Category Archives: MileValue

MileValue Was Down Twice in the Last Week!

MileValue has gone down twice in the last week.

The site was down for almost 48 hours starting last Wednesday because I screwed up while moving the site to a private server to keep up with growing readership.

Luckily a loyal reader helped get the site back up about 24 hours earlier than it otherwise would have been up. Check out @pcg on twitter. He’s a wizard with WordPress and web hosting (and judging by his twitter handle, an early adopter of twitter.)

Yesterday, the site also went down for about 12 hours. This time, it was swept up in a huge problem my hosting company, Host Gator, was having with a lot of its sites.

These are two of only three times that the site has had any serious down time in the last two years.

What can you do when the site is down to still get the latest information about miles and points?

Make sure you are

signed up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! It’s totally free, and you can unsubscribe at any time (if you like making huge mistakes.) Subscribers saw my latest posts from right before each of the site’s meltdowns.

In the meantime, it looks like all the site’s hosting issues are solved, so you can look forward to an uninterrupted stream of news and analysis from here on out. (And not the boring kind, the kind that gets you free travel in luxury!)

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MileValue Meet Up in New York City Tomorrow Monday for Happy Hour

There will be a MileValue meet up tomorrow (2/17/14) at The Australian at 20 W 38th St in Manhattan from 5 PM to 8 PM.

I’ve wanted to hold a meet up in New York City for quite a long time. Unfortunately I will only be there from Monday through Thursday, so I can’t hold a customary MileValue dinner. And I really apologize for not having my other plans set soon enough to give more than 24 hours notice.

But I hope everyone will be able to join me for Happy Hour at the Australian. I’ll make sure I am there from 5 PM to 8 PM, and others can come come and go as their schedule permits. I called and confirmed that The Australian’s Happy Hour will be from 4 PM – 7 PM as usual even though tomorrow is a holiday. The Happy Hour menu features steeply discounted food and drink.

Like past MileValue meet ups, this one will be:

  • Free, other than the cost of your food and drink.
  • Split checks, so we can all show off our credit cards. ;)
  • Open to people of all miles-knowledge levels.
  • Informational. There will be no prepared remarks, but I will be happy to answer all the questions that you may have about earning and redeeming miles or my recent travels.
  • Possibly full of secret info people won’t post online (and no, I won’t email it to people who can’t attend).
  • Social, a great chance to meet other people in this hobby from the New York area and talk travel.

If you want to join the fun, there is no need to RSVP. You can let us know in the comments though.

Where should I host MileValue dinners in the future?

PS: I have about a very, very few of these beauties left in Small and Large only if anyone wants one. First come, first served in person.

Announcing a MileValue Dinner in Honolulu on Saturday, January 25

I’m very excited to announce the first MileValue dinner since October on Saturday, January 25 at 7 PM on Oahu, either in Waikiki or Honolulu.

As a special treat, I’ve confirmed the attendance of Rene from Delta Points. Rene is the go-to expert on all things Delta from status, to the myriad credit card offerings, to redemptions, to aircraft, to getting bumped, to… you get the idea.

Delta and SkyTeam are major players from HNL.

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Delta is well represented at HNL. There are lots of SkyTeam flights from HNL including Korean’s flights to Seoul and Tokyo plus Alaska’s flights to many west coast cities.

Like past MileValue dinners, this one will be:

  • Free, other than the cost of your meal.
  • Split checks, so we can all show off our credit cards. ;)
  • Entrees under $20.
  • Limited to 30 people.
  • Open to people of all miles-knowledge levels.
  • Informational. There will be no prepared remarks, but I will be happy to answer all the questions that you may have about earning and redeeming miles or my recent travels.
  • Possibly full of secret info people won’t post online (and no, I won’t email it to people who can’t attend).
  • Social, a great chance to meet other people in this hobby from Oahu (or on vacation) and talk travel.

If you want to join the fun, there is only one way to RSVP:

Email me at

I am limiting this event to 30 folks on a first come, first served basis, so that I have a chance to meet everyone. Once you email me, I’ll get back to in a few days with the restaurant details, which I haven’t selected. (If you know a restaurant that fits the above criteria, let me know.)

I’m looking forward to seeing many familiar and new faces at the dinner. Remember there is only one way to RSVP for the dinner on Oahu at 7 PM on January 25: by emailing me.

If you won’t be on Oahu, hopefully I’ll see you somewhere else along me travels. And certainly be on the lookout for the announcement of a New York City dinner next month.

Where should I host MileValue dinners in the future?

2013 Year in Travel

Countries Visited (21)

In chronological order (except for the US, which would be third chronologically):

  • Australia (11 days)
  • New Zealand (10 days)
  • Argentina (5.5 months)
  • Paraguay (8 days)
  • Uruguay (3 days)
  • South Africa (9 days)
  • Germany (7 days)
  • United Kingdom (2 days)
  • Sweden (2 days)
  • France (4 days)
  • Malaysia (8 days)
  • Thailand (7 days)
  • Austria (2 days)
  • Slovakia (2 days)
  • Hungary (4 days)
  • Croatia (3 days)
  • Italy (1 day)
  • Belgium (1 day)
  • Norway (1 day)
  • Netherlands (1 day)
  • United States (3.5 months)

Premium Airline Cabins Flown (12)

In chronological order (with links to trip reports):

Miles Flown (78,953)

  • 78,953 miles flown over 46 segments
  • If I had flown all these as paid flights on one airline like United or American, I wouldn’t even have top tier status!
  • Longest flight: Melbourne to Los Angeles in Qantas Business Class (7,921 miles)
  • Shortest flight: Ciudad del Este to Asuncion, Paraguay (168 miles)
  • Favorite flight: Emirates First Class. It was so over-the-top and fun!

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Favorite Moments of Travel

  • Playing bilingual basketball games with the expats and locals in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Cliff jumping in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
  • Bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand and Soweto, Jo’burg, South Africa.
  • Leading an “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” cheer in Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open (tennis tournament) in Melbourne, Australia.
  • Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef with my own air supply off Cairns, Australia.
  • Eating Thai curry in Thailand at Thai prices.
  • Biking in the Lake District of Patagonia in Bariloche, Argentina.
  • Spending three days at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
  • Seeing an American-style improv show in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • Getting to travel with my brother in Australia and using miles to make his dream of seeing the Australian Open a reality.
  • Getting to fly a friend to Thailand to spend a week together.
  • Meeting new friends along the way.
  • Reconnecting with old friends from previous trips.
  • Visiting family.

What were your travel stats for 2013? More importantly, what were your best travel memories from this year?


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Predictions for Major Changes to Loyalty Programs in 2014

2013 was a year of several major devaluation announcements including:

  • United (kicks in February 1, 2014)
  • Southwest (kicks in March 31, 2014)
  • Delta (already kicked in on current award bookings for travel that starts February 1, 2014 or later)
  • Hyatt (kicks in January 7, 2014)
  • Ultimate Rewards (with three major transfer partners devaluing–United, Southwest, and Hyatt–the program took a major hit through no fault of its own)

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’re still getting outsized value from our miles and points and traveling the world in style for next to nothing.

What’s my outlook for 2014 and what’s my strategy for earning and burning the major points’ currencies?

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from everyone at MileValue to you and your family.

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Christmas 2008, the View from the Conrad in Punta del Este, Uruguay

There will be no new posts the rest of the week. Check out some of these classics if you can’t take a few days off from thinking about miles!

We’ll be back Sunday with new posts about getting, maximizing, and enjoying miles.

Finally, reader Zack asked me to share something with all my readers:

If you want to do some good today, Hyatt is giving away $1 to Room to Read per social media share until 12/31/13. All you have to do to share the message and have another $1 donated is to go here and click the icon of any social media account that you have at the top of the page.

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I just made my tweet.

Another Deal the Bloggers Killed: The Negative Price Oneway from the Carribean to Europe

Currently, the following United award (Newark to London, returning Paris to Newark) would cost 60k miles in economy.

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Add in a stopover in Newark on the return, and a later one way trip to Jamaica and the price drops 2,500 miles to only 57,500 miles in economy!

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Unfortunately, this deal I first wrote about last year dies in six weeks! I’m a bit sad this deal will be dying even though I’ve never used it, and it’s pretty niche.

Learn more about negative priced one ways and how I killed them!

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I Was Interviewed by Mighty Travels

Mighty Travels interviewed me about miles, travel, and this blog. As usual, I went on and on and on and … ;)

My favorite question and answer:

What is your biggest learning from earning so many miles and points?

The best use of miles is often to give them away.

In 2013, I traveled nine months outside the US to 20+ countries. And yet I had more miles than I could use. I booked four trips for friends that they otherwise couldn’t have taken, in all cases either flying them to visit me or to accompany me on a trip.

The happiness I got from those redemptions exceeded the happiness I got from my Emirates First Class redemption.

Read the full interview here.

Killing Deals is Good

Here is my response to the people who think I shouldn’t have shared the deal in $200 Flight to Japan with Hidden City Ticketing on LifeMiles Awards:

All deals in the miles world die. If an airline, hotel, or bank offers outsized value in some way such that it thinks it is losing money, it will discontinue the deal.

The question is what responsibility folks who know a deal have to keep that deal secret to prolong its life.

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Happy Thanksgiving from MileValue

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from MileValue!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, and only partly because it’s the only day when I consume two heaping plates of some of my absolute favorite foods, pass out for a few hours while my body digests, and then wake up just in time to see the fourth quarter of a football game.

Mainly I love to share the time with family and friends and count my blessings. Before eating, we all go around the table and share what we’re thankful for. I’ll share mine here.

  • I’m thankful that I live at a time where I can get almost anywhere in the world in 24 hours. Just think about that. Tomorrow I can be anywhere. Certainly that wouldn’t have been true for my grandfather when he was my age even if he were the richest man in the world.
  • I’m thankful that I’m stupendously, outrageously materially wealthy in historical and global terms.  Over three billion people live on less than $2.50 per day. And we live at the wealthiest point in human history. Just by earning an average American income, we are so rich. It’s easy to forget that when I compare my income to a neighbor’s or to my wants, but it’s easy to remember when I walk through the slums near Johannesburg, Africa. I’m also thankful that I realize that material wealth over a very low threshold doesn’t contribute to happiness.
  • I’m thankful for frequent flyer miles. I know I would not have traveled to 42 countries by age 26 without them. Not to mention the first class cabins that would have been way out of reach.
  • I’m thankful for the internet. Nothing so connecting, educating, and entertaining has existed throughout human history. I can carry a phone in my pocket almost anywhere in the world and be connected to loved ones, work, and play at the push of a button.
  • I’m thankful for MileValue’s readers. I often get into a flow when I’m writing a post about using award-booking tricks to get maximum value from miles, but a lot of running a blog is drudgery, especially the pressure to have new posts every day. If it weren’t for readers sending me emails and tweets about how my tips led to a dream trip, I would have quit long ago. Because of my readers, I am excited to make the rest of this year and 2014 the best year yet for the blog.
  • I’m thankful to the milesphere. If it weren’t for FlyerTalk and The Points Guy, I wouldn’t have learned about miles. If it weren’t for Million Mile Secrets and Frugal Travel Guy, I wouldn’t have nearly the readership I do. If it weren’t for countless other bloggers and non-bloggers, I wouldn’t know all the things I do that I’ve been able to use for my own travel and been able to spread to others.
  • I’m most thankful for my friends and family. When you’re away from them for most of the year, you appreciate them even more. I was with only one friend for my birthday, so I’m glad to be with many more for Thanksgiving.

I hope you’re having a blessed and thankful Thanksgiving surrounded by the people you love most in the world.

There won’t be any more new posts today, tomorrow, or Saturday, nor will emails or tweets be answered. I’m looking forward to some great posts next week, starting Sunday morning!

Best of MileValue October 2013

October 2013 was a big month for me. The month started in Brussels. I whirlwinded through Oslo and Amsterdam before getting to Munich in time for the end of Oktoberfest.

Munich was the last stop on my eight month world tour. I landed back in the US for the first time since February just in time for the Chicago Seminars.

The Seminars were a blast, and I had a chance to check out the Park Hyatt for two nights afterwards while exploring the city. From Chicago, I flew to Los Angeles, where I hosted a MileValue dinner and reacquainted myself with taco trucks!

From Los Angeles, I flew to Honolulu to make Oahu my new home. This is my month of crossing 12 time zones visually.

October was big for me, but bigger for MileValue. Old readers enjoyed some great posts about the month’s US Airways promos and an all-time-classic post by Bill about a huge sweet spot on the US Airways chart.

New readers found the blog in droves because of an immensely popular Mashable post featuring our award booking techniques prominently. Readership continues to grow rapidly, which brings me closer to the goal of helping everyone travel more, better, and cheaper.

What were the most popular pages, trip reports, and posts for October 2013? There are several you can not miss.

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Holiday Travel Tips from MileValue Featured on Forbes

I was featured in a recent Forbes article called “20 Holiday Travel Secrets from Industry Insiders” about tips for cheaper and more comfortable holiday travel. My main suggestion for holiday travel that made the article was:

Use credit card points

Because airlines usually black out holiday travel dates for cashing in frequent flyer miles, “Use credit card points that are good on any flight, any time, on any airline like Arrival Miles [from the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® - Earn 2x on All Purchases], Capital One miles, and FlexPoints [from the U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card]. In the case of a FlexPerks award, you even get a $25 credit for baggage, food, or lounge access on the day of travel,” says Scott Grimmer, founder of

What are my other top tips for cheaper and more comfortable holiday travel that didn’t make the article?

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Let Me Be Your Miles Personal Assistant For Free

Update on 10/23/13: I have dozens and dozens of entries to sort through, so entry is now closed.

I’ve long marveled at how hard it is to convince people to use miles and points to travel more, travel better, and pay next to nothing doing it.

My only explanation is that there is a steep learning curve that turns many people off. People need to know:

  • “How many miles do I need?”
  • “Which rewards cards should I get?”
  • “How will getting them affect my credit?”
  • “How do I book an award?”
  • And a million other questions that I’ve gotten and answered from newbies.

One thicket of unanswered questions or one set back when an airline says that there are no award seats or the award will have $750 in “taxes,” and people are done with miles forever before they’ve really started.

I started this blog to help people travel more, better, and cheaper. The blog is ideal for that because one post can be read and used by thousands of people. But some people need individual help.

That’s why I am offering to be the miles-and-points personal assistant to three lucky beginners and their travel companions completely for free. What will this entail? How can you be one of the three groups for whom I plan entire award trip?

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My Plan for the Chicago Seminars

I arrived yesterday to Elk Grove, Illinois to get ready (and get over jet lag) for the Chicago Seminars tomorrow. My box of t-shirts to give away was waiting for me.

What’s my schedule for the Chicago Seminars? What’s the hotel shuttle information? How can you get a free t-shirt or win a $50 gift card?

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Rookie Alli Robbed in Buenos Aires and How to Keep Yourself Safe from Common Travel Scams

Rookie Alli had her phone stolen yesterday by some pickpockets near the Botanical Gardens in Buenos Aires.

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