Triangle Trip

Checklist for buying an international ticket

by coach on Apr.09, 2009, under Airlines, Business Travel, Vacation



Now you’ve secured that vacation time, what do you look for when buying an international ticket? For us seasoned travelers, there are only two factors - airline and price. Since each of us have already aligned with a specific airline, our choices probably falls with our primary airline and all of its alliance partners. And of course, since this vacation (unless you’re  Madoff) is not exactly on an expense account, every dollar counts! So looking for the best combination of airline and price becomes a science and a work of art. Does this mean you should click on that “purchase now” button once you found cheapest flight operated by your airline/partners? Not just yet! Check out the following tips to make sure you have fully maximized your purchase!

1.  Co-share - As you price out your ticket, the airline that you see on your itinerary may not actually be the actual carrier. What does this mean? Typically, it’s a partner airline operating the route but using your favorite airline as the label!  Have you even see an UAL flight from LAX - PEK? A quick check on the UAL site says it’s UAL #4456. Look closer, you’ll see it’s actually not UAL, but an Air China operated flight. So what now? To me, this is more of a personal preference. Co-shared flights will still give you the full potential of earning miles and alliance benefits. But every airline (especially foreign) operates differently - age of aircraft, crew experience and expertise, service, cabin configuration, food options, movie options, just to name a few. So do your research and homework before jumping on that co-share flight!

2.  Earn miles - Yes, make sure to earn your miles for your trip!!! This may sound easy, buy a ticket and give the agency/airline your frequent flyer number and you’re set, right?  Not exactly! Depending on your class of ticket, there are actually tickets that do not earn miles. The adage you get what you pay for comes in play here. If it’s too good and too cheap to be true, you may want to double check the class of ticket with the airline. So before you buy that ticket, inquire or look for the class of the ticket (H, Y, K, W, etc).  It varies among airlines, but call them directly to ensure that your ticket class allows you to earn your miles!

3.  Upgradable - We all worked hard to earn our miles. The best redemption for miles? Upgrades! International upgrades to be exact!! Real business class seats, legroom, reclining seats, special meals, and most importantly, that curtain to keep out the riff raffs! Of course in order to enjoy these amenities you must be willing to part with your miles. Ironically, and this has happened to me on several occasions, the airline may not want to take your miles! Conspiracy? Miles dilution? Not exactly. It’s all due to the class of ticket. Just like earning miles above, there are several class of ticket that are not upgradable. So do your math and homework. Find out if your class of ticket is upgradeable and if not, which classes are. Upgradable tickets usually cost a little more, but it might be worth your while to redeem those miles.

    Now you can click on that “purchase now” button! Safe travels!

    -coach

     
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    1 comment for this entry:
    1. Use your United airline miles to upgrade to beat point inflation - Triangle Trip

      [...] Vacation Before booking an international ticket on United, I went through the Coach’s “Checklist for buying an international ticket.” In addition to the checklist, I went to UAL’s upgrade award chart and noticed UAL [...]

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