Just a quick note — last May I got in on the crazy 100,000 BA miles sign-up bonus for the Chase British Airways Visa ($95 annual fee), and I still have a ton of unused miles from it. I’ve stopped using the card because I’m not crazy about the program switch to Avios miles that took place last November and I feel like I earn more valuable (and more) points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred (with which I earn Ultimate Rewards points. Those also transfer 1:1 to British Airways, so should I ever feel the need to top off my BA account, Ultimate Rewards gives me the flexibility to do so). So I called Chase and declared I was canceling my card, but the agent said she’d give me 5000 Avios points (posting to my account within the next 30 days) to not cancel quite yet. She justified that my annual fee wasn’t up until May anyway. So I didn’t cancel. Yet. Yay! Free miles!
At this point, you might be wondering why I’m so keen on accumulating frequent flyer miles and how I go about using them.
It can be really difficult getting to Hawaii for the holidays, especially when the whole damn world seems to want to get there, too. Flights are expensive, most obviously right before Christmas day and in the past, I’ve often flown there on Christmas day or Boxing Day. This always, always sucks. By the time I get there, I have to poke around for the leftover kalua pig, listen to everyone talk about how fun the party was and beg my grandma to turn the Christmas tree lights back on.
However, redeeming miles and finding award availability for Hawaii is pretty simple and straightforward in fall, which means that’s usually when I’ll go. In September, I redeemed 40,000 United miles to get both my boyfriend and I to Honolulu (20,000 each, one-way) on saver awards and paid $10 total in fees. To get back to Philadelphia, we redeemed 28,000 British Airways Executive Club miles for two American Airlines tickets (now the program has been re-organized and is called Avios — we booked back in May) and paid $100 in fees so as not to wipe out half of our BA miles for one trip.
To get a ticket back to Honolulu before Christmas day, I had to redeem 40,000 United miles one-way (and 5 dollars in fees) on a standard award for just me. But it’s worthwhile to note, that no matter what day I flew on in December, United was asking for 40,000 miles. I like consistency and predictability, which are hard to come by when you’re trying to purchase a ticket. To get back to the mainland, I purchased a one-way on American for $384 (I stalked the fare on bing travel for a while), which is not much, especially considering roundtrip airfare for Hawaii in winter would have set me back at least a grand these days. As an added bonus, AAdvantage is now offering double elite qualifying miles for travel between Dec. 13, 2011 and Jan. 31, 2012, when my date for travel falls. Essentially, I’m going to Hawaii and back at my ideal times during the holidays for $389 total.
This year I will actually be able to see Santa coming in his red canoe and paddling on a magic sea of blue. Reindeer be damned.