Wednesday, May 04, 2016

How to Be an Airline Mile Monstar All the Way to Asia

At the end of this month Lydia and I will embark upon a magnum opus of a trip. A trip for the ages. A trip literally around the damn world. If I had to bet I'd say we will not go on a trip as extensive as this one ever again. Partially because eventually we will run out of countries to visit, partially because we will realize the insanity of this mid-trip, and partially because we've already signed up for just about every travel point credit card in existence.

I'm pretty proud of the airline mile masterpiece that I have devised. We have a flight booked business class from Haiti to Japan and a first class flight from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi to St. Louis. If you want to play the airline credit card travel game the first rule is: wait until there's a deal. You always get a point bonus when you sign up for a card, but they have limited time promotions where you get even more points. I like more points, and I like italics.

I follow a few travel point related blogs to get good ideas and to keep abreast of the deals that are happening. Million Mile Secrets, One Mile at a Time, and Points, Miles & Martinis are a few of my favorites. There's a lot of overlap in content but I like to be thorough. A couple examples of the rad ideas I've gotten from these blogs are that one time Carnival paid us to cruise to the Bahamas and the time we stayed for free at a $600 Midtown Manhattan New York hotel.

Well the particular deal that lead to the two crazy expensive flights we'll be taking for free involved the American Airlines Citibank credit card. The bonus was 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 within the first... I think 3 months after you open the card. Then I signed up for the business version of the same card and Lydia followed suit. The card companies seem to be pretty liberal on what constitutes a business. Do you sell old buttons on Ebay? Then you've got a business my friend.

So we ended up with 100,000 miles each from this and we could have spent them willy nilly on whatever bland American Airlines flight. But after you've earned the miles, the second part of the magic comes from how you spend them. You see, you don't even have to fly an actual American Airlines flight; You can fly on one of their partner airlines. And there are lots of loopholes where you can find a really good deal. For example if I booked Etihad Airways first class from Mumbai to St. Louis today it would cost about $5K a person, but it was only 90,000 in points.

The price shown is in Indian Rupees. That must be like ALL the rupees.

So I called up American Airlines to book the flights. I went all out meticulous on this one folks, planning everything down to the model of aircraft on each leg on the flight. I called and talked to the lady at the call center and she said that those flights weren't available. First thing I did was get reeeally angry and rip my pants off like the Incredible Hulk. Second thing I did was do a little research. Turns out, the American American Airlines call center conveniently can't book some of the Etihad flights. Soooo... I skyped the Australian American Airlines call center and got. that. deal. done. BOOM! The lady I talked to was clearly not born in Australia, so I had to listen very intently to filter meaning from the accents on accents.

Why Etihad? I'll let this odd Nicole Kidman commercial with Harry Potter music explain.

So that's it really. Pretty straightforward. I'm especially excited about flying Etihad first class. They have a shower on the plane, and the first class "seat" is described as a "First Apartment" because it's really a little room with a door, couch, table, and tv on the wall.

Here's a little video about the Etihad first class experience. I am so pumped about this. I picked Mumbai with a long layover in Abu Dhabi because it was the longest flight I could find.

The Haiti to Japan bit was another point related decision. We booked the flight with points we already had on hand. Well point bookings with American Airlines work on a "zone" system. So any flight from the North America zone to the Asia 1 zone costs the same amount of points. So... I picked Haiti as our starting point. I've been wanting to go to Haiti ever since I was thwarted trying to squeeze it in to our Dominican Republic trip.

We are really packing them in on this trip. We'll be visiting Haiti, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, and the UAE before returning to sunny St. Louis. Some of those countries are a little rough around the ol' edges, so I just emailed my doctor for a prescription for Doxycycline which prevents malaria (and amusingly treats a few of nature's other gifts such as acne, gum disease, anthrax, and chlamydia) and Ciprofloxacin which treats a condition I will call "tummy sadness".

According to Great Circle Mapper our combined flights on this trip are going to total about 31K miles. The circumference of the earth is 24,901.

I'm so excited!

No comments:

Post a Comment