Hello everyone, welcome to Frequent Flyer Collector! First off all, I wanted to explain why I decided to start this blog. I recently booked a trip for next summer to go to Australia and Bali. I will be flying in business class the whole way for only the cost of taxes and fuel surcharges (which amounts to several hundred dollars). Part of the journey will be in the Cathay Pacific product too, which is considered one of the world’s best airlines. 🙂 After I posted about booking this trip, I had many a friend ask me what my “secrets” were, or how I could afford to travel in international business class. Hearing this reaction, combined with occasionally fielding questions about collecting miles, airline elite status, etc. has motivated me to start this blog. Hopefully I can help all of you book trips like this in the future too! (see the end of this post for more details on how i booked this journey)
Before diving in, I’d like to tell my story of how I got started in all of this. Over the last several years, I’ve been fortunate enough to fly a small amount for work (3-5 flights a year, coming out to 15-20k miles of work travel). I slowly built up my United Mileage Plus (frequent flyer) miles accounts this way, and a couple of years ago, due to coincidentally booking a long international trip on Star Alliance carriers, I essentially accidentally ended up with elite status (Premier in the United program) for the first time. If there were words in that sentence that went by you, don’t worry, I’ll strive in the coming weeks and months to explain all of that 🙂
Anyway, I enjoyed having that for the next year (it included free checked bags, free Economy plus, and the occasional upgrade to first class), but over the next couple years, I never really flew enough to maintain my elite status on United.
Then sometime last year, I finally got around to getting the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express. I collected points on that, figuring that I would be able to use it for hotels on some future vacation. Shortly after that, I began talking to some of my friends (who were “lucky” enough to travel much more than me for work) about the website flyertalk.com. I’d seen this site years before, but rarely ever read it. It was at this point where my miles hobby/obsession really started to take off. I started reading the Flyertalk site lately, and soon I began delving into the blog world, and following several bloggers (the ones that I follow regularly are in the blogroll on the right panel of this site, but I will follow up with a post about these blogs). From these blogs and Flyertalk, I participate in as many of the big credit card sign up bonuses, miles and points promotions, and community goodwill efforts as I can. And that’s the hobby I’ve developed over the last year, and that I plan to share with all of you.
Last but not least, I wanted to give you a taste of what you can do by collecting miles. So my trip to Australia and Bali was booked using 130,000 British Airways (BA) miles. I got these from signing up for two credit cards. Last year, Chase offered 100,000 bonus miles for signing up for the BA Chase Visa card and spending a fairly small amount on the card (I think $2500 or $3000 over 3 months, if that). I also signed up for the American Express Platinum card, and ended up receiving 100,000 Membership Rewards (MR) points (after asking them to bump my bonus). I transferred 30k MR points to my BA account, and was able to book two separate one way business class awards on BA. The first leg is from LAX-BNE-SYD-(7 day stopover)-DRW in Qantas Business class (for those unfamiliar with airport codes, that’s Los Angeles – Brisbane, Australia – Sydney, Australia – Darwin, Australia). Then my return trip is DPS-HKG-JFK (Denpasar, Bali – Hong Kong – New York City JFK). All that for 130k miles and about $600 (plus about $200 for a ticket from DRW-DPS)…that’s a booking that probably would otherwise cost in the $5-10k range. Interested? Then keep on reading…