...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Monday, March 19, 2012

deals to be had

I'm always on the lookout for a good deal on miles or points, and depending on how you want to use them, miles can be a great way to get you places you may not have thought possible in seats that are much better than standard coach.  My philosophy on flying has long been the following:

1. Loyalty is huge - status helps you get more miles and the perks to make flying easier.  In other words, pick an airline and stick to it until you have the status you want.
2. If it costs me $50-100 more to fly my preferred airline, it's worth every penny
3. Accruing miles on cheap flights in the US will pay off for longer international flights later

Now, a few caveats to this: I'm not at all opposed to spending $ on international flights that may possibly net me the elite qualifying miles I need to maintain or reach status.  I've found in the last few years that United has been very generous to me with bonus miles, and flying out of San Diego means it's a dominant player at my airport (along with Southwest).  I'm pretty diligent about searching for deals, so it's paid off for me to choose United first.  Also, Southwest and Delta just don't have the connections that I need to get where I'm going quickly (flying through Atlanta to get to the Midwest doesn't make much sense, nor does flying into Minneapolis in winter). 

All this aside, there are some fantastic mileage opportunities coming up in the next few months.  Here's a quick snapshot of two:

1. Istanbul - July and August have great availability showing right now on United or Star Alliance partners.  For example, you can fly on July 4th from O'hare to Istanbul one-way in Business Class for 50,000 miles and $5!  Similar Saver availability can be found the first week in August, which is a great way to use miles - buying that ticket outright would cost you $6100!

If you're a flyer on American or British Airways (OneWorld) and have some miles, you can also get to Istanbul from O'hare in Club World flying BA one-way for 60,000 Avios + $ 467.17.  Fuel surcharges are driving the high co-pay on this one. 

2.  Johannesburg, South Africa - this place is on my list, and availability also seems to be great right now.  That same July 4th departure is available in Business class from O'hare (one-way) for only 60,000 miles and $5. An August itinerary from O'hare through Sao Paulo, Brazil is also the same amount of miles and $2.50 one way. That Saver ticket would be $8200 if you bought it outright...great deal!

So...bottom line, miles are still a pretty valuable commodity in my book.  And getting cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (thanks TPG) with 50,000 points on sign up (and the ability to transfer those 1:1 to several different airlines including United) make it worth exploring.

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