Timing is Everything

Amsterdam at night

I’ve been searching for award space for the return flights for our family next January from Nairobi and its been a bit tricky. I have booked and canceled this trip three times previously and always managed to find four business class seats on Turkish Airlines from Nairobi to Atlanta via Istanbul using Avianca LifeMiles. Not this time.

Even though I still have plenty of LifeMiles sitting in my account, I had to broaden my search. I could not find anything using American Airlines miles for our dates (keeping in mind I had already snagged Qatar Airways flights to Africa on New Year’s Eve. I found one intriguing option: KLM via Amsterdam with a 10 hour layover. This itinerary would allow us to sleep on the 10 hour midnight redeye from Nairobi, give us time to show the kids a bit of Amsterdam, and still get us to Atlanta that same evening on the new 787-10 business class product.

These flights for the four of us cost a total of 390,000 Flying Blue Miles plus $1900. Pretty steep, but finding four business class seats from Africa to the US was proving to be tricky. I waited a few weeks to see if anything else became available or if there was a transfer bonus from one of the credit card points programs or a Spend $xxxx, get $xxx back Amex offer for Air France/KLM, but then the KLM flights began showing fewer available seats. I was worried that someone would grab enough of the remaining seats that I went ahead and pulled the trigger on those seats.

I had 51,000 points in my Flying Blue account so I had to transfer ”only” 339,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to be able to book the flights. Of course, about one week later, Chase announced a 25% bonus for transfers to Flying Blue and there is a targeted Amex offer for $200 off a Flying Blue $1000 purchase. I haven’t been targeted for the offer yet, but I could have definitely used the transfer bonus.

I’ll never know if those seats would have still been available if I had waited another week and taken advantage of the bonus offer. I suppose I should just be happy we are flying back in comfort.

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