Award Trips

My Guilty Secret

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At Frequent Traveler University last month this question came up over lunch: Should you book your own award travel or pay someone else to do it?

keri sample award trip map

Several of us had attended Ben’s (of One Mile at a Time) sessions on booking award travel that morning. It was a great overview of what programs are best for what regions, where some of the better redemption values are, as well as quirks to each program to be aware of.

Its a lot to learn and dig into, is it worth it?

Korean Airlines First Class IAD-ICN Seat KeriMy guilty secret is that I’ve booked very few of my amazing First Class award trips, instead relying on booking services or good friends who enjoy doing it and know far more about it than I ever will. So sometimes I feel a little bit like a travel fraud but I’m honest with myself.

I get very little personal satisfaction out of figuring out all the ins and outs of multiple airline programs. At times it even exhausts and overwhelms me, which negates the whole point of taking the trip to begin with.

Most booking services only charge a few hundred bucks and can figure far better flight times and carriers than is available on your airline website of choice. They may even be able to help you maximize your stopovers (getting to stop in a city other than your destination). And if you contact them far enough in advance they can often help you figure out how many miles you need to have and in what programs.

Several hundred dollars is not cheap, but if you’ve spent several months or years building up your balance for this dream trip, isn’t it worth it to get the best you can and with minimum hassle?

So if like me, you’d rather spend your time choosing hotels and tours or doing anything else, an award booking service for your flights might be a good option. I’ve been thrilled with the itineraries from BookYourAward.com, including an upcoming one where I’ll be trying out Etihad First Class.

Do you love the thrill of finding your own flights or do you prefer to spend your time on other aspects of trip planning?

Disclaimer: I receive no  compensation or perks from BookYourAward.com, I’ve just been pretty thrilled with what they’ve been able to put together for me and would recommend them to friends and family!

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4 Comments

  1. Margit A

    January 17, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I’ve done both. And used one service I would not recommend. And one that I would recommend but still did not get what I wanted. I have had to purchase a lot of “legs” to have a complete trip. So if possible do it your self to get the trip YOU want… Better to spend your money going to FTU and getting help…

    • Sandra

      May 6, 2015 at 12:03 am

      Margit A, can you tell me which service you would NOT use? Thanks

  2. Mark

    May 14, 2015 at 5:39 am

    Avoid BookYourAward.com – it all seems great until they start to claim a segment is no longer bookable, then another. When all is done you end up getting a super simple booking you could have found yourself and still have to pay out of pocket to get a good trip. Then you have to purchase all the other segments separately. Fast cash > customers.

    • Marilyn

      May 28, 2015 at 1:05 am

      I was looking forward to using bookyouraward.com; I did my research and read many glowing reviews. I started 11 months out and had plenty of miles for my two European tickets so I was perplexed when I they offered me a) Boston to Dublin with me having to pay out of pocket to get across the country to Boston and — a week later, b) Houston to Toronto to London to Dublin. When I declined THAT option, they said they would try again in a week. I asked them to not wait a week as I needed to start working on other reservations and I asked if I could get a flight with perhaps just ONE transfer, if possible. I was polite. They stated that because I ” changed the parameters of my requirements” – they could no longer help me. I was cancelled! I booked my own (one transfer) flight myself. I hope the owner of this service pays attention to what his employees are doing. This is horrible customer service.

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