(Apologies in advance for the longish post - I’ve not made a points redemption before so understandably there are a number of questions.)
I’m hoping to make my first Velocity Points redemption for some flights in the middle of next year. I’ve got a decent stash of points that I’ve been building up for this purpose. I would like to get some tips for the different flight experiences to aim for and whether or not I’m wasting my points.
The destination would be the east coast of North America. The issue is that I can’t confirm exact dates at this stage as it’s dependent on organisations/venues releasing those dates (and they may not be confirmed for another 6 months). Should I book now and pay change fees (if that’s even possible) when the dates are confirmed or wait?
Other things to consider:
I plan on redeeming my flights for either business or first class.
I don’t want to be facing backwards (I know this is the case with some business class seats).
I’ve not flown on an A380 before; would it be worth my while taking the long way to North America, via DOH, in order to experience this? (Currently priced @ ~140k pts + $850 - this would also involve an extra flight to get to either Sydney or Perth.)
Are QR’s famous Q-Suites on all their 777s?
What do people think of UA’s Polaris business class?
Am I wasting my time, money, and points trying to experience different types of business/first class? Would best value for money and time be to investigate alternatives?
This is new ground for me so any advice on past experiences would be very valuable.
I can’t answer all of your questions and in particular I’m no expert on using points to fly to North America so I’m hoping that others will contribute to this discussion as well. But here’s what I can help with:
You are not “wasting your points” if you use points to fly in premium cabins to get you to destinations you want to go to. So relax and have fun – that’s what point hacking is all about.
I love facing backwards on the Q-suites. If you’re with a companion, the middle backward-facing seats mean you’re siting together and can easily speak with each other. If you’re by yourself, the backward-facing window seats are closest to the window. I’ve never had a better sleep on a flight than I’ve had in a backwards-facing seat, and really it feels no different at all (apart from takeoff and landing). So don’t discount it too quickly.
A380s are quiet, and smooth, and a great way to fly. Would I deliberately add an extra 10-12 hours to my trip just to fly on an A380? Probably not. Also be aware that the business class seats on Qatar’s A380s are not Q-Suites (though still a fantastic way to fly).
Not all of Qatar’s 777s feature Q-Suites (though I’m pretty sure that most, if not all, of their 777s departing from Australia do). This review gives a good overview of the various seats that you may find on Qatar planes.
Finally, all I can say regarding your dilemma of whether to book now or wait until later, is that the earlier you book, the greater your chances of success. I’d book as soon as you can and be prepared to pay cancellation fees if you need to.
To get to North America using Velocity points, you can fly United, Air Canada, Hawaiian, Singapore Airlines (via Singapore and then nonstop or via Japan or Europe), or Qatar (via Doha). None of the above are “dud” airlines with inferior business class products. My strong advice is that if you find availability on dates that work out for you, book it: you won’t be “wasting” your points.
@sixtyeight Thank you very much for you speedy reply; much appreciated.
That article that you linked to had lots of information in it, in particular the many different types of business class available on QR flights, including four different types on the B777-300ER alone.
I also found it interesting when it spoke about having better sleep in a backwards-facing seat, which is similar to what you said in your reply. I hadn’t considered that previously - intriguing.
Thanks for letting me know that I’m not “wasting” the points. Every little bit of advice helps. I know that I’ll probably make a mis-step or two but that’s part of the learning process.
I’ll keep reading and researching, keeping in mind that I’ll probably have to make my redemptions soon and just cop any cancellation or change fees.
I noticed the use of the word “wasting” more than once in your post. First of all, don’t let anyone tell you you are wasting points or money on anything in life, if that is what you truly enjoy doing. ***Not asking you to empty your bank balance though .
Airline/Hotel/Bank points in particular do not appreciate (increase in value). Points and miles are meant to be earnt and burnt. It’s all well and good to build up a nice and healthy balance to sustain your ongoing travel needs but one need to make sure they remember these are collected to be spent. Devaluation on these points/miles can happen at the drop of a hat.
I personally try to use my points on premium cabins but am open to spending points on expensive economy flights too. In recent years, I’ve used points on items too (gasp… Something I wouldn’t have done when I started pointhacking or pre-covid).
First/Business/Economy class seats/cabins CAN be very different across different airlines and aircrafts.
I’d also suggest booking first as award space can disappear just like that
Please enjoy the process. Once you tried flying at the pointy end with points, it’s very hard to go back to cattle class (especially in long haul flights).
As this is my first redemption, it’s all new territory for me.
You’re right in saying that the points will not appreciate - another thing to keep in mind.
You mentioned that seats can be very different across airlines and aircraft - this will add to the excitement and learning. I had a further think over the last 24 hours about the possibilities that exist and about whether it’s worth doubling my return trip to satisfy my curiosity and try different seats. I guess travelling solo means there’ll be some extra airline points available should I choose to go down this path. I’ll keep considering my options.
I just hope that if I do have to change or cancel (due to a date or city change (the city could change depending on which event is scheduled first once dates are released)), that I’m not slugged too much. I’m hoping that Velocity are lenient and understanding in that regard. I’ve got status with them (soon to be platinum), if that helps.
The fees aren’t too bad especially since Velocity offer cash or points options. I generally book first and pay to change or cancel if the trip doesn’t work out. Much rather pay that than no finding an award seat.
One award seat is much easier to find in premium cabins.
After a lot of research and comparisons, and noticing that one particular reward flight on a day I was looking at had disappeared, I went ahead and made my first redemption. I rang the Velocity line to ask about mixed class redemption (F+J), they told me that this WAS possible but the number of points they quoted me was more than twice the difference if I had made separate redemptions online, so I went for the straight J+J redemption online. (Hopefully I can apply for an upgrade to F with one of the legs - I’m sure that J will still be amazing though.)
I just have to wait and see if there’s a date clash (I should know in the next couple of months). If so, as long as there’s availability, I’ll just have to wear the cancellation/change fee.
Thank you to everyone who responded - you made it easier for a first-time redeemer to understand the process.
I eventually went with QR for a number of reasons, one of them being that I’ve read a lot of good things about the QSuites. It should be a lot of fun. I just hope that I don’t have to go through the stress of a swapping to another date if there ends up being a clash.
I know that this is the long way around but I it should, I hope, be an unforgettable experience.