I’m a student who’s looking to book Business class fares to Europe next year, for as close a price as possible to economy. (Preferably business all the way, but also open to flying economy to Asia and then business onto Europe). Please excuse me if any of these questions are basic, as I’m quite new to this process.
I recently discovered this very helpful guide: http://www.pointhacks.com.au/guide-to-alaska-airlines-mileage-plan-miles-bonuses/, which leads me to believe that purchasing Alaska miles and redeeming them on Cathay is the most economical way to go. Please let me know if there is a cheaper way to complete this journey. (Have to leave from Melbourne and I assume I have to go through Hong Kong as it’s Cathay, but open to arriving anywhere in Europe (preferably Western) that would minimise costs and maximise availability).
Firstly, I wanted to confirm that I don’t need to meet any specific requirements to purchase Alaska miles (i.e. be a US citizen, have flown with Alaska etc). If there is an age requirement, I am over 18 but not yet 21. Likewise, I wanted to confirm that there are no hidden costs associated with opening and maintaing an Alaska account.
Onto the redemption of points. After purchasing Alaska miles, am I able to redeem them instantly on Cathay flights? Is there an advantage to booking a year or so in advance, or do more seats appear closer to the date?
With specific regards to the booking process, Alaska’s website states “Award travel with all our partners can be booked online with the exception of Cathay Pacific and LAN. To book award travel with Cathay Pacific or LAN, call Alaska Airlines reservations at 1-800-252-7522.” On this note, is there any way to check availbility prior to ringing Alaska? Having a quick search online I’ve seen Qantas, British Airways and JAL’s search engines mentioned, along with awardnexus (not sure what that is), but is the best way just to ring Alaska directly as only they have the info? Fortunately my travel dates are not overly strict and I don’t mind having a stopover in Hong Kong (in fact, I’d prefer having a stopover rather than continuing directly onto Europe).
On that note, how difficult is it to find availability? I’d likely be flying with two others and we don’t mind being on different flights to redeem this offer, but preferably we’d like to be on the same one if possible and we’d like to fly within 48 hours of each other. Is it really hard to find flights or should this not be an issue? With regards to the stopover too, we’d like to see Hong Kong but preferably in 5-7 days max, rather than needing to stay longer due to lack of flight availability.
After a flight is booked, what are your rights compared to a regular, paid flight? e.g. cancellation, modification of details, booking a different flight instead (changing time), selecting your seat, lounge access etc. Also, the article mentioned stopovers. I’m not sure how this would work (or whether it’s possible) with reagrds to adding in an extra Asian or European destination to the trip?
Thank you very much in advance for your help, it is much appreciated.