The Traveling Professor's tips for buying airline tickets with award miles are simple. They save time, money, and hassles.
When to Buy: Airline tickets usually become available 330 days before the scheduled flight date. In many cases, the most award flights are available then. However, more tickets may become available about 30 days before a flight.
Redeem Each Way Separately: Don't buy a round trip flight with award points or miles. Buy the outbound flight separate from the return flight. If you purchase a round-trip ticket and you need to change only the outbound flight for example, the entire ticket may need to be cancelled. But then once it is cancelled, it is possible that the return flight is no longer available as an award flight. But if you purchased an outbound flight and then the return flight separately, if you modify the outbound flight for example, the return flight still stays unchanged. The amount of miles or points used to purchase a round trip ticket is almost the same as purchasing an outbound and return flight separately, so there are no extra miles or points needed to purchase separate tickets.
Use Miles or Points to Purchase the Middle Seat: If traveling with a partner, it is certainly a pleasure for both of you to occupy 3 seats in a 3-across configuration. For instance, when flying with my travel partner, she sits at the window and I sit in the aisle and the middle seat is empty giving us plenty of room. We purchase that window and aisle seat with money (and we earn the flight miles) but purchase the middle seat with miles or points.
Don't Route an Award Mile Flight Through London: Most of the time, the taxes on a flight booked with award miles will be almost as much, and in some cases exceed, the cost of buying a ticket with cash. Sounds ridiculous, right? But it's true.
Travel Insurance: Some credit card companies that normally provide travel insurance will not provide insurance if tickets are purchased with miles or points. Check with your credit card company. In any case, travel insurance may be purchased separately.
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