An award ticket that should never have been

A few months ago I was ecstatic after securing an award ticket to New Zealand for this coming December. It wasn’t just that I got seats on the dates I wanted. And it wasn’t just that they were in premium cabins almost the entire way. And it wasn’t just that I was able to get one of the longest possible routings along the way to maximize my time in the big comfy seats (and lounges). OK, maybe it was that last one.

Unfortunately, however, the reason I was going to New Zealand changed around a bit. And it looks like we’re going to be spending a couple weeks in India at the end of December, No reason I cannot combine the two trips, right? Apparently Continental felt that was actually going to be a problem.

It seems there are two ways for the airline to issue award tickets and mine was originally set up with the method that requires the agents working on the ticket to manually verify the details. Based on what the agent I spoke with today explained, it seems that a small detail was missed during the original, manual booking of my award. It wasn’t a legal routing according to their system. Oopsie.

Of course, I wasn’t really ready to give up on what was an absolutely awesome award trip, despite their suggestions that they could convert it to an Around the World award for only 120,000 extra points (75% more than the 160K I originally redeemed). Ummmm, no thanks. After a bit of discussion we agreed that, while it might not actually be valid in their system, I shouldn’t be penalized because someone misunderstood the rules a couple months ago when issuing it. So I was permitted to make my change – and I was still able to find seats on flights I wanted within a couple days of my ideal – and to keep the ticket.

So I ended up with this little bit of awesomeness:


I get a new carrier (Swiss) as well as my first experiences in the Lufthansa and Thai Airways first class cabins. Only the segment between Auckland and Melbourne is in coach; the rest are all in the highest class of service available on the flight. I tried to mix Air Canada in for one of the transatlantic segments but couldn’t make that work. And I gave up the chance at a first class suite on the Turkish 77W, but those are apparently less consistent these days anyways so it wasn’t a sure think even if I did keep that route.

I am not complaining one bit, even if I did have to trade a boondoggle in Singapore for an overnight in Bangkok.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Did the agent mention when the rule changed to not allow transit through Europe/Asia to Oceania?

    I think this would make future redemptions to New Zealand/Australia more difficult.

  2. I should clarify that I THINK it is only TATL via SE Asia that is no longer valid. I believe that a TPAC SE Asia routing would still work OK. But the agent seemed pretty confused yesterday about the whole thing.

  3. Hmm…I have to admit that my number one priority wouldn’t be creating a trip with the “longest possible routings.” Interesting.

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