Following a weekend of delays and cancellations, I simply do not trust any carrier to get me where I am going – so now I am booking two tickets for the same trip.
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Airlines Have Been Struggling Worldwide
Domestic airlines in the United States had a mini-meltdown at the end of last week and through the weekend. Other places around the world are struggling with substantial demand, fewer employees, and COVID compliance rules.
In the UK alone, massive cancellations, computer software challenges, and baggage handling issues have caused airline cancellations, flight delays, and customer service issues that have British Airways cutting its schedule just when it needs a recovery most. In Manchester, the Managing Director of eight years, Karen Smart, resigned amid backlash over airport performance and labor challenges.
ViewFromTheWing reports that there are just 32 flights into China for the month due to new COVID five-week quarantine requirements.
When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be There Overnight
My current trip plans remind me of a very old ad (one that features a 727, so enjoy that) from Federal Express which used to say, “Federal Express: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
I have a trip that I must make. Delayed or canceled flights are not an option for me, and while I can’t control the weather, I can hedge my bets. As spring break comes to a close and pre-Easter travel begins, my concern over an airline being able to complete a segment has grown to a level I wouldn’t have considered in the past. Flight disruptions due to staff shortages have affected every carrier from American Airlines to Southwest Airlines.
For this trip, I simply cannot ensure the long wait I did last week (more than 24 hours) and cannot rely on airline customer service to come through. Their hands are tied.
But I have a plan. I have added a duplicate booking to ensure that if my scheduled departure is going to be delayed substantially, I can cancel my existing booking and am already secured on another carrier. I should know the flight status before heading to the airport in real-time and can avoid the long wait times to process alternative arrangements. I’ll simply cancel the extra ticket for a full refund and guarantee my departure.
The Best Use of Miles and Points
While I could buy a refundable cash ticket on a credit card and process the cancellation once I have boarded the winning party, this is one of the best use cases for miles and points. By using miles and points to secure the secondary reservation, I can easily cancel online and I am less concerned about chasing the refund or waiting a few days for it to come back to my card.
The real concern isn’t that the refund won’t come, it’s just the amount of effort needed to follow up or the risk that I might book one that looks refundable but for some reason is not.
This also gives me an opportunity to choose my lounge while I wait for my flight with a clear conscience as I will not be certain who will take me to my final destination until shortly before I board.
Busy international airports with lots of options allow travelers to use this strategy to avoid missing a flight when they absolutely, positively have to be there overnight. I’m sure not all air lines like members doing this, but it’s not illegal, and truly it’s done to avoid the mass delays and flight cancellations they have subjected passengers to over the recent weeks. The only question now is… who will I end up flying?
What do you think? Have you ever or do you regularly book backup flights to ensure you arrive at your destination? Is there any moral deficiency in booking two trips when I am certain I will only take one?
AA generally cancels duplicate bookings. So they let you book back to back flights? Presumably you’re booking on an alternate airline?
Nope, no moral dilemna that I see. Airlines took all our taxpayer money and still fired too many employees to fuel their profits. It’s their own damn fault they’re understaffed and we footed the bill. Screw em
“What do you think?”
Hard to say anything, as you haven’t told us the reason for the trip, the route, the airlines involved, or even whether the duplicate booking is on the same or a different airline.
As far as I know, every airline’s contract of carriage prohibits “speculative bookings”.
Booking a refundable/mileage ticket on two different airlines is pretty brilliant. Neither airlines will know (except for maybe TSA) and you’re more likely to get to your destination should something go sideways- hopefully just with one airline. There is no way for an airline to know if you are booking speculative bookings or not- that is highly subjective. However, I do imagine they track frequent cancellation patterns, which could have consequences. Then again, this is their own doing by allowing for refunds in cash on appropriate tickets and miles for all others.
When i do it, i am cheap, when corporate does it they are financially disciplined.
Bastards like you and me and the rest of Americans are why we bring each other down and let corporate power take us all for a ride.
Moral deficiency, not really, but I think you’re playing with fire making speculative bookings using miles. You’re likely in technical violation of the T&Cs of whichever loyalty program you’re using, so if you do this frequently, and the airline wises up to what you’re up to, I think you risk having your FF account terminated. Yeah you could try and argue that you weren’t intending to defraud the program when the audit department comes calling, but good luck with that.
Did this exact thing last weekend. Backup trip using miles. Just book the backup for 2 hours or so after my preferred itinerary. As soon as wheels are up, connect to inflight wifi & cancel the award booking.
As noted above, the airlines did not keep the staff with the government money as directed. This kind of activity would be unnecessary for the customer if they did as instructed with the money. I’m putting my needs first now. That’s what the airlines did then.
I make backups with hotels as well as flights. I cancel the reservations as soon as I am certain it won’t be needed, but not a minute before. I don’t even slightly understand the argument that this could be somehow immoral or unethical.
Also, even when I don’t book a backup flight, I make a backup flight plan, so that I know immediately once a cancellation is announced what my next move will be– whether its an alternate flight that day or close hotel and a flight the following day. I’ve spent too many nights sleeping in baggage claim, or stuck somewhere I no longer want to be for 3 extra days to not have a backup plan.
I always research to find out what my next move will be as well. Better to know ahead of time what to do if things go sideways.
I understand that people have to do what they have to do if they simply must get somewhere on time. It’s not just screwing the airline, though, it’s also potentially taking away available inventory from another points enthusiast who could have used that seat. I hope just-in-case second bookings are not commonplace and don’t become a trend, otherwise, the airlines will make yet another policy change that’d be bad for us all.
I’m worried that if this becomes a “thing”, that the generous refund policies on points booked tickets will be revoked for EVERYONE.
It reminds me of a story about a cafeteria where you paid per ounce for food so some folks figured out that the bacon was the best deal so they’d load up on a bacon with a little bit of “filler”. One guy got “smart” and decided he only wanted one slice of bacon so he tried to buy it and it was a problem because it came out to 3 cents and he didn’t have cash. The cashier called over the manager and the manager observed that 3 cents for a single slice of bacon was a huge bargain so they made a special policy for the bacon.
Just because you CAN do something like you describe doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
For everyone’s sake, perhaps just leave a day early for the trip and provide some buffer? People who go to an important wedding the day before, for example, are just “asking” for trouble.
One thing I am now doing is booking my international business class flights for miles, even far in advance, when I find saver awards. Even if not my favored times or connections. I then check occasionally and have some expertflyer alerts set in case upgrade space or discount business class becomes available on the flights I’d prefer, such as at the last minute. If it does, I will switch. Have not seen that yet, but airfares are so unpredictable, I’m glad I at least have some decent flights locked in.