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TPG Reader Sara sent me this message on Facebook:
“I’m trying to book a flight from Chicago to Rome using AAdvantage miles. The direct flight is only available when I search for one passenger, but not for two. If I buy the award flight for myself, will another spot open up?”
Italy is a top tourist destination, so it can often be difficult to redeem frequent flyer miles for SAAver level tickets, especially during peak travel periods. I just helped my parents use Delta SkyMiles to book Business class Alitalia awards, and they had to settle for some weird dates and layovers. The way I was able to book their trip was by setting ExpertFlyer alerts so that I would instantly be emailed when Alitalia released award availability, which is always at the Delta Saver level. I was then able to immediately call and book to take that availability before anyone else (which is why I love ExpertFlyer).
Sara is hoping to book two tickets from Chicago to Rome, but only sees one spot available, and is wondering whether she should book it and wait for another seat to open up.
Will another ticket open up? The answer depends on a number of factors that American Airlines isn’t going to let us know, like how well the flight is selling, what level of competition there is, and what else is happening behind the scenes. Availability may open up, and it may not. One option would be to book the second ticket at a mid or high award level, and then set an ExpertFlyer alert for SAAver availability. If that availability opens up, you can call and cancel the other award, and re-book at the SAAver level–it will probably be worth it to pay the fees to get back those miles you would save. If not, at least you still get to take your trip to Rome using miles, even though you probably used more than you had originally hoped.
In conclusion, be flexible, keep checking back on the site, and of course set those ExpertFlyer alerts. You can’t predict whether the seats you want will open up, but you can at least take steps to make sure that if it does, you’ll be the one to get it.