Category Archives: AAdvantage

Super Cheap, Super Luxury Award on Qatar A380

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Qatar Airways has begun flying its A380s from Doha to London and will begin service to Paris and Bangkok soon.

There are a lot of luxury options between the Middle East and Europe, so I want to focus on the route between Doha and Bangkok that begins December 1.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 3.40.15 PM

from gcmap.com

Award space is wide open on the Qatar A380 between Doha and Bangkok for two people in Business Class. Best of all, the award costs only 30,000 American Airlines miles one way!

Business Class passengers have fully their own fully flat beds and access to an onboard lounge that looks like it’s the nicest in the sky.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 3.52.00 PM

Onboard bar for First and Business Class passengers

  • How is Qatar First Class on the A380?
  • How is Qatar Business Class on the A380?
  • What is the award space picture on the plane?
  • How can you book the award space?
  • How can you make Doha to Bangkok part of a larger trip?

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How to Earn and Spend 93,000 American Airlines Miles

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American Airlines and US Airways are currently offering huge sign up bonuses on their co-branded credit cards. While the miles will temporarily go to separate accounts, everyone’s American Airlines and US Airways miles will be combined in early 2015 as part of the airlines’ merger, so that you can earn enough miles for a round-the-world trip just from opening two credit cards.

Getting both cards and meeting their combined minimum spending requirement of $3,001 will earn you 93,000 American Airlines miles when your US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer accounts combine in the second quarter of 2015.

What Can You Do with 93,000 American Airlines Miles?

1. Take a Round-the-World Trip

a. For 87,500 miles, you can take a round-the-world trip with stops in Tokyo, Mumbai, and Paris.

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b. For 95,000 miles ($2k more spending on either card), you can take a trip to Chile, Australia, and back.

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2. Take Your Friend Somewhere

  • 2 roundtrips to Europe (80,000 miles from Oct 15 – May 15 each year)
  • 3 roundtrip to South America (90,000 miles to Peru and north most of the year)
  • almost 2 roundtrips to Japan or Korea (100,000 miles Oct 1 – Apr 30 each year)
  • 2.5 roundtrips to Hawaii (87,500 miles half the year)
  • almost 4 roundtrips to the Caribbean or Alaska (100,000 miles to Alaska year round or Caribbean Sep 7 – Nov 14 each year)

South America is as little as 30k miles roundtrip, Europe 40k roundtrip, Asia 50k roundtrip, Africa and Australia 75k roundtrip, and the Middle East and India 90k roundtrip. For the full chart, see here.

Sunset over Waikiki

3. Treat yourself to the world’s nicest First Class

  • 67,500 miles is enough to fly one way from the United States to anywhere in East Asia in First Class on Cathay Pacific, which is my second best flight ever.
  • 90,000 miles is enough for one way in First Class from the United States to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives in Etihad First Class
IMG_0052

Stretching out in Cathay Pacific First Class

4. Head to the South Pacific

American partners with Fiji Airways, Air Tahiti Nui, and Qantas, so it has the best miles for the South Pacific. American charges only 37,500 miles each way in economy, 62,500 miles each way in business class, and 72,500 miles each way in First Class. (Qantas First Class looks unreal.)

Overwater bungalows in the South Pacific

 

5. Machu Picchu in a Bed

60,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip from the United States to Northern South America in business class. That means you can fly to anywhere in Peru–like Machu Picchu–with both directions in fully flat beds on a 787 Dreamliner on American Airlines-partner LAN Airlines.

I talked more about this award in depth here. The only drawback with this award is that once you experience flying in a fully flat bed, you might not ever want to go back to economy!

American has the biggest route network from the United States to Latin America and partners with LAN and TAM, the biggest airlines in South America, so American has the most and best award space to South America

Wow! Machu Picchu

6. Europe in Business Class

100,000 miles ($7,000 more in spending on either card) is enough for a roundtrip from the United States to Europe in business class. Several American Airlines partners fly to Europe with fully flat beds. I wrote about American’s Los Angeles to London route featuring flat beds in business class here. The newest planes feature an on-board bar in business class, pictured below.

How Exactly Do You Get the 93,000 Miles?

You apply for one American Airlines personal card and one US Airways card.

You make a single purchase on the US Airways card and receive 40,000 bonus miles after your first statement closes. You spend $3,000 in the first 3 months on the American Airlines card and earn 50,000 bonus miles.

The bonus miles plus the spending add up to 53,000 American Airlines miles and 40,000 US Airways miles.

You cannot combine these miles, but…

Your American Airlines and US Airways frequent flyer accounts will be automatically combined in early 2015 as part of the merger between the two airlines. At that point, you’ll have 93,000+ American Airlines miles.

Other Benefits Besides the Sign Up Bonus

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with two Admirals Club airport lounge passes after meeting the minimum spending requirement.

It also comes with my favorite feature by far of any airline credit card. While you’re a cardholder you’ll get a 10% miles rebate on all your American Airlines award redemptions up to 10,000 miles rebated per calendar year.

That means that if you booked a roundtrip award ticket to Tahiti with your American Airlines miles while you were a cardholder for 75k miles, you’d get 7,500 miles back for a total cost of only 67,500 miles roundtrip!

With these cards, you can mentally take a 10% discount on all award prices. Now Europe is only 18k miles each way, a business class bed to Machu Picchu is 27k miles each way, and Cathay Pacific First Class is 60,750 miles each way.

If you redeem the 93,000 miles next year, that’s another 9,300 miles rebated because of this benefit.

The benefit is automatic, no enrollment necessary. Here’s my experience with the rebate.

I value the 10,000 extra miles a year at about $180, so this is a huge ongoing benefit to me and one reason that I hold a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.

The 10% rebate on awards is in addition to a free checked bag for you and four companions when flying American Airlines, Group 1 boarding to get that overhead bin space, a 25% discount on in-flight purchases, and double miles on American Airlines purchases.

The The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® comes with a free checked bag for you and four companions when flying US Airways, Zone 2 boarding to get that overhead bin space, and double miles on US Airways purchases.

Full Offers Rundown

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and 2 Admirals Club® Passes after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Group 1 boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
  • Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount every cardmembership year with qualifying purchases and cardmembership renewal*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase and paying $89 annual fee

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee*
  • First checked bag FREE on eligible bags for you and up to four companions on domestic US Airways operated flights
  • One companion certificate good for up to 2 guests to travel with you on a US Airways operated flight at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
  • Priority boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flights
  • Redeem miles for award travel on US Airways and American Airlines booked through usairways.com or US Airways Reservations
  • Earn miles on every purchase with 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways and American Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 on purchases everywhere else
  • NEW! Receive a 25% savings on eligible US Airways and American Airlines in-flight purchases
  • Please see terms and conditions for complete details

Application Link: The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

Recap

You can earn 93,000 American Airlines miles in the next few weeks by:

  1. Applying for the American Airlines and US Airways cards.
  2. Meeting the $3k minimum spending requirement on the American Airlines card and making a purchase on the US Airways card
  3. Waiting until early 2015 for your American Airlines and US Airways miles’ balances to be combined.

Once you have the cards, you can enjoy the 10% rebate on the miles needed for AAdvantage awards up to 10k miles per calendar year and other benefits like a free checked bag and priority boarding on both airlines.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase and paying $89 annual fee

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Integration Announcement of AAdvantage and Dividend Miles

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As I predicted five days ago, we got out our American Airlines AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles integration announcement today.

The announcement is fantastic news, honestly much better than I expected.

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As a reminder, the parent companies of the airlines legally merged in December 2013, but the two airlines still have separate operating certificates and loyalty programs.

Now we know that Dividend Miles and AAdvantage will integrate into one program (still called AAdvantage) between April and June 2015. American Airlines hopes to operate under one operating certificate (eliminate the US Airways brand) within six months of that.

The combination of the frequent flyer programs has ramifications for elites to do with status benefits, upgrades, and earning levels. I’ll save those for another post.

This post will deal with the ramifications for those of us who want to earn and  redeem American Airlines and US Airways miles.

  • What will the new award chart be?
  • Will miles be freely convertible before the combination?
  • When will the US Airways card disappear?

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Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard with 50,000 Bonus Miles

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles and two Admirals Club day passes after spending $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months of account opening. This is enough miles for two roundtrips within the mainland United States, Canada, and Alaska or one roundtrip to Europe, South America, or Asia.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.47.36 PMI ranked the card #2 on my top ten list of the best cards for free travel this month because of

  • the massive sign up bonus
  • American Airlines’ cheap award chart
  • the fact that cardholders get a 10% rebate on the miles used to book American Airlines award tickets
  • the $95 annual fee being waived the first 12 months

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Beyond the benefits when award booking, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® also makes traveling American Airlines less stressful.

  • Cardholders are entitled to a free checked bag for themselves and up to four companions on the same ticket. That’s up to a $250 value per roundtrip.
  • Cardholders get Group 1 boarding, so they’ll never have to gate check bags after the overhead bin space fills up.
  • Cardholders get a 25% discount on purchases onboard (I recommend the pastrami sandwich!)
  • Cardholders get two Admirals Club passes on completion of the minimum spending requirement. That means free wifi, alcohol, snacks, and access to better agents in case of delayed and cancelled flights.

The American Airlines card is one of the best airline cards, but it is not right for everyone.

  • What types of people should get the American Airlines credit card and what types shouldn’t?
  • What are the best uses of American Airlines miles?
  • What about the American Airlines/US Airways merger?

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My Experience: Cadillac Test Drive for 7,500 Miles

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Saturday I went to a Cadillac dealership in La Quinta, California to test drive a Cadillac to earn 7,500 American Airlines miles.

Unfortunately the deal is now dead as View from the Wing reported (and no, I don’t have any idea whether your scheduled or completed test drive will earn the miles.)

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I’ll post my experience anyway because these test drive promos in which you can earn something like miles or a prepaid gift card are common enough.

  • What was the process?
  • How long did it take?
  • Did I have to take the test drive?

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American Airlines US Airways Combined Program Imminent?

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US Airways and American Airlines legally merged in December 2013, but the two airlines maintain separate frequent flyer programs that will be combined at some point.

That’s all we know.

Chatter is heating up on the FlyerTalk thread for speculation about that future combined program that the combined program could be announced “probably in the next 2 weeks or so.” The predicted date for the combination of the two programs is March 1, 2015!

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We know that the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate. That means that the chance to earn 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase could disappear in just over four months. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

  • Why do I consider this most recent speculation very reliable?
  • What is the speculation for what the new program looks like?
  • What do I hope the combined program looks like?
  • What is the optimal strategy for the US Airways MasterCard?

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Brand New Flat Bed Business Class Option Between United States and Australia

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Qantas is refurbishing its A330s with “fully flat beds in business class.” Right now the A330s serve the following routes.

  • Sydney-Melbourne
  • Sydney-Brisbane
  • Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Perth
  • Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Singapore
  • Melbourne/Brisbane to Hong Kong
  • Sydney-Bangkok
  • Sydney-Jakarta
  • Sydney-Manila
  • Sydney-Honolulu
  • Sydney-Shanghai

I have medium hopes for the new beds, which will roll out starting in December 2014. The reason I am not more excited is that the picture accompanying the press release looks to me like an angled lie flat beds, not fully flat beds.

A330-Business-Suite-Fully-Flat-1024x756This jives with my experience in business class on the Qantas A380. I was expecting fully flat, but I got a small and uncomfortable angle.

Still these new beds can be great news for anyone flying between Hawaii and Australia, Asia and Australia, or within Australia.

  • More info about the new beds
  • Which miles to book the new beds
  • The award space picture

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7,500 Free American Airlines Miles for 10 Min Cadillac Test Drive

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You can get 7,500 American Airlines miles for test driving any new Cadillac, and you might not even have to do the 10 minute test drive.

From the promo page:

Right now, AAdvantage® members can earn 7,500 AAdvantage miles when you test drive any Cadillac* vehicle, including the striking 2015 CTS sedan with available adaptive cruise control and available OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi®**. The available Wi-Fi® hotspot works inside your CTS and up to 50 feet away as long as your vehicle is on, while the 4G LTE allows you to use your laptop or tablet as a mobile office with a reliable connection.

Contact a Cadillac Concierge today at 844-469-2234 to schedule an appointment and participate in this exclusive limited time offer. Please allow 4-6 weeks to receive your AAdvantage miles.

*At participating dealers only.  Must have an AAdvantage account and be 21 years or older with a valid U.S. driver’s license.  Employees of General Motors are not eligible. Retail value: $221.00. Test drive lasts approximately 10 minutes.  Offer valid while supplies last.  Limit one test drive per person.  Allow 4-6 weeks for miles to be awarded after confirmation that test drive has been completed.  Offer is nontransferable, nonnegotiable and not redeemable for cash.

I value 7,500 American Airlines miles at about $133. If the test drive takes “10 minutes” and registering and driving to/from the dealer adds up to an hour total, that’s quite a return on my time.

  • How can you avoid the test drive and high pressured sales pitch and still get the miles?
  • What is this “Retail value: $221″ nonsense? Are you going to get taxes on the miles?
  • Why should you NOT call to sign up for this promotion right now?

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Amazing Off Peak Awards to the Caribbean with AA/US Miles

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You can get from anywhere in the United States to tons of destinations in the Caribbean for 20,000 US Airways miles roundtrip or 25,000 American Airlines miles.

The Caribbean from Google Maps

The Caribbean from Google Maps

Both deals rely on the airlines’ off peak award charts. US Airways’ off peak dates are September 1 – 30. American Airlines’ off peak dates are September 7 – November 14.

Both airlines, as well as Delta and United, normally charge 35,000 miles roundtrip in economy to the Caribbean. During off peak dates, both US Airways and American Airlines charge 25,000 miles. In addition, US Airways offers folks who have a US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® a 5,000 mile discount on all US Airways awards flown exclusively on US Airways planes. US Airways off peak awards have the same requirement, so cardholders get a 5,000 mile discount on all US Airways off peak awards, bringing the all in price to 20,000 miles roundtrip to the Carribean.

We know that the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time in early 2015. That means that the chance to earn 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase will disappear soon. That’s enough miles for two roundtrips to the Caribbean during September. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

  • What is an even better deal than off peak awards if you live in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Miami, New York, or Dallas?
  • How do American Airlines and US Airways off peak awards work?

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Australia over Christmas and New Years on Miles

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I get a ton of requests at my Award Booking Service for people who want to fly from the United States to Australia or New Zealand over Christmas and New Year’s with their frequent flyer miles. Usually the request is to fly in Business or First Class.

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I want to dissuade you from this goal because it is one of the toughest awards to book.

Last month I wrote “The Easiest Places to Get with Miles.” Miles are awesome and can get you almost anywhere in the world cheaper and more luxuriously than most people realize. But some awards are easier to book than others. Focusing on easier awards, especially at first, can get you some award-ticket “wins” that will hook you and lead to more successful bookings in the future.

Trying to book two people from the United States to Australia in Business Class from December 21 to January 3 is very hard to turn into one of those wins. It will mainly lead to frustration.

  • What is the award space picture to Australia this holiday season with American, US Airways, United, and Delta miles?
  • What is the most likely strategy to find award space?
  • What other times of year does Australia have better award space?

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Where is the Space? American Airlines New Flat Bed Business Class

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For a long time, a major weakness of American Airlines miles has been that American Airlines Business Class featured exclusively angled lie flat seats. That is changing rapidly.

  • American’s newest plane, the 777-300ER, arrived with fully flat beds in Business Class. The plane serves some flights to Sao Paulo, London, and Hong Kong.
  • American Airlines’ 767 is being retrofitted with fully flat beds in Business Class. The retrofitted plane already flies several routes to Europe, and more retrofitted planes will serve more of Europe in the coming months.
  • American Airlines’ 777-200 is being retrofitted with fully flat beds in Business Class and will arrive “later this year” to serve undisclosed routes.

All three of these Business Class products look nice. The question is: what is the award space picture on these flat beds?

  • Where is the award space on AA’s new flat beds?
  • How can you book AA flat beds?
  • What is the best flat bed space with AA miles on non-AA planes?

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4 Business Class Award Seats Every Day Between USA and Asia

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There are four Business Class award seats available every day in June 2015 on Japan Airlines’ flight from Los Angeles to Osaka, Japan. Hat tip to reader Oren for passing along the tip.

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The award space is bookable with American Airlines and US Airways miles much for as low as 50,000 miles each way. There are excellent connection options to and from Los Angeles and Osaka, so this space effectively connects all of the United States with all of Asia.

Unfortunately the seat servicing the route is angled lie flat. I’d wryly note that there’s a reason it won a 2009 design award and not a 2014 award.

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  • How can you search for the award space?
  • How can you book the award space?
  • How good is the seat?
  • What are your connection options in Los Angeles and Osaka?

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20 Percent Bonus on Marriott to American Airlines Transfers

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Reader Steve passes along a great deal for people with lots of Marriott points.

Until October 31, 2014, you can get a 20% bonus when you transfer Marriott points to American Airlines miles.

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This includes Marriott-points-to-miles transfers and transfers of Marriott points to hotel and air packages.

  • What are hotel and air packages?
  • Why are hotel and air packages often a better deal than just transferring to miles?
  • What airline transfer partner of Marriott points is always 10-20% better than other options?

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American Airlines/El Al Partnership Ends, Cheapest Options to Israel

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American Airlines’ and El Al’s partnership ends October 31, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 9.34.18 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 9.34.25 PMTo use American Airlines miles to fly to Israel on El Al, you must book by October 31, 2014. You can book American Airlines awards up to 11 months in advance, so you can travel on tickets booked October 31, 2014 until about the end of September 2015.

Once the partnership ends, you will still be able to use American Airlines miles to book US Airways flights from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv. I took a look at that award space to see how big of a loss the El Al partnership is.

  • How good is US Airways space to Israel?
  • How many American Airlines miles does it cost to book? How can you save tens of thousands of miles?

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Five Underpriced Countries for Your Next Award

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Sometimes you can go really far for not very miles by finding underpriced countries on your favorite award chart.

Award charts, by their nature, group several countries together for a single price. The countries at the extremes of each group are often underpriced relative to the rest of the group, leaving you the chance to get a great deal with your miles.

Here are five examples of underpriced countries on the American Airlines, United, Delta, US Airways, and British Airways award charts.

1. Peru, by American, United, and Delta

Peru is the farthest south country in Northern South America on the American Airlines, United, and Delta charts. I’ve previously called Peru the Best Destination for Lie Flat Seats because it is the only country in its region with lie flat seats offered by United, Delta, and American’s partner LAN.

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The most distant country in Northern South America is Peru

You can book a one way award from the United States to Peru for as little as 15,000 American Airlines miles each way in economy on these dates: between January 16 – June 14 and September 7 – November 14. That’s only 2,500 miles more than a one way award within the continental United States and cheaper than an award to Hawaii despite Peru being farther award from the continental United States than Hawaii.

You can fly flat beds to Peru for:

  • 30,000 American Airlines miles each way (LAN)
  • 35,000 United miles each way (United)
  • 90,000 Delta miles roundtrip (Delta) [45,000 miles each way starting 1/1/15]

That’s cheaper than flat beds to Hawaii, despite Peru being farther away from the continental United States. Those prices are also a huge discount on the prices to Chile, Brazil, and Argentina which are just a few hours more of flying.

Peru also happens to be my favorite country to visit. Here’s my Top Ten Things to Do, Eat, and See in Peru.

  • What are the other four underpriced countries?

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