A: Everyone is charged a minimum $29 search fee. Our complete pricing is affordable and depends upon how many people are traveling and whether it’s a regular trip or a round-the-world trip. See our How It Works / Pricing page for details.
A: The rule of thumb is, “if the airline charges, for a seat, we also charge.” For example, if you’re traveling with a lap infant, we won’t charge an additional booking fee because no additional seat is needed. However, if you’re traveling with a six year old, we will charge a booking fee for her seat. This is because there is the same amount of work for us involved in securing a seat for your children as there is in securing seats for adults.
A: Three reasons: Our expertise, your convenience, and overall savings. We’re experts in award programs. Because we specialize in booking award travel, we know the best routes and travel options for your journey along with common pitfalls and how to avoid them. Unlike an airline Web site, we’ll help you optimize your dates and cities to spend the fewest number of points. And we don’t just do award booking, but we also help you plan the right strategy to meet your travel needs. It isn’t unusual for us to save our clients far more in fuel surcharges and airline fees than they pay us in booking fees. Smart travelers look at the big picture—when you do, AwardCat is a “no brainer.”
A: You won’t need to pay us any booking fees if you don’t book with the airline you don’t like. However, our search fee is always non-refundable. If you do have an airline or routing preference, be sure to let your booker know—we may be able to find you better alternatives. Flexibility and good communication are the keys to successful award booking.
A: It’s usually best to use miles and points for tickets that would be expensive if you paid for them with cash. Premium cabin seats on international flights are almost always good value, if you can be flexible enough to redeem them. However, we can also save you a lot of money on flights in economy class. Last minute flights, or flights to expensive destinations (such as Alaska and Hawaii) can be especially good value.
A: Keep in mind, popular bloggers have a high degree of schedule flexibility because they travel for a living. They will often book and fly 24 hours in advance or even on the same day, securing last-minute inventory that is difficult for most of us to use. If it’s hard for you to do that, your best bet is to be willing to fly on any date, to or from any destination. Even with this much flexibility, it can be nearly impossible to secure some awards (such as Etihad Apartments or Singapore Suites).
A: That depends on your personal priorities. For some people, taking a midflight 5 minute shower is a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list item and the destination doesn’t even matter. For other people, visiting Antarctica—even via Aerolineas Argentinas economy class—is a similar bucket list item. Both cost roughly the same in cash but points can more easily buy you the inflight shower. At AwardCat, we’re here to support your goals, whatever they may be.
A: Typically, this is either at the last minute (2 weeks or less before departure) or 330 days in advance. While some airlines do make additional award inventory available based on the number of tickets sold, it’s unpredictable. If you’re trying to get to a difficult destination, AwardCat recommends booking your outbound at T-330 and then booking the return separately (we gladly accommodate this and don’t charge any extra).
A: It depends on the time of year. Africa, Australia and New Zealand are all difficult to reach using miles and points regardless of the time of year. South America is difficult to reach during the austral summer. Europe and Japan are difficult to reach during the summer. If you are traveling to one of these destinations, we recommend that you be willing to fly using creative routes, be prepared to spend more than the minimum “saver” level number of points, be willing to travel to or from different cities than your preferred cities, and to be very flexible on dates and times.
A: The more flexibility you have on dates, times, number of connections, length of stopovers, airlines, cities, and number of seats needed together on the same flight, the better the chances of success. Everyone has their own set of priorities and preferences so think about what these are and let us know. We’ll do our best to find you options that meet your needs.
A: It depends. Will someone else want it? If it’s a good award to a popular destination, it’s smart to book it right now before someone else does (and if it’s an award to The Maldives, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or Europe in the summer, or if the award is an aspirational award, someone else almost certainly will). Most airlines allow 24 hours to cancel without penalty if you find out that you are unable to take the trip. Please note that if you aren’t ready to book after we search, and availability then disappears, finding you alternative space may require an additional award search, for which you may (with your agreement) be charged an additional search fee.
A: It seems counterintuitive, but it’s smart to spend all of your points as fast as you can earn them. This is because points are a depreciating currency: they only go down in value. If we find you a good award, you should feel very comfortable with the idea of spending your points. You can always earn more points—it’s easier than you think and your balances will be back up in no time!
A: Yes, without hesitation. Any international business class with a lie flat seat is a massively better passenger experience than economy class and this is really what you’re paying for. Sure, there are other differences between airlines, but they’re far less than you’d think. When it comes to premium cabin business class, 90% of what you’re paying for is safe transportation on a modern aircraft in a lie-flat seat. 10% of it is the ground experience (such as the lounge), the in-flight experience and the catering. Bloggers do need to play up the differences in order to drive readership, but in reality, they’re just not that great between airlines. It’s rarely worth going out of your way or paying extra for a supposedly “better” airline.
A: No! Please don’t ever send us your account passwords or credit card numbers in email. This is not secure and we’ll never ask you to do this.
A: Of course! While we are a full-service offering, it’s fine with us if you’d rather maintain strict control over your accounts. At a minimum, we’ll need to know how many points you have, and in which award programs, so we can provide you with valid travel options. However, we are happy to guide you through the booking and points transfer process for the same fee as if we did the work ourselves.