Hawaii Mileage Run: Introduction

Introduction
American Airlines First Class LGA-DFW
American Airlines First Class DFW-HNL
National Car Rental
Wyndham Waikiki Beachwalk
Sakura Lounge HNL
American Airlines Economy Class HNL-DFW & DFW-LGA
Ono Grinds
Conclusion

Because of American Air’s little promotion snafu, Joann and I decided to go on a #questforEXP. EXP being Executive Platinum, American’s top tier elite status. Usually, you have to fly 100K miles in a calendar year for that, but with this promo, we’d need to fly just 30K miles in a 4 month time span.

We started off with a trip to Honolulu. The fare was reasonable and it would earn us 10K miles, a third of the way to EXP!

As far as “mileage runs” go, this wasn’t the best rate of earning Elite Qualifying Miles, but we made it a long weekend versus a “pure” mileage run of going to a city and hopping right back on a plane and going home. I mean, it’s Hawaii so there’s really no downside to this.

To make things more interesting, I had a friend who was already EXP use her Systemwide Upgrades (SWU) to upgrade us to First Class on the way there, both LGA-DFW & DFW-HNL.

That is what I’m most excited for once we hit EXP status. We’ll each receive 8 SWUs that will upgrade a passenger to the next cabin up if there’s space available. We plan on making FULL use of those next year.

Getting back to this Hawaii trip, we were excited to go back, if only for a short time! We’ve been plenty of times but haven’t since last year when we got married there.

Stay tuned to some fairly live updates of this trip report!

The Last Time We Were In Hawaii!

The Last Time We Were In Hawaii!

What the Heck Happened With American Airlines Yesterday?

American Airlines logo

You were or may not have heard, but yesterday was quite a day in the frequent travel world!

In the matter of a few hours this morning, the hearts of frequent fliers everywhere collectively dropped.

The Story

Ben at One Mile at a Time broke the news. Apparently, American Airlines was all of a sudden collecting fuel surcharges on some award tickets.

In short, this would be bad news and add hundreds of dollars of unnecessary charges to award bookings, the treasure of our hobby.

At this point, the sky was definitely falling and the forums/Twitterverse were blowing up. I was semi-pissed because I just booked 2/3 of my mileage runs for the Fast Track to Elite Status Promotion this week. Why was I trying so hard to be a top tier elite in a program that was about to be devalued?!

In the end, according to an official statement from American Airlines, it was all a “mistake.”

AA's Response on Milepoint

AA’s Response on Milepoint

We, as a community, let out a huge sigh of relief. Order was restored, but we all continued the speculation and discussion about it.

My Thoughts

Continue reading

My Plan for the American Airlines Fast Track to Elite Status Promotion

American Airlines logo

The Promo

Last Week, American Airlines accidentally made public a promotion that was supposed to be targeted. I was alerted to it thanks to AAdvantageGeek. The details of the Fast Track to Elite Status promotion were pretty straight forward:

Fly a certain amount of miles between September 1 & December 31, 2013, and receive Gold, Platinum, or Executive Platinum status.

Fast Track to Elite Status Requirements

Fast Track to Elite Status Requirements

After going viral, the promotion was quickly pulled, but I did sign up Joann and myself.

At a glance, it doesn’t seem like much flying to reach Gold or Platinum. I can get about 6,000 miles from one LGA-DFW-SEA-DFW-LGA trip.

However, Gold or Platinum don’t really interest me. Per the Elite Benefits Chart, Gold and Platinum give you cool things like bonus redeemable miles, free checked bags, and waived award booking fees. Good stuff but not anything I’m willing to exert extra time and money for.

Now, American’s top tier, Executive Platinum, takes a bit more flying (30,000 miles) but those benefits are what Joann and I want.

Why are we going out of our way to fly 30K miles on American Airlines?

Great question. I think it’s a combination of a few things.

1. We like flying and traveling. There seem to be enough affordable fares on the weekend, which is our only free time until the end of the year.

2. More importantly, we’ll be able to utilize all the benefits of Executive Platinum status, especially the 8 Systemwide Upgrades that we’ll receive upon qualifying.

American’s Systemwide Upgrades upgrade any revenue ticket to the next cabin up (Coach->First, or Business in a 3-cabin aircraft).

Systemwide Upgrades can get you from Coach to here - AA 777 New Business Class

Systemwide Upgrades can get you from Coach to here – AA 777 New Business Class

Our status will last until February 2015 so we plan to take full AAdvantage of the perks like the aforementioned upgrades and also the Complimentary Upgrades on domestic flights.

3. And the last reason we’re going all the way to the top with this promotion? Because we want to! It sounds like fun so we talked it over and want to do it.

How We Plan to Fly 30K Miles in 4 Months

Simple. A combination of one existing vacation that we’ll now fly on American and a bunch of Mileage Runs.

We planned a trip to New Orleans in 3 weeks, but since the flight was booked using Southwest points, we can easily cancel and get all our points back.

We decided to change that trip to somewhere farther… and tropical. I found a decent fare to from LGA-HNL via DFW. Over 10K miles in one shot! We’ll be 1/3 of the way there.

In order to make that trip a bit more fun,  I had us upgraded to First Class using a Systemwide Upgrade. I’ll get into that in another post ;).

So that is our only “real” trip booked for this promotion. Currently, we only have one other trip booked, a mileage run to LAX that will give us about 8 hours to putz around before heading home on a red eye. With those two trips,  we’ll have flown 15K miles,  halfway to the 30K needed to make Executive Platinum. Now I just need to find a few good mileage runs to get the rest of the way.

The Last Time We Were In Hawaii!

The Last Time We Were In Hawaii!

How To Find Mileage Runs

One of the best ways to find mileage run fares is to follow The Flight Deal, either on their web site or Twitter.

AAdvantageGeek posts 9 Mileage Run tips that one should know when trying to complete this promotion,  or any mileage run for that matter.

I use most of these tips, but I mainly just scour ITA Matrix to find good fares.

I’ll definitely be writing new posts on Mileage Runs as I find them,  specifically for this promotion.

Conclusion

All in all,  this should be a fun promotion.  We’re pretty excited for the journey and of course the “prizes”  at the end of the rainbow!

So that’s what’s in store for the end of our 2013. Should be a pretty interesting second half of the year.

Happy flying whether or not you were able to register for this promotion. If you have, let me know your plans.

New York to London for 13K Miles & $98 in Coach

Update: This is ONLY available for booking until June 17th. Virgin Atlantic is running this as a promotion, something I didn’t realized at the time of the original post. So please, get your ducks in a row and take advantage of this great deal!

What’s the deal???

Angelina from Just Another Points Traveler has brought a real gem to light in her latest post.

With the help of Mile Collector, she detailed a great post about the cheapest way to get to Europe. So here it is:

You can fly one-way from either Newark (EWR) or New York (JFK) to London Heathrow (LHR) for 13,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles and $97.50!

new york london virgin atlantic

Newark-London: 13K Miles + $97.50

new york london virgin atlantic

New York-London: 13K Miles + $97.50

This deal is also scalable to Boston and Chicago, where it costs only an extra 1,000 miles:

new york london virgin atlantic

Boston – London: 14K Miles + $97.50

Chicago - London: 14K Miles + $97.50

Chicago – London: 14K Miles + $97.50

Is this a good deal?

Undoubtedly YES!

As she details in her post, the comparable awards are as follows:

  • United – 30,000 miles + $5
  • American – 30,000 miles + $2.50 (or 20,000 miles + $2.50 during off-peak times)
  • British Airways – 20,000 Avios + $253

Actually, the American Airlines off-peak award at 20K + $2.50 is a better award, in my opinion, but off-peak to Europe is only Oct 15 – May 15. 

New York - London: 20K AA Miles + $2.50

New York – London: 20K AA Miles + $2.50

However, for dates outside that range, 13k + $98 sounds like a great deal to me!

There seems to be a lot of availability, whether it be this summer or as far out as the schedule goes (May 2014).

Key Links & Things to Note

  • If you are not a Flying Club member, click here to register.
  • You can search award flights from the Virgin Atlantic home page.
  • Obviously, you must have a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold/Plus) or an American Express  Membership Rewards earning card (Green, Gold, Platinum) to transfer miles to partner Virgin Atlantic.
  • The same award can work in reverse (London – NYC/BOS), but you incur a lot of surcharges when flying out of the UK.
London-New York: 13K Miles + about $281

London-New York: 13K Miles + about $281

  • To avoid the huge cash outlay, try flying out of another country. Take the Eurostar train to visit Paris or Amsterdam and then fly home from there. The taxes will drop to a very reasonable amount.

Wrap Up

Sure, it may not be the glamorous First Class trip for $500 that people are looking for. But considering how easy it is to earn Chase and Amex points, I’d say it’s a heck of a deal to a popular destination and a major European gateway.

Joann and I are busy right now trying to figure out a plan to redeem this award and also visit a few other cities while we’re there.

For our return, we’ll either use United or American miles for a one-way back to NYC. Stay tuned to see how that develops.

If you have any tips or suggestions about where to visit in under 10 days aside from London, please let us know in the comments!

Loving London Indeed!

Loving London Indeed!

New York – San Francisco / Los Angeles Fare Sales

Seems there’s a nice fare war going on between American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Virgin America, and United Airlines.

Between either New York and San Francisco or New York and Los Angeles, the fares on all three airlines are at $238 for the nonstop flights.

I’m sure you all know that that’s a really good deal for those flights.

The sale looks like it continues until the week before Christmas with plenty of availability.

The best availability looks like Delta right now. Also, Delta & United have risk-free cancellation policies that the other two airlines don’t. You can cancel a ticket for FREE as long as you do so within 24 hours of purchasing the ticket.

It’s very handy for sales like this because you can buy now and figure out details later. If things don’t pan out, just cancel the ticket before 24 hours and you won’t lose a penny!

Sample Dates

Virgin America:

Delta Airlines:

American Airlines:

 United:

Hat tip to The Flight Deal