suggested in any points and miles blog.
    I would really appreciate your help.
    Than you

  7. I had an Amex Platinum for years (since 1997) and enjoyed benefits and (slowly) racking up a few hundred thousand MR points. However, earlier this year I decided I just wasn’t getting enough value out of the card to justify continuing to pay the hefty annual fee. Now of course there has been a sweet 100k signup offer, which I’d love to take advantage of. My question is this: If I never got any signup bonus when I originally picked up the card (trust me, I was so young and naive about CCs back then that I had no idea what a signup bonus even was), could I still get one? The language in Amex’s T&C states you can only get the bonus once for each personal card, right? But if I had the card for 18 years and never got a bonus, I should be eligible.

  8. What is a good way to get to Venice in Business or First Class. I have miles in Delta, American, Alaska, United.


  9. I’m having a VERY tough time finding 3 Saver level, one-way Economy seats on AA from Dublin to LAX in late May of next year. I’m looking for specific dates, so maybe that’s the problem. Also, I’m trying to spend 30K per award ticket. I’m finding awards for what I need at the 45K level. Naturally, AA’s site shows me a ton of availability from DUB-LHR-LAX, but I want to avoid going through LHR since UK taxes are about $300 per person, which means almost $1K for the ‘privilege’ of flying back to L.A. from London. I’ve also tried searching non-stop transatlantic flights with AA partners who have no or low surcharges. I’ve searched DUS-LAX on AirBerlin, HEL-LAX on Finnair, MAD-LAX on Iberia (I searched for this on the Iberia site). NOTHING comes up on the non-stop flights. My question is, other than the fact that AA has pulled a ton of Saver award availability, am I searching too soon? After all, we’re talking travel that is 8 months away. Is there a way to automate my search so I don’t have to do this every day for the next 8 months? Would an award service like yours be able to clinch these tickets? Am I forgetting to do something? Thanks.

  10. I’d like to find out the best way to travel from SCL to IPC, and especially from IPC to PPT.

    IPC to PPT is ridiculously expensive (for example, for the month of April 2016, it’s over $1500 one-way).

  11. You wanted to answer our questions but where are the answers to these questions?
    What is “ask me anything” if you didn’t want to reply?

    Just looking for attention and more referral bonuses?

  12. @Tom I have been writing standalone posts with answers to questions, the goal wasn’t to construct detailed and thoughtful replies in the comments.

  13. Husband and I both have United cc and each of us have enough points to booked our RT EWR to HNL. Are there any advantages or disadvantages to booking individually RT versus each of us booking one ways for one direction?

  14. I seem to remember that Delta used to have round-the-world award tickets at something like 180k coach and 280k business. Do they or any other airline or alliance do this sort of thing anymore?

  15. Gary — Can you suggest any routes using award miles to book a trip from the East Coast to Aukland, NZ, with a layover in Kona (or, alternatively, one in Honolulu)? Thanks!

  16. @Christian just look to programs that still price based on distance, the problem is that most are quite pricey and several have moved away from distance (ana, asiana).

  17. Gary I have about 400,000 American miles and want to take family, including grandkids, to Hawaii in June, 2016. Need total of 7 tickets round trip from Indianapolis and prefer to go to Maui. Because of school kids it my be June. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  18. I follow your blog and others, but frankly the complexity of trying to figure out how to most effectively use my miles is mind blowing. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but I have a life and don’t want to spend it all on this! Booking domestic tickets is easy, I just go to AA, UA and DL to see what is open. But when I used BA miles on international business class, I swear I spent 40 hours trying to figure out how to get availability. Makes me not even want to try. So what is really the best way for a non-expert to play around with what seats might be available?

    I know there are 3rd party applications to help out. I downloaded one once, and OMG, assembly language programming is easy compared to that. Which website or software will really help and are worth it?

    Note that if I had a specific trip I needed to take, I’d just hire you to figure out the best use of my miles, but normally it’s more like I get an idea and want to know what is feasible. I do Home Exchanges, and have people from around the world who want to trade homes with me, and I need to easily figure out how long it would take and how much it would cost to get to their locaiton.

  19. When I travel I usually have to fly in the economy section. Within the last week I took a trip to Dublin and noticed something. On larger jets the economy section is often separated in the middle by a bulkhead and/or toilets. For some reason I never get a seat in front of that bulkhead. I realize that many airlines now offer some premium economy seats, but I don’t think that whole front section is premium. Why am I always in the back?

    *This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I am actually interested in what is so special about that section of economy.

  20. Hope its not too late to ask a question here. How does Australia’s smartgate system work? I know you can use it if you have US global entry. Thanks.

  21. Is it possible to have a free upgrade with an award ticket on Delta if I am an spg gold? If possible, when is the earliest that I can request it? Thanks Gary!

  22. hi Gary, can i use united miles to book flights from chicago to sao paolo on united, then from sao paolo to Rio on one award ticket? Thanks.

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