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I always enjoy reading stories of people trying to book award flights to different places.  I find it instructive to look at how different people approach booking award tickets.  Personally, I seem to have a problem with analysis paralysis and for whatever reason, it takes me longer than it should to book trips.  I’m working on it 🙂

The background

My wife and I are planning a trip to Lima Peru next summer.  From what I’ve seen, US summer is the best time to visit Peru (though I’m willing to be corrected on that).  We’d probably head down there in late May / early June (though we’re pretty flexible on that)

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(SEE ALSO: The truth of the traveler’s triangle: The relationship between Time, Price and Location)

The options

I read an excellent piece over on MileValue talking about lie-flat business class availability over to Peru.  There are lie-flat seats operated by Avianca, United, and LAN.  There are also flights by American and some of the United flights do not have lie-flat seats, so you have to be careful.

Oneworld (American / LAN) flights in red, Star Alliance (United / Avianca / Air Canada) in blue.  Delta also flies it from Atlanta (green) and Spirit and JetBlue fly from Fort Lauderdale (not pictured)

Lie flat…. or not?

I know all the miles and points world talks about are lie flat seats and business class.  And I understand the attraction – when we flew first class in Emirates from Dubai to JFK, the one thing I really enjoyed was being able to get on the flight at 2 a.m. and immediately sleep for 6 hours

(SEE ALSO: My first class trip around the world)

And the miles difference from coach to business class is not unreasonable – for example using Alaska miles it’s 17,500 miles in coach and 30,000 miles in business class.

But on a shorter flight (4-5 hours), especially if it was in the daytime, I wouldn’t be opposed to flying coach.

American / LAN / oneworld availability

AA.com does not show LAN availability, so you have to look on britishairways.com.  Most of the LAN flights I looked at from JFK or MIA only had 1 business class set availability.  Interestingly, BA was showing 7 seats available on an AA codeshare
peru-flights-ba-availability

I called AA but they were not able to see anything on AA7739, so perhaps that’s just phantom availability.

Checking out United / Avianca / Star Alliance

United.com’s search availability was pretty irritating too.  I mean it’s all well and good to have a button that says “Show nonstop availability only”, but when it doesn’t actually work then….

united-availability-peru-flights

Although that Houston-Lima flight is nicely timed and has lie-flat seats, I could not find any dates with any availability in either economy or business class.  I did see plenty of availability from Houston to Lima connecting in San Salvador, El Salvador, though arriving at 1:40 a.m. would not be my first choice.  There was availability from Newark connecting in Miami to an Avianca Peru flight MIA-LIM.

So…. what would you do?

The other problem I have, specifically with partners is that I don’t live in any of these cities :-).  It’s not as big of an option if I were to use, say, American or United miles.  But I would have to fly something like CVG-EWR-MIA-LIM.  I was hoping to find a one-stop flight.  I can’t fly CVG-MIA-LIM on United because there is no United flight directly from Cincinnati to Miami.  And of course, with United’s recent website “enhancements”, if you can’t find it on the website, they’ll charge you extra.

Ideally I’d use Alaska miles, but even though Alaska partners with both American and LAN, they only let you use 1 partner on a ticket, so I couldn’t fly American CVG-MIA and LAN from MIA-LIM on the same ticket.  Etihad miles, especially with their current 20% bonus from Citi ThankYou points, would also be a good option, but they only partner with American (not LAN)

The flight times from CVG-JFK and CVG-MIA are also not super conveniently timed

All of that was 600 words to say… I don’t know what I should book.

What would you do in my situation?  How would you book your flights to Peru?

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