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Ben

Regular Folk Traveling

Discussion in 'questions. answers. conversations.' started by CPTdave504, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. CPTdave504

    CPTdave504 Reader

    Lucky (et. al.),

    I'm interested in a post, or even a series of posts, tailored to the following traveler profile:

    -head of a family
    -doesn't travel for work
    -flies maybe 2-3 times per year
    -stays in a hotel 3-4 times per year
    -lives and works in a specific region or near a specific major city that's not NYC or LA (in my case, we live 15 min from Dulles in VA)
    -that specific airport or city is home to a specific airline hub (again, for me it's United and Virgin America)
    -somebody who will most likely never attain status


    I've often noticed the massive deals that I can't take advantage of because I don't live in NYC or LA. I'd like to see a post titled "So You Live in __________", and maybe discuss the major airlines based in that city, your best aspirational destinations, how best to rack up the points and miles to attain that great upgrade, etc. I feel like with all of the card bonuses I've received over the last year that I'm scattered across the board, and can't really get anything great out the 30k-50k I have across several programs.

    Can you, or anybody else, help us focus based upon where we all live and fly out of? Maybe a series of posts based on the top 10 major airports not in NYC and LA?

    Thanks!!

    Dave
     
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  2. Tiffany

    Tiffany One Mile At A Time

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    Hi Dave!

    It sounds like you might be a little over-diversified, which isn't unusual for those starting out, but let me see how I can help.

    1) You'll probably need to look at one-way redemptions to start leveraging the miles that you do have, or building up bigger balances. Keep transfer partners in mind as well, as pooling things into single accounts can make a big difference.

    2) If you don't live in a hub city, you'll be connecting. Almost always. So keep some Avios or fixed-value points on hand for positioning flights -- Dulles is one of the better airports for international awards, but you still might find yourself connecting to New York for some trips. It's also worth noting that we use Los Angeles and New York as examples a lot because those are the two cities with the most OMAAT readers in the US, and give a good snapshot of East Coast/West Coast options. You still have Lufthansa, Etihad, Emirates, Swiss, Turkish, Austrian, etc., out of Dulles.

    3) Read this post: http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/12/04/miles-and-points-for-infrequent-flyers/

    Without looking at your mileage accounts, my guess is that your redemption struggles have less to do with geography than you think. It sounds like the bigger issue is that you have points spread around to the point where they're not useable to you. So, if you want to give us a sense of what you have, and where you'd like to be traveling, we can try and help you dial in your approach!
     
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  3. David W

    David W Well-Known Member

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    How many points do you have across different programs and what are your travel goals?

    Based on your traveler profile it may be better to accumulate transferable points currencies and don't overdiversify. Stick mainly to Chase, Citi or Amex? Each bank has several cards you can leverage for bonus points and everyday spend and are combinable.

    Regarding other airports that aren't major hubs, you can always book positioning flights between your home airport and the major gateway. If on an award flight, you could be able to include position flights as part of the award as well.

    Is there anything specific, travel wise, that you're looking to do?
     
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  4. Cole

    Cole Member

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    Yeah I agree, I would love to see something like this for Chicago. I just started with credit cards and have been sticking to Chase since Chicago is a United hub. But I also know American Airlines has a pretty large footprint in Chicago as well. But I don't know a lot about the major international carriers coming out of Chicago.
     
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  5. David W

    David W Well-Known Member

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    @Cole Chicago is a pretty big city and is sometimes included in fare sales but might require playing around with routings. And like I said before, it's also pretty easy to include a flight to/from Chicago to other airports within an award. Is there a particular award or travel plan you had in mind?

    Wikipedia has a decent list of airlines that serve ORD - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O'Hare_International_Airport You can leaverage partnerships between airlines and alliances to fly on them. United is part of Star Alliance and there's quite a few options there.
     
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  6. Cole

    Cole Member

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    Theres tons of trip I want to take. The biggest one is Australia, but that will take soe saving up for. Probably about 5 years or so.
     
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  7. Gia

    Gia Active Member

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    Tiffany's advice is great.

    When I started six years ago, I selected an airline that was partnered and aligned with others for destinations I wanted. Then I selected the best hub(s) from my location. I live in San Diego and I use miles for prepositioning flights to my favorite hub(s). And I take out credit cards that offer me miles or points which feed into this approach. And I subscribe to Expert Flyer to take advantage of upgrade and award availability and sales. And I take advantage of all the great advice I get from this site. Good luck!
     
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    Tiffany likes this.
  8. Tiffany

    Tiffany One Mile At A Time

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    @Cole -- Hmm, sounds like you need to find a way to speed up your earnings. The problem with stashing miles for five years is that award rates will certainly increase. Five years ago the landscape was completely different than it is now!
     
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  9. Cole

    Cole Member

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    Well it wont take me that long to save up the miles to go. We have other trips and things we would like to do before we go to Australia, plus our 10 year anniversary will be in 5 years and we planning Australia for that.
     
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  10. SusanR

    SusanR New Member

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    Dave:

    Your profile sounds like me;

    I'm head of a family (husband and son at home). I travel to Chicago once a year for work for one week. I generally fly three times a year - once to Chicago for work; once for a "getaway" (this year, I went to Phoenix), and once to Australia (to visit my parents - I've always paid cash for tickets, and flown economy, and have only done that for the past 2 years)

    I live and work in the DFW area (AA hub)

    I will never attain status...

    I got my first credit card with a bonus for signing up just last year (Hyatt card), and stayed at the Park Hyatt Sydney for two nights with free two night sign-up bonus (with $3k spend, which I met in the first month by booking airline tickets to Australia for a trip last year).

    This year, I got the AAdvantage card with bonus; it gave me enough points that between that and buying points on sale earlier in the year, I have my first award ticket to Australia in September - first class via AA on the way there, and business class (Qantas) on the way home.

    I was looking for a review of AA 777-300er in January, which is how I found Lucky's blog, and I've been hooked ever since.

    I'm doing my first mattress run for the current Hyatt promotion (75k points for 25 nights), so that I can get Hyatt Diamond and to get enough points for a 3 day stay at the Park Hyatt Sydney later this year.

    I'll never be able to travel frequently using miles & points, but I can see how it's possible to have an occasional "aspirational" trip.

    I don't have any real pointers, but just wanted to say that it's possible to at least get a little "mileage" out of this game, even if you aren't a big business traveler. Good luck!
     
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  11. Gaurav

    Gaurav Well-Known Member

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    I've been following this thread with interest and have to say I agree with what others have said. There really are no big secrets (well I'm sure there are some routing rules loopholes etc that aren't widely shared) but otherwise it's just piecing together flights one way or another. I know it seems like Ben just jumps on a plane but he often talks of taking positioning flights to Dallas or elsewhere to start a longer flight--they're just not interesting enough to be reviewed or written about. Even fortress hubs have a few flights from other airlines and you have to search segment by segment to see how your miles can take you to your preferred destination. I'd say by far the people reading this blog are "regular folks", not very different from you!
     
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  12. CPTdave

    CPTdave New Member

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    Thank you all for your replies and advice. I'm learning that this hobby thrives on these shared experiences.

    I suppose my travel goals revolve around family. We have a baby due in June, and over the next few years we will be visiting family with the little one. I guess this is obvious to state, but we are looking to fly as comfortably as possible, for as economically as possible, and add some luxury with club access and the occasional business upgrade along the way.

    -Fly from Dulles r/t to San Francisco
    -Fly from Dulles r/t to Seoul, South Korea

    -Fly on Virgin America (Alergen, according to Ben)
    -Fly on United
    -Fly on Korean Air

    -Stay in hotels in San Francisco

    Right now we're holding the following points and have the following credit cards (cc):

    -HHonors: 400K (Gold status through cc)
    -Chase UR: 200K (2xSapphire, 1xOld Freedom)
    -Virgin America: 25K (cc)
    -United: 90K (cc)
    -Hyatt: 17K (Platinum status through cc)

    I guess one of my major concerns is that I can see us burning all of these points over the next two years alone, and then not being able to replenish them for future international travel once out daughter is old enough to appreciate it.

    Thoughts?

    (BTW: thank you, Tiffany, for the link to that earlier article; that was speaking directly to me!)
     
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  13. David W

    David W Well-Known Member

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    I'd try to find some cheap fares for IAD-SFO or redeem points for economy if fares are especially high. Same goes for hotels - try to find cheaper paid rates instead of redeeming points?

    You can save your United and Chase UR points for travel to Seoul, especially since Chase UR can transfer to KE. Their awards are pretty easy to obtain, especially for multiple seats, and KE flies IAD-ICN.

    In terms of replenishing points, stagger card applications but like I said previously, Chase's suite of cards make it easy to rebuild those points, especially if you and your spouse sign up for cards separately and combine points. Between Chase's Sapphire, Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards, you'd be earning at least 1.5x points per dollar. Chase's Ink and Ink Plus business cards are also worth considering, and you can sign up as a sole proprietor, if you dont have a business.
     
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  14. Traveler Cooper

    Traveler Cooper New Member

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  15. Traveler Cooper

    Traveler Cooper New Member

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    I believe the Chase Hyatt credit card requires only $1K spend to get two free nights at any Hyatt worldwide.
     
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  16. CPTdave

    CPTdave New Member

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    @Traveler Cooper and @SusanR: Yes, last year I had an upcoming business trip in Sydney and I was able to have my wife join me. I applied for and received the Chase Hyatt cc about 45 days before our trip. I literally spent my 1000th dollar on it about a week before we flew, and as soon as that last charge cleared I was booking 2 nights at the Park Hyatt in Sydney with my 2-night-free certificate, which is one of the nicest properties we've ever stayed at. It was amazing, and AC/DC was staying there with us (or we were staying there with them)!
     
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  17. CPTdave

    CPTdave New Member

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    I guess my question to all is what do I do once I deplete my bank of points? I value and hoard those Chase UR points like Scrooge McDuck. I got great bonuses with all of my cards, but once I blow the points on a big trip, it will take me years to get back to the 200K level. No matter how I strategize, I am pulling between 3K-5K points per month between me and my wife. We just don't spend more than that.

    BTW, our credit hovers in the mid- to upper-700s, so the only applications we worry about are Chase's with their stupid 5/24 rule.

    We also have nearly $500 in annual fees now. I'm not willing to push much beyond that.
     
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  18. MidSouth Skier

    MidSouth Skier Well-Known Member

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    @CPTdave - have you heard of manufactured spending (MS)? It's the process of using your credit card to buy things (often Visa gift cards) that can quickly be turned back into cash and that cash can be used to pay off your credit cards. Check out the Forum section of the Travel Codex blog here on Boarding Area to give you some ideas.

    I'd also be sure to have a cash-back card in my portfolio as you can use often generate enough cash back to help cover the fees incurred from MS and even the annual fees of the credit cards themselves.
     
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  19. CPTdave

    CPTdave New Member

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    @MidSouth Skier - I have heard of MS, but it's my understanding that it's a thing of the past. Am I wrong?
     
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  20. David W

    David W Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't say it's a thing of the past just yet but it is harder now
     
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