Sunday Reader Question: Best Way to Book Award Travel During Peak Periods Like the Olympics
TPG reader Moira writes:
"I'm recently into points and took your advice and picked a goal to work towards. I am trying to go to the 2012 Olympics in London. My question is: What are your thoughts on using your points for high travel events (ie. World Cup, Olympics, Super Bowl etc)? I watched your clip yesterday about getting last minute award travel because airlines will open up unused seats for award booking as the date approaches. If you were wanting to use your miles to get to an event would you book early or late? Would you even try to use hotel points or would the demand block you out?"
Definitely use your points for peak period events! The thing is, you'll probably just have to get creative. Flying on non-stops into London on peak days will probably be difficult to get at the "low" award levels, but I checked on Continental/United and there is Star Alliance availability via Brussels and Frankfurt on many days. You could also fly into Paris and Chunnel to London. You could also try availability into Manchester/Dublin and find cheaper ways to get to London.
I'd recommend booking in advance, because things will likely sell out as the event nears. Most businesses doing business with the Olympics won't buy tickets for employees until closer to the event and if you book your award before tickets go on sale to the general public, you should have a better shot at snagging availability.
In general, my main tip is to be creative! First find availability onto the continent and then try to get to your final destination. In general, finding intra-European availability is much better than trans-Atlantic.
Additionally, airlines do open up tons of last minute award seats, but I wouldn't bank on it during special events like the Super Bowl. Instead, plan ahead and book the award seats before the airline and general public can snatch them from you. Travel is an adventure - embrace it!