One of the hardest parts of the whole process is finding award availability that is able to be booked. Maybe you used an award tool or did it the old fashioned way of searching with the airline directly.
Regardless, you’ve found it and now the stressful part comes, actually booking it.
There are so many things that can go wrong in the process and this was actually my experience with Cathay Pacific.
Award availability on Cathay Pacific
I was looking to book a trip to Japan, no easy feat, but found hope by searching 1 year out on Cathay Pacific for a flight with Japan Airlines.
I found a non stop flight for 4 people from JFK to HND for 89,000 Asia miles each.
I know how hard it is to get availability to Japan and given I found 4 seats on a non stop flight I knew I needed to secure this quickly.
Amazing, I quickly went to start the process to secure this booking.
Transfer points from AMEX
Now American Express rewards transfer 1:1 to Asia Miles that appear to now operate as Cathay Pacific miles.
This was great since I had plenty of AMEX points and was able to cover the booking.
However, I did research that it can often take 48 hours for a transfer to complete. I was also concerned that my Cathay account was brand new and that could delay the transfer.
Transferring points is usually the most stressful part but I didn’t have much choice and decided to go for it.
To my surprise the transfer went through instantly!
I simply refreshed my Cathay account and I had 360,000 miles now available.
Now that the transfer was done I thought it’d be smooth sailing.
When I went to go book the flights everything was going well and the same 4 seats were available on the flight I wanted.
Cathay has a weird system where I need to add additional passengers as companions in my account prior to booking.
I navigated that and was in my mind finally able to make my booking.
Booking flight error
Here is where I got stopped in my tracks. After filling in all the passenger details – an error.
“Unfortunately your frequent flyer is not found or does not exist. Please, verify that it is correct and try again. (1395)”
“An error occured while processing the redemption with the frequent flyer number provided (1332 – 9253)“
What did this mean?
After some research it appears that new Cathay Pacific accounts take between 24 – 48 hours before they can make an award booking.
We all know in award flight availability 24 hours can be a lifetime and plenty of time for that flight to no longer be available.
I had no choice but to sit back and just wait.
Error resolution and booking
I tried a few more times the night of with no luck and decided to try again the following day.
At 9:30am the following morning – about 18 hours since I last tried I went for it again. Luckily my flight was still available!
And this time – success!
I was able to proceed to the next screen and complete my booking, although still nervously as I expected some other error to stop me.
Not only was I able to get my flight ticketed but my booking reference worked on JAL as well to let me pick a seat – giving me further confirmation that I was actually all confirmed for my flight to Japan.
Summary & Takeaways
The stress of booking an award flight never seems to go away but the more you do it the more you may be able to anticipate some of these issues coming up.
In this case the only thing to solve this error is time. It is also best to keep trying since there doesn’t seem to be an exact window of when this error goes away.
How to avoid this and other potentially stressful award booking processes? Make your accounts early!
There is no harm in opening an account with airlines as they are free and generally only take a few minutes.
I know I am going to go through every airline I plan on using and make sure I have an account now to prevent this from happening again in the future.
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