Just wanted to drop a quick line and let you know I won’t have a post up today as regularly scheduled. This is the first time since I launched the site that I’ve not had something new up by this point in the week, so please forgive me!
We’ll get back to some awesome reader trips in the near future, but right now I’m neck-deep in preparation for something truly massive for PointsAway. If you subscribe to the newsletter, you already know what I’m talking about! If not, I’ll be back on Thursday to share more with you.
Thanks for understanding and see you Thursday!
Reader Aaron went backpacking through Southeast Asia with his girlfriend of four years late in 2013. When planning their last trip, they were unaware of the savings that points and miles programs can bring.
Since then, Araon’s wised up to the possibilities and begun judiciously racking up balances with various programs. For their next trip, Aaron wants to go backpacking in Peru and Colombia sometime this Summer. That means he and his girlfriend need flights to take them there and back from Denver.
Current Program Status
Aaron currently has 50,000 United miles, 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points, 40,000 Frontier miles and 30,000 US Airways miles. He’s racked up nearly all of these miles since January 2014, serving as an impressive example of how so many miles can be earned so quickly.
United’s our clear program of choice in this case, if mostly by process of elimination. Aaron’s Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to a variety of hotel and airline programs, including Untied. That means that, should he need them, Aaron could have as many as 100,000 United miles in total in a matter of minutes.
Unfortunately, the farthest south Frontier flies is Costa Rica. This flight would take just 15,000 miles each way, but Aaron would be short of the miles needed for two roundtrips even if this were his destination.
US Airways miles are equally unhelpful in this case due to the airline’s insistence on awards being booked as roundtrips. 30,000 miles is enough to take Aaron a few places, but not enough to cover two passengers.
United roundtrip awards can be very valuable thanks to their stopover potential.
Because we’d be relying exclusively on United for this trip, we can take advantage of the fact that United allows for stopovers on roundtrip awards. That means Aaron and his girlfriend can stop in Colombia and then catch a flight onwards to Peru before heading home and use no more miles than they would for a simple roundtrip!
Reader Elena found a 30% off deal for a Christmas vacation in Jamaica at an all-inclusive resort. To take advantage of this, she needs to find flights for four total passengers from Minneapolis. She’s looking to travel from December 20th until the 28th. She has one or two days of flexibility on either side of these dates.
Current Program Status
Elena presently has 55,000 United miles in her own program and 55,000 available in another passenger’s account. Three total passengers, including Elena, also have US Airways mileage balances of 35,000 each. They’re willing to consider applying for a new travel credit card if it could help them earn any miles needed for this trip quickly.
As is always the case with a larger party, we’ll make keeping the whole family together our first priority in creating a trip. Only if there’s absolutely no way forward do I ever start considering splitting families into two traveling parties. That won’t be necessary today.
However, traveling to a tropical vacation destination at Christmastime on miles and points is not easy. This is naturally one of the most popular times of the year to travel, and that means people often book up to a year in advance. Since a lot of availability has already been eaten away on the most straightforward award routes, we’ll have to be creative in finding a solution. Let’s dive in!
I’m just back from a week of travel, first to Portland for Pioneer Nation and then to Las Vegas for a few days before heading back to Jacksonville. I thought I’d take a post to talk about some of the fun stuff from my trip, and hopefully share a few tips worth remembering!
JAX-DEN-PDX & LAS-JAX on Southwest
I booked each of my Southwest flights using Rapid Rewards points transferred over from Ultimate Rewards. I love that Ultimate Rewards transfers take place instantly, so it was easy to move over the necessary points for each flight and book them as soon as I found a good fare.
My New Favorite Seat
Southwest might only have a single class of seating, but one seat in particular stands out as a winner: 11B might be the best seat on the plane, at least if you don’t care much about seat recline. This is one of two rows placed right near the wing emergency exit. The front of these two rows consists only of an aisle and middle seat; there is no window seat on this row, as it would impede access to the exit in case of an emergency.
This seat allowed me to use two tray tables, perfect for working on a long flight.
On my flight out to Portland, and on my flight home from Las Vegas, this seat was available. For some reason, it was passed by by dozens of passengers who were somehow turned off by this odd seating arrangement. I like it very much because it gave me plenty of extra room to the left side, and access to a second tray table. That meant I could get a great amount of work done on my 15″ MacBook Pro but still have a place to put a beverage and snacks.
The space underneath the window seat in front of this 2-seat row really belongs to whoever is sitting in the window seat behind; that is, 13A should be able to put their bag under 11A. This person has an extraordinary amount of leg room, since there’s no seat in front of them. However, access to the tray table is very difficult since it’s truly two rows ahead. For some, the extra legroom might be the premium, but I very much prefer the extra arm room, providing more area to work and spread out during a long flight. On the way out, I was even able to put my backpack under 11A and stretch out, enjoying the best of both worlds.
Stops With Southwest
I’ve flown Southwest countless times in the past, but somehow have only ever been a passenger on direct flights or those requiring a connection. As such, I’ve missed out on an important quirk of Southwest’s routing philosophy: