"Honey, we're flying in a suite which converts to a double bed with vintage Dom Perignon tomorrow, pack your stuff". Who wouldn't want to hear that?! Everyone likes free or nearly "free" sh*t. Sadly, planning "free" travel, that is travel using miles often involves more emphasis on the word "planning" than actual travel. As annoying as it may be to some, despite what you've heard, spontaneity can be the key to alleviating your frustrations and ACTUALLY using your miles... 

Yes, that picture is indeed from an airplane and it is indeed the Singapore "Suite" on their A380. There are all sorts of fallacies about booking tickets using miles 354 days in advance when the seats are released or burning incense and making sure the smoke goes to the north where the mileage gods can see the offering. Though it occasionally is successful, it's really not entirely accurate. Here's the problem. Airlines fail to recognize that seats using miles are not free seats, they are seats rewarding loyalty and money already spent with the airline. With that said, airlines hate giving away aforementioned "free" seats using miles. Quite often 354 days out airlines are hoping that people will purchase every ticket in the cabin you'd like to fly and therefore don't feel a need to release availability to seats using miles. In fact, I'd go as far as to say they do everything not to. Sure, there are exceptions but booking early is no guarantee of availability or success. Sometimes the absolute best thing to do is book late. Very late. Sorry boss! 

This logic applies to all types of frequent flier miles and is not intended to be in place of early planning but rather a "don't give up" message. For the sake of illustration we will focus on one of the best possible ways to use points and miles, especially those from American Express, Chase or Citi cards, Singapore Airlines. Singapore is a five star airline offering some of the most luxurious ways to spend miles without using a ridiculous number of miles. For only 48,875 miles and less than $200USD you can fly their business class on the Airbus A380 one way between Europe and the US (vice versa) and even less than that round trip on shorter Asian routes. For a small fraction more you can even fly the "Suite" complete with double bed, vintage Dom Perignon and over the top service. The problem is finding the cantankerous space. If I search a year in advance for a flight from New York to Germany (or any other route Singapore flies) I find virtually no availability at the "saver" (least miles) level. I certainly don't want to blow an extra 30,000 miles per person in each direction if I don't absolutely have to. If I search for this week however I can just about pick any day and fly away at that "saver" level. If you've been sitting on miles or frustrated in trying to plan a holiday a year in advance, whatever type of mileage you collect it's always great to look at things in the near future. Sure you don't have as much time to pack or plan but spontaneity is exciting. Honey, pack your stuff, first class awaits.

In the end this is a long winded way of saying that you shouldn't give up on award, upgrade, free flight or whatever flight space. It comes, it goes, it returns but often the best way to lock it in is last minute when the airline is less believing that they will sell a ticket and more hopeful that someone will cash in their reward miles. Save a few of those vacation days for a rainy day, it could be the ticket to extracting the most value for your miles. Enjoy!

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