Progress to book flights to Finland: Part 3

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Progress to book flights to Finland: Intro

Progress to book flights to Finland: Part 2

To transfer or not to transfer, that is the question today.

I need to backtrack a bit (this post highlights the nature of travel planning – and travel itself). Last week I shared that I had enough AA miles for two one ways US to EU. That was theoretical since I had enough points somewhere else to transfer to AA (to top off the account), to book those flights. I also discovered that I had just enough points to book the entire trip with Star Alliance, so I had a choice.

The question was: do I try to make the EU booking with AA miles (and make the transfer to do so), or do I go with Star Alliance? Aside: SPG is currently the only transfer partner to AA, and I had not made the transfer from SPG yet. That normally takes 3-10 days as well.

My primary concern was:

  1. I admit that I’m having some type of FoMO (fear of missing out) because transfers are permanent and I might want to use those SPG points for something else like hotels.
  2. I wanted to use AA miles for a different award later in the year for Asia on Cathay.
  3. All AA routes to EU were two stops and I could possibly get one stops with *A (Star Alliance). Wishful thinking can sometimes pay off… or not.
  4. I can put an AA award on hold for five days and hope for the best, but by the time the points transfer, award availability may have dried up.
  5. I had not performed the CPM (cent per mile) analysis on redemption values vs retail value yet.

Let’s see if we can work this out today by breaking out the options more clearly:

  1. Make the entire trip *A using UA miles for both inbound/outbound, assuming availability exists.
  2. Make the transfer to AA and liquidate my AA miles fully on a two stop.

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I used the Award Nexus (highly recommended) tool to find availability and things looked better on Oneworld. The total travel time on most itineraries was still less than 23 hours, which is acceptable to me for flying half way around the world. Since AA allows free changes to the itinerary as long as the origin and destination stay the same, I could book the two stop now and change if something opens up later. Since my priorities was to use miles however I can, I was able to allay much of my fears.

I decided to pull the trigger and transfer the SPG points (while putting an itinerary on hold with AA). The main reason I felt comfortable was because I overcame my concerns. If you can book any reasonable itinerary with miles, do it.

At the end of the day, overthinking can lead to inaction (analysis paralysis), so in the world of travel planning do yourself a favor and have decision points, workflows, and deadlines to help you pull the trigger. If I didn’t work through my concerns quickly, I would have been stuck without a ticket for another week!

What has been your experience in these scenarios?