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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your first name and last initial, along with your occupation and a photo, if you wish. - Rick
I’ve wanted to go to Australia for years, but was always hesitant because the length of the flight. I am a completely impractical height of 6’5″ and the thought of being crammed into a coach seat for fifteen hours is quite a deterrent. But a first class ticket always seemed like an impossible goal. I don’t fly a ton, maybe 15-20 thousand miles a year, and collecting miles that way is a lesson in futility. Even after several years, I found myself with only fifty-thousand hard earned, “butt in the seat” United miles. At that rate it would have taken me forever to get any kind of first class award to Australia. Fortunately, three months ago I stumbled upon the blog.
Since then, I’ve gotten 65K in bonuses from the United MileagePlus Explorer card (25K) and Chase Sapphire Preferred card (40K). Focused spending on the proper cards and exploiting the shopping portals netted me an additional 35K. Combine this with my 50K existing miles and I was sitting at 150K United miles. I realize that this is pretty tame by many standards, but it goes to show that you needn’t be a hardcore credit card applicant to book great awards.
Here’s the itinerary I wound up booking:
- Los Angeles – Sydney in United Global First (a tough saver ticket to find, but it’s out there!)
- Auckland – Tokyo in Air New Zealand Business Class
- Tokyo – Newark in United Business First
This would normally be 135,000 miles, but I used an additional 12,500 miles to get bumped up to United Global First on the LAX-SYD leg, so in the end, this cost 147,500 miles and $101.
United’s award routing rules allow for a stopover and two open jaws. In this trip it breaks down like this: LA is my origin, Sydney is my destination, Auckland is my first open jaw, Tokyo is my stopover and Newark is my second open jaw. A trip to Australia from North America in business class costs 135K United miles. But by using my stopover in Tokyo, I’m essentially getting a first class ticket to Asia for free.
This is 19,692 miles and about 40 hours in first class for free. United said I could book it without miles for $18,717. If this price is to be believed, that amounts to 12.6 cents per mile! Of course, I’ll have to figure out a way to get back to LA, but I’m thinking of adding some stateside travel around then as well, so I’ll figure that out later. Right now, I’m trying to get as many free hotel rooms as I can. Got my eye on the Park Hyatt’s in Sydney and Tokyo. Wish me luck!
George, as a bigger guy myself I can appreciate the added space you’ll have on your journey to the other side of the world. Glad you were able to make the stop in Asia too; nothing quite like two trips for the price of one! -Rick