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Old Jul 23, 13, 8:27 am   #1
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Advice: WAS to MAD June 2014 for 4 people?

Hello everyone,

I'm looking to use miles to pay for tickets from WAS to MAD next June. Due to a family wedding I have to get 4 tix (2 adult, 2 kids -- will be 12 and 10 at the time of travel). We're looking at travelling from June 2 to 12 but are flexible... we only have to be there on June 6, 7 and 8.

I have no problem driving to locations with 3-4 hours of DC to fly, we just flew out of EWR recently to save money, rather than through any of the nearer airports.

I have no miles on any program as we travel internationally sporadically and rarely fly domestically. We did just travel using Jet Airlines from EWR to BRU so we may be able to retroactively snag some miles there on whatever program they have.

Can someone suggest a credit card strategy through which I can get a ticket or two paid for using miles?

Many thanks!!!!

Last edited by Cugel; Jul 23, 13 at 8:34 am..
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Old Jul 23, 13, 8:35 am   #2
mia
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Welcome to FlyerTalk.

1. In which class of service to you intend to fly? Economy or a premium cabin?

2. If you were to pay for the flights with money, which airline would you fly and what would it cost? This information is necessary to judge if the miles are saving you enough money to choose (for example) a less convenient itinerary. Award tickets are seldom "free", there are usually some taxes and fees to be paid.

3. How much can you spend on credit cards in a typical month?

4. Have you obtained copies of credit reports for you and your spouse? Do you know your credit scores?
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Old Jul 23, 13, 8:40 am   #3
 
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RT award travel on this route will require at least 60k miles. Information on credit card bonuses is available elsewhere in this forum. Your best bets for obtaining award travel are on AA and UA, both of which also offer OW travel for 1/2 mileage. AA does not fly to Europe from the Washington area, but you could make use of IB for flights to Madrid from other US cities. I suggest that you choose either AA or UA, and that both you and your wife then pursue the most appropriate credit-card bonus applicable to that program. That in itself could give each of you enough miles for a OW ticket.
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Old Jul 23, 13, 8:43 am   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mia View Post
Welcome to FlyerTalk.

1. In which class of service to you intend to fly? Economy or a premium cabin?

2. If you were to pay for the flights with money, which airline would you fly and what would it cost? This information is necessary to judge if the miles are saving you enough money to choose (for example) a less convenient itinerary. Award tickets are seldom "free", there are usually some taxes and fees to be paid.

3. How much can you spend on credit cards in a typical month?

4. Have you obtained copies of credit reports for you and your spouse? Do you know your credit scores?
Thanks for your reply! Answers below.

1. Economy.
2. Was looking at the direct US Airways flight from PHL to MAD, now around $1268.
3. We put everything we spend on cash rewards AMEX card, and average around $4000 to $5000 per month.
4. Credit scores are excellent. Over 800 for both of us.
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Old Jul 23, 13, 9:33 am   #5
 
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Award travel on USAirways can be booked at the present time through UA, though that would change at some future date with the AA/US merger. Two points to keep in mind: 1) AA and UA offer OW for 1/2 mileage; US and DL do not. 2) If you book PHL-MAD award travel, a connecting WAS-PHL flight would be part of the award at no additional cost.
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Old Jul 23, 13, 9:49 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cugel View Post
Hello everyone,

I'm looking to use miles to pay for tickets from WAS to MAD next June. Due to a family wedding I have to get 4 tix (2 adult, 2 kids -- will be 12 and 10 at the time of travel). We're looking at travelling from June 2 to 12 but are flexible... we only have to be there on June 6, 7 and 8.

Can someone suggest a credit card strategy through which I can get a ticket or two paid for using miles?
In general, I find United to be the easiest to redeem mileage because of Star Alliance partners. I would look at the Credit Card forum, Chase Ultimate Rewards forum, and the United forum for advice on getting credit card bonuses. Basically, each adult should aim to collect 120,000 miles (2 low, economy roundtrips). There are a variety of Chase cards available for United and for Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred to United accounts.

Also, search for ANA in the United forum--its website is a good resource to find Star Alliance award flights. Good luck.
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Old Jul 24, 13, 12:22 am   #7
 
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United is the lazy man's option since there are enough Credit cards out there to get you the miles now and their website is so easy to use. However, their redemption rates tend to be high. AMEX points to ANA can save you about 80,000 miles over 4 tickets. It pays to do your research since ANA applies high fees to most airlines, just not united and US Airways. You'd need 240k united Miles vs about 160k AMEX points
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Old Jul 24, 13, 7:40 am   #8
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I'd probably hit both of UA and AA since getting to 240k on a single airline via CC bonuses might take some time. Getting to 120k on each carrier should be a snap for you.

The ideal itin would be 4 one-ways over on one carrier and 4 one-ways back on the other. However, you could go two R/T's on AA and two on UA...kids are old enough that I assume going 2 x 2 is doable. I only throw that out because getting four together in June sometimes isn't easy.

That said, right now both UA and AA *do* have workable one-stop itins with four seats together each way around your dates. No need to drive to Newark...you can get in/out of a DC airport.

I'd also look into benzemalyonnais's ANA recommendation. 80k is enough to warrant a look. Sounds like you'd need a large amount of Amex points. But hey, even if you can do one or two tickets that way, it can be worthwhile.
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Old Jul 24, 13, 7:48 am   #9
 
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Thanks to all!

Thanks to everyone for all the advice and input to the total noob!

So I joined up with the United mileage program. I have lined up 3 credit cards to sign up for and use to get ~120,000 miles; I'll then get another 3 in December for another 120,000 miles or so.

I guess one of my questions is if I sign up for all of these cards with my wife; can United see all of our miles when I call to book the flights? I worry that we'll have miles galore in separate silos.

The below question was actually answered by the above post from pinniped who posted as I was composing.
Getting greedy here - is there any chance we can get all 4 tickets on the same flights using free using miles? The United search tool only allows me to search for 2 seats. Like I said earlier I'd be happy with 2 free flights to MAD.


Thanks again!

Last edited by Cugel; Jul 24, 13 at 8:00 am..
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Old Jul 24, 13, 7:53 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benzemalyonnais View Post
United is the lazy man's option since there are enough Credit cards out there to get you the miles now and their website is so easy to use. However, their redemption rates tend to be high. AMEX points to ANA can save you about 80,000 miles over 4 tickets. It pays to do your research since ANA applies high fees to most airlines, just not united and US Airways. You'd need 240k united Miles vs about 160k AMEX points
Let me see if I get this: sign up for ANA's miles program, then use points on an AMEX card to get flights for fewer miles through ANA's system, even if it may cost more due to charges?

If I got that right, then which card would I use to grab points on ANA?
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Old Jul 24, 13, 8:34 am   #11
 
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OK, my last post is overcome by events as I googled and found...

http://thepointsguy.com/2013/04/ana-...rtner-roundup/
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Old Jul 24, 13, 10:21 am   #12
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My thoughts:

(1) I believe the ANA recommendation was spawned by your mention of Amex Membership Rewards points. The idea is to move Amex point to ANA miles and then redeem seats on United using those miles. Do you have 80k or more Amex MR points right now? If not, this may be a more difficult path to take. (I don't see a lot of traffic here about an ANA mileage card via a U.S. credit card issuer.)

(2) ANA, if you do go that route, requires a R/T redemption. (There's a little open-jaw hack that some people use in a pinch, but you wouldn't need to do that since United has seats available both ways.) You'd book as many seats as you can with the ANA miles you have, full R/T itineraries, on United or US Airways metal. Then you'd book the remaining seat(s) on the same aircraft using United miles from your credit card signups.

(3) Fees on UA or US metal, using ANA miles, should be minimal. It's a good deal if you can do it.

(4) I probably would not wait until December. Late spring is a pretty good time to go to Spain...I can see these awards getting booked up. I mean, UA is relatively good about availability, but you just never know. Since you know dates and destination and the fact that you *do* want to take this trip, I'd book as soon as possible. Therefore, if you are *not* currently sitting on a nice stash of Amex Membership Rewards points, I'd quickly sign up for three AA cards and go four seats one-way on AA and four seats the other on United.
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Old Jul 24, 13, 3:40 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cugel View Post
I have no miles on any program as we travel internationally sporadically and rarely fly domestically. We did just travel using Jet Airlines from EWR to BRU so we may be able to retroactively snag some miles there on whatever program they have.
I assume you mean Jet Airways, a Star Aliance partner. You should try to get retroactive credit for those miles on UA if possible. Depends on what fare class you were in.
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Old Jul 24, 13, 3:55 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
My thoughts:

(1) I believe the ANA recommendation was spawned by your mention of Amex Membership Rewards points. The idea is to move Amex point to ANA miles and then redeem seats on United using those miles. Do you have 80k or more Amex MR points right now? If not, this may be a more difficult path to take. (I don't see a lot of traffic here about an ANA mileage card via a U.S. credit card issuer.)

(2) ANA, if you do go that route, requires a R/T redemption. (There's a little open-jaw hack that some people use in a pinch, but you wouldn't need to do that since United has seats available both ways.) You'd book as many seats as you can with the ANA miles you have, full R/T itineraries, on United or US Airways metal. Then you'd book the remaining seat(s) on the same aircraft using United miles from your credit card signups.

(3) Fees on UA or US metal, using ANA miles, should be minimal. It's a good deal if you can do it.

(4) I probably would not wait until December. Late spring is a pretty good time to go to Spain...I can see these awards getting booked up. I mean, UA is relatively good about availability, but you just never know. Since you know dates and destination and the fact that you *do* want to take this trip, I'd book as soon as possible. Therefore, if you are *not* currently sitting on a nice stash of Amex Membership Rewards points, I'd quickly sign up for three AA cards and go four seats one-way on AA and four seats the other on United.
Ahhhh.... that all makes much more sense now. You're right we have no miles at all... some pending on delta though.

I'll plan to get 120K on both of United and AA.

Thanks to all for the help and advice!

Thanks so much for the clarification!!!
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Old Jul 25, 13, 7:22 am   #15
 
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It's best to book your award flights online instead of calling, if you are able to do so, since there is a fee for booking on the phone. At least in most cases, you should be able to do so using UA miles. With AA miles, you can book some partner award flights online, but not IB award flights.

Getting four award seats on the same flights will be difficult, especially at a busy time of year, but there is no way to know until you try. Availability is subject to change (increasing or decreasing) at any time. You may need to split up, perhaps with one parent and one child on each flight.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cugel View Post
Thanks to everyone for all the advice and input to the total noob!

So I joined up with the United mileage program. I have lined up 3 credit cards to sign up for and use to get ~120,000 miles; I'll then get another 3 in December for another 120,000 miles or so.

I guess one of my questions is if I sign up for all of these cards with my wife; can United see all of our miles when I call to book the flights? I worry that we'll have miles galore in separate silos.

The below question was actually answered by the above post from pinniped who posted as I was composing.
Getting greedy here - is there any chance we can get all 4 tickets on the same flights using free using miles? The United search tool only allows me to search for 2 seats. Like I said earlier I'd be happy with 2 free flights to MAD.


Thanks again!
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