BOOKING REWARDS SEATS

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This topic contains 21 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  wanula1 29 Mar 2010
at 01:32
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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 22 total)

  • Anonymous

    jammydodger0905
    Participant

    CAN ANYONE TELL ME HOW ON EARTH ONE IS SUPPOSED TO BOOK A REWARD FLIGHT USING BMI MILES?

    I HAVE TRIED FOR 5 MONTHS FROM NOW, 9 MONTHS FROM NOW AND NEXT YEAR WAS HOPING TO BOOK 2 ROUND THE WORLD TICKETS FOR MY HONEYMOON, BUT LOOKING 12 MONTHS FROM NOW, WHICH IS THE EARLIEST ONE CAN BOOK, THERE ARE NO SEATS AVAILABLE!!!

    EVERY TIME I HAVE TRIED I AM TOLD “SORRY THERE ARE NO SEATS AVAILABLE ON THOSE DAYS”

    HELP!!!!


    yahoo1000
    Participant

    i have had trouble to, but its the bmi staff. i find them very unhelpfull. they dont try different ways or routes. tell me your routing, dates and i will see what i can do.


    VintageKrug
    Participant

    Welcome jammydodger0905!

    You may find it easier if you hit the CAPS LOCK key as posting in capitals is not really good form 😉 as CAPS are used to signify shouting on t’interweb.

    Now, booking Round the World (RTW) trips is very complicated, even when paying for them, and I would imagine trying to find redemption availability and ticketing such a fare is very complex, almost impossible if you plan to travel with a companion.

    If booking far in advance, some star alliance carriers release their award inventory at different time to others, it may be hard to ticket the whole itinerary without waiting for the last release of seats, by which time earlier released or more popular routes may be gone.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the agent just couldn’t be bothered to even try; it would take them at least an hour on the phone with you, and the calculation of taxes and access to lots of different airline systems even with the star alliance would be a nightmare.

    Personally, I think using miles to purchase RTW fares is rather a waste as purchasing these fares represents terrific value for money, and is a great way to earn both miles and status. Often enough miles to fund another holiday off the back of the RTW trip!

    Remember you will have a significant charge for fees and taxes even when you redeem these miles, so it’s not truly free, and you will not earn any miles flying RTW on a redemption.

    Paid RTW fares are also fully flexible (limited only by some restrictive fare buckets on the most heavily travelled routes).

    If you were to book using miles, it is likely the flexibility would be lost as it would be difficult to re-ticket last minute into award buckets.

    Dependent on your routing, certain key sectors will be VERY hard to ticket (eg LON-SYD, SYD-LAX) as an award, especially if there are two of you travelling together. With the complexity of such a fare even if you find award availability, it could be gone by the time the agent can confirm the rest of the routing and ticket it.

    It is not impossible to do, but you need to help the agent by being very well prepared. And you need a very skilled agent who knows what they are doing.

    1. Keep the number of sectors to a minimum. I wouldn’t even try if you plan more that 8 sectors.

    2. Know your exact route, including airlines/flight number and departure/arrivals time and prepare to be flexible on dates (something a tight RTW schedule may not allow).

    3. Use the ANA tool (a star alliance airline which allows you to see partner airline’s award availability of you join their FF scheme) to see what flights are available for redemption so you can help the agent by selecting the flights which you know have award seats in the class you want – you will need to do this right before you call bmi to ensure the info you have is current.

    Sites like http://www.flyertalk.com have a whole forum dedicated to this sort of thing, with more expertise than I could offer on this point.

    My advice is to go there, use http://www.staralliance.com to research your routing, then check availability options as best you can using the ANA tool (google for the link) and then call bmi again, letting them know you have already done most of the legwork.

    I have found bmi agents very helpful in the past, but there is a limit to their knowledge, and also the time they can spend with any one customer; this really is at the edge of most agent’s experience I would imagine so unless the agent is confident in both his/her ability and your homework, it probably is better just calling back for another agent, notwithstanding all the other barriers which make this a tall order.

    I assume you will be redeeming in business or first class, otherwise this use of miles is frankly a total waste. You may still be surprised how cost-effective these RTW fares are in Business Class – travel agents like Trailfinders specialise in these trips and can cut great deals, depending on your planned route.

    Really, it would be much better to purchase the ticket, especially as you don’t want anything to go wrong for such a special trip.

    I understand you must have been saving your miles for a long time for this trip, but you will most likely find a great redemption deal for your post honeymoon trip next year, perhaps a longhaul in F to the USA or South East Asia which would be a much better use of the miles you have accrued.

    Sites like http://www.thegreatescapade.com allow you to plan a trip, and even doing that gives you an understanding of the complexities and myriad options you will have to anticipate when planning and/or redeeming your RTW trip.

    Do let us know how you get on.


    EternalOptimist
    Participant

    Vintage Krug

    What a delight to see a calm, reasoned , generous and helpful reply

    Thank you


    tipster
    Participant

    I sympathise with you regarding the BMI miles. I collected 200,000 bmi miles and wanted to redeem them for 2 Virgin Upper Class flights to Orlando. I called the BMI Diamond Club and after numerous dates were rejected with ‘no availability’ I actually said to the person at Diamond Club ‘please find me 2 Upper Class seats on ANY Virgin flight to Orlando, from ANY UK airport for ANY date in May, June or July 2008’. This was in September 2007. I was again told ‘no availability’. With at least 3 daily flights from Manchester/Gatwick I was basically being told that they couldn’t find 2 seats on around 300 flights! In the end we had to fly to Miami and even then it was tough to get seats. I believe that this was because I was trying to redeem miles with a ‘partner’ airline, probably would have been easier if I had collected Virgin Flying Club Miles but all of the advtersing for the Star Alliance makes you think it would be easy. The only consolation – Virgin Upper Class was superb. I now only collect BA miles to redeem on BA flights, something I have found is much, much easier.


    VintageKrug
    Participant

    tipster, you may find the thread below of use:

    http://www.businesstraveller.com/discussion/topic/loyalty-schemes-Do-they-Really-Care

    which sets out what to expect when redeeming seats.

    Virgin Atlantic is not part of Star Alliance. Although it is a “partner” airline of the bmi diamond club, it is not a full member. I am not sure how that affects availability.

    May/June/July are very busy periods for Florida, right in the middle of school hols, and Virgin (VS) are mostly able to sell these high demand seats rather than give them away, so only modest availability and/or one seat per flight may be given away.

    Remember you can use your bmi miles for redemptions on other Star Alliance carriers such as via Frankfurt on Lufthansa (excellent First Class terminal there makes the layover worthwhile – they will even drive you to the aircraft in your own personal Porsche Cayenne), or a more convoluted routing on Air Canada or United.

    There is no doubt it is easier to redeem miles if flying solo. A handy ruse to get round this is to select a date with one reward seat, and purchase the other one, still almost half price and allows you to earn some miles while redeeming, banking some miles (and maybe status) for a future flight with VS.

    You may find your posts are easier for everyone to enjoy if you insert lots of paragraphs 😉


    20-Horse
    Participant

    Tearing my hair out over BMI Redemptions!

    Good afternoon all, I am trying to book 2 business or first on either SAA, Lufthansa, Swiss or Virgin from LHR/LCY to JNB in August or September 2009. Miles or miles and cash, I don’t care.

    There is nothing available – according to Pune today and Revenue management in Castle Donington.

    This is surely madness? What is the point in earning the miles if you can’t spend them? I have banged a grumble off to the “contact us” bit of Star Alliance, but it is driving me mad.

    I had a look on the ANA tool, and it confirms (as I did from the various individual airline sites) that there are seats available on these airlines in the classes I want, but only for cash – not redemptions.

    Does anyone have any advice or tips on how one might get seats released by these airlines (they are all supposed to be part of the same alliance for heavens sake! – apart from Virgin, I know)? Or how one might persuade BMI Revenue Management to have a moan to Star Alliance or the airlines about seat availability?

    Sorry for the rant, it just really rankles with me, I’ve got a lot of miles, I travel extensively with BMI, but I can’t spend the damn miles.

    Cheers for any soothing words or advice.


    BlackTower
    Participant

    best not to book return flights using BA miles- Perhaps its a statement of the bleeding obvious but its best not to book return flights using BA miles as you loose the flexibility to change your return date up to 24 hours/1 day before departure that you have if you book singles in both directions. The exception being using companion vouchers obviously. This realisation just cost me 50,000 miles; ouch.

    I notice a lot of people compalining about BMI miles. I cannot comment on whether BMI is cheaper than BA for flying round europe anymore but if you wan ready availability of longhaul miles flights in all classes BA is good except on the Kangaroo routes/direct capetown/caribean.

    One other tip is fly first on BA miles; much better availability than club; you know you are worth it!


    AussieM
    Participant

    I TOTALLY AGREE with the BMI problems in miles bookings. This has been significantly worse, since it was outsourced a few years ago.

    Taking all the placating comments on Board, I have been trying to get seats through the call centre for 2 weeks. they had a week where 6 Airlines “wouldn’t come onto the screen!”
    I have been calling every other day for 2 weeks. I have spent hours researching EVERY possibility on the Star Alliance site so i can qoute times & flight numbers.

    It is Impossible to get any seats with Air Canada. It is not possible to get one seat out of UK to Asia in either Jan or Feb.
    (Yes these are peak periods, but if you ask for April or Sept 09- same, )
    “No seats available”!
    You cannot get seats with SAA, down to ZA.
    I tried every European gateway to Asia, every SA partner airline, nothing available…so they say!

    Nothing out of Sydney , Auckland to either Canada, Asia. Out or back right into April. Rubbish!

    I know one of the Business managers at SQ, yes we know they restrict 773 & A380 services for redemptions now, revenue only seats. This means LHR & SYD have 2/4 flighs a day no Miles seats. But BMI is NOT telling the truth regarding these seats. they DO have miles seats for SA to take.

    For complicated journeys they should have a specialist IN the UK to deal with these. The Indian call centre lines are awful, english is poor sometimes, robotic replies & service read off computer, knowledge of the airlines routes very poor. We have to pay for these premium calls, & its a waste of time. One journey i took was E-ticketed wrongly & i had to run from T3 to T1 to get BMI to put it right & print out a paper ticket 2 yrs ago. They argued & it wasnt their responsibility at the ticket desk, but eventually i got it sorted with 40 minutes left.
    A month of hotels & connections would have been a disaster thanks to them.

    I checked with a colleague who has another Star Alliance account, & the airline confirmed seats on SA awards WERE available. I also called Air Canada, they DO have seats available on miles awards. One AC flight had NO seats booked even in revenue in C class, with 2 miles seats on the SA network free!

    The TRUTH is, that BMI are deliberately restricting these flights being redeemed. Its about cost, they dont want to have to disperse to the other Airlines the cost of these seats. They only offer Lufthansa or China Airlines, or their own Low Cost flights!

    Business Traveller should really contact Management at BMI, to ascertain why this is happening to so many FF members. It sounds like a revenue restrictive policy -& so many of us, is evidence itself. There is a Major problem here. It must breach Contract law in the finer details eventually, not just of the membership.

    BMI are to be sold soon. They are a low cost operation, with a poor Sub-service in the Star Alliance. I will be using my miles from this account, & am finished with them. They are an embarrassment in Sta rAlliance network, some overseas SA partners havent even heard of them! They have a 3rd class reputation to match their service, & FF program.
    Perhaps we should re-name their FF Diamond Club, the “F-Off ” Program.
    Perhaps BT will attempt to gain some answers & un-cover this un-spoken policy…??

    The part miles /cash option is the only redeemer at 37.500 miles from zones 1-9 EU to Australasia /Business. With just over £200 to pay, add tax etc…with SQ from , Amsterdam to SIN-SYD costs about £450 total. This is good value. Out of LHR tax is £100 more!
    Thia levy currently, £300 for a economy ticket out of LHR before any fare is paid! Korean levy £60!
    If it worked & you could redeem….no matter what route what airline what time ahead, “no seats available”!
    No BMI, you are , as i have evidence of, & those on here, Falsely representing what is clearly available on the SA network. You are deliberately denying the members right , to redeem their accrued benefits.


    AussieM
    Participant

    I also tried BMI DC again today to find a business flight out of Sydney in Feb 09.
    No Air Canada seats from Sydney.
    No Air New Zealand seats from Auckland to Canada.
    No SQ or TG flights up to Asia.
    No SAA seats across to South Africa.
    No seats up from SA to Europe.

    This is nothing more than a revenue saving ploy from DC not to have to fund expensive routes. I KNOW there ARE Sta All seats available, as another colleague checked with his FF Program.
    BMI DC are sheer liars, sorry but its got to be stated.

    Why doesnt BT take up the concerns of comments on here to BMI???!!!


    Nicholas123
    Participant

    A bit of a tip here – every member of Star Alliance uses different redemption classes. So for most partners business redemption is I class. But not AC for instance.

    So generalising about availability is quite difficult, and some of the accusing nature of comments re DC aren’t accurate.

    Redeeming J cabin flights can be done relatively easily, but as other posts have indicated you have to be abit savvy about where and when – for instance redeeming against VS Upper Class in August when there is next to no demand from actual business travellers is very easy, you can virtually pick your days as soon as the school hols start.

    And to clear up another accusation, the redemption on VS is the same on their own FF as for BDDC, i.e. G class.

    If DC does become Miles and More I’m not sure it will be any improvement, if not quite the contary! Best of luck all….


    AussieM
    Participant

    DC is atrocious to redeem miles at the moment.

    Taking on board all comments here, all booking classes/codes, all Star Allance Members, all alternative routes..it remains so.

    There really must be an unwritten policy of “NO SEATS” reply.

    As previously indicated, calling DC India, they bring up ALL Airlines all classes for a route..the ones they are willng to redeem or release.
    If you offered to fly tomrw, in a month, 6 months ahead, you will NOT get seats.
    No flights to or from ZA, Asia, Canada, into or out of Australia ANY carrier, using Feb 09, March 09, May 09!
    Colleagues have checked with LH Miles & more, or Krisflyer, they DO have seats on these flights. BMI CHOOSE NOT to release them simple as that.

    Sooner their brand & half low cost airline service goes, the better.
    Miles & more will be better but cost many more miles to redeem. Further, most have in the pipline, to re-vamp earning or spending miles due to the current global downturn..i know several Corporate Managers in BA & SQ.

    I find the easiest & most productive & IT equped, is KLM & Flying Blue. U can redeem tomrw if they have any seats free, good monthly -50% discounts for miles offers, research & book them yourself.

    Perhaps Airlines will start to re-value us when there are few travelling in the coming year, i certainly will, as i hope others, , consider the quality of service for FFP’s, before choosing to fly with an particular airline or group.
    Loyalty goes 2 ways, the Airlines have had it too one way for a long time,; they will need our loyalty if they are to survive i the next few years.


    ChristopherOrr
    Participant

    BMI used to be quite good, but I must confess that I least used a redemption ticket about 2 years ago with them. Since then I have (unsuccessfully) tried to redeem on several occasions and would echo the comments of poor service and availability that have already been posted.
    Does anyone have experience of Lufthansa? As it looks like they will be buying BMI the Diamond Club may be set to become Miles and Miles soon.
    Either that or my wife and I have 2 million+ bmi miles to spend very quickly!!


    Flyingfemme
    Participant

    BMI are the end of it all. I have been trying to book 2 seats to the USA in January. I know the reward seats are there because I have looked at the ANA and Virgin websites. I get told no seats – on BMI, Lufthansa, Air Canada, US Airways, United and Swiss. Nothing.
    I was prepared to book one Virgin seat with them and the other direct with Virgin….nothing. Yet Virgin list plenty of availability.
    I have even had an agent hang up on me!
    Time to shift my loyalty to another airline or group.

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