Tag Archives: Best Of

Using Everything I Know to Help a Friend Plan Two Summer Trips

My friend has big trip aspirations for this summer, but nothing booked.

  • Approx July 12: Boston to France, Italy, or Spain
  • July 13/14 to 24/25: work on a vineyard in France, Italy, or Spain
  • July 25: vineyard location to Croatia
  • July 26 to August 2: Yacht Week
  • August 2: Croatia to Greece
  • August 10/11: Greece to Boston
  • August 22: Boston to Colombia
  • August 31: Colombia to Costa Rica
  • Sept ~7/8: Costa Rica to San Francisco

She emailed me for my suggestions. This is how I would book this trip.

Warning: this post combines a lot of my best material and ideas. It would be too much information to spell everything out, so in several spots I have linked to longer articles on the concepts I discuss. Click the links.

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Master Thread: Holds on United Awards

Two weeks ago, I wrote that United had ended free holds online for award bookings.

Luckily, JB from the MileValue Award Booking Service came up with an extremely simple hack to regain all of the lost award-hold functionality.

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The ability to hold awards is crucial when booking a trip has many moving parts–hotels, flights for more than one person, several awards booked with different types of miles, etc–that you want to lock in completely before booking any part of the trip. That means it is great news that we can hold United awards so broadly!

Award holds on United are possible again under two circumstances:

  • You have enough miles in your United account to book the award. (PayPal trick)
  • You do NOT have enough miles in your United account to book an award AND the award contains a partner segment. (DoNotTrackMe trick)

That means there is only one time when you cannot hold an award on united.com:

  • You do NOT have enough miles in your account and the award contains only segments on United airplanes.

And even here, there’s a workaround.

How do you hold a United award when you have enough miles in your account? What about when you don’t have enough miles? What’s JB’s hack?

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Value in First Class on the United Chart

On February 1, United miles became much less valuable for premium cabin flights.

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Not only did all first class awards outside of the western hemisphere go way up in price, but partner first class awards went way, way up.

Since people who want to fly first class awards want the swankiest, most aspirational flights, the increase in the partner award price is a big problem.

United Global First is good. But Thai First Class is great.

There’s no perfect solution, but I’ve come up with the strategy I’ll use to book premium cabin awards for myself with United miles going forward.

What do I think is the best value way to convert United miles into premium cabin awards?

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Austrian Airlines Business Class Opens Up Three Months Out and Economy Class Open Up Ten Months Out

For flights between the US and Europe, Austrian Airlines releases its economy class award seats to partners 298 days before the flight and its business class award seats to partners 88 days before the flight.

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Austrian routes between the US and Europe have economy award space up to 298 days out

Austrian is a Star Alliance member that operates five routes to North America from its hub in Vienna:

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Austrian operates two cabin Boeing 777s and 767s with fully flat business class seats. I flew Austrian Business Class from Vienna to Chicago in October. My full trip report is here.

 

What predictable pattern of award space have I discovered on Austrian flights between the US and Europe? Which miles do you want to use to book flat beds to Europe this summer on Austrian?

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Here’s a Complete Segment-by-Segment Award Search Example

I talk a lot about segment-by-segment searching. The idea is that just typing where you live and where you want to go into an airline’s award search engine may not reveal Saver award space even when there is a legal, possible award.

Searching segment-by-segment, starting with the hardest segment can yield itineraries that the search engine missed.

In the comments of yesterday’s post–Route from the US to Europe via Canada for Better Award Space–UA Phil gave a great example of an extremely simple segment-by-segment search he ran that yielded award space from San Francisco to London for only 30k United miles one way.

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I’ve recreated the steps he followed to show you exactly what segment-by-segment searching entails.

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How to Get More Free Stopovers and Use Fewer Miles on Your Next Trip to South America

Did you miss 20k Miles (or Less) to All of South America All Year yesterday? That post is a competing trick with this one, and it might be an even better deal for you.

Chicago to Santiago “should” cost 30,000 American Airlines miles each way in economy. And you “shouldn’t” be able to stop in Peru on the way to Chile (or even layover there.)

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Do not pay 30,000 American Airlines miles for this award!

Instead of playing by American Airlines’ rules, though, we can combine our American Airlines miles and British Airways Avios to book dream trips to South America with more stops for fewer miles.

In the Chicago to Santiago example, we could pay only 15k American Airlines miles plus 10k Avios each way and stop in Peru either or both directions.

I’ve already explained how American Airlines has incredible off peak awards that allow you to travel for large swaths of the year at discounted rates. For Central America and Northern South America–Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador–you can fly one way from the US for only 15k miles for seven months out of every year.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 11.02.00 PM An off peak award to Northern South America plus one or more Avios awards creates a dream vacation with more stops for fewer miles.

How do I put it all together?

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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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Anatomy of an Award: Southeast Asian and Mexican Vacations in Business Class for 90k US Airways Miles, 30k Arrival Miles, and Zero Cash

Two weeks ago, in How to Save 70,000 Miles on US Airways Awards to Southeast Asia, Bill blew people’s minds with his post about one of the biggest tricks you can pull with US Airways miles:

When routing from the US to South & Central Asia, you can save up to 70,000 US Airways miles by adding segments from Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean to your home airport before the main award.

The four step process is not difficult, but it is new, so there was some confusion in the comments section of that post. To allay that confusion, I’ll give an example of this type of award I’ve just booked for two of my friends in Los Angeles.

They’ll be taking two vacations in the next five months–a three day weekend in Cabo, Mexico and 17 days in Thailand–with almost all the flights in business class for 90k US Airways miles, 30k Arrival miles, and zero cash out of pocket.

How did I search for award space? How did I book the award? How is there no cash out of pocket? How many miles did they save?

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Best of MileValue Third Quarter 2013

The third quarter of 2013–July 1 to September 30–was a big one for me. My six months in Argentina ended, I embarked on a 15 country world tour, and I jumped off a cliff in Dubrovnik, Croatia at sunset.

The third quarter was also MileValue’s most popular quarter to date. Readership continues to grow, which brings me closer to the goal of helping everyone travel more, better, and cheaper.

Most Popular Pages

The Award Booking Service continued to thrive.

My Free Credit Card Consultations continued to offer personalized answers to which card is best for a particular trip.

Trip Reports

Tahsir: EVA Air Business Class from Los Angeles to Taipei

Scott: First Look at the British Airways A380 in First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy

Melbourne to Los Angeles in Qantas Business Class on an A380

The Brand New British Airways 787 with Tons of Pictures

Ryan: Lufthansa First Class Terminal

Boston to Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class

Most Popular Posts

I covered the huge news that the U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card and U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card are each offering a sign up bonus worth up to $425 in free travel. (Still available)

I argued that American Miles are Best for Ultra-Luxury, United Miles are Best for Premium.

For most of August, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express had a 30,000 Starpoint sign up bonus (currently 25,000), so I wrote a series of very popular posts on the card and program:

I looked at the mileage returns from various credit cards: Big Spenders Should Use One of These Three Cards, and They Probably Aren’t

I booked two Cathay Pacific First Class flights for the price of one. Anatomy of an Award: Getting Extra First Class on Cathay Pacific

Rookie Alli looked at a few options for redeeming the free nights she got from the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card in Where Should I Redeem My Free Hilton Nights?

I explained How to Book Multiple Awards from Different Accounts on the Same Flights

I excitedly shared how to book Roundtrip in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 100k Delta Miles and No Fuel Surcharges

I explained How You Can Get into Qantas First Class on an A380

The biggest news of the quarter was the apparent massive devaluation of American Airlines miles through the addition of fuel surcharges to all awards. As the full story came out, it was apparent that it was all a big mistake, so the final headline was Update: No News Regarding American Airlines Miles Today. But I didn’t buy the press release from American Airlines: Two Reasons I Don’t Believe the American Airlines Statement about Fuel Surcharges on Awards.

I covered the deals married folks (and others with permanent travel companions) can take advantage of better than us single folks in Will You Marry Me?

I described How I Saved 88% on My Hotel Room in Stockholm. Easy to Replicate Techniques for Huge Hotel Discounts.

Bill debunked another award booking “rule,” so that you can maximize your miles in Debunked Award Rule: US Airways Star Alliance Hub Stopover.

I gave the answer to Which Miles Should You Stockpile?

I proved that United Allows Massive Backtracking on Awards (& How You Can Maximize That Backtracking).

I discussed the 17 awards I’ve booked for myself in the last two years: Which of My Personal Awards Could You Have Booked?

I got insane value from American Airlines miles in Anatomy of an Award: How to Fly a Peak Time with Off Peak Pricing and Add Two Free Oneways.

I answered one of the basic questions in the miles game: Should I Keep This Card? Whether to Hold or Cancel a Rewards Card When an Annual Fee is Due.

I put out a step-by-step guide to booking Singapore Suites.

I was the bearer of bad news in Southwest Massively Devalues Rapid Rewards Points.

I used a trip I booked for my friend as a real life example of a last minute United award with a free oneway added.

Did I include your favorite post from July, August, and September? Did I do a good job in the third quarter? How can I improve?



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The 50k Lufthansa Mile Offer is Back for a Limited Time!

Update 3/14/14: The 50k mile offer is dead. All links in this post go to the following offer:

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Annual Complimentary Companion Ticket after first purchase, then annually thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

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In May, The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard® ran a 50,000 bonus mile offer for about six weeks, and it is back!

I personally got the card last time the offer was around because 55k miles after spending $5k on the card was way too good for me to pass up.

And since getting the card, I was offered another 15,000 bonus miles for spending $2,250 on the card, so my Lufthansa miles total is set to go over 72,000 miles from this card and its various bonuses very soon.

This is huge news because Lufthansa miles offer huge value:

  • to Hawaii
  • in domestic First Class and Business Class
  • to Europe
  • to Asia
  • to South America
  • to Central America
  • to Australia

Last time the offer came around I wrote a series of posts on the card. In my estimation, there are Six Great Uses and Two Bad Uses for the 50,000 bonus miles from the card.

But before getting to the great uses for 55,000 Lufthansa miles (or 72,000 in my case), let me walk you through the Miles & More program, which you may be unfamiliar with.

This post is a full primer of the Miles & More program for folks who don’t know much about it plus:

  • those six great uses including roundtrip business class to Europe for 55k miles and low taxes
  • how to book online and by phone
  • three ways to save miles on a Miles & More booking
  • and comparisons between Miles & More and United MileagePlus and US Airways Dividend Miles.

Is the 50k mile offer on the Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard® right for you?

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MileValue Featured in Mashable Post about Beginner Getting Round the World Business Class Award for $1,340

Mashable readers: Welcome to the best blog on redeeming frequent flyer miles. The way that I’ve traveled to over 20 countries this year and spent nine months abroad is by signing up for credit cards and using the miles to book business and first class awards.

Here is a post that explains to beginners what I do and why I do it. I wrote it for the benefit of new readers who were attracted to the site when MileValue was featured in the New York Times.

Travel for Pennies with Miles

The card Alissa got was the US Airways Premier World MasterCard with 30,000 bonus US Airways miles after first purchase, enough for a roundtrip award to Europe or South America. It is a great card to get started with US Airways miles, which are the best to North Asia and Australia among other places.

Here are some other great posts on some US Airways awards I’ve booked, including my all time favorite award:

If you already have miles and think they’re worthless, you just don’t know how to use them. Subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in the top left corner. You’ll receive one daily email with all my posts, and you’ll be up to speed in no time.

Or you can skip the learning and use my Award Booking Service, which charges $111 per person to book your awards with your miles.

If you have a trip in mind but no miles yet, you should get a Free Credit Card Consultation from me, in which I tell you which cards to open to take your dream trip for free.

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A Mashable article titled “How I Flew Around the World in Business Class for $1,340” was just posted by a self-described MileValue reader about her round-the-world business class award.

Most of my knowledge I gleaned on how to book this reward ticket came from the travel blog Milevalue. It’s a travel blog run by a 26-year-old guy who writes easy-to-read blog posts on how to find and book overly complicated reward flights.

Alissa Haupt used that knowledge to book a ten segment US Airways award from Minneapolis to Shanghai via Europe and back for only 90k US Airways miles in business class, 30k of which she got on first purchase from the US Airways Premier World MasterCard.

I’m very proud of the student I didn’t know I had, who did a pretty good job–with room for some improvement–on what sounds like one of her first awards.

What did she get right? What did she get wrong? How can you do better?

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How to Combine US Airways Promotions to Get Two Tickets to Europe for $284 Each

There are currently four stackable promotions related to US Airways miles. Combine them to get two roundtrip tickets to Europe for $568.90 all in–only $284.45 per person.

  1. The 100% Share Miles promotion through October 15 that allows you to buy US Airways miles for 1.13 cents each.
  2. The up to 50% rebate on awards that select US Airways Premier World MasterCard holders have been offered.
  3. The standard 5,000 mile discount per person that all US Airways Premier World MasterCard holders get on US Airways awards that are entirely operated by US Airways.
  4. US Airways off peak awards to Europe.

How can you turn those four promotions into two tickets to Europe for $568.90–less than $290 per person!? What kind of deal can you get if you weren’t offered the 50% rebate?

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Best of MileValue August 2013

August 2013 was a great month for me as a I saw seven countries on four continents, flew South African Business Class, the brand new British Airways 787 and A380 in Club World, and Malaysia Airlines First Class on the A380.

And because all that flying was too safe, I jumped off these in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.

MileValue had a strong month too. There are now 2,291 geniuses following @milevalue on twitter, 3,318 mavens who are fans of MileValue on facebook, and 2,731 beautiful people who receive one daily email of the day’s posts. Subscribe to milevalue.com by email!

What were the best posts, most interesting trip reports, and most popular pages of August 2013?

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Should I Keep This Card? Whether to Hold or Cancel a Rewards Card When an Annual Fee is Due

One of the main questions people email me to ask is whether they should cancel one of their rewards cards before the next annual fee.

I’ll lay out the two-step process you should use to determine which cards to keep and which to cancel.

How do I approach the decision of whether to keep or cancel a card?

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Best of MileValue July 2013

July was MileValue’s most popular month to date. Readership continues to grow, which is really exciting to everyone who writes for the site. We want everyone to see how easy and replicable these techniques for almost free travel are.

Most Popular Pages

The Award Booking Service continued to thrive.

My Free Credit Card Consultations continued to offer personalized answers to which card is best for a particular trip.

Trip Reports

Boston to Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class

Melbourne to Los Angeles in Qantas Business Class on an A380

Most Popular Posts

I argued that American Miles are Best for Ultra-Luxury, United Miles are Best for Premium.

I looked at the mileage returns from various credit cards: Big Spenders Should Use One of These Three Cards, and They Probably Aren’t

I booked two Cathay Pacific First Class flights for the price of one. Anatomy of an Award: Getting Extra First Class on Cathay Pacific

I rebooted the beginners’ series: Free First Class Next Month 4.0: The Definitive Guide to Cheap Luxury Travel

Rookie Alli looked at a few options for redeeming the free nights she got from the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card and asked for more options. She should be booking soon. Where Should I Redeem My Free Hilton Nights?

I explained How You Can Be Better at Award Searching than United.com

Speculation swirled: US Airways to Join Oneworld November 1? Your Best Move

There is Incredible First Class Award Space on a British Airways A380, and Why You Shouldn’t Book It

Don’t Miss Out: Luxurious Swiss Business Class Availability This Summer

I explained How to Book Multiple Awards from Different Accounts on the Same Flights

I gave my Cash & Avios Analysis

I excitedly shared how to book Roundtrip in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 100k Delta Miles and No Fuel Surcharges

I explained How You Can Get into Qantas First Class on an A380

I shared my frustration over a failed award booking: The Coolest Thing You Can’t Do with 130k Delta Miles

I looked at Your United, US Airways, and Lufthansa Miles Options to Australia and New Zealand for the Next Year

I described The New Ultra-Luxury Way to Get to the Maldives on Miles



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