Over at Conde’ Nast Traveler, I outline some tips for how to think about using points for holiday travel.
Airlines want to make seats available at the ‘saver’ award level that they aren’t going to be able to sell for cash. But during peak holiday periods flights fill up, there aren’t many seats that will ultimately go out unsold. And booking much in advance, airlines don’t really know yet which flights those are going to be (there’s a chance that any given flight may sell out). So they’re very conservative in making award seats available.
That makes getting award seats to go visit family domestically really tough during the holidays. I gave an interview on WTOP radio yesterday where I explained that’s why I often travel internationally during the holidays. Business travel is down, so premium cabins on international flights tend to be fairly lightly booked, meaning award seats are much easier to get. (If you do not live in an international gateway city you might be able to find international award seats — but not seats from your home city to the gateway and could have to buy those domestic segments or use miles for a standard award to pay for them.)
Read the Conde’ Nast piece for all of the tips.