Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 In Travel

In 2014 I flew longer and further than I had done in quite some time but in 2015 I actually flew even further and longer thanks to my two week trip to Australia and Fiji.

Domestically, ski trips took me to Steamboat Springs (Haden via Atlanta) and to Salt Lake City (via Dallas/Ft. Worth) and visits to my friends sent me to Los Angeles (via Houston on the way out and via Denver on the way back) and to Chicago (ORD).2015 Domestic Travel

The good thing about my domestic travels was that every trip was either paid for with airline miles, credit card points or travel credits from a credit card.  None of the trips were free but the points, miles and credits sure help to keep the costs down!

Internationally my Birthday-With-A-Zero extravaganza sent me to Sydney (via DFW), to Ayers Rock (AYQ via MEL and ASP/Alice Springs), to Melbourne (returning via ASP), to Nadi (NAN), Fiji and home to Memphis via LAX and DFW.2015 Intl Travel
So despite two trips across the Atlantic last year, I flew 1500 miles further and had 4 hours more in flight time than last year.  I choose to think that those extra miles and hours were spent aboard the Qantas first class flight from Dallas to Sydney.  You’d never think a 17-hour flight could pass so quickly!

I won’t be flying further or longer in 2016.  I’ll still have two trips but my international trip is to Europe and  some of the ground there will be covered via a river cruise.  I’m looking forward to seeing what the new year brings!

Where will your travels take you in 2016?

Advertisements
Categories: Year in Review | Tags: | Leave a comment

Last day to buy MileagePlus miles on sale

UA MileagePlus LogoIf you’re a member of the United MileagePlus program, you likely received an email today stating that it’s your last chance to buy MP miles with a bonus. The amount of the bonus is targeted. The offer I received:

Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles, save 15%
Buy 20,000 – 49,000 miles, save 25%
Buy 50,000 – 149,000 miles, save 35%
Buy 150,000 miles, save 50%

The offer expires at 23:59 US Central Time tonight and are non-refundable. These miles are redeemable miles and do not count towards elite status. Canadians will be charged GST/HST. It may take up to 48 hours for the miles to post.

This will show on your credit card as a charge by Points.com so it will not count as airline spend for credit card bonus categories.

Even with the 50% bonus, it’s not a terrific deal for those of us who like to use the points for premium cabin international travel. The 150K miles cost $2625 (before taxes, fees, processing charges, etc.) which is 1.75 cents per mile. At the present time Ben from One Mile at a Time values UA miles at 1.4 cents each while Brian, The Points Guy places their value at 1.5 cents apiece.

I’m giving this sale a pass as my present travel needs don’t call for travel on Star Alliance carriers.

Categories: United | Tags: | Leave a comment

SPB Park Hyatt Sydney

SPB Trip Planning
SPB Qantas First Class to Sydney
SPB Park Hyatt Sydney
SPB Sydney Opera House
SPB Around Sydney
SPB Flying to/from Uluru
SPB Emu Walk Apartments
SPB Uluru and Kata Tjuta
SPB Park Hyatt Melbourne
SPB Around Melbourne
SPB Flying to Fiji
SPB Hilton Fiji
SPB Snorkeling Trip
SPB Fiji Air Business Class to Los Angeles
SPB Hyatt Regency DFW

 

When it comes to paying real money for things, I can be, er, frugal. So I like to use points to pay for things that I’d never pay cash for otherwise – or at least, not as much cash as the asking price! A standard Harbour View Twin room at the Park Hyatt retails for over $800 USD per night for dates in mid-October. No way would I ever pay that for any hotel but I will gladly fork over points and free night certificates for such a room.

Welcome to the Park Hyatt

Welcome to the Park Hyatt

Continue reading

Categories: Australia, Hotel, Hyatt, Lodging Review, Oceania | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

SPB Qantas First Class to Sydney

SPB Trip Planning
SPB Qantas First Class to Sydney
SPB Park Hyatt Sydney
SPB Sydney Opera House
SPB Around Sydney
SPB Flying to/from Uluru
SPB Emu Walk Apartments
SPB Uluru and Kata Tjuta
SPB Park Hyatt Melbourne
SPB Around Melbourne
SPB Flying to Fiji
SPB Hilton Fiji
SPB Snorkeling Trip
SPB Fiji Air Business Class to Los Angeles
SPB Hyatt Regency DFW

The day finally arrived when I was on my way for this much-anticipated South Pacific birthday vacation. Since I had booked the DFW-SYD flight on a separate ticket, I booked my MEM-DFW flight to arrive well in advance so that if something should go wrong and the flight should get canceled, there was still another MEM-DFW flight that would get me to Dallas in time to catch my flight to Sydney. That meant I got to Dallas mid-afternoon and the Sydney flight didn’t leave until after 9 PM, but I was fine with that. I have a friend who works near the DFW airport and we went out for a light dinner at the normal dinner time though I didn’t want to overeat knowing I’d have a full meal on board.

Qantas Lounge DFW

Once I got back to the airport, I decided to visit the Qantas lounge in Terminal D. It’s actually one of several small contract lounges located on the second floor of the terminal. To reach the club, enter the generic airline clubs entrance and take the dedicated elevator to the second floor. There the folks at the desk will point you to the correct lounge.

Qantas Lounge DFW Entrance

Entrance to airline clubs in DFW Terminal D

Continue reading

Categories: Australia, Qantas | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A South Pacific Birthday Trip

SPB Trip Planning
SPB Qantas First Class to Sydney
SPB Park Hyatt Sydney
SPB Sydney Opera House
SPB Around Sydney
SPB Flying to/from Uluru
SPB Emu Walk Apartments
SPB Uluru and Kata Tjuta
SPB Park Hyatt Melbourne
SPB Around Melbourne
SPB Flying to Fiji
SPB Hilton Fiji
SPB Snorkeling Trip
SPB Fiji Air Business Class to Los Angeles
SPB Hyatt Regency DFW

 

I have a couple of friends I like to travel with and over the years we’ve all had a birthday that ends in a zero (with different leading digits!). Our tradition has become whoever has the “zero birthday” gets to pick the vacation spot and we try to do it up right. About two years ago I first got into the miles and points game and it wasn’t long before I set a goal of celebrating my next “zero birthday” in Australia and using miles and points to pay for as much of it as possible.

My dad, who’s a 2 million miler on American, offered to give me whatever AA points I needed to make my trip happen. That left me a goal of helping my friends accumulate the miles they’d need to fly Down Under too. Then, of course, there would be points needed for hotel rooms. Lofty goals but with two years to get things planned, we were able to accomplish it relatively cheaply – well, cheaply as compared to what it COULD have cost!

The itinerary

I had visited Australia before, in 2006, and was eager to go back. One of my friends had been there as well but the other had not. So I knew that meant I’d need to re-visit some of the iconic places but I also wanted to be sure to visit some places I’d never been. My prior trip had involved stops in Sydney and Cairns, which is up near the Great Barrier Reef. While I would have loved to have gone back to the GBR, there were other places I wanted to visit as well, and with a total trip length of two weeks, we just couldn’t squeeze everything in this time around. In the end we flew from the US to Sydney and stayed there four days. Next we flew to the Red Centre of the country and visited Uluru (Ayers Rock) for a couple of days. Then it was down south to Melbourne for a bit more than two days.

During our trip planning we had talked about stopping off somewhere a little more exotic on the way back, somewhere we could just enjoy the beach, the sun and the surf. Since we’d be using primarily American Airlines miles, I quickly realized that due to their routing rules we’d need to stay in Oceania for our beach time. That led us to look at Fiji as our final stop before heading back to the US.

My friends and I each make our homes in different cities in the US so here is how our trip worked out:

The various routings for our trip. Map made on gcmap.com

The various routings for our trip. Map made on gcmap.com

Continue reading

Categories: American Airlines, Australia, Award Travel, Chase, Fiji, Fiji Air, Hilton, Hotel, Hyatt, Oceania, OneWorld, Qantas, Sapphire Preferred | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Register for Q1 2016 Bonus Categories

Both the Discover Card and Chase Freedom card have rotating bonus categories each quarter. Registration is now available for both cards for the first quarter of 2016.

2015-12-15 Chase Freedom 2016 Bonus Categories

Chase Freedom will give 5x points (or 5% cash back) on purchases made at gas stations and for local commuter transportation (taxis, subways, local buses, etc. but not parking, tolls or Amtrak). I haven’t heard if this includes Uber purchases or not. To register, enter your information HERE on the Chase website.

2015-12-15 Discover Q1 2016 Bonus Categories
The Discover More and Discover It cards are also offering the 5% bonus at gas stations and on ground transportation. They specifically INCLUDE Uber and Lyft as well as:

  • Charter & Tour Bus Lines
  • Local & Suburban Public Transportation – Buses, Trains
  • Taxis, Limos
  • Bike Share Programs
  • Rental Cars

Note that purchases made via travel agencies will be excluded. Register for this bonus HERE at the Discover website.

 
Both programs are valid on bonuses up to $1500 in purchases.

 
This is one of the quarters where I generally don’t max out the bonus. I have trouble finding gas stations that sell gift cards and of course I don’t spend enough in the other categories to reach the max. But I will register anyway because 5x/5% is better than any other bonus I’ll receive for this category for the rest of the year.

Now on my Christmas wish list: that Freedom and Discover will each do different categories for the rest of the year so they don’t overlap!

Categories: Chase, Credit Card Promos, Discover, Freedom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Last First Friday

CSPFor several years now Chase has offered 3x points on dining charges on the first Friday of each month when you pay using your Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  Earlier this year they announced this perk would be discontinued at the end of the year.  That means tomorrow is your last chance to get this bonus for the foreseeable future.  No, 3x vs. 2x isn’t a huge jump, but maybe you can take the opportunity to pay for the office holiday party (and get reimbursed, of course) or just offer to pay when you’re out to lunch with your co-workers (and get reimbursed)!

This has been a nice perk and I admit I haven’t taken advantage of it like I should but I hate to see it go.

Categories: Chase, Credit Cards, Sapphire Preferred | Tags: | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.