A Suprise Birthday Getaway: South Beach

As my first post about this Frequent Flyer hustle I’ve gotten myself into the past few months, what better way than to explain how I booked a surprise birthday trip for Joann 2 days before departure? This is just a quick overview of the process & a mini trip report. Sorry but since it’s my first post about this whole gig, it’s going to be long.

First let me start out by explaining how I came into the abundance of Delta SkyMiles & Silver Medallion elite status. Basically I parlayed the following:

http://goo.gl/J9V7w: I bought about $1000 worth of SpaFinder gift certs and sold most of them on eBay, make my net cost $220. This gave me 40,000 miles.
http://goo.gl/Z90Wq: I used some Amex MR points I had from a sign-up bonus to transfer to Delta, and this gave me a 50% mileage bonus along with Silver Medallion elite status.

Now I would be poised to find low-tier (25,000 miles) award flights to Miami for Joann’s birthday.

As you have read from one of the travel gurus, low tier Delta awards are a b*tch to find [http://goo.gl/eHfyI], but with a little work and knowledge of routing, it’s not impossbile. Delta’s only direct service to MIA from NYC is from JFK but we prefer EWR since it’s more convenient to access. So flying nonstop was out of the question. The trip would have to go through ATL, Delta’s main hub/HQ.

Using TPG’s one-way search methods, I found several 25,000 mile segments from EWR-ATL and then ATL-MIA and reverse. It was pretty simple to do and the whole process took less than an hour of my time. I booked the flights that would leave us with 2-3 hour layovers because, well, we’ve all flown Delta before so we know what they’re capable of (read: delays). Also, Delta & Amex are having a promotion in which they give you a 300 point voucher just for checking into their Sky Clubs with the Amex Platinum card. With 3 hours to kill at ATL and 8 Delta Sky Clubs, you know what we did…

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