I wrote Part 1: Patagonia and Thailand for $78.60 using the cheap one-way trick. Here’s how I nearly lost it.
When I called United to piece together my itinerary, I was not entirely sure the routing would work. I knew the computer let me book the routing with a standard award flight from NYC to Bangkok, but not with the saver award flight. Still, I wasn’t sure if an agent could book it and how many miles I might ultimately need.
I had some miles in my United Mileage Plus account and planned to transfer over the difference from my Chase Ultimate Rewards balance. Chase Ultimate Rewards and United are partners. These points transfer 1:1 between Chase and United. Typically, I like to keep my points in a flexible program like Chase Ultimate Rewards to have more transfer options for future travel plans. I transfer the points when I need them.
The United phone agent quoted my itinerary at 80,000 miles and $78.60 in taxes and fees. I explained I needed to transfer miles and asked if the itinerary could be put on hold, which the agent agreed to do. The agent gave me a confirmation number and also emailed the itinerary to me, which showed all the flights, the mileage, and the taxes and fees. The agent explained I had until 11:59pm of that day to call back and complete the reservation.
I shouldn’t have asked the agent to put the itinerary on hold. I shouldn’t have hung up. What was I thinking?!
Here’s why. First, I should have remembered that Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United almost instantly. I should have transferred the points while I was on the phone with the agent. I am certain the agent would have seen the transfer and completed my booking.
Second, you never know what kind of agent will pick up the phone when you call back.
After hanging up, I quickly transferred the necessary amount of Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my United account, which transferred instantly. I called United back, gave the phone agent my confirmation number, and explained I needed to complete the booking now that my points had transferred.
From the moment she saw my itinerary, she questioned whether or not it was a legal routing. She said she needed to get her supervisor.
Blood rushed from my face and formed a pit in my stomach. Now this was going to take work. Ugh!
I should have followed the advice of so many other miles and points bloggers, like Million Miles Secrets, Frugal Travel Guy, The Points Guy, and Mommy Points and simply hung up. I could have called back for a different agent. But, the word “supervisor” made me nervous. What if my itinerary was flagged, making it obvious that other agents should question it, too.
I said OK and I was put on hold. The phone call proceeded to go back and forth for over an hour. The agent explained that her supervisor, as well as people in “other departments,” were checking the routing rules and the validity of my itinerary.
Finally, the supervisor came on the line and said the stopover needed to be in the middle of my trip. I knew this wasn’t true. I’ve seen many examples of itineraries with a stopover at the beginning or end of a trip because of the need to be at your home airport.
I politely disagreed with her stating what I knew about stopovers. She also discussed the “problem” of the different zones my itinerary touched. Yet, she could not state any specific rule that prohibited this routing.
She also asked if the booking agent had any troubles creating the itinerary, to which I answered no because the mileage he quoted was stated instantly after he entered in the final flight details.
I continued by saying I would never have transferred the miles over had I thought there would be a problem and that I planned to use my United Mileage Plus Explorer card to pay the taxes and fees.
Just like that…I mean an hour later, the supervisor came back on the line, completed the reservation, and ticketed me! The itinerary did not change, nor did the amount of miles or taxes and fees.
- You can get incredible value from your miles and points when you take advantage of any stopovers and open jaws allowed by your airline. Whether you add another city to your vacation or add a one-way to the beginning or end, there are interesting opportunities to consider and value to maximize. Here’s an informative post by The Points Guy about which airlines allow stopovers and open jaws on award tickets.
- If the airline agent on the phone is knowledgeable, do everything possible to get your itinerary booked with that person. This is especially true if your itinerary takes advantage of stopovers, open jaws, or tricky multi-city bookings.
Do you have questions about how to put together an itinerary that includes stopovers and open jaws to maximize your miles and points? Leave me a comment below so I can help you out!