I can’t think of ever seeing a deal giving 10% off of airfare like this. Veterans Advantage is a membership club for veterans that already gives 5% off of all United and jetBlue flights and 3% off of all Alaska flights, along with many other discounts on other travel services.  I’ve paid for membership for many years now and get good value from their deals.

Now they come out with a limited time deal giving 10% off of all Alaska flights to Hawaii from 2/3 – 5/22. This is a great airline to pick to go to Hawaii since they have 29 flights between the West Coast/ Alaska and the four major Hawaiian islands. The wife and I fly Alaska to Hawaii every year using our BoA credit card companion pass (best deal of any CC benefit in my opinion) and often get upgraded to First Class even as MVP Golds…and who doesn’t want to go to Hawaii?

To use this deal, you’ll need to get a membership to Veterans Advantage and then they will give you a code for the airline discount or you will be directed to a site where the discount is applied to your flight.  This deal should more than pay for your membership and then you have those other discounts for the remaining 12 months.

Here are the details, make sure you fly by 5/22!

Let me know how this works out for you, I already have a membership and plan to see how I can take advantage of such a great deal.  Really gives a lot of miles to requalify for Gold for next year. Plus Alaska is still “old school” in their great FF program so as Golds, my wife and I each get 100% bonus to redeemable miles.  Meaning about 20,000 miles for flying to Hawaii and back from the East Coast where I currently live. Alaska miles are generally considered some of the most valuable FF miles since they can also be used on Emirates, Cathy Pacific, Icelandair and unique partners.

Posted by glenn | No Comments

Another donor has stepped forward for free upgrades on United. Bonnie is donating 3 GPUs and 4 RPUs. I haven’t had any takers yet for the GPUs offered by Bill, but I get the fare restrictions severely limiting those who would be eligible. However, you don’t have the same fare restriction on domestic RPUs. Here are the rules again for both:

RPUs: These upgrades are good for any fare as long as the flight stays within Central or North America.  There is an exception for some flights outside of this, such as Guam to Manila, but these are rare exceptions that I am not going to detail.

GPUs: These are for international travel, but have significant restriction on what fare class you can apply them to.  From the UA page: Global Premier Upgrades are not available on flights booked in fare classes Z, P, S, T, K, L, G or N. Meaning that you can’t use them on the cheapest fares.  Even cheap First or Business Class.

The United Upgrade page has the details. Your flight does need to be no later than 31 January.

Posted by glenn | One Comment

We have a generous donor named Bill, who is giving away 4 United Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) which are expiring 31 Jan. He would like these to go to military personnel traveling this month.  The tricky part about using UA GPUs is that they need to be for W class fares or higher.

GPUs: These are for international travel, but have significant restriction on what fare class you can apply them to.  From the UA page: Global Premier Upgrades are not available on flights booked in fare classes Z, P, S, T, K, L, G or N. Meaning that you can’t use them on the cheapest fares.  Even cheap First or Business Class.

The United Upgrade page has the details.

We have successfully given away these type of upgrades every year, but do make sure you have the right airfare. Anyone military Service Member who wants one of these should email me at glennagoddard@gmail.com with your name and Record Locator.  I will then send to Bill and he can apply the GPU from his account.

Thanks for your generosity Bill!

Posted by glenn | No Comments

My friend Ed Pizzarello of Pizza in Motion fame, hosts a podcast called Miles to Go. On his show he often laments/ humblebrags that he has never been to Hawaii.  I almost think that people on his show are so amazed by that fact that he takes it as a point of pride to have never been there.

Ed, sure that’s fine for you, but think of the children!  Sure it will look good on their college essays to list the hardship of never having been to Hawaii, and that’s not a bad strategy to get them into Harvard, but look at the life experiences you are denying them.  They may harbor resentment for the rest of their lives.  You may be labelled as a bad father.  Sure, you take them to Disneyworld like ten times a year, but still…

Most of us in the frequent flyer community consider this crazy since that is a prime destination for users of points and miles.  My wife and I lived there for three years and have returned every year to vacation at one of the islands. We find it very easy to get there and always get there with a great deal.  Today, I am going to lay that strategy out for you and see if you won’t be tempted.

Items required to make this work for a family of four:

Two Bank of America Alaska Airlines credit cards

Two AMEX Aspire Hilton credit cards

480,000 Hilton Honors points for two rooms for five nights

Optional – Gold Guest Upgrade Certificates

Optional – AA or AS Lounge membership

Now, Ed, you may be questioning the first item on the list.  Alaska Airlines? But I live in D.C., not Seattle. Actually, Ed, you might be surprised how much AS has expanded in the last few years.  They fly from all three Washington airports, BWI, DCA, and Dulles to most of the West Coast and then have flights from there to all the major Hawaiian islands. Here is the route my wife and I flew a few weeks ago.

Ed, I know you are concerned with a 10-12 hour flight to Hawaii.  Alaska also allows you a free stopover on their flights. One of my favorite ways to get to HNL from WAS is to fly BWI-SAN, spend a couple of days in San Diego, and then SAN-HNL a couple of days later. You could also do the same for LAX or SFO. In the summer, SEA is also a good stopover. Likewise, you can do the same on the way back.  This breaks up a long journey and is probably easier for the kids to handle, plus they get to see another city or two.

 

Why Alaska and no the other airlines? Because of one of the best CC benefits out there – the BoA Alaska Airline CC’ Companion Certificate.  As the name implies, this is a $99 ($122 with takes) ticket for someone travelling on exactly the same itinerary as you.  Right now, BoA has a deal where they will they are waiving the $99 fee the first year so that companion ticket only costs the $22 in taxes. So it really is two tickets for the price of one.  Ed, if you and your wife each get this CC, your family of four flies for half price (~$1800). Don’t forget to have AS FF accounts as each person earns full distance-based miles for these tickets. At about 10,000 miles round trip, that’s quite a few very valuable AS miles. My being a MVP Gold and my wife a MVP Gold75k, we earn 100% and 125% bonuses, respectively, on these trips meaning almost enough for a free award ticket for this one flight.

If you have a REALLY good friend, they may also give you a Gold Guest Upgrade (GGU) that they get from being an AS Gold. You need to select that from the pull down menu when searching for flights.  Look for flights with blue “F” boxes. If you are fortunate enough to find a flight with both legs showing as upgradeable that still only takes one GGU. Note that these fares may be slightly higher but way cheaper than outright buying First Class as shown below.

So that’s how to get there, but what about an inexpensive stay once you do get here? Here is a strategy for that with Hilton.  The AMEX Aspire card came out about a year ago and offers an interesting way to maximize value.  The card is $450/yr., but comes with Hilton Diamond Status and a $250/yr. credit for incidentals (everything but the room rate) at Hilton hotels. It is really meant to offset the ludicrous resort fee of $50/night, but here is a better way to use it.  Hilton does not charge the resort fee if you stay on points, meaning you can apply that credit to restaurants, surf lessons for your kids, or your morning coffee at Starbucks.  The most economical strategy is to get a room for four nights on points and then Hilton will give you a fifth night free. This applies whether you use points or cash, but let’s stick with points for now. We recently stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for 240,000 points for five nights. That might seem like an incredible number of points, but Hilton points are very easy to earn.  In fact, the sign up bonus for the Aspire card is 150,000 right now so you are already over halfway there just with that.

 

Another benefit from the Aspire card is a $250 credit for airline incidentals including lounge membership. That will almost pay for an annual lounge membership for AA or AS (which also gives access to AA lounges) and make your voyage a little bit easier, especially with a family.

Your new Diamond status should get you an upgrade at the property and also comes with the benefit of a $10/ person (max two)/ night for food and beverage at any of the ten places to eat on the property.  For a five night stay this worked out to $100 off the bill. Note that they simply take off the $100 rather than force you to spend at least $20/day. Here is our recent bill illustrating what I am talking about.

And then my AMEX bill showing the credit. Note that I had used $31 of the credit earlier in the year, but you should get the full $250 if you follow this plan.

So there you go Ed, an inexpensive way for you to take the family to Hawaii. This plan would also work with going to Maui or the Big Island, although most of the things your kids would like are probably on Oahu. Make sure they try the Dole Whip at the Dole Plantation!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

United has come out with their annual promotion.  In the past, they offered bonus award miles if you flew a certain number of miles in a short period.  The requirement was tailored to a MileagePlus member’s relative amount of travel.  Those with little travel being required to travel only a little, but also getting only a few thousand miles.

 

This promotion is a little different in requiring a certain number of flights rather than a certain number of miles.

Note the dollar requirement for each of the flights to count to avoid gamers finding the two very cheap commuter flights to get the bonus.  While others (notably Angelina of Angelina Travels) seem to have gotten fairly unattractive offers, I am quite tempted by mine. 31,000 UA miles are worth $527 if you value UA miles at 1.7 cents each.

This offer is most attractive to those of you who already have one or more flights planned for Sep/Oct already.  I have one flight at the end of Oct. already set, so tempted to fly one more flight over $450 to get those bonus miles.

What about you?  Anyone else get an offer.  Please post it here so we can compare.  For reference, I am a Lifetime Gold on UA with about 55,000EQM so far this year.

Posted by glenn | 6 Comments

The wife and I took advantage of some of those super low fares to Asia that were advertised last fall.  I had always wanted to bring her to experience Songkran, the Thai New Years celebration, and got round trip IAD-BKK tickets on United for less than $600 each.  The main reason for these super cheap tickets was almost free flights on ANA out of NRT.  The PQD for the flight BKK-NRT was only $69!

We endured the 13 hour flight on UA IAD-NRT.  Fortunately, the flight was half empty so the wife and I each got a row of three seats to rack out on.  We then had a couple of hours in the United Club and went to get on our ANA flight to BKK.  We were surprised when they called our names at the boarding area.  Upgraded to Business Class!

I assume it was because the wife and I are both UA Golds due to my Million Miler status.  Pretty good to get an upgrade on  $69 fare just for being a Gold.

The seats were nice.  Not quite lie-flat, but pretty close.  Enough to get some rest on this 6.5 hour flight.

The seat came with its own instruction manual which was a first for me.  I liked the power ports since they had 110v and USB in spots where the plug wouldn’t fall out – a problem I have on UA planes.

Slippers were provided at the seat, but no amenity kit?  The FA then came by with a basket of stuff for you to pick from.

The food started out nice with a glass of wine and the world’s tiniest shrimp cocktail.

Then the first course came with a small sandwich and a weird green and white “pudding”.  I ate it, but not much flavor.  Not sure why the bread was served with this course, but I never turn down bread since I always know I can eat that if everything else turns our inedible.

Then the main course, I had chosen the beef.  It was advertised as a hamburger steak, but came as this weird ground beef heavily mixed with onion with cubes of something else all wrapped in some type of wrapper.  It came with a boiled onion in case you didn’t get enough onion taste with the beef.  At least I had the bread…

For comparison, my wife chose the Japanese meal and was really happy with it.  She is Asian so this was food she was used to

Dessert?  Well, whoever had a bad dessert?  It was a nice truffle.  I could have used two.

A short nap and then we are there in Bangkok.  Pretty good deal.  Didn’t get the upgrade on the return, but they did give us their version of Premium Economy which was pretty nice too, but I will take business anytime.

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

Courtesy of reader Pete, he is donating 4 GPUs and 2 RPUs.  However, they expire at the end of this month, so you need a ticketed reservation to fly by 31 Jan.  He would like them to go to veterans or currently serving members of the military.  I don’t have any way to verify that, so we are on the honor system here.  I’ll randomly select winners to whomever responds to this post today.

Posted by glenn | 11 Comments

Well, Random.org has selected 4 winners out of the 25 people who replied to the post.  Congratulations to all the winners.  I have given them 2 weeks to find an eligible fare.

If they can’t come up with one, I will redraw from the same list and give someone else the chance.

Posted by glenn | No Comments

I have four AS Gold Guest Upgrades that expire 12/31/17 and will give them away to people posting a reply to this post.  These upgrade certificates are actually more valuable than in the past because Alaska has reduced their F class from four rows to three on most flights.  They did this to install Premium Economy in the first few rows of Economy which have increased legroom along with drinks and snacks.  Kind of a poor man’s F.  My wife, who is a MVPGold75K and myself, merely MVP Gold, have had a harder time getting free upgraded due to the reduced F seating.  That means using one of these Gold Guest Upgrades is more valuable since you jump ahead of all of us waiting elites.  To be fair, when I say it is harder, that means my wife’s upgrade % went from 90% upgraded to only 75% upgraded so it is still really good to be an elite on Alaska!  As a mere Gold, I was upgraded 95% last year (got lucky), but only 75% this year.

I have had an issue in the past where people grabbed these because they were free, but then never used them (yes, I can tell if they are used).  So this year, the rules are that I will notify the winners on Sunday and then you have two weeks to book a flight, otherwise they go to another random person who posted a reply.  I just feel that is fair.  Remember that when you book the flight, you can’t use them on the cheapest fair.  You need to check the “Gold Guest Upgrade” box to see eligible fares.  This will bring up a separate column with the eligible fare class.  Also, note the “F” for each leg.  Colored in “F” boxes mean it is immediately available for an upgrade to F, but a non-colored in box means you are on the list for an upgrade.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them.

Posted by glenn | 28 Comments

I have flown my fair share of business class, but Emirates exceeded all my expectations – no surprise if you have ever flown Emirates.  My first flight ever with Emirates was in 2002 and I was on a full Y fare and then upgrade into Business.  Only they didn’t tell me that I had been upgraded so I thought this was their Coach and was extremely impressed!  Back then, Business was a reclining seat and nice food.  The flight I took with my wife showed just how far they have gone into making Business an unbelievably fantastic experience.

Taking two shots of the seat, you can see the nice seat right next to a mini-bar.

What looks like a TV in this photo is actually the tablet which controls everything in your cabin.  The papers in this photo are the menu for dinner and a sheet to fill out for what you want for breakfast.

The dinner arrived and was really something to enjoy.

Apologies for the darkness of the photos, but everything was spectacular.

I am showing you the amenity kits, the woman’s on the left and the men’s on the right.  Similar except for the compact vice the shaving gear.

Wandering around the cabin, I loved the circular bar and lounge area in Business Class.  Made me feel like I was on a 747 in the 1970’s!

When I returned, the FA had set up my bed.  Time to get some sleep.  I don’t think I have ever had 8 hours of great sleep on a plane before…

We spent a lot of Alaska miles to get this trip, but it was totally worth it in my opinion.

 

Posted by glenn | 5 Comments

I received an email from Mileage Plan Shopping yesterday with a great, no-brainer offer.  Earn 700 Alaska miles which are usually valued at 2.0 cents each if you subscribe to 2 months of the Wall Street Journal for only $1.

I personally think very highly of the WSJ, so the 700 miles seem like icing on the cake.  Did you get this offer?  Only a few days to act on this offer.

Posted by glenn | 2 Comments

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