All of our Sunday Success Stories serve as a living example that all of us average Americans can, indeed, see the world at prices we all can afford. We can do this by working together and sharing our stories. Send your story to me at email@example.com. Include your first name and last initial, along with your occupation and a photo, if you wish. - Rick
I wanted to share my Sunday Success Story, or stories since it involves free flights for two trips.The first is a free flight to Japan in Continental’s (now United’s) Business First. My cousin is getting married in Japan this April. Last year my wife and I each applied for a received the Continental One Pass Plus Mastercard (now United) with 50,000 miles each. We followed that with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with a 50,000 point bonus. Both of us managed to get the extra 50,000 point bonus during those few days Chase would bump the bonus. That’s 150,000 miles/points each that could be used on Continental. A few months ago I saw the Continental website showed award availability in Business First EWR-NRT at the saver award level of only 120,000 miles per person. Since saver awards out of EWR are rare, I quickly transferred enough Chase UR points into our respective Continental accounts to book the flights. I then tried to book the award tickets but when I got to the final page I got an error message. Uh oh!
I called Continental and was told the website was an error and the seats were not available at the level! This was a potential disaster since I had transferred 70,000 points out of my UR account and 50,000 points out of my wife’s account and they couldn’t be transferred back. The first Continental agent tried to help me (even seeing if the revenue department would open up the seats for the award) but to no avail. Now I was mad. Fortunately, two calls the next day to a different department put me in touch with someone who had the authority to override the system and manually book the award seats. She said if the website showed the wrong award level and if she could confirm it she would “make them honor” the award. She was true to her word and Continental issued both award reservations at the saver level!! Success. Because my cousin is making the arrangements for hotels, and because there is a group of us traveling together, I am not able to use any of my hotel points for this trip. However, the Business First tickets priced out at about $6500 each. Even in coach, the tickets would have cost me $1400 each.
The second trip was a family trip to Disney World. My in-laws wanted to take their grand-kids (along with my wife and I and my brother in law) to Disney for a family vacation. I wanted to help out with using points/miles for airfare but knew I’d never find 7 seats on one flight at the saver level on a legacy airline. Enter the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card from Chase with 50,000 points after first use. I had both of my in laws apply and both got the points. That was enough to get 6 free tickets. We only had to purchase one ticket for the trip. Total value was $1800.
In addition, I leveraged my father’s good credit to get the Southwest Airlines credit card in his name. I used some of those 50,000 points to fly in our good family friends who are going to watch our children while my wife and I are in Japan. They live in Phoenix and I couldn’t in good conscience ask them to pay for their own tickets to watch our kids. Total value of those tickets was $700.
Total value of the free airfare was $15,500 ($5300 for those that prefer to value the awards at the coach ticket price). We are thrilled to be able to afford all this travel. What’s best-we still have lots of points/miles left over for more trips.