Traveling using miles: Heads up!

As mentioned earlier I am going to Southeast Asia for just under a month in November-December of this year. Being the frugal and diligent person I am trying to use my Delta Skymiles to book a ticket. I am hitting some walls thanks to the complications of the Skymiles program(s). Here is what I have learned in my 3 attempts to book my tickets across the pacific:

  • Black out dates: a lot of the partner airlines have almost completely blacked out December. This makes finding the "cheap" miles tickets tough.
  • Book WELL in advance. I am 4 months out from my trip. People I have spoke with say I should have booked around 9-11 months out. This is not always possible since getting a large block of time off is not easy!
  • Be flexible: Direct flights fill up the quickest. You need to be willing to have odd layovers or multiple stops to get the lowest price. I am ok with this but it surprises most travelers.
  • Research flight times and availability. This saves a lot of time calling the booking agents as you can ask if specific routes are available and go from there.
  • Call multiple times. Availability of reward seats comes and goes often.
I will make this happen. Persistence and determination will get me the tickets I want at the price that I want. I just have to keep pushing forward!