Playing Award Airport Roulette


Back before doing my thang, apparently one could play airport departure roulette – roll up to the airport with a bag and a sense of adventure and pick up an empty seat going to somewhere on the cheap.  However with airlines getting better at flying full planes, and this being a great way to get on the TSA full body cavity search priority list, it doesn’t really seem to be much of a viable option today.

I was wondering how well this might work with award travel – although my sample size here is of n=2, and from my local hub city – ORD.  I did pick flights to Europe during the end of peak season still though.  Searches all completed late 8/2/14.  I searched and although I don’t believe either site shows all partner availability – nonetheless, what did I find?

A lot of seats left in economy to Paris…

How about business?  It usually seems as if there are a few open seats up there…


Not bad for something leaving the day after I searched.  How about United to Berlin?  Saver award on one of their flights available – annoyingly hard to come by booking 6+ months out as I have typically done on my flights.  Partner flights also shown – note the difference in taxes and fees cost as well as points.


Return flights:

Booking…  note the $75 service fee imposed on award flights booked with less than 21 days out.  With status this fee is reduced, up to nothing for top tier status.  The same applies for AA.

Not bad – the short term service fee is a pain but the prospects seem pretty good for last minute bookings for those flexible enough with their time and schedule.

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