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Last week I urged people to be realistic with their miles and listed The Easiest Places to Get with Miles. Today I’m telling you to dream big and to look to do things with miles that you couldn’t easily or cheaply do without miles.

For instance, for 60,000 miles, you can book yourself a “triangle trip” that lets you practice your Spanish in Chile and Spain. The trip would let you see the wildlife of Patagonia and the nightlife of Barcelona.

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How many thousands of dollars would a similar trip cost? Could you even have dared to dream about such a routing before you knew the power of your miles?

The routing I’ll talk about relies on three discounted awards, and award space is plentiful on all routes. Best of all, you can live anywhere in the continental United States to take advantage, and you can customize the destinations to your taste.

  • What three discounted awards combine to form the legs of this triangle trip?
  • What 60,000 miles do you need? How can you get them?

The Idea

Air France Flying Blue–a transfer partner of Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Starpoints–releases promo awards between the rest of the world and Europe that allow for up to half off the miles price.

The most recent list for travel in November or December 2014 has several United States departure cities for up to half off.

The most recent list also includes several Latin American cities with discounted awards to Europe.

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These awards can be booked one way in either direction and fuel surcharges are low on the economy awards.

I was drawn to the Santiago to Europe award because Chile is a great place to be in November and December, late Spring and Summer.

If Santiago doesn’t interest you, choose a different city on the Promo Awards list or wait for the next Promo Awards list for a new group of choices.

I searched for a one way award from Santiago to Barcelona, a city with mild weather in November and a lot to do year round. I found plenty of award space during the Promo Awards period for 20,000 Flying Blue miles + $121.

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That still leaves flights between the United States and Chile and between Spain and the United States. Luckily both types of flights are discounted during November as part of American’s yearly off peak awards.

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American Airlines off peak awards are incredible because they are super cheap, and you can get the discounted price on American’s flights or its partners’ award space.

At off peak pricing, between the United States and South America Zone 2 (Chile) is only 20,000 miles each way in economy. Between the United States and Europe is also only 20,000 miles each way at off peak pricing.

I searched for a one way award from Chicago to Santiago in late October. There’s nothing special about Chicago. Any home airport in the continental United States will cost the same amount.

Award space was wide open.

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The award came to 20,000 American Airlines miles + $5.60 one way.

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Keep in mind that for only a few extra dollars in taxes and no extra miles, you could add LAN Chile flights onto the end of the award to take you somewhere other than Santiago. You can search for that award space on ba.com or by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book you award.

Last, I searched for a return from Madrid to Chicago. I know the Santiago to Europe flight flies into Barcelona, so this gives a chance to explore Spain a bit more before returning.

Award space was available every day in October and November on the route.

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Remember to avoid booking British Airways flights with American Airlines miles to save yourself hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges. Instead book other partners like US Airways.

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The US Airways returns costs 20,000 American Airlines miles + $59.

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Total Price

The total cost of the three discounted awards is 40,000 American Airlines miles, 20,000 Flying Blue miles, and $186.08. You could even redeem Arrival miles to eliminate the $186 out of pocket.

The same 60,000 miles that could get you one roundtrip to Europe or South America gets you a trip to both!

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American Airlines miles are easy to get. Right now you can get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® (the basic personal card) with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in three months. The annual fee is waived the first year, and the card comes with benefits like a free checked bag and a 10% miles rebate on all awards up to 10,000 miles rebated per calendar year.

Flying Blue miles are easy to get because you can transfer ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards, or Starpoints. For this type of trip, I’d get the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which comes with 40,000 bonus points for spendign $3,000 in the first three months. My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card.

If you want to eliminate the $186 out of pocket, you could get the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®, which comes with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in three months. Arrival miles can be used to eliminate any travel expense from your credit card statement, so you could redeem 18,600 Arrival miles to remove the $186 in taxes.

Bottom Line

Four days ago I wrote The Easiest Places to Get with Miles because I want newbies to have an early “win” with a successful booking. This post, on the surface, advocates a totally different use of miles: a grand triangle trip with destinations on two continents.

The idea is to use miles to book a trip that would have been extremely costly to book without miles.

However I see both posts similarly. Both talk about trips that are extremely easy to book with miles. All three routes in this post had award space pretty much every day. The difficulty, if there is one, in planning a grand trip is imagining the trip, not booking it in this case.

  • Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
  • Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card
  • Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®
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