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  • 9:22 am on June 26, 2024 Permalink | Reply

    > Going to Valdivia, Chile, in the fall. I haven’t been able to book sooner because I’ve been waiting on good dates to visit my college student who will be studying there. I would welcome any recommendations regarding flights (coming from Austin; I have about 500k UR points and a bunch of AA points) as well as other things to do while in Chile.

    BA and Virgin can get LATAM flights in economy and business. Economy from LA to Chile is around 40k? and business is 95k. Alaska is the best deal for LAX-SCL business at 50k.

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  • 12:35 pm on June 21, 2024 Permalink | Reply  

    I keep catching flights within hours of the window of opportunity closing and it’s not good for my health 

    I have been having trouble with staying too awake in the mornings. I sometimes wake up at 3am, 4am, 6am, and once I do, I’m tempted to check emails and see if there’s been “exciting developments”. Sometimes there is, and I think it’s feeding into a bad positive feedback loop.

    Here is the latest one: I got very lucky with the Virgin Atlantic flights sale on points last night.

    Two months ago I randomly stumbled across a Qatar Business availability in March 2025 using American Airlines points. 75k+$80 per person for Cape Town to Qatar to LAX, all in business! I booked it, and then started searching for the outbound flight.

    A few days later I found a Atlanta-Qatar-Johannesburg flight through Qatar, at 95k+$200. It’s not the best deal.. but it’s okay-ish? The pricing is okay. (It’s saver, but buying through Qatar. Without an Avios transfer promo. And the date is also not the best. And I have to reposition from LA to Atlanta.) After much hesitation and discussing with P2 and going back and forth, I booked it, then I changed my mind the next day and cancelled it hoping for a full refund (24-hour rule). Qatar said that they don’t abide by the 24-hour rule, and deducted $50.

    Instead, I booked a very meh LAX-JFK econ + JFK-AMS in AA business for 57k+$20 and waited for better alternatives. My thinking was I’ll arrive in AMS, sleep in Amsterdam one night, and catch the 10am-10pm AMS-JNB KLM flight in economy (15k+$190 booked through VS). I asked for advice on reddit and got into a debate with people bullying me to grab the 125k+$600 Virgin Atlantic flight business for LAX-LHR-JNB. I felt that 125k was too much.. especially given that the fees are already $600.

    Then I did some math, and realized that the Air France business+KLM econ combo would still have $400 in fees. That made me rethink this a bit. $400 for a slow mix of econ and business vs $600 for business all the way with smooth & fast connections? That’s an easier choice.. except for the 125k part.

    A month ago, in the middle of a trip through France, Air France dropped a lot of business seats at Saver rate, and I grabbed a LAX-CDG-AMS for 50k+$200. I was checking reddit at 4am when the news dropped. Adrenaline rush!

    Then, last night Virgin Atlantic started a 40% sale. They are discounting Virgin Atlantic flights (not partner airline flights) 40% off. The catch is that it only applies to flights until December 2024 only, so it shouldn’t apply for my March 2025 trip. But I checked at midnight (when the sale starts) and the flight cost was indeed discounted, for some bizarre reason. Damn! Booked it immediately.

    Two hours later, Virgin Atlantic realized that they set up their system wrong, and fixed it.

    Final cost for two people:

    • 115k MR + $1,200 Virgin Atlantic Upper LAX-LHR-JNB
    • 150k AA + $160 Qatar Business CPT-DOH-LAX
    • $50 Qatar cancellation fee
    • $0 AA cancellation fee (twice)
    • $150 Air France cancellation fee

    I probably need less positive reinforcement to checking my phone at 4am. Instead of.. whatever this is.

  • 8:28 am on June 6, 2024 Permalink | Reply

    > Cash tickets on Student Universe for July 25 Hanoi-New York are $700, but on Amex Portal it’s over $1,000.

    It’s too late to buy the ticket. Unlike cash tickets, lowest priced award tickets are available in limited quantities. Usually 0-4 seats for business class, and ~20 seats in economy. The remaining seats are priced dynamically, meaning usually much higher. That’s the delta prices you are seeing. (Also delta very rarely makes award tickets available at lowest price).

    The best time to buy a July 2024 ticket was between July 2023 and September of 2023. The window of opportunity to grab economy seats is usually longer (sometimes they never run out), but your target date is in the middle of summer, which is when everyone travels. So they run out, and they run out fast.

    If you now search for award seats for May 2025-June 2035, you can find:

    Hanoi-Taipei-New York EVA Air Economy using 47k Lifemiles+$80 (Lifemiles is an Avianca Airlines points program, and Amex points transfers there)

    Hanoi-Tokyo-New York in JAL Economy using 38k American Airlines miles+$64

    But seats priced at that range sold out for this summer.

    Your last chance is something people call T-14 tickets. Starting 14 days before flight, when airlines feel their airplane is too empty and seats aren’t selling well, they dump the seats into award seat inventory and suddenly you can grab some seats at lowest price. But that may or may not happen for the specific date that you need and it’s not guaranteed.

    On the other hand, if you are very flexible with your travel dates (“eh I would prefer to fly on Thursday but I’m okay with flying Wednesday, or Friday, or Saturday, or Tuesday… It’s all good as long as it’s that week” kind of attitude), then a T-14 strategy can yield a decent chance of success. I just ran a search for the week spanning 6/7-6/14/24 and I see the two flights I mentioned above plus a Air France Hanoi-Paris-Newark flight for 35k Air France points plus $210, a Hanoi-Hong Kong-JFK flight in Cathay for same price as JAL above etc.

    One last note, you can’t transfer Amex points to American Airlines so the AA examples are meaningless to you. I’m just mentioning them to illustrate the general ideas that I’m talking about.

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  • 3:33 pm on April 20, 2024 Permalink | Reply  


    • Southwest Performance Approval
    • Hilton Aspire Approval
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  • 8:28 am on March 5, 2024 Permalink | Reply

    Alaska Business approval

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  • 9:20 pm on February 25, 2024 Permalink | Reply  

    A 3-night trip in Las Vegas on 12/25 trying to use various hotel credits and status benefits.

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    • Anonymous 10:35 pm on February 25, 2024 Permalink | Reply

      Hi ,

      In recent niche research, I noticed your site has several keywords ranking on Google’s second page for multiple critical keywords. These could easily to rise to the first page, significantly boosting your traffic. Interested in the list?

      Darius D.

      • Yongho Kim 11:32 am on February 26, 2024 Permalink | Reply

        no thanks. I actually have robots.txt set up to block search engines from using this website

  • 9:37 am on February 12, 2024 Permalink | Reply

    Trying to figure out how to redeem points for maximum value across different cc
    byu/K0N-ARTIST inawardtravel

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  • 8:13 am on February 9, 2024 Permalink | Reply

    How do you get the employee offer?

    From time to time Amex runs employee card promotions for BBP, Biz Gold, and Biz Plat. “Add an employee card for your business card, and spend a minimum of X amount for Yk rewards” is their promo. The latest promo ended recently.

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  • 10:31 am on January 27, 2024 Permalink | Reply

    > If you think $200 is a “measly” amount, why do you care about statement credit clawbacks?

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  • 6:35 am on January 27, 2024 Permalink | Reply

    > We are skeptical that once all credit-card expenses are taken into account, you are not actually saving any money on your expensive business class ticket.

    Your surcharge comment is interesting in multiple ways.

    First, I’m surprised that major merchants in Australia put a surcharge just for accepting Amex. Second, I’m surprised that the surcharge is so TINY (less than 1%???). Third, it shows that you are not approaching credit card points via the mainstream way at r/churning, which is chasing sign-up bonuses.

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