Now that the credit cards are applied for, the money has been spent and the points have posted, I was sitting and wondering, what do I do with these points. I did not want to spend them right away but I wanted to just go out and do some award searches in real life and see how it feels. Can I get the better of the airlines ?
One such opportunity came along last week when my friend called and said he needs help with his Honeymoon ticket planning. He wanted to use his miles and not money. It was like dream come true for me.
So here were the challenge parameters:
1. Travel from Delhi (India) to Manila (Phillipines)
2. Tickets were costing Rs. 74,000, return (that’s $ 1233, for the forex challenged).
3. We had some BA Avios (70k approx.) and some Miles and More points (50k approx.), which we could use. Throw in some more Jet Privilege miles. Period. No other miles.
4. The dates were not very far out (Feb 2014). But we had the flexibility of a few days here and there. No fixed dates agenda.
So my friend did the first round of award searching. As it turns out, there are no direct flights from DEL to MNL. And so it began.
The obvious thing to do was look at the BA website. The only option that came up was Cathay Pacific, with their huge surcharges. The flight was via Hong Kong and the total was coming to 80000 Avios plus taxes of Rs. 44000 ($733). That seemed like a bad deal from whichever angle I choose to look at it. Plus we din have 80k Avios. We looked at using Miles and more, came to some ridiculous number of miles. Jet Miles were only useful till Hong Kong, with more ridiculous tax.
We tried searching BA again. Same old Cathay Pacific. No Malaysia airlines, no JAL. Just when I thought we are out of options, it struck me. BA was pricing the flights individually. So I could do the same. And we struck gold (well silver..!!). We looked for a DEL HKG and HKG MNL. The result wasn’t much different.
But now that I knew I could do it, we tried again. This time DEL KUL and KUL MNL. And Jackpot. Now I had Malaysia Airlines result, just like I wanted. Net result: 90k Avios and Rs 13,000 ($216). Now we were getting somewhere. We were just short of 20k Avios. Thanks to BA miles+cash chart, this wasn’t much of a problem. I was borderline orgasmic.
End result – 70K Avios + Rs. 28,000 ($466) and we had ourselves a honeymoon ticket, with a sweet 3 day layover in Kuala Lumpur. The trick was to break the sectors, into individual sectors. We tried JAL too, but the tax was too much again. The avios gave us a Rs. 0.67 value (1.1 cent). Given what the prime objective was (save money), I think we did a decent job.
How would you have done it ? Do you think we could have or still can do it better ?