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After writing a series of posts on how to add free oneways to your awards on the major legacy carriers, I got a flood of emails from people who had just booked an award and wanted to know whether they should rebook with my award booking service. In some cases, it makes sense, and I’ll share one such case.

Brian emailed me saying he had booked a roundtrip award with United miles from San Francisco to Entebbe, Uganda for 160,000 miles in coach because for his preferred dates, there had been no saver award space. Saver award space on this route would be 40,000 United miles oneway and 80,000 roundtrip.

He wanted to know whether I could make any improvements and whether he could even get a free oneway. Adding a free oneway to an existing United award costs at least $75, which is the fee to change the origin or destination city. Since we were also going to be changing the airlines and cabin of service, that would be another $75, meaning we might as well cancel the award for $150 if we could find something better.

The exact process we used was to find the award space, reserve the itinerary but not pay for it, cancel the original itinerary, and then ticket the new, already reserved, itinerary. This was necessary because Brian needed the miles he had tied up in his old award to book his new award. This was desirable because cancelling the old award before reserving the new one could have left him without any reservation if award space disappeared at the last moment.

The whole scheme hinged on finding something better, and find something better we did. For the outbound, I was able to find him a substantially similar itinerary in terms of duration at the saver award level of 40,000 miles. His departure date wasn’t very flexible, so no saver award space was available in economy class. But I was able to find saver award space in first class–yes, three-cabin first class–for only 75,000 miles one way.

He changed his outbound and saved 40,000 miles. He changed his return and saved 5,000 miles while upgrading from economy to a flat bed in first class.

While rebooking, we were also able to tack on a free oneway for a future trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas in first class. Hardly the most valuable free oneway, but it should save him at least $100 on a Friday outbound to Vegas. (Unfortunately his preferred free oneway to Florida exceeded the maximum permitted mileage on the award. It’s tough to get a United free oneway from the west coast to the east coast after a transatlantic award.)

In total, he paid $150 to United and $99 to me. In return, he got 45,000 United miles (worth $814.50), a free oneway to Vegas for a later trip, and an upgrade on a 30+ hour itinerary from economy to first class.

Certainly, this is an extreme example of the value that can be found rebooking awards in which you overpaid in miles, didn’t get the free oneway you could have, or both. But if you think you may be in a similar situation, consider my Award Booking (and Re-booking) Service.

Take it from Brian:

“I came across Scott’s blog the day after I purchased an award ticket to Uganda. What a mistake! My award ticket was 80,000 miles for economy each direction on United. Scott helped locate and book a 40,000 mile economy one way and 75,000 mile first class return ticket plus added a free one-way first class domestic ticket. I’ll definitely be checking with Scott next time *before* I book an award ticket!”

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