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When Natalya Missed Her Flight to Vegas and Miles Saved the Day

Natalya was all set for a weekend in Las Vegas. She had a two night stay booked at the The Signature at MGM Grand for 18,000 Hyatt points a night and tickets to an Andrea Bocelli concert that she had been looking forward to for weeks. But then a rainstorm in the Bay area delayed her trip to the airport and, by the time she arrived, her flight was gone.

Because she had her flight on Southwest and called ahead of time on her way to the airport, she was able to cancel her ticket and get a refund. What she really wanted, however, was to take a later flight that evening. They had nothing until the next day. Her Signature suite had a 72 hour cancelation policy and she’d not only lose her night there with no refund, but she’d be cutting a two night trip to Las Vegas down to just one night.

Natalya had a suite at the MGM Grand

Natalya had a suite at the MGM Grand

United Airlines still had a flight that night at 10:48 pm, but wanted $600 for the tickets. While that’s not a bankruptcy-inducing amount, it’s a bit much to pay for just a flight to Vegas. She would still have a nice time at the Andrea Bocelli concert, but having to shell out $600 at that point would put a damper on the weekend and definitely lower morale. She called me and asked what to do.

Miles can be an insurance policy when things go wrong and you need tickets last minute!

When I checked the United Airlines website, I saw they still had flights that night at 10:48 pm for 10,000 miles each.

United will usually charge a close-in booking fee of $75 a ticket, but since I still have my 1K status, I could avoid paying that. Fortunately, if they have award space availability, you can book really up until the last minute… even when you’re at the airport. Two hours before the flight, those empty seats are completely distressed inventory so they’re happy to let them go with miles. Of course, I would never advocate using 10,000 United Airlines miles for flights to Vegas from San Francisco (tickets can usually be bought cheaply enough where that’s not a good use of the miles), it’s a welcome alternative to paying $300 a ticket at that point.

After a few more weather delays, Natalya’s flight finally boarded at midnight and she made it to Las Vegas to enjoy her MGM Signature Suites room… more on that coming soon!


  1. Philip Duong says

    Would it be possible to use the benefits of the sapphire card to get reimbursed for the missed night at the hotel if she used a chase sapphire card to pay for her ticket (the remaining taxes after using southwest points)? Assuming if she did miss a night at the hotel?

    • says

      The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has trip delay and cancellation insurance, but I’ve never tried to use it so I am just not very familiar with the terms or what’s covered. Either way, it seems like a difficult case… she used Hyatt points for her room so those are hard to value and she’d have to go through the trouble of filing a claim. If you do find out the answer on whether that’s covered, let me know :)

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