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My family is going to Disney World in a few months right after school gets out. I planned to use miles and points for our flights, and our biggest stash is in Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
We can use these points in the Chase travel portal to book almost any flight. Or, we could transfer to United, Southwest, or British Airways.
For the past 6 months, I’ve been watching the flight prices. They’ve been sky high for our dates. Well actually, I found sub-$200 fares. But, the flight times were terrible. We would have had a connection and landed in Orlando after 1 a.m. Our plan for the next day is a full park-to-park day at Universal, so that arrival time is not ideal. Flights with our desired times were hovering around $400+ round-trip. I knew we could do better than that! I decided to wait.
I’ve been checking Google Flights and Southwest for cash prices and AA.com for award flights. Finally yesterday, the waiting paid off.
Booking AA Award Flights Using Chase Ultimate Rewards
I found a MileSAAver award on aa.com last night with availability for my entire family. It was a direct flight from DFW to Orlando. This must have just popped up yesterday, as I’ve been checking the site regularly. I quickly checked on British Airways (partner of AA) to see if the flight also showed available to book on Avios. It did. The flight was 12,500 AA miles, but only 9000 BA Avios. (If I had booked the same flight through the Chase travel portal, it would have cost around 14,000 Chase UR points).
Why didn’t I just keep looking at BA.com for available flights? The AA website is a lot easier to see award flights, in my opinion.
I transferred points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to BA to book the flights. The transfer was instant. Unfortunately, the BA site gave me an error when I tried to complete the award flight booking. I tried to book it on different computers and browsers, only to get the same error. I called British Airways, but unfortunately customer service was closed for the. night.
Fortunately, the flight was still available this morning. A friendly BA rep booked the flight over the phone for me. I booked myself with my kids for 36,000 BA Avios + $22.40 in taxes. I booked my husband with his AA miles since he had a small balance and we wanted to conserve our Chase UR points for the return flights.
I’m surprised that nonstop MileSAAver flight became available at 3 months out. Now we just have to figure out how to get home. I plan to keep checking for MileSAAver awards, but I’m also hoping that Spirit Airlines goes down in price for our return flight. It has a late evening flight that would allow us to spend our last day at Disney Springs before heading to the airport. We could still use our Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book flights with Spirit in the Chase travel portal.
Does Waiting to Book Make Sense?
Finding five award tickets for the same flight isn’t easy. I’ve had luck booking big international trips at 11 months out. Thankfully, because we’re using flexible points for this trip, I felt like we could afford to hold out and wait for better flights. Hopefully, our luck will hold off for our return flights.
Have you had luck booking award flights just a few months prior to travel? Or, do you typically book 6-11 months out?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.