Family Travel Hack – Less points = better routing on award tickets

Family travel hacks can take long haul international trips and make them shorter, easier, and get you home faster.  We once took a flight from Chile, to Miami, to North Carolina, to California, to Sydney Australia.  Look at that on a map and its a terrible idea.  We recently booked an award trip to get us home from South Africa (JNB) on Delta airlines hoping to get the direct flight from Johannesburg (JNB) to Atlanta (ATL).  Sadly when checked for award availability, the only flights possible for the cheap award fare were via Johannesburg (JNB) – London Heathrow (LHR) – Seattle (SEA) on Virgin Atlantic. Having two overnight flights in a row can be a challenge for the kids, but the difference in award fare was substantial.  It was 40k Delta miles per ticket to fly via LHR and 110k Delta miles to fly via ATL. To make matters more complicated there are no free seat assignments on Virgin Atlantic flights and to ensure we sat together we ended up spending over $600 to get preassigned seats on the flights.

Caution - Schedule Change Ahead

The Option

We always book our flights out as much as possible, in this case it was exactly 340 days before our trip.  Because we booked so early between the time we booked the trip and flew there was a schedule change.  Typically when there is a schedule change of more than 90 minutes you can take the option to change your ticket.  Most of the time they will allow you to change departure times and sometimes even your route to accommodate your schedule.

The Solution

As soon as I realized we had a schedule change (the last leg of our flight home was 90 minutes later that we originally booked) on our flight I though of this family travel hack!  The problem was; we figured it out while in South Africa and were unable to call Delta to get a change.  Then we tried to change our flight using the web portal with no success.  Without being able to call or change online I emailed them via the contact us page.  Linzie then had the genius idea of contacting Delta via Twitter.  Sure enough within minutes someone from Delta responded on twitter.  We began to direct message and I asked them if it was possible to reroute our tickets because the new itinerary did not work for our schedule.

The Outcome

Success!  Within an hour of back and forth twitter messages the extremely helpful Delta rep was able to rebook us on the much shorter and more direct JNB-ATL flight!  Although the JNB-ATL flight is 16 hours 45 minutes long, it gets us home 14 hours faster and eliminates a second overnight flight.  Even better we were able to contact Virgin Atlantic about getting a refund on the preassigned seat fees!  Keep this family travel trip hack in mind if you have a change in

We will post the joys and comfort of a 16 hour 45 minute flight with kids aged 11,9, and 7 in our next trip report that will be out next week:
Family Travel for 5 to Africa!

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  1. Pingback: Africa for 5 - Family Travel to Africa - Part 1 - Family Frequent FlyerFamily Frequent Flyer

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