Readers may recall MummyAirmiles was on holiday in South America last year, taking in a private tour followed by a cruise. Such was the enjoyment of the cruise that she booked up a trip from Costa Rica to San Diego in January 2018. The plan was to book the flights independently (INV-LGW-SJO, SAN-LHR-INV) using the BA American Express 2for1 voucher.
I started looking at the trends for flight availability in January 2017, knowing that I Needed to book on a specific date to bag the CW seats to San Jose. BA make 2 Club World and 4 World Traveler seats available on all flights, and sometimes more, including First and World Traveler Plus, depending on how bookings are going. Seats are made available at T-355 days from midnight.
Availability was patchy and I was getting anxious that I might not secure the seats. The thought of sitting in economy for over 11 hours was making me break out in a sweat and already I wasn’t sleeping well.
I seemed to recall that the last time I booked an open jaw, I phoned up and tagged on both domestic legs at the same time as securing the homeward bound flight, so I planned to do the same this time.
When it came to T-355 days, I was on the computer well before midnight, making sure all details required were typed in, credit card to hand, refreshing the page at intervals, with heart racing and fingers twitching. Bingo! Club World seats available, bagged, sorted, paid for, confirmation email by 0005. Boy! Was I pleased and relieved?!
A few days later, I thought I better phone up BA and tie in the Inverness to LHR domestic flight. Apparently I could have booked this at the same time as booking my San Jose flight. Because I now wanted to add this, this constituted a change to the ticket and thus would cost a phone fee and change fee and some more, to the extent that BA wanted £91 per person to ensure the domestic leg was on the same PNR as the San Jose flight. No chance! A normal flight was £62 each and as a silver BAEC member, I get the enhanced luggage allowance and lounge access. Or I could book a RFS at 8000 Avios and £35 for 2 of us. The disadvantage is luggage needs to be collected at LHR and is not ticketed all the way through. On this occasion it is not a problem, as we are overnighting in London anyway, and the SJO flight leaves from Gatwick! It’s just inconvenient. However, I was unaware that I could book the domestic leg at the same time as the long haul outward bound flight – so lesson learned!
So, a few days to rest, before gearing myself up to phone BA to book the inbound flight from San Diego. My contingency plan in the event that there were no Club World seats available, would be to hire a car one way to LAX (2 hour drive) and get either a Club World or First seat on one of 2 flights leaving for LHR. I was marginally more relaxed!
There had been a lot of discussion on Head for Points in January about using overseas BA booking agents at midnight to book the inbound flight on 241 voucher. You have to phone up and book as this cannot be done online. However, people had been reporting that agents were refusing to book for UK customers, as they were inundated by US customers, and telling people to phone when the UK offices opened in the morning, thereby disadvantaging UK customers who potentially were losing out on seats.
So, I put credit onto my Skype account as people said it was cheaper to use Skype than normal phones. I researched what phone number I should use US? Japan? Even BA agents were giving me different numbers to phone! I seemed to gather an amazing array of numbers with no one number being pinpointed as the one to use.
So, it came to pass, I skyped at 11.45 pm giving myself time to get connected, clear security questions and explain what I wanted. I thought I was phoning a US number, but ended up speaking to a very nice Indian lady in deepest India who was happy to stay online waiting for the seats to drop after midnight, but was actually 5 am for her! I got straight through, no delay and no hassle. The 2 Club World seats were bagged, Avios and extra cash calculated, a check of Manage My Booking to see all was in order, and a pleasant farewell 20 minutes later! And my Skype credit hadn’t budged!
Relief! However, she couldn’t book the domestic return to Inverness as those seats weren’t yet available, and a check of the San Diego flights on the day showed no reward availability in any cabin. So, Just as well I stayed up and booked at midnight as I would have been thoroughly annoyed if I’d lost out on seats because I had to wait a further 8 hours for UK offices to open.
I found it quite stressful tying in my flights to particular days. Much prefer to be flexible and then work the holiday around the flight bookings. I don’t recall having the amount of stress when booking last year’s trip to Rio in First, tying in with tour and cruise and getting domestic flights added, as well as a oneworld LATAM flight from Santiago to Rio.
I still have a 241 voucher in hand and a decent stash of Avios……where will we go next?!