In the past I often received emails asking for help booking award tickets or suggestions of who to contact for that assistance. I quickly decided that running my own award booking service was not what I wanted to do with this blog (at least, not in the near future). But I did want to provide some guidance.
My opinion is a good award booking service should cater to a wide range of people and provide the option of booking both simple and complex awards. When the team behind Award Magic contacted me to ask about a partnership, it sounded like exactly what I was looking for: a group of specialists who each focus on specific alliances and also provide tiered pricing if you need extra assistance with round-the-world tickets or AA Explorer Awards. Here’s their range of services:
Standard Award, per person: $139
- One-way or round-trip ticket. This may include a stopover to visit up to two destinations, depending on the rules of the airline’s rewards program.
Magic Award, per person: $249
- More complicated ticket involving three or more destinations. These include round-the-world tickets and American Airlines Explorer Awards.
Expedited Service, per person: $25
- All requests receive responses within 24 hours. If you require faster service or are departing within 7 days, an Expedited Service fee will apply.
Change Fee, per person: $65
- If the airline makes an involuntary change, Award Magic will try to book a new itinerary at no charge. If the customer wishes to make a voluntary change, a Change Fee will apply.
I recommend a specific award booking service partly to help make the decision-making process easier. Their prices are reasonable, their services are valuable, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Yes, I receive a modest commission if you book your award through my website, but it is an almost negligible amount compared to the bulk of this site’s revenue from display advertising (not affiliate links, as some might suspect).
If you are interested in other award booking services, Frequent Miler provides a list in today’s post discussing why he thinks such services have increased in value. I definitely agree. Award booking has in some ways become more difficult and complicated even as the tools to search for those awards have become easier (e.g., United displays most Star Alliance award availability on their site).
The challenge is finding and piecing together an entire trip. For example, here’s a vacation to Hawaii I’m still in the process of booking for my in-laws:
Outbound flight AMA-DFW-SAN-LIH involves three segments on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines plus an overnight in San Diego. I had to search for flights individually and piece them together because it wouldn’t appear online as a single award. I then spent over an hour on two separate phone calls to get the AA desk to correctly price it as 35K miles per person instead 60K miles.
Inter-island LIH-OGG flight booked on Hawaiian Airlines. Though I have HawaiianMiles, I used United miles to book this award because they actually charge less for the same inventory (and I can cancel the tickets for free with my 1K status if necessary …and likely for at least one person).
Return flight from OGG to DEN in United First was booked online and actually the very first thing I did, but I’ll later need to add DEN-AMA as it becomes available. I was only willing to book a partial itinerary because I knew I could make the change for free, even on the day of departure if necessary.
Another reason I’m partnering with Award Magic is because I needed their assistance with a project in the works that I hope will also make it easier for you to book awards if this is something you want to do yourself rather than pay an expert. I can’t discuss it in much more detail. Just know it’s coming. I think it will be pretty cool. 🙂