Well, I still don’t pay for flights. But I’ve made a massive change to my frequent flyer miles bank, and joined 3 new programs. Amusingly, I think most, if not all 3 are frequently disparaged by the ‘points experts’, so maybe I’m just going doolally due to lack of sleep around these here parts.
The programs I joined and think are really superb are:
Stop the madness I hear you cry! But there’s a good reason. His name is Dylan, and he’s a cutie, but I don’t want to be on a plane with the little tearaway for more than 8hrs, and ideally no more than half of that. As such, I have new priorities for the next couple of years:
- More domestic travel.
- More options for alternative airports so I spend less time getting to and from the airport and more time on vacation.
Interestingly, I’ve found my mindset isn’t just for when the kiddo is around. For my upcoming flight to Orange County for TravelCon I had the opportunity to fly the flagship JFK-LAX A321 First again, but instead I opted for a crummy old flight, via O’Hare, the first 2hrs of which are in an Economy only plane (and I’m paying domestic F rates). The reason? I just want to get there easily, and JFK adds at least another 1hr to my travel time.
I’m still taking Business/First class flights when I can, but the most important factor is overall comfort/stress levels than bragging rights.
Back to why I picked these three:
Delta – I still haven’t got a ticket back from Orange County – the fastest route back is on Delta… it’s 32.5K in Economy, 55K in First. When earning miles at something between $0 and $0.70 per 1000 via the old SunTrust card, that’s a bargain. I also like them for some fruity partner awards, so I’m just building up a bit of stash, and using them whenever it seems good. That gives me the option to fly back sooner, and get into Whiteplains airport at a reasonable hour.
JetBlue- I just transferred in Membership rewards to load up JetBlue. I’ve had them sitting there for a while with no need of them, but my flight from Cancun in July was looking hopeless. Nothing on AA or UA in saver awards. I actually considered buying 2 (or maybe 3) seats on US Airways at $237 each. After some further hunting I found JetBlue had space non-stop for 12,700 miles each. I transferred enough for 3 seats, but at the last moment elected to hold off on buying one for Dylan as the cheapo in me just won’t rest. I’m monitoring the flight, if it fills up I’ll snag another seat so he has his own.
The ratio for JetBlue is 250MR:200 JetBlue currently (they have periodic bonuses) so I parted with about 50K Membership Rewards. It was actually a tough thing to do, as I am strangely averse to spending them, but I’m happy with the result.
Southwest – companion pass. Hopefully you all know about it (buy one ticket, get one free, even for awards) and the rates are so low on some itineraries that it’s a real steal. You need 110K miles to gain the pass, but I could see me struggling to burn through that in a year if we picked well.
Hotels are changing too
I see me going more upscale in hotels. Typically we would stay in 4-5 star properties, I see that trending upwards as we just need ‘something nice’. The whole parenting thing is quite a drain so we want, nice, neat, easy vacations for a little while in order to get some rest.
When life changes, points strategies, finances and lifestyle all should change with it. We aim to continue to travel as much as possible, but we really are focusing on what is important to us and what we need from the experience with the additional ‘carry on’ that we now have.
Hope to see you guys in TravelCon on Saturday 2/28, i’ll be giving a presentation on some of the things that i’m working on right now, including pushing miles and points beyond travel. There are still some tickets available here.