One of the questions that I see get raised a lot is when does it make sense to use an award booking service for your award flight needs? Since this is a question I see get asked a lot, I figured I would dedicate a post to discussing when it may make sense to utilize an award booking service.
It is certainly no secret that earning points and miles can be substantially easier than redeeming those points and miles. I have seen numerous posts over the years where everyone repeats the same thing – “I’m good at earning the points and miles, but not so good at redeeming them.” That is because there is a lot that goes into finding the perfect award redemption and you need to be able to dedicate some time to researching those options and searching for the award space.
But that is where someone like me comes into play. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of fantastic resources out there to help you figure out how to search for and find your ideal award ticket, but sometimes people simply do not have the time to spend doing that research or simply do not want to. So they turn to an award booking service to do the job for them.
What Is An Award Booking Service & How Does It Work?
An award booking service is a service offered by someone who is generally well versed in award travel and can help you find the award space you are looking for for a fee. That fee will vary depending upon the complexity of the routing, the number of passengers, the cabin of travel, the travel dates, available points/miles, etc. After a fee has been agreed upon and your parameters have been provided, the award booking service will then start looking for award space that meets your parameters. If the award booking service is able to find you award space that fits your parameters, they will then send you that information along with booking instructions.
Are All Award Booking Services The Same?
As with any product, there are always going to be variations among the different award booking services. Some booking services require the award booking fee up front, while others like my award consulting service do not require any payment up front.
Some booking services (like mine) provide that their fee is only due if they are able to find you an itinerary that meets the parameters that you laid out while other booking services require their fee regardless of whether they are able to find you award space or not.
Some award booking services only provide their services through finding the award space, while others will provide their services right through booking your award trip.
Some award booking services will go the extra mile to give you information on the ideal seats to select, the best lounges to check out at a given airport and general information on the reputation/experience of the airline you will be redeeming your points and miles for while others will simply just present you the options and leave the rest up to you.
Lastly, some booking services will charge you an extra fee for any changes you may want to make to your original parameters (changing up the cities, changing the dates, etc.), while other booking services include any of those changes in the original consulting fee.
What Questions Should I Be Asking Before Selecting An Award Booking Service?
There are a few general questions I would recommend asking your award booking service before giving them your hard earned money. These include:
- How much is your fee and what does that fee include?
- Is your fee due up front or after you have found my award space?
- If you are unable to find award space that fits what I am looking for, is your fee still due?
- Is there an additional charge if I decide to change my destination(s) or date(s)? If so, what is it?
- Do you provide booking instructions?
- What happens if the space you found is no longer available when I go to book?
These are just a few of the important questions that I would ask when selecting an award booking service and is by no means an all inclusive list. But it should at least give you an idea of some of the key points to consider when you are looking to hire an award booking service.
When Should I Utilize An Award Booking Service?
This is really a question that only you can answer, but generally speaking I would recommend considering an award booking service when you have a complex itinerary or are looking for international flights with a variety of points available. It does not make much sense to pay an award booking service to help you find flights on Southwest when all you have are RapidRewards miles since the value offered by the award booking service in that scenario is going to be minimal.
But if you have a scattering of points (102k Amex Membership Rewards points, 64k Chase Ultimate Rewards points, 98k United miles, 13k British Airways Avios and $540 in credit from a Barclay Arrival+ card) and want premium cabin seats on an itinerary that stops in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, it may make sense to consider using an award booking service. And in case you were wondering, yes, that is an example of an award request that I was able to find an itinerary for.
At the end of the day though, only you can decide if utilizing an award booking service is worthwhile.
Why Choose The Points Jet Setter’s Award Booking Service Over Others?
You had to know a plug for my award booking service was coming, right? Shameless, I know.
Let me start this by saying there are a lot of really knowledgeable award booking services out there and I would definitely encourage you to take a look at all the options out there. But as I mentioned before, not all booking services are created equal. While FlyerTalk and the Internet are filled with options for award booking services, we here at the Points Jet Setter try to set ourselves apart by offering the type of consulting service that we would want if the shoe was on the other foot. We never charge any fees upfront and the only time your award consulting fee is due is if we are able to find you an itinerary that meets your parameters. We never charge extra for changes in dates, destinations or products prior to booking and we always go out of our way to make recommendations on the best seats to select, lounges to check out, restaurants to try in the city (if it happens to be somewhere we have been), airlines with not so great reputations and alternatives that may cost you less in terms of points and out of pocket expenses. And most of all, our services are offered to you and included in your consulting fee all the way through booking. And that includes if you happen to have any issues with booking your flights or decide last minute you would rather change up your itinerary.
While we may not be the least expensive award booking service out there, we are one of the most knowledgeable and responsive with most requests being turned around in less than 24 hours after we have your booking parameters. We certainly would love the opportunity to earn your business and show you why we have as many repeat clients as we do!
As with all products, variations are to be expected. When it comes to picking an award booking service though, it definitely pays to do your homework so you get your monies worth. Make sure you are asking the important questions before you commit to any one booking service and don’t be afraid to get in depth about how much knowledge the people running that award booking service have. While some booking services may offer prices that seem too good to be true, that is often because their knowledge of programs and routes is simply not there. And when that happens, it ends up costing you both out of pocket and in points. And as always, if you ever have any questions, you can always e-mail me at Adam@ThePointsJetSetter.com, where I am happy to answer all of your questions!
When do you find it is most worthwhile to utilize an award booking service?
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