Tag Archives | points

I Only Fly Business Class

That title might seem like an especially snobby statement, but allow me a minute to explain…

I travel from Buenos Aires to the United States at least three times a year. Two of those trips are typically for my own business and one of those trips is a family trip. Each flight is at least 14+ hours with connections. It’s a long way to go – especially in coach – so, I only travel business class. And no, I don’t have a corporate expense account or a wealthy aunt that left me a huge inheritance.

I travel business and I pay the same price as coach. And you can too.

Once again, this is all possible through playing the miles and points game – credit card sign up bonuses, spending promotions, shopping portals, special offers, etc. Over the last few years I have racked up millions of miles by doing things that I would normally do anyhow. I then use those miles to get luxury travel at the same cost I would have paid for standard fares.

US Airways Share Miles BonusI’ve written a number of times on this blog about points and miles deals that you can take advantage of, and one of the best deals for obtaining miles has just become available again. The US Airways Share Miles Bonus is back and allows you to share miles with someone and get up to a 100% bonus.

The best deal is to transfer 50,000 miles to someone for $567.50. This would get them a bonus of 50,000 miles – effectively “buying” those extra 50,000 miles for 1.1 cents per mile. This is a great deal! You could then use these miles to fly on American Airlines from Buenos Aires to the United States for 20,000 to 30,000 miles one way in coach or 50,000 miles one way in business. Who wouldn’t pay that price for a coach ticket?

There are a few restrictions – accounts must be open for at least 12 days, each person can only receive one transfer bonus, and the deal ends April 13, 2014. You’ll also need a base amount of miles to do the transfer or know someone who has them and is willing to transfer them back and forth with you.

My family has four US Airways accounts and we plan to do transfer between each account: Person A -> Person B -> Person C -> Person D -> Person A. This will net us an additional 200,000 US Airways miles for a total cost of $2270. This is a big upfront cost, but will help us to meet minimum spending on one credit card and when you look at it as 2 business class tickets for $1135 each, you can see that’s a great deal and less than a coach ticket would cost.

So, are you going to take part?


American Airlines Devalues Award Chart, Improves South American Baggage Allowance

American Airlines Increases South American Baggage AllowanceToday, without advance warning, American Airlines devalued their award ticket chart and reduced many other benefits for travelers. These negative changes included:

  • Elimination of distance based Oneworld Explorer awards
  • Elimination of stopovers at the gateway city on AAdvantage awards
  • Creation of multiple tiers of AAdvantage standard award levels (at higher mileage levels)
  • Reduction of baggage allowances for some elites and on full fare and AAnytime awards

While these are all negative, most of these will not affect the vast majority of award travelers as the standard level awards are still the same. (These are the only awards that we book.)

However, the loss of stopovers at the gateway city is a real negative. You used to be able to stay at any AA gateway city (New York, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles) for up to one year before continuing on to your final destination. We used this on our recent trip to Vancouver to spend a night in Dallas both on the way there and on the way back since traveling direct with small kids was just too much travel time. We’re also using this on our June flight to the US. We’ll fly EZE to JFK, stay 3 nights in NYC and then continue on to Boston all for the same award price. This is no longer allowed. You may now only stay up to 24 hours in the gateway city before continuing on the next flight. That sucks.

On the positive side (the only one), the baggage allowance on American Airlines to South America has been increased from one free checked bag to two free check bags. So, yes, all the Argentines traveling to Miami can now bring back two bags of Victoria’s Secret lingerie and not have to pay for the extra bag. This applies to tickets purchased after April 8, 2014, so unfortunately we missed out on this one for our next trip.

Making changes without notice is a real negative for American and goes to show that you should always use your miles and points whenever you can.


Capital Cities: Private SPG Buenos Aires Concert

I’ve written about my obsession with collecting and using points and miles numerous times on this blog. Our family has been able to earn points from credit card signup bonuses and spend and then turn them into great travel experiences at places that we would never have been able to afford if we had to pay.

While we tend to use our points on travel, sometimes special experiences and offers come around that can only be obtained with points. Unfortunately most of these deals are US-only, but we finally got one in Buenos Aires that sounds amazing!

Capital Cities Buenos AiresCapital Cities will be performing a special private show at the Sheraton Buenos Aires on December 4, 2014, as part of the SPG Hear the Music concert series. This year-long concert series pairs one-off intimate performances at Sheraton properties around the globe. At each show, you’ll get members-only access to the performance as well as admission to a pre-show cocktail reception. (I’ve seen great reviews of the Starwood cocktail parties from other events.)

So, how do you get tickets? First, you’ll need 5,000 Starpoints (Starwood Hotels points currency). If you do not have those, you can always buy 5,000 Starpoints for U$S 175, though it’s always cheaper to have the points already. Next, head over to the SPG Hear The Music site and buy your package – admission for two to the pre-show cocktail party as well as two tickets to the show.

If you’re a huge Capital Cities fan, then you can also bid on five packages to meet the band. The bidding starts at 5,000 Starpoints and as of now, only one package has bids on it.

Unfortunately we just used most of our Starpoints on AA airfare and a stay at The Liberty Hotel in Boston. These were both great uses of Starpoints, especially since The Liberty was $457/night! If we can build our balance back up before they sell out, we’ll see you there!


Our Buenos Aires Staycations (AKA Mattress Runs)

When my wife told her friends that we were spending last Saturday night at the Puerto Madero Holiday Inn Express, they were a bit confused. Why would we be going 15 minutes away and staying at a hotel in our own city?

Welcome to the world of a points junkie.

Due to a combination of promotions and offers from IHG, our stay at the Holiday Inn Express last Saturday night and our stay at the Intercontinental Buenos Aires this coming Saturday will net us enough points for up to 12 nights at an IHG property, all for a cost of less than U$S 240. This is what’s known as “mattress running” – staying at a hotel for the sole purpose of earning points or status due to reduced rates or promotional offers.

Dinner at Bice, Puerto Madero

Romantic Dinner at Bice, Puerto Madero

For the first night of our mattress run at the Holiday Inn Express Buenos Aires , we ended up with 35,792 points. These points, conservatively, have a value of U$S 250.54, and with the IHG Points Break promotion can be good for up to 7  nights at an IHG hotel. Our cost? About ARS $1000, which at the blue rate is U$S 104. Not a bad deal for a one night stay. Plus, we got a night out away from home, free breakfast and lots of air conditioning! We also spent some time in Puerto Madero – an area we do not frequently make it to.

With the IHG Big Win promotion, our stay at the Intercontinental this coming weekend will get us at least another 25,000 points (it’s hard to know exactly how many points it will be with all the overlapping promotions), and yet another chance to get out of the house for something different. We’ll get to enjoy the pool, gym, spa, highly-rated restaurant and, since it’s supposed to be over 100 degrees on Saturday, lots of air conditioning too.

See, staycations can be both fun and profitable! (UPDATE: Our two nights got us a total of 65,576 points. This can very conservatively be valued at U$S 459.)

If you’re looking for a hotel deal yourself, check out two Marriott promotions that can be combined to give you 2 free nights plus bonus points after two stays (or 3 free nights after four stays):

While this one is probably not worthy of a mattress run, if you have any planned trips, it may be worth changing hotels and staying at a Marriott brand to take advantage of this. (Please note that a stay is defined as consecutive nights at the same hotel regardless of check in/check out activity.)