Does anyone have experience with frequent flyer tickets? We are thinking that we will go back to Alaska on HAL, but they seem to be slow getting their Alaska schedule out. I know we can book flights 331 days ahead of time. I'm wondering if we can afford to wait to book our flights. If we wait too long and the seats assigned for frequent flyers are gone, it will cost us double the miles - and for 4 that is a lot of miles. Should we choose a different cruise line that posts their schedules earlier?
I can give you my experience. I planned to use frequent flier miles for a Southern Caribbean cruise on RCI using Delta miles. I figured I better book pretty far in advance. I called in September for flights at the end of May, and already there were no ff coach seats left at 30,000 miles per person. However, for 60,000 miles each, there were 2 first class seats available, which I took instead of double mile coach tickets which would have cost the same. It was the first time I had ever redeemed ff miles, so I happened to have 120,000 miles for the two tickets.
I would think to Alaska departure ports the seats will go very quickly, since for a lot of the country that is a usually a relatively expensive flight.
You could fly into Seattle and rent a car to Vancouver. Avis has good rates and has an office near Canada Place. It's less than a two hour drive from Seatac to downtown Vancouver, usually about 90 minutes including the border inspection. Seattle is easier to get to because there are more flights. It will be a domestic flight which will use less miles. I'm sure the frequent flier options would be broader.
The Amsterdam sails out of Seattle, which may be an option as well. But if you are doing a one way cruise, the Alaska flights do fill fast.
I am not CruiseMates Staff but let me give you my experience. Last year, my mother was sailing Vancouver to Seward. I was able to call a few months ahead and get two first class ff seats AUS-YVR and ANC-AUS. Delta then added an additional flight ANC-ATL that they were able to standby for and get home five hours early. It was a piece of cake.
Yes with a little time spent, you probably could save a little, but not a lot. The flight in or out Alaska will use up more miles than Seattle. I'm pretty sure it counts more like an international flight when it comes to miles. (Not positive though! You should probably get on the horn and ask quwstions from Alaska Airlines or whatever carrier you are planning to use.
I assume by your statement that you will probably be departing on your cruise from Seattle or Vancouver and flying back from Anchorage on a multiple destination round trip. I don't have a good idea on how soon frequent flyer tickets sell out on the Anchorage return round trip, but I have booked frequent flyer tickets between 7 and 9 months in advance to San Juan, Seattle, Boston and San Diego and haven't ever been denied although once I had to take a later flight on the return.