Redemption tactic advice when making a booking with loose / uncertain flight dates

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I’m looking at claiming business class rewards to uk (or close by europe) in February / March next year, but I won’t know closer to the date when I actually want to fly – I can get it right within a few weeks- to a month now – I will try to hit those dates, but I might need to move them slightly.

Should I book the flights now to lock them in and if I have to make any changes, what are the chances of making the changes? is this possible? It will be a combo of qantas and virgin reward claims, and possibly on their affiliate airlines (eg singapore and cathay pacific)
 
Or am I better off trying to snag a last minute claim maybe in December / January?
 

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Great question holmesy!

To me, it depends on the probability you would need to make change. If KNOW the flights aren’t going to work then there’s no point in booking them. You are better holding off and waiting to see if availability comes up.

From there, it then depends on your take on the probability of needing a change. If you think it’s high, then maybe hold off. If you think you can make what’s available work for your circumstances if nothing else comes up, then booking and making the change later if something does come up would probably be advisable.

Either way, Qantas and Velocity both charge change fees ($60 for Virgin, or you can pay in points, and 5,000 points for Qantas) so you are in for a fee if you do change. Hence no point in booking if you know the flights won’t work.

  • Cheers Keith. Unfortunately it’s visa related, but I reckon I can get the date right-ish to a point with some allowance.

    How “last minute” can you leave business class redemptions to uk/europe? (I realise it’s a how long is a piece of string question) – I would have thought March (apart from easter) wasn’t too popular….but then again every flight/redemption seems popular

    Months? surely not weeks?

  • It’s a tricky one. General consensus is as early, or as late, as possible. The middle ground is when everyone else is looking, but at the extremes the opportunities crop up as seats are released as soon as the calendar opens, or as distressed inventory close to departure. Also depends on program and airline. BA out of Sydney, for example, seem to have good last minute availability (at least to Singapore, maybe not to London but haven’t checked recently).

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