We’re doing a ‘big’ trip in the spring of 2015 – flying from here (Honolulu, actually) to Singapore, picking up a Holland America 14 day cruise round trip from Singapore that will spend two nights and almost three days in Yangon – which used to be Rangoon, in Myanmar, which used to be Burma.
I can’t help but feel that my elementary school, and even my college, geography classes were pretty much a waste of time and memorization since hardly anything in Africa and very little in Asia is what I learned way back then. But I digress. After the cruise, we will fly from Singapore to Siem Reap and spend a few days exploring Angkor Wat, then back to Singapore and then home again.
Since we put all our remodel expenses on the United Airlines affiliate card, we had quite a bit of accumulated miles and, unlike my usual practice, I decided to book award tickets for our flights instead of using the miles for upgrades – in large part because there weren’t any particularly good flights available for upgrades and in part because it took almost as much mileage (and a lot more money) for the upgrades as for a saver award flight.
The award flights were from Honolulu to Narita, Narita to Singapore, and back, with the Singapore to Siem Reap on a separate itinerary. When I booked the award flights, I had to do Dennis’ and mine separately because we each had enough miles in our accounts for just one first/business saver ticket. I booked Dennis’ first and it went through, no problems, with the initial flight from Honolulu to Narita on United and the ‘middle’ flight Narita-Singapore-Narita on ANA, a United affiliate. Then I changed accounts and by the time I had gotten logged in and was booking my flight, the available award seats in Business/First for the ANA flight were gone. So, I ended up booking myself in the cattle car for those two 7 hour plus flights while Dennis was safely ensconced in Business.
I had considerable conversation with the United representative about what options I had, and she suggested that I check daily to see if anything opened up as, she told me, inventory moves into and out of the available award seats all the time. This was back in May.
Faithfully, every single morning with my coffee, I have been checking the availability of Business/First award seats for Narita to Singapore and return. Today, lo and behold, a pair of First Class seats opened on a United flight from Singapore to Narita on our date! So, thinking I would likely end up paying a fortune in change fees, additional miles and so forth, I called to see what it would take to change the flights.
I got lucky – really really lucky – and got a fabulous agent. At first, she said “It will take more miles…” then she said, “wait a few minutes and let me see what I can do.” And she put me on hold.
Time passed as the United theme played in my ear. I grabbed my IPad and started to read, with the phone propped up to my ear. I let out the dogs. I made another cup of coffee. I let the dogs back in. Still the United theme. Finally, she came back on the line and said “I need your credit card number.” I said “Wait, how much is it going to be and how many extra miles – I might just take a chance on an upgrade at the gate!” She said “Oh, I don’t think you’re going to want to do that – it is three eight-one each.” I said “three hundred and eight one dollars?” She said “No, three dollars and eighty one cents.” I said “How many extra miles?” She said “Oh, I was able to make it work with the existing award miles!” Much profuse thanks later, for an additional $7.62, we have a better flight, on a better airplane leaving at a better time. Patience and persistence can pay off – especially if you get really lucky, too!
Am I going to keep watching for that outbound Narita to Singapore leg? You bet!!