Just been looking at using my United miles and have noticed they have cut the Saver days way back. Has anyone else noticed this. May go back to American.
I did notice somewhat but still managed to score saver 1st class to Paris. Fortunately my dates were very flexible as was my destination - pretty much any city in Europe would have worked for this trip. I had looked months earlier and there were more - I usually try a year in advance this time it was about 7 months and the choices were fewer than they were a few months ago.
On a prior trip and a future trip using miles, we initially secured acceptable itineraries and seats. There is zero consideration when flights change and/or originally assigned seats together are at best scattered or told to just show up at the airport to learn if we're on the flights. There's a disquieting pattern now two times in a row. My strategy has shifted from playing the mileage game to seek cash back and use money to purchase airline tickets or other travel purchases.
I've had a different experience. I've had good luck using United miles to Europe because they have so many good partners - Air Canada, Lufthansa, Brussels Air and several others. Once I book my ticket, I've been treated well; there has never been any indication that my ticket is anything less than a confirmed ticket with full rights; and have been able to reserve seats at time of booking.
On the other hand, I have some American miles that I have been trying to use for Europe and I find their availability horrible. And even when they do show availability, it usually involves British Air, which charges an obscene surcharge to use miles on their flights.
Do you have status with United? I mean beyond mile collector basic frequent flyer program level? If not, you will find very few if any saver seats available. As you move up the ranks, more and more saver seats become available. I made the 1K level for the first time for this year (thank all the flying I have to do for work) and am just wowed by how many saver flights to popular destinations suddenly are available that were not there the day before I reached 1K.
United purposely holds back saver flights for their higher level frequent flyers. Can't blame them because they want to make sure those who actually really fly vs collect miles through other methods can get a seat when they want one.
It is true that British Airways has very high fees associated with tickets booked with American Airlines frequent flyer miles, but it is not all what it seems. If my memory serves me well, it is the government of the United Kingdom that levies the highest of the assorted Air Taxes, Air Passenger Duty Taxes, and Passenger Service Charges per passenger. They are the Global leader. The airports tack on Passenger Service charges as well (LHR is an additional $50-$60 per visit).
So if you are British Airways what do you do? You pass it on to your passengers. If you are taking off or landing at a U.K. airport on your way to/from the the U.S. and other countries in Europe, it is the U.K. government that is picking your pocket. As an example, I have seen some figures that indicate that $150- $300 (depending on class of service) is charged each way for the privilege of landing in the U.K. on your way to Paris from Seattle (my local hub). I am not being a cheerleader for AA or BA, but they are getting the blame for a lack of transparency in how these charges are blended into the ticket price.
josyntha makes a good point, and got me thinking. She is right that LHR / UK airport fees are very high, and are a reason not to fly thru / out of London if there is an alternative. But it seemed to me that BA's fees are so high they couldn't be only because of UK taxes / airport fees. So I did a sample booking using miles from LHR to the US on each airline BA and AA to compare. Then, all the tax and fee detail is shown. Result:
UK passenger / airport fee per person on both BA and American is $140 - much higher than other European airports. But when the flight is BA, BA also adds an extra $124 per person 'carrier fee'. This is not a government or airport tax, just an additional fee that BA is adding that goes to them. josyntha, thanks for mentioning!
Try looking for saver on off season. Yes it is getting much tougher to score a miles tix. With all the bonus miles etc they re giving for this or that it is no wonder.
We all are feeling very ordinary these days regardless of how many miles we have accurred. Loyalty i fear is a thing of the past on both sides.
Sometimes i feel like it will just be a memory of things past.
Hope u can find a gd airline to be loyal with. I have also noted that my seats have changed when i book months ahead. It seems they arbitarily chg my seat from an aisle to a middle seat. Terribly dishonest imo, it has happened at least 2 x to myself and traveling partner.
American is getting worse too. I am generally able to use the savers and get a business class ticket to Europe. This year was very tough. There were no American flights, basically just Briitish airways where it would have been $1000 in fees. I checked every day for two months straight and ended up getting a flight in finnair which had more reasonable fees.
Gary, I recently successfully booked with United miles, 60,000 miles round trip, west coast to Europe, economy. About 4 1/2 months in advance. I too think the secret is having so many good partner airlines, then spending some intensive time on the computer finding schedules that work. My flights are United, connecting at Heathrow, then TAP to Lisbon. My return from Athens is on Turkish Air all the way, with a good connection in Istanbul.
The problem with BA is not the high UK taxes. You would pay that regardless of the airline you fly if you are departing from the UK which is when the taxes hit. The problem is that BA levies the fuel surcharges on frequent flyer awards which almost none of the US carriers do. The exception is Delta which imposes fuel surcharges if your ticket is originating in Europe or if you buy the Europe-US segment as a one way ticket.
I think if you do a consistent check across the board for award availability, UA will beat AA hands down. AA used to be very good in the past but now is pretty bad especially on their own flights. A lot of times when trying to use my AA miles, the only thing that is available is flights on BA which have the massive fuel surcharges.
Other things to keep in mind - BA charges for seat assignments. Also, BA has started charging for food on their intra Europe flights. They are even charging for hot water (should you try and bring your own tea bags onboard).
I prefer United as I can usually purchase an economy flight at a low cost and then use miles to upgrade to business class. In 2017, the fee is $550 + 20K miles one way to/from Europe/US, but if you wait to within a few days of your departure and the demand is low, they will sometimes offer the upgrade for miles only - no fee.