Two to Travel (And Tango)

Travel Tips and Inspiration From Millennials, For Millennials

Tag: American Airlines

Flyer Talk Furlong

Note: The posts here have been a lot less frequent as of late. You may have noticed. What can I say, being a new dad is at once exhausting as well as awesome, and I find myself putting more and more of my time to hanging out with the little homie, or sleeping. Somehow, the two of those loves have yet to go hand in hand. But soon enough, we’ll increase the posts, and we’ve got a few good ones on our front burner:

1. A review of the Avianca LifeMiles program, for people looking to ditch United’s program. 

2. How to survive a LOOOONG delay with an infant. A recent trip to Chicago where we were delayed 2 hours from boarding and then on the tarmac an additional 4 hours has really helped us hone in our skills on that one.

3. We’ll have hotel reviews from two places we loved, and a few tools for beginners features coming out.

So thanks for kicking it with us and letting us enjoy time being a new family! Stay tuned for more. 

Flyer Talk Furlong. Of all the sometimes questionable nicknames I’ve been given by friends and loved ones in life, this is perhaps my favorite. Not long after college, I got into the idea of traveling on the cheap. When the coupon clipper in me met the miles and points game, there was no turning back. I was hooked on the large savings, and the chance to really take advantage of certain luxuries I would never ever dare pay for.

Over the years, I’ve gotten in on some pretty great deals. I’ve flown across the world on mistake fares. I’ve stayed in luxurious hotels people like me have no business being in. And I’ve transformed from a twenty year old who had visited two countries to someone who in his early 30’s stopped counting after visiting 40_+ countries. And yet, in my many travels and with my many tricks, I’ve never, ever achieved one of the things I desired most. Until now! Continue reading

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What’s In Your Wallet? Well, Here’s What Loyalty Programs, Credit Cards, and More Are in Mine!

A couple years ago at a party, we met a man who seemed so familiar. The longer we hung out and flung stories back and forth, the more we connected. “You’re sure we’ve never met” I asked for about the 5th time, at a total loss as for why this stranger seemed so familiar to me. He smiled sheepishly, and said “If I tell you where you know me from, promise not to tell other people at the party?” And then he said that famous line: Continue reading

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How United Just Made Sure American Airlines Has the Best Frequent Flyer Program- For Now

They’ve done it. Of course, for those of us who follow things such as these, the news from United today is hardly surprising, though nonetheless frustrating. When we started this blog a few months ago, we wrote how Delta was the worst of the worst in terms of the main American carriers for frequent flyers. The miles are hard to spend, and recently Delta made them harder to earn! They moved to what’s called a revenue based earning program, which essentially means the old system of being awarded for the miles you fly is replaced with a new system that rewards you based on the money you spend.

And United is joining the crowd. Starting March 1, 2015, United will reward frequent flyer miles on their airline not based on the mileage you fly, but based on the amount of money you drop on at ticket. Spend more, earn more.

How flyers will earn miles on United and United Express flights starting March 1, 2015

How flyers will earn miles on United and United Express flights starting March 1, 2015

How does this impact you? It hits people who are loyal to United hardest and I think it’s fair to say gives reason to the casual traveler to pick American Airlines (or Alaska Airlines) when considering what loyalty program to focus on when you fly. But let’s give an example of how different things will be with the new systems.

One of our favorite bloggers Summer over at Mommy Points (she has a great blog, check it out!) wrote about the change and gave an example of a recent trip on United, giving us a break down of what she earned and what she would earn in the new program.

On a trip she took that was Houston to Anchorage roundtrip the minimum earned for this is the miles flown: 6,500 miles. Since she is a 1K elite member she earns a 100% bonus on all her trips, so she earned :13,000 miles she can redeem. Not bad at all! What’s better, she got a pretty good deal on her ticket: $400. So what would she earn under the new revenue based system? As a general member, she gets 2,000 miles, NOT 6,500 miles. As a member of the top elite level of United MileagePlus, she will only earn 4,400 miles, NOT 13,000 miles.

Do you have a flight coming up on United? See what you will earn under the old mileage program with this mileage calculator here, and see what you would earn with the new program with their revenue based mileage calculator here

Some final details: Credit cards will still earn points just as they do now, no change. So too will you earn miles on international flights that are operated by partners but not ticketed by United.

So if you look at the biggest frequent flyer programs offered by Delta, United, and American Airlines, American is now the only one that will continue to offer miles based on the miles flown, not the amount of money you spent. For the average traveler who is budget conscious but still wants to earn miles, this is a big deal. American has said they won’t make any changes until they finish their integration with US Airways. So for now, they’re even more clearly our preferred carrier between the big three. Alaska Airlines is a great program and makes it easy to earn miles not just on Alaska but other carriers as well, making them worthy of your consideration. Stay tuned for more updates, but keep your fingers crossed that enough people will utilize American after these changes from United where it will be like Southwest with their “bags fly free” promos: We want to make it where the airline sees a financial incentive in not following the crowd in what is becoming bad business as usual! So if you switch your loyalty to American, make sure to let them know why, on Twitter, in emails, wherever you can!

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Earning Miles Has Never Been Easier: Why We Love OneWorld

Elite status keeps flying enjoyable. In our first post on miles and flights on this blog, we tried to drive home what a difference elite status can make in your flying experience.  First class upgrades when available. Priority screening through airport security and the ability to be one of the first people to board the airplane. Double miles earned on every flight, which means award tickets to keep traveling! When I’m not in first class, I’m always in the emergency exit row. And when I call American Airlines, I never wait more than 30 seconds to talk to an agent. When I called Delta yesterday as a regular member and was on hold for 42 minutes, I realized how special that is. You want to get elite status, end of story. And here’s the good news: Not only has earning airline miles never been easier, it’s also never been easier to earn elite status on American Airlines thanks to the OneWorld Alliance they are part of!

And so I’m excited to say that in less than 5 months, I’ve re-qualified for Platinum with American Airlines. It usually takes me all year, as I get the final few miles needed in the last week of the calendar year.

But here’s the crazy thing: I’ve only flown 3,611 miles on American Airlines this year.

Despite only flying 3,611 miles on American Airlines, I have managed to re-qualify for Platinum, which requires 50,000 miles. How?

It takes 50,000 miles to re-qualify for platinum. But I’ve only flown 3,611 miles on American Airlines… The numbers don’t compute, right? That’s where the OneWorld Alliance comes in.

Turns out the first half of this year has been a busy year full of international travel for me. And so the other 46,389 miles flown have been on LAN Airlines and British Airways. When you fly these airlines, as well as a host of others that you can find here, you earn miles for American. Think about that for a moment. If you’re taking a trip to Europe this summer, or Asia or parts of South America, one trip alone, whether it is on American or not, can get you half way to low tier “gold” elite status. One trip gets you half way to priority security screening, extra miles, preferred seats, and more! Now for the crazy thing: Most people don’t even bother to understand how alliances work, and so those miles go unclaimed!

As great as airline alliances are, the benefits are slowly disappearing. United now requires that you not only fly 50,000 miles to reach their AAdvantage Platinum equivalent Gold Premier, but you have to spend $5,000 “premier qualifying dollars”. This is just a fancy way to say, you need to spend 5k with United, United Express, or Copa. Tricky, tricky! To reach Delta Gold, the same scheme is in place: 50,000 miles AND $5,000 on Delta flights.

So will American change? Sadly, someday, yes. But for now, the ease with which you can earn elite status is but one of the many reasons we find ourselves loyal to American Airlines and the OneWorld Alliance! And if you fly Delta or United, you may be surprised how easily you can still earn status, and if nothing else, you can still earn miles on Delta or United when flying their partner airlines which again adds up to more chances to redeem miles for free flights. As for me, American need not worry: The rest of the year is exclusively on American Airlines, hopefully with several upgrades to first class throughout!

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The Death of a Legend and Lessons Learned

2012 is when it all really began for us. Sure, we’d traveled a bunch. Laura found a way to hang out in the Olympic Village in 2008. Patrick found a way to score tickets to President Obama’s Inauguration that same year. But 2012 is when we decided to go from casual travelers, to people who took advantage of the loopholes at our disposal.

We booked a OneWorld Explorer. July 2012 we found ourselves seated in Business Class seats like this-

Business Class in Cathay Pacific

When your seat turns into a bed, 12+ hour flights become nothing

wining and dining in nice airport lounges (when not taking advantage of the free massages), and traveling from Los Angeles to the beaches of Honolulu, to the great ramen hunt in Tokyo, to the dim sum fest in Hong Kong, to the serenity of Bali, and then on to the beautiful chaos of Bangkok, ending with a leisurely train ride throughout Thailand and Malaysia that ended in Singapore before bringing us back to LA. All this for some airline miles and $400.

Just this month, we decided it was time for round two. We again took advantage of this distance based award called the OneWorld Explorer, and recently booked the following: A return to Hong Kong, one of our favorite cities in the entire world. This time, we’re using hotel points earned from a few tricks to stay at the Intercontinental, a hotel I must say with some spectacular views.

View from the pool at our next hotel stay at the Intercontinental in Hong Kong

Then, we’re flying on to South Africa, where we’ll enjoy a Christmas safari with Laura’s family after we relax in the beautiful city of Cape Town with some good family friends. Finally, after a quick stop in Doha (routing takes you to some crazy places) we’ll end up in Chicago to ring in the New Year with my family. Total cost: 150,000 miles each and $399. With hotel point redemptions, we’re also looking at no lodging fees in Hong Kong and Doha and the majority of our time in South Africa.

So it was with disappointment that we learned this week of American Airlines termination, literally overnight, of my favorite little known travel award- The OneWorld Explorer. Gone just like that are the days where 150,000 miles and $399 could buy you a plane ticket worth several thousand dollars.

The lesson is simple: Don’t sit on your miles and points. Airlines and hotel points redemption, much like college tuition, never somehow get better for the end-user. Tuition will always go up, as will the cost of using your miles and points. At the same time, you won’t get any younger. Travel is a gift. A hard one to open up at times for certain, but a gift nonetheless. Don’t waste it. Spend your miles, spend your points, because tomorrow, it may become that much more difficult and expensive to do so.

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Frequent Flyer 101

In December of 2013, Laura and I traveled to New Zealand in style: our seat turned into a bed. This was a follow up to an epic OneWorld Explorer trip we did back in 2012, that took us from Los Angeles to Honolulu to Tokyo to Hong Kong to Bali to Bangkok (where we then took trains through Thailand, Malaysia, and ended in Singapore) before flying back to LAX. And all of it was done flying in business class, for less than $300…You still with me?dafc7afe3e4a11e38ab422000aa80430_8

So how do you do this? Two ways: be filthy rich, OR take a serious look at earning miles. There are a ton of ways to earn miles. There is the classic butt-in-seat miles approach (flying), credit card bonuses (jackpot), and even getting miles for doing nothing more than eating at your favorite pizza place (every mile counts). We’ll hit all of these in posts over the next few weeks.

But to get anywhere, you’ve got to have a frequent flyer account. Like. Right. Now. So this post is for the beginners of beginners. Not sure where to start? We’ll do our best to avoid the jargon and complexities and will cut right to the point.

Continue reading

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