Scott Grimmer

2076 POSTS 6743 COMMENTS

9

This week I am urging people to get full value from the 50,000 bonus mile offers on both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® by getting and using their bonus miles by March 21.

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Unless you live under a rock, you know that American Airlines is devaluing its award chart March 22, 2016. Book by March 21, and you lock in the current cheaper prices no matter when your trip is (with the standard rule that all travel must be completed within one year of ticketing.) Book March 22 or later, and you pay through the nose.

As I’ve mentioned many times, on March 21, you can book awards through about February 15, 2017. So if you know you want to go to Thailand or Australia next January, book it in the next two months to lock in the current price.

That’s all well and good if award space is bookable before the devaluation, but many routes only offer award space in the last few days or weeks before departure. With American Airlines miles, there are many routes/partners that offer much better award space at the last minute:

Say you want to book Cathay Pacific First Class to Hong Kong in September 2016. That award space probably won’t exist until September 2016, after the devaluation. Is there any way to lock in the better, current price for that trip?

Probably, maybe.

What will happen if you book an award on the current award chart and then change the award after March 22?

American Airlines has said: “We have advised our agents that voluntary changes to date/time only will be permitted without forcing new higher/lower award levels, and we’ll have more information once the new award levels are applicable. This means the origin and destination need to remain the same.”

American Airlines has also confirmed that you can change the routing as long as you keep the same award type, origin, and destination.

Changing an award type (eg from MileSAAver to AAnytime) will cause a repricing, but why would you do that?

Changing the cabin of an award will change the award price (eg from economy to First), however there are some nifty workarounds to this.

So what’s the plan to lock in the current award prices for awards you want to fly in late 2016 or early 2017 even if the actual award space won’t open until the last minute?

What to Do If You Can Book Distant Award Space Now

For instance, if you want to fly New York to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific First Class at some point before March 21, 2017 but don’t know when, you can book the route on March 21, 2016 for any random day with award space. Then when you know you want to travel, you can change the booking to your real travel date.

You will probably have to pay a $75 change fee for changes made within 21 days of departure when you change the award, but that’s worth it to pay 67,500 miles (current price) instead of 110,000 miles (future price) for the award.

Example

Book March 21 for your dream date:

  • JFK to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific First Class as far in the future as you can
    Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 6.46.49 PM

You will be charged the First Class price of 67,500 American Airlines miles one way.

Then whenever you figure out when you actually want to take the trip, change the date to your preferred date. If you are within 21 days of departure, you will pay a $75 change fee. If you aren’t, you won’t. In either case, you pay no extra miles because American Airlines said that mere date changes are allowed.

Things get trickier if the award space you want to book is only ever available at the last minute, like Etihad A380 First Class.

What to Do If You Can Only Book Last Minute Award Space Now

Method A:

Say you know you want to fly Etihad A380 First Class from New York to Abu Dhabi in October 2016. Etihad only releases this award space within 72 hours of departure.

If you can tack on another leg with First Class, you can book the big leg in a lesser cabin and change it to a better cabin in the future without repricing the award.

Example

Book today for your dream date:

  • JFK to Abu Dhabi in economy or Business
  • Abu Dhabi to Mumbai in First Class (which is widely available over the next 11 months)Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 6.34.11 PM

You will be charged the First Class price of 90,000 American Airlines miles one way.

Then within a few days of departure, when JFK to Abu Dhabi award space opens up in First Class, you can add it to the award. This does not change the cabin of the award–it was already a First Class award–so the award will not reprice.

Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, and British Airways all have a decent number of short First Class flights with good award space that you can add to an award to make it a First Class award. Or you can add American Airlines First Class on its three-cabin planes that fly between New York and San Francisco and Los Angeles.

However, adding two-cabin domestic American Airlines First Class to an award will not make it a First Class award because domestic First Class is really–and prices like–Business Class.

Fail:

Book today for your dream date:

  • Austin to JFK in American Airlines First Class
  • JFK to Abu Dhabi in economy or Business

This award will price at the Business Class price because First Class on two-cabin planes is really Business Class when it comes to award bookings. If you change the Etihad leg to First Class within a few days of departure, you are changing the cabin of the award from Business to First Class, and you will be bumped up to the price on the new chart–115,000 miles.

Method A could be an awesome method for you, but it only works in certain circumstances. Method B is more speculative but will work for more circumstances if it works.

Method B:

Say you know you want to fly Etihad A380 First Class from New York to Abu Dhabi in October 2016. Etihad only releases this award space within 72 hours of departure.

You could start searching the route daily for award space within 72 hours of departure. When you find some, book it for 90,000 American Airlines miles + taxes + a $75 fee for booking within 21 days of travel.

Then you could cancel the flights without redepositing the miles. There’s a button to do that on aa.com when you pull up your reservation. This should cost nothing, since you are not redepositing the miles, which would be a $150 fee.

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Then when the date of travel comes up and you find award space for it, you can “change” the award because it still exists since your miles weren’t redeposited. Since it will be within 21 days of departure, you will have to pay another $75.

In this way, you get the trip for the current miles price + taxes + $150. That’s worth it to save the the tens of thousands of miles that some awards are going up in price.

If the award space doesn’t show up on the later date, you can redeposit the miles for $150, meaning you paid $225 in total fees, and don’t even get a trip out of it.

Will either or both of these methods work?

We can’t be 100% certain until the devaluation happens and data points start to come in from people who are making award changes. I am almost certain both plans will work based on American Airlines’ statements and based on our experience with changing United awards after the United devaluation.

What American Airlines says is only as good as their programmers’ skill at making the computer actually operate the way it is supposed to.

Luckily this uncertainty cuts both ways. Maybe their programmers are more generous than planned. We might get lucky and get the United post-devaluation rules: any award made before the February 2014 devaluation could be changed to any other award after the devaluation at the old prices. United said the rule would be like American Airlines says their rule will be, but in practice, the computer was much more generous.

Bottom Line

Plan intelligently by March 21, and you can lock in current American Airlines award prices for quite a big longer, though in all cases travel will need to be completed by March 21, 2017.

You can even use the methods in this post if you have zero miles right now. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

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If you get both cards now and meet both minimum spending requirements on the first statement, your 106,000 miles should post in time to take advantage of the current award chart.

Hat Tip One Mile at a Time

Hat Tip Dan’s Deals

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

0

I’ve been posting about award space to Europe for this summer because that’s what my Award Booking Service clients want.

Here’s another great deal to Europe with miles: you can fly from the Eastern United States to London for 13,000 Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, or ThankYou Points plus $135. From other parts of the country, you’ll pay only a few more miles.

On some routes, award space is WIDE OPEN year round, including the heart of summer. Here is the award space for July 2016 from New York to London. Days with a red, white, and purple line have award space in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.

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Virgin Atlantic Awards

Virgin Atlantic flies to the UK from 12 US cities and offers great prices for award tickets in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.

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The normal prices are only:

  • 17,500+ miles in economy to London, depending on starting city
  • 27,500+ miles in Premium Economy to London, depending on starting city
  • 40,000+ miles in flat bed Upper Class to London, depending on starting city

Two Week Sale on Economy and Premium Economy Awards

Until February 24, 2016, Virgin Atlantic is discounting the miles price of economy and Premium Economy awards between North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia and the UK by 30%. Upper Class awards are not discounted during this sale. Discounted award prices (one ways bookable for half the miles price):

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Book now to lock in the rate; you can book travel through January 25, 2017 at the discounted prices.

Out-of-Pocket Price

Virgin Atlantic awards have fuel surcharges. You cannot avoid them.

Virgin Atlantic roundtrip awards will feature a departure from Great Britain, which will incur exorbitant taxes. You can easily avoid them by using this sale to book one way awards to London only. Then use a different type of miles to return from a low tax city in Europe. You see more of Europe for very few miles and very low out of pocket expense.

For instance, a one way award from New York, Newark, Boston, DC, or Chicago to London will cost 12,250 miles + $135 in economy or 19,250 miles + $235 in Premium Economy, even over the heart of summer.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.21.40 PMThose are manageable out-of-pocket prices that are very much worth paying to save a ton of miles over awards using other miles.

But let’s look at a return from London to the United States. Now a one way in economy is 12,250 miles + a ridiculous $255 and a one way in Premium Economy is 19,250 miles + an insane $391.Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.22.36 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.22.46 PM

By the way, here is Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy. Think “Domestic First Class,” and you won’t be too far off.

Strategy to Lower or Eliminate Out-of-Pocket Price

To reiterate, just book the eastbound to London during this sale. Book the westbound return from somewhere cheaper in Europe with a different type of miles, perhaps United or American. (Get between London and Europe on a train or a low cost carrier.)

You can even eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Virgin Atlantic Award with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offer a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes and fuel surcharges on an award ticket definitely count. If your taxes and fuel surcharges are less than $250, the entire amount will be credited back on your statement. If they are more than $250, $250 will be credited back.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Application LinkCiti Prestige® Card

Is This The Best Deal to Europe?

Other than WOW Air’s $99 fares from Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to Iceland, yes.

Here are some almost-as-good deals (copied from my list of the best awards between all regions):

Upper Class?

Luxury lovers will want to know about the prices in Upper Class to Europe on Virgin Atlantic, since Upper Class is a fantastic business class product.

Unfortunately the current 30% discount does not apply to Upper Class, so the fuel surcharges and miles required to fly Upper Class are about triple economy. At those prices, I don’t think Upper Class is a great deal. For instance, New York to London is 40k miles + $420, and Los Angeles to London one way is 50k miles + $458 in Upper Class.

Getting the Miles

Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards, and Membership Rewards plus Virgin Atlantic issues an American credit card with a “90,000 mile” sign up bonus.

How to Get 90,000 ThankYou Points

The Citi Prestige® Card is offering 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is offering 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

Get both cards eight days apart and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 96,000 ThankYou Points.

Recap

Europe is within reach for as little as 12,250 miles one way if you book in the next week for trips for the next 11 months. Where will you go this summer?

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

  • Anatomy of an Award: India to United States in Etihad and American Airlines First Class for 90,000 AA Miles
  • Trip Report: Etihad Business Class from Chennai to Abu Dhabi
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Lounge, Abu Dhabi (Including Shave and Massage)
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Seat, Suite, Vanity, Amenity Kit, Pajamas, Bed, Sleeping
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Food, Drink, and Onboard Lounge
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Shower and Bathroom
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Service and Wrap Up
  • Trip Report: American Airlines A321 First Class from New York to Los Angeles

I have broken my 15 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to New York into four parts because I had over 200 photos and several videos from the flight. This section covers roughly the first half of the flight and my review of the suite and related amenities.

Etihad 103
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – New York (JFK)
Depart: 3:20 AM on January 27, 2016
Arrive: 9:10 AM
Duration: 14 hours, 50 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 2H (First Class)

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.25.33 PMThis is it. This was my palace for 15 hours from Abu Dhabi to New York.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.25.51 PMI was the last First Class passenger to board about 30 minutes before the scheduled 3:20 AM departure. I was met at the door with a smile and escorted to my seat in the second row of First Class.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.25.58 PM

Etihad has nine First Class Apartments on its A380s spread across four-and-a-half rows  in the front of the upper deck.

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The other half of the first row, across from a First Class Apartment, is the living room of the Residence, which has its own bathroom with shower, and bedroom. The Residence was empty for my flight, so the living room was used for storing carry ons.

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Residence Living Room, Filled with Carry Ons for My Flight

The nine First Class Apartments alternate between seats near the aisle or seats near the window and forward-facing seats or backward-facing seats. I had a forward-facing seat near the aisle. Next time I would choose a seat near the window for better views during take off and landing. Those seats are lettered A and K.

The Suite

The First Class Apartment is huge and easily the best flying suite in the world. Broadly, it consists of a large seat facing a television, a couch that becomes your bed, and a vanity. The couch/bed takes up the entire width from aisle to window. The seat takes up about half that width.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.03 PM

The Seat

When seated, you can use the couch as an ottoman to kick up your feet.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.09 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.15 PMNext to the seat is a touch screen remote control and an area large enough to set a drink and some dates.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.21 PMOn the other side of the seat is another touch screen to control your seat and the suite’s lights. Below that are physical buttons, yet another way to control the seat’s position and windows.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.41 PMThe seat can be reclined, made softer or firmer, and even has a massage feature. I didn’t test any of this out because I spent most of my time in the bed.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.46 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.52 PMI was only in the seat for take off, landing, and my main meal. While it was very large and plenty comfortable, I prefer to relax and work lying down.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.51 PM

The Bed

The bed in the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment is 6’8″ long and 2’6″ wide. It is very large and comfortable. You can ask for a turndown service any time, including before take off. I knew I would want to sleep as soon as we took off, so I asked for and received a turn down while we were still on the ground.

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Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.29.57 PMThe most unique feature of the bed is that you can remove part of the barrier between your apartment and the one next door if you are traveling with a companion.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.29.25 PM

While you cannot exactly snuggle, you can enjoy some pillow talk or a good night kiss. (Compare this to Suites Class on the Singapore A380 where the divider can be completely removed creating a double bed for two.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.33.36 PMThe bed has a mattress pad, bedding, a blanket, a large pillow, and a medium pillow. The bed was ideal for sleep, and I immediately conked out for the first half of the flight.

Because my bed was made at take off, I actually hopped in it during our ascent and tried to close the doors to fully enclose the suite. They wouldn’t stay shut, though, until we leveled off.

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Even after I woke up, I spent most of my time in the bed, watching the television (which can swing out to be viewed in bed), using my laptop, and even getting breakfast in bed before landing.

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While in the bed, there was another touch screen remote control within reach that I could use to control the television and call for service.

Storage

The suite has several storage areas, though none is big enough for a carry on bag. This is the main weakness of the suite.

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For smaller, personal-item-sized bags like my laptop bag, there is ample storage under the couch/bed.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.08 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.28 PM

For other small things you want at hand like your computer or reading materials, there is storage within reach of your seat.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.42 PM

But your carry on will not fit in the suite for take off or landing, and there are no overhead bins. Instead, mine was taken and stored in the Residence’s living room since it was empty. When it was taken, I was asked whether I would need the bag back during the flight, and I didn’t. I assume if I had, it would have been brought back after take off to sit on the floor until landing. Certainly there was plenty of room for it there.

Amenties and Vanity

The Emirates A380 First Class Suite has a small vanity with a make up mirror. The Etihad A380 First Class Apartment has a full sized vanity, which is much more impressive. (So impressive in fact, that I had to feign indifference in this photo.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.21 PM

On one end of your couch, there is a small cabinet that you can open to reveal a three-part mirror. Inside is your amenity kit and some amenities.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.27 PMThe amenity kit actually contains only ear plugs and a sleeping aid that you are supposed to roll onto pulse points to relax yourself.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.31.13 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.31.17 PM

The rest of the amenities you’d normally find in an amenity kit line the vanity.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.31 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.37 PMOther amenities of the suite include noise-cancelling headphones…
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.02 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.15 PM

…which plug in via magnet not prongs…

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.02 PM

…pajamas, and slippers.

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The PJs and slippers were very comfortable. I put the pajamas on before take off and took them off about 30 hours later when I woke up from a nap in Los Angeles.

Bottom Line & How You Can Book Your Own Etihad Apartment

I hope you enjoyed the tour of Apartment 2H on the Etihad A380.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.35.32 PMThe Etihad First Class Apartments are without a doubt the nicest, largest flying suites. Everything is meticulously designed for extreme comfort.

I love that the seat and bed are separate, so that you can have both ready at all times. I was very impressed by how the television was easily visible from either spot, and how each spot had a touch screen remote control.

I would suggest selecting a window seat for better views on take off and landing and to select two adjacent suites if traveling with a companion, so you can remove part of the partition between the suites while you sleep.

In May 2015, I booked my suite for 90,000 American Airlines miles + $39 (including Business Class from India to Abu Dhabi and American Airlines First Class from New York to Los Angeles.). The same award will cost 115,000 miles if booked March 22, 2016 or later. If you can book by March 21, you can lock in the current price for travel through February 2017.

You can even book this award at current prices if you have zero miles right now.

Get both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, which are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement in the next three months to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Key Links:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

21

Today is February 9, 2016. You have until March 21, 2016 to earn and burn American Airlines miles on its positively cheap award chart. You can get in on the fun if you start today, even if you currently have zero American Airlines miles.

I’m talking about booking awards like:

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.55.33 PM
Etihad First Class from 40,000 Miles
  • 20,000 miles each way in economy to Brazil or Argentina
  • 40,000 miles each way in Etihad First Class or Qantas First Class from Europe to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives.
  • 67,500 miles each way in Cathay Pacific First Class to Southeast Asia
  • 32,500 miles each way for flat bed First Class from New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco

All of these awards, and many more, go way up in price in just over four months, but you can earn the miles and book them before March 22, 2016 to lock in these incredible prices for travel in 2016 or early 2017. Here is the timeline:

  1. Today: Get the cards
  2. Next one month: Meet the minimum spending requirements to unlock the sign up bonuses
  3. By March 21: Book award travel at current rates for travel in 2016 or early 2017
  4. 2016 or early 2017: Take a dream vacation

Today: Get the Cards

I’d get both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, which are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement in the next three months to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Next One Month: Meet the Cards’ Minimum Spending Requirements

Although the fine print on the credit card applications say otherwise, the experience of people who have gotten American Airlines cards from Citi is that you get the bonus miles the day your statement closes on which you meet your minimum spending requirement or a day or two later.

That means if you get the cards today, you can take two months to meet the minimum spending requirements, and you should get your miles by mid-March 2016, which is a week or so before the devaluation.

March 2016: Book Award Travel at Current Rates

Once you have the miles, you must book your awards by March 21, 2016. Travel can be booked up to 330 days in advance, so you can travel through February 15, 2017 if you book on March 21, 2016.

Once booked, the flights are locked in at the price you paid. However, if you need to make later changes, American may charge you extra miles based on the price of the future award chart.

Here are my guides on redeeming American Airlines miles:

2016 or Early 2017: Take Your Dream Trip

Following the first three steps beats the devaluation and will allow you to enjoy a dream trip sometime in 2016 or early 2017, secure in the knowledge that you paid a much lower price than people who don’t follow my advice.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 1.42.22 AM
Cathay Pacific First Class from 67,500 Miles

Bottom Line

Do not dally. The time to take action to beat the devAAluation is now. Even waiting a week will ruin this plan.

Key Links:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2

I’ve been in this hobby for about five years. In that time, I have never seen Air New Zealand Business Class award space from the United States mainland to New Zealand. Starting yesterday, Air New Zealand is releasing flat bed Business Class award space on its three daily flights between the United States and New Zealand from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Houston.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.41.45 AM

There are great connection options to the rest of New Zealand, Australia, and South Pacific.

  • Why now?
  • How good is Air New Zealand Business Class?
  • Where does Air New Zealand fly?
  • How many miles do you need and why is this such a good deal?
  • How can you search for and book the award space?

Why Now?

I don’t think this is an aberration or space that will disappear quickly. Two months ago, I predicted “AWARD SPACE TO NEW ZEALAND WILL BE MUCH BETTER IN 2016,” and it looks like I was right.

The reason for my prediction was the busting of Air New Zealand’s monopoly on direct flights to New Zealand with the announcement of an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Auckland and United flight from San Francisco to Auckland that are slated to begin in June and July 2016. (By the way, that American Airlines flight is finally releasing Business Class award space that is cheaper than this Air New Zealand space.)

Competition is good for people with miles. It means more empty seats, which often find their way into the award pool.

How good is Air New Zealand Business Class?

Air New Zealand Business Class on its 777s is a world-class flat bed with four seats per row in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.47.23 AM

I would very happily fly the product for 12-15 hours.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.48.27 AM

How Many Miles Does the Award Cost?

In “COMPREHENSIVE SPREAD SHEET OF 8 STAR ALLIANCE AWARD CHARTS: CHEAPEST AWARDS TO AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, AND OCEANIA,” I published this chart of one way prices from the United States to Australia and New Zealand:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.33.06 AM

ANA and Lufthansa have the cheapest miles prices.

A couple of notes:

  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.
  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges on awards.
  • Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on Air Canada and Air New Zealand flights. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on United flights.
  • Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.
  • Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.
  • You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Here are the taxes and fuel surcharges for a roundtrip in Business Class from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.41.12 AM

That means Aeroplan, Asiana, ANA, Singapore, and Lufthansa collect $780 in fuel surcharges on a roundtrip Business Class ticket to New Zealand on Air New Zealand. United, Copa, and LifeMiles just collect about $109 in taxes roundtrip.

Taking into account the miles price, fuel surcharges, and ease of getting the miles, United miles are the clear best choice in Air New Zealand Business Class from the United States to New Zealand at 80,000 miles one way and no fuel surcharges.

How Can You Search and Book the Award Space?

Search on united.com. Here’s how. For the moment, there is award space over the next 90 days on all three routes in both directions. You’ll see all of the award calendars abruptly run out of green and blue dates (with Business Class space) in mid-May. Dates beyond that are not for the direct flights to New Zealand; they have connections in Asia.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.34.54 AM

It’s too soon to say award space within 90 days is “the pattern,” but let’s keep an eye on whether that becomes a pattern.

Beyond 90 days out, Air New Zealand continues its pattern of great economy award space.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.32.29 AM

Business Class award space on the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston routes

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.31.43 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.34.59 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.36.24 AM

This space is not just valuable to Auckland. You can connect to more interesting places in New Zealand like Wellington and Queenstown easily.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.13.46 AM

Here are Air New Zealand domestic flights from Auckland.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.10.37 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.10.47 AM Here are there international connections from Auckland. The eight in Australia can be added for zero extra miles.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.10.58 AM

If you use United miles, book on united.com.

If not, note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you like and call the airline whose miles you’re using.

Bottom Line

For the first time in at least five years, Air New Zealand is releasing Business Class award space between the United States and New Zealand. I see space on all three routes between the United States mainland and Auckland in both directions over the next 90 days.

Award space to New Zealand is way up in 2016 as I predicted last year when American and United’s new New Zealand routes were announced.

Enjoy your 2016 vacation to the Antipodes flying Air New Zealand Business Class or American Airlines Business Class.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

7

For a few months, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® have each been offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Many MileValue readers have gotten both, met both minimum spending requirements, and banked a cool 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

I don’t know of any end date for the offers themselves, but I consider this the last week to get full value from the offers. Why?

If you get the cards right now, you can meet their minimum spending requirements in the first month and hopefully have your American Airlines miles post by March 21, 2016. If that happens, you can redeem your American Airlines miles on the current award chart for travel through February 15, 2017.

However, if you get your cards in a few weeks, your first statement won’t close until March 22, 2016 or later. You usually get the miles at the same time your credit card statement closes on which you met the spending requirement, so you’d get your miles after the big March 22 devaluation. While you’d still get 50,000 bonus miles per card, you’d have to redeem them on a way worse award chart, missing out on “full value” from the miles that you can get until March 21.

Here are some price increases from March 21 to March 22:

  • (Cathay Pacific) First Class to China and Southeast Asia: from 67,500 to 110,000 miles
  • (Etihad) First Class to the Middle East, Egypt, Maldives, and Indian Subcontinent: from 90,000 to 115,000 miles
  • Off Peak economy to Argentina, Brazil, and Chile: from 20,000 to 30,000 miles
  • (Qantas or American Airlines) Business Class to Australia or New Zealand: from 62,500 to 80,000 miles
  • First Class to Europe: from 62,500 to 80,000 miles

And there are many, many more examples.

I’ll have more posts on the topic of beating the American Airlines devaluation this week because I consider this the last week to get full value from two of my favorite credit card offers:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

6

I’ve wondered when we would get a real-time wearable translator. The makers of “ili” say that it will be this Summer. Watch their first commercial.

Note this disclaimer: “UPDATE: In light of viewer feedback, we would like to clarify that the man and women are all actors and actresses; no one was forced to act against their will in any way.”

The commercial shows the actor’s British English being converted to Japanese in real time, though I have no way to judge the quality of that translation. The commercial doesn’t show any Japanese being converted to English, though I imagine it works in both directions. It also doesn’t show any other languages or that the device can recognize American English. I am sure we will learn more about its capabilities in the coming months.

I definitely think travel will be enhanced by wearable translators, and it devalues my plan to make my future children natively trilingual. Excuse me while I spend the rest of the day daydreaming about being able to speak and understand every language in the world.

Thoughts? How much are you willing to pay for an ili?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

3

LAN Airlines is introducing a new nonstop flight between Los Angeles and Santiago, Chile three times per week between October 16, 2016 and March 25, 2017, the South American summer. Normally LAN is extremely stingy with Business Class award space, but right now there are up to seven Business Class awards per flight that you can book for only 50,000 American Airlines miles.Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.15.36 AM

There are great connection options to the rest of Chile and Southern South America.

  • How good is LAN Business Class?
  • Where does LAN fly?
  • How many miles do you need and why is this such a good deal?
  • How can you search for and book the award space?
  • How can you get American Airlines miles?

How good is LAN Business Class?

LAN Business Class on its 787 Dreamliner is a world-standard flat bed with six seats per row in a 2-2-2 configuration.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 10.41.29 AM

In that configuration, I always recommend a middle seat, so you and the person next to you both have aisle access without having to climb over each other.Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 10.41.37 AM

How Many Miles Does the Award Cost?

For awards booked by March 21, American charges only 50,000 miles one way in Business Class between the United States and Southern South America

These awards go up to 57,500 miles one way if booked March 22 or later.

How Can You Search and Book the Award Space?

Search on ba.com. For the moment–very likely to change very soon–there is excellent award space from October through December 2016 on nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Santiago in both directions.
Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.59.44 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.59.50 AM

Note that this post is about LA603. LA601 is a “direct” flight with a stop in Lima.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.00.01 AM

This flight operates three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, Saturday from Los Angeles and Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday returning to Los Angeles.

There are as many as seven Business Class award seats on the same flight.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.59.44 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.06.27 AMAs chance would have it, I am in Santiago at the moment. It is the cleanest, wealthiest, safest-feeling city in South America in my extensive experience on the continent. But it’s also a little boring, lagging way behind the culture of Buenos Aires or the food of Peru. So I don’t think I’ll be back any time soon. I’d use this award space to connect somewhere else in Chile or Southern South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia on AA’s chart.)

Here is a connection to Punta Arenas, the launching point for the best trek of my life: the W (not the hotel) at Torres del Paine.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.59.44 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.11.36 AMHere is award space to Puerto Montt, where I haven’t been.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.59.44 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.13.45 AM

You could also easily connect this award space to Sant Cruz, Bolivia (high on my list) or the in-town airport in Buenos Aires.

Note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you like. If necessary, pair it with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines domestic award space you search on aa.com as part of a segment-by-segment searching strategy. Once you’ve found all your space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book the award by feeding the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight. There is no longer a phone booking fee to book awards that cannot be booked at aa.com, so you’ll just pay the miles plus about $100 in taxes for a roundtrip to Chile.

Alternatively, instead of booking now, you can put the award space on hold for five days for free when you call American Airlines.

How Can You Get American Airlines Miles?

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Bottom Line

Book–or put on hold–LAN Business Class award space to South America today with your American Airlines miles. LAN is normally very stingy with its flat bed award space to South America, so book it or put it on hold today, and plan your trip to South America for its summer 2016/2017 while your friends are stuck in winter.

Hat Tip One Mile at a Time

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Longtime reader Caveman is offering one lucky reader a $51 Southwest gift card.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 12.05.58 PM

Southwest gift cards are fully transferable and don’t expire. There are two ways to enter, and you can enter both ways. I’ll choose one winner from among the two types of entries next Friday and notify the winner via email.

  1. Comment on this post.
  2. Retweet this tweet.

Further reading about Southwest:

Thanks again, Caveman.

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

1

American Airlines starts flying between Los Angeles and Auckland daily on June 23, 2016 with a Dreamliner. The American Airlines Dreamliner has no First Class, but Business Class features flat beds in a 1-2-1 configuration so every seat has aisle access.

While American Airlines has sold tickets on the route for months, it hadn’t, until today, released any Saver Business Class award space.

Today it opened a ton of space, 2+ award seats in both directions for months at a time. Unfortunately that lasted about 30 minutes.

This is the current award space picture as of 10:10 AM ET.

Five total days of Business Class award space for 2+ people from Los Angeles to Auckland between June and December 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 12.07.13 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 12.07.25 PMFifteen total days of Business Class award space for 2+ people from Auckland to Los Angeles between June and December 2016. Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 12.08.17 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 12.08.26 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 12.08.35 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 12.08.46 PMHopefully the better award space from an hour ago returns, but at least this is something.

This fits American Airlines’ pattern from the last week of opening up a lot more international premium cabin award space on its own flights, something that hopefully continues through March 22, 2016 when award prices go way up.

Want to go to Australia or New Zealand with American Airlines miles? Here’s the bible on that.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2

Japan Airlines has released incredible First Class award space from the United States to Tokyo and beyond that you can book for only 62,500 American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 5.29.36 AM

Between Chicago or New York and Tokyo, two First Class suites are available with miles on most flights for the next six weeks.

  • How good is Japan Airlines First Class?
  • Where does Japan Airlines fly?
  • How many miles do you need and why is this such a good deal?
  • How can you search for and book the award space?
  • How can you get American Airlines miles?

How good is Japan Airlines First Class?

Japan Airlines First Class on its 777-300ER is a world class flat bed enclosed in a suite.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 5.29.48 AM

The 777-300ER is the plane on Japan Airlines’ New York and Chicago routes, which have the great award space.

How Many Miles Does the Award Cost?

For awards booked by March 21, American charges only:

  • 62,500 miles one way in First Class between the United States and Japan or Korea
  • 67,500 miles one way in First Class between the United States and the rest of East and Southeast Asia

These awards go up to 80,000 and 110,000 miles one way if booked March 22 or later.

You cannot book this award space as part of a single award to India. That violates American Airlines routing rules, so your trip would be two awards: United States to Japan and Japan to India.

How Can You Search and Book the Award Space?

Search on ba.com. For the moment–very likely to change very soon–there is excellent award space for the next six weeks on the Japan Airlines flights to and from the Chicago and New York in First Class.

These calendars are Award Nexus searching ba.com. “NRT-JFK” means there is award space that day for two people in First Class on the listed route.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 8.06.27 PMAward space is pretty good on the New York route (above) and really good on the Chicago route (below.)Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 8.06.40 PM

While the calendars show all days with at least two seats available, many days have more seats available like this day with four First Class seats available.
Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 3.20.39 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 3.20.44 PM

Note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you like. If necessary, pair it with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines domestic award space you search on aa.com as part of a segment-by-segment searching strategy. Once you’ve found all your space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book the award by feeding the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight. There is no longer a phone booking fee to book awards that cannot be booked at aa.com, so you’ll just pay the miles plus about $50 in taxes for a roundtrip to Japan.

Alternatively, instead of booking now, you can put the award space on hold for five days for free when you call American Airlines.

How Can You Get American Airlines Miles?

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Bottom Line

Book–or put on hold–Japan Airlines First Class award space to Asia today with your American Airlines miles. Japan Airlines First Class suites are world class, American Airlines’ chart to Asia is way underpriced, and 2-4 First Class award seats on most flights for the next six weeks between the Chicago/New York and Japan will not last.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

16

Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM Romanian–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly from select American cities to anywhere in Europe or to Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, or Algeria for as little as 12,500 miles each way in economy plus tiny fuel surcharges.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards and Starpoints. You can get 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 on the Citi Prestige® Card.

My Review of the Citi Prestige Card

These Flying Blue Promo Awards must be booked by February 29, 2016 for travel in April or May 2016. This is not the strongest list we have seen recently, but there are some good deals. There are also several Brazilian cities on the list, which is a huge deal, since Promo Awards leaving Brazil are the only Promo Awards with no fuel surcharges.

  • What cities are these Promo Awards good for? What if you don’t live in one?
  • Why do you care that three Brazilian cities are on the Promo Awards list?
  • How do you book a Promo Award?
  • How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges?
  • How can you eliminate the out-of-pocket cost of the award?

Flying Blue Promo Awards Explained

Miles Price

Every month, Flying Blue releases a new list of Promo Awards, which allow travel from specified American cities to anywhere in Europe for 25% or 50% off the normal miles price. Flying Blue’s definition of Europe includes Israel.

The current list of the best Promo Awards is available for booking through February 29, 2016 for flights from April 1 to May 31, 2016.

There is one American city on the list.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 12.09.54 PM

  • Flights from Houston in AirFrance economy are 25% off and 18,750 miles one way.

Out-of-Pocket Cash

Promo awards have the same out-of-pocket taxes and fuel surcharges as normal Flying Blue awards. The taxes are the same as you would pay on any award ticket. The fuel surcharges are listed on this table (click to enlarge):

From the US to Europe, the fuel surcharge each way is 50 euros in economy, 110 euros in Premium Economy, and 180 euros in Business or First.

At current exchange rates, that works out to:

  • a modest $112 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in economy
  • an annoying $246 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in Premium Economy
  • a punitive $403 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip Business Class awards to Europe.

Booking

Promo Awards are valid for one ways or roundtrips.

To book a Flying Blue Promo Award, sign in to your Flying Blue account and select to use miles. Everything on the search form is pretty intuitive; just make sure you don’t check “Flights allowing changes only” because Promo Awards don’t allow changes.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.09.17 AM

In your search results, the discounted Promo Award prices are already coded into the price displayed on the calendars, which will display the one way price.

Examples

All examples are from a previous list, just to give you an idea of what the search results look like.

Here is a one way economy search from New York to Paris. Award space is available at the Promo Award price every day for this five week period for 12,500 miles + $76.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.04.58 AM

Here is a one way economy class search from Houston to Madrid. The green dates are days with Promo Award space available for 12,500 miles each way. That’s basically every day in February and early March.Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.06.29 AM

These Promo Awards must start in Houston, but they can go anywhere in Europe. Oddly Flying Blue classifies Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and the Canary Islands as part of Europe, so Promo Awards can even fly to Tel Aviv or North Africa for 12,500 miles. Here is the award space from Boston to Tel Aviv.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.38.10 AM

I priced out a roundtrip award from Houston to Madrid to see the total price.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.08.06 AM

It cost a mere 25,000 Flying Blue miles and $228. That’s two roundtrips from the sign up bonus of the Citi Prestige® Card.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.08.16 AM

This broke down to $106 in fuel surcharges and $122 in unavoidable taxes.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.08.30 AM

Triangle Trip to Brazil and Europe

In “Incredible Trick: Flying Blue Promo Awards with No Fuel Surcharges,” I explained that Brazilian law prohibits fuel surcharges on all tickets including Promo Awards.

Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Brasilia to Europe or Israel are on the current list with discounts for economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class.Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 12.10.19 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-04 at 12.10.28 PM

If a triangle trip to South America and Europe in a few months sounds amazing, Brasilia to Europe for 50,000 miles + $45 in Business Class is an unbeatable deal for the hypotenuse of that triangle.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 12.12.31 PM

Getting the Miles

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards, and Starpoints. And as usual, increments of 20k Starpoints transfer to 25k Flying Blue miles.

You can get 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points from the Citi Prestige® Card, which has a huge sign up bonus and big category bonuses.

My Review of the Citi Prestige Card

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

Bonus

The drawback for the Promo Awards is the out-of-pocket cash needed to book them. You can eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Promo Award with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offer a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes and fuel surcharges on an award ticket definitely count. If your taxes and fuel surcharges are less than $250, the entire amount will be credited back on your statement. If they are more than $250, $250 will be credited back.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Application LinkCiti Prestige® Card

Recap

Book by February 29, and fly in April or May, and you can enjoy 25-50% off awards from American and Brazilian cities to Europe, Israel, or North Africa.

Get Flying Blue miles by transferring points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, and avoid the out of pocket expenses with Arrival miles from the Citi Prestige® Card.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

108

It is now February, which is a better time to get the card than December or January, so I’ve updated the post with my current analysis.

The Citi Prestige® Card now comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 3.10.47 AM

The is a huge increase on the previous sign up bonus of 30,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, which I signed up for in April, 2015!

The card also comes $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, free access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges worldwide for you and guests, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, the fourth night free on paid hotel stays, three free rounds of golf per year, and a $450 annual fee.

I’m sure that $450 annual fee catches your eye, but everyone reading this blog should be able to get $500 to $600 in statement credits in the next 12 months as I explain in detail in this post, so the annual fee should be more than made up for. Plus now with 50,000 bonus points and huge category bonuses, this card’s rewards can book some amazing award travel.

Quick Facts

  • Sign Up Bonus: 50,000 ThankYou Points after $3,000 in spending
  • Category Bonuses: 3x on air travel and hotels, 2x on restaurants and entertainment
  • Air Travel Credit:  $250 statement credit per calendar year ($500 during first year of cardmembership)
  • Global Entry: $100 application fee credit
  • Lounge access: Admirals Clubs lounges and Priority Pass lounges worldwide for you and two guests
  • Free hotel nights: Get your 4th night free on all paid hotel stays (no blackout dates)
  • Golf: Three free rounds of golf each calendar year (six in first year of cardmembership)
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450 not waived, well worth it for most people

Sign Up Bonus

The headline sign up bonus is 50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the card. Those 50,000 points equal:

  • $800 toward any flights marketed by American Airlines, which includes flights flown by 20 airlines
  • $665 toward any flights on any other airline
  • $500 in gift cards (please don’t redeem them like this)
  • 50,000 miles with 12 airline transfer partners
  • 75,000 Hilton points

I have explained the two main ways to use ThankYou points:

  1. Like cash toward the purchase of any flight on any airline. ThankYou Points have a special relationship with American Airlines, so the points are worth 1.6 cents each toward any American Airlines fare or any other fare marketed by American Airlines on a partner airline. Toward other airlines’ flights, ThankYou Points are worth 1.33 cents each. The cool things about using points like this: ease (points work like cash to pay all or part of any fare), availability (any flight on any airline), and you earn miles and status from these flights because the airline sees a paid ticket not an award.
  2. By transferring the points to one 12 airlines or Hilton. Once you transfer, the points are Singapore miles or Flying Blue miles or wherever you transferred and now must be redeemed in accordance with those rules and that award chart. The cool thing about transferring points to miles: miles are the only economical way to book luxury First Class products.

I transfer my ThankYou Points to airline miles.

I recently transferred ThankYou Points to Singapore Airlines miles to fly from Atlanta to Honolulu in a flat bed for 30,000 miles. I’ve also used Singapore miles to fly from Colombia to Argentina in Business Class for half the price it would have been with United miles. Singapore miles are also the only way to fly Singapore Suites, cheaper than United miles to book United flights to Europe, and offer two stopovers in addition to your destination on roundtrip awards.

I also love Air France Flying Blue as a transfer partner because of its cheap awards to Europe, Israel, Hawaii and South America.

Because of all the valuable uses of ThankYou Points, I value them at 1.9 cents each. That puts this new 50,000 point sign up bonuses among the most valuable out there. When you factor in the category bonuses and other benefits of the card, this could be the best current offer on any credit card.

Category Bonuses

  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment

This card is very clearly designed for frequent travelers, since a number of its benefits like free hotel nights and lounge access will be most used by travelers. The category bonuses are no exception. If you buy a lot of airline tickets and hotel stays, and if you dine out while traveling, you will rack up a ton of extra points from these category bonuses.

Note that the 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels is worth at least 4.8% back toward travel on American Airlines flights, since points are worth 1.6 cents each toward those flights. That’s an incredible return on spending.

Air Travel Credit

Every calendar year, you get a $250 air travel credit to offset airline fees. Airline fees include airfare itself:

“Airline Fees are defined as purchases made with airlines including Air fares, baggage fees, lounge access and some in-flight purchases.” (Emphasis mine.)

That means that you can buy airline tickets with this card, and the first $250 will be reimbursed each calendar year (plus you’ll earn 3x on the purchases, win-win!) Or you can use the airline fee credit to pay the taxes on award tickets.

This is a calendar year benefit, that means in the first 12 months you have the card, you can get this $250 credit twice: once in 2016 and once in 2017. That $500 in statement credits pays for your annual fee plus $50 extra.

Even without considering the sign up bonus and other benefits, the card would already be a great deal.

Here are my experiences getting my $250 Air Travel Credit in 2015 and in 2016.

Lounge Access

Having the Citi Prestige® Card gets you into any Admirals Club worldwide whenever you’re flying an American Airlines, American Eagle, or American Connection flight. In addition, you can bring in your family (spouse, domestic partner, children under 18) or up to two guests for free.

Citi Prestige® Card holders can also get a free Priority Pass Select membership. Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program. Prestige Card holders get free Priority Pass Select membership, which entitles them to free access to hundreds of lounges worldwide (everything on the list except United Clubs).

I downloaded the Priority Pass app on my phone, so I can search for participating lounges by airport while I travel. I seem to find one or more options at most international airports and tons of domestic airports.

Just like into Admirals Clubs, you can bring in your family (spouse, domestic partner, children under 18) or up to two guests for free. You can access Priority Pass lounges no matter which airline you’re flying.

Lounge access usually costs $50 per visit. Heavy users of this benefit–especially the free family or guest access–will get hundreds of dollars of value from this benefit.

Here’s my experience using the Prestige’s lounge access benefits on a typical trip.

Fourth Night Free on Hotel Stays

From the terms and conditions of the benefits of the Prestige Card:

You will enjoy a complimentary fourth night with no black-out dates, when you book four consecutive nights at any hotel booked by a personal travel advisor designated by MasterCard (the “designated travel advisor” is Carlson Wagonlit Travel). 

Interestingly, you don’t get 25% off a four night stay. You get the fourth night free. If you book a stay where the fourth night is the most expensive–like December 28 to January 1 at a New Year’s Eve destination–you can save a lot more than 25% on your stay.

Full article on Fourth Night Free Benefit.

Global Entry Fee Credit

Prestige card holders are entitled to a $100 statement credit when they pay the $100 Global Entry enrollment fee with their Prestige cards.

Global Entry is a United States Customs and Border Patrol program designed to let trusted travelers skip the immigrations and customs queues when arriving in the United States. Instead of spending time in line and talking to an agent, you tap a few buttons at a kiosk and get to the curb in a few minutes. Global Entry membership is valid for 5 years, and having Global Entry also lets you skip immigration queues in Australia and New Zealand.

Global Entry also lets you use TSA Precheck lines in the US, even on domestic itineraries.

I would pay the $100 in a heartbeat for Global Entry even if I only traveled abroad once a year. When you can get it for free, it’s a no-brainer. How and Why I Got Global Entry.

Global Entry is good for five years, so I will use this benefit of my Prestige in two years when I need to renew my Global Entry.

If you already have Global Entry, you can use the credit to pay someone else’s $100 fee.

Free Golf

The Citi Prestige® Card offers cardholders three free rounds of golf per calendar year at over 2,400 public and private courses. That’s six free rounds before your second annual fee is due–three in 2016 and three more in early 2017.

What courses are available and how do you make tee times?

Chip and No Foreign Transaction Fees

It shouldn’t surprise that a card very clearly designed for travelers comes with chip technology for global acceptance and zero foreign transaction fees. The only surprising thing is that not all cards have these basic features.

Annual Fee

The annual fee is $450 and not waived. That should be a dealbreaker if you don’t use the benefits of the card, but it’s a fair price to pay if you are maximizing the card’s perks.

If you apply for the card and use the airline fee credit twice before the next annual fee, you can get all of this for the cost of the first annual fee:

  • 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points
  • $500 worth of airfare or fee credits ($250 per calendar year)
  • $100 credit for applying for Global Entry
  • Lounge access for you and family or two guests at Admirals Clubs and Priority Club lounges
  • Six free rounds of golf
  • Fourth night free on hotel stays with no blackouts

Those benefits clearly dwarf the $450 annual fee. After testing out the card and seeing how much you actually use the benefits, you’ll have a better idea going forward whether to keep the card for $450 per year in return for:

  • $250 worth of airfare or fee credits
  • Lounge access for you and family or two guests at Admirals Clubs and Priority Club lounges
  • Fourth night free on hotel stays with no blackouts
  • Three free rounds of golf
  • 3x ThankYou Points on airfare and hotels; 2x on dining and entertainment

I got this card ten months ago! I was attracted by the sign up bonus, the $250 annual airfare credit, the ability to use ThankYou Points for 1.6 cents each toward American Airlines flights, and lounge access.

I’ve since redeemed the points for amazing First Class awards to Hawaii, decided to definitely renew the card, and I can’t wait to start playing my free golf rounds and finally take advantage of the fourth night free hotel benefit.

If you have a Citi Prestige, share your experiences in the comments.

Citi Prestige® Card with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months, lounge access, $250 per calendar year in airline fee credits, and more

  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for an $800 flight on American Airlines or US Airways®, a $665 flight on any other airline or $500 in gift cards.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

6

In Where to Search Award Space for All American Airlines Partners, I suggest searching Qantas award space on aa.com because aa.com displays Qantas award space.

Don’t search Qantas award space on aa.com, at least for the moment.

For a month or so, Qantas award space has not displayed properly at aa.com. I noticed this today and then found several FlyerTalkers talking about it in a thread about redeeming American Airlines miles for Qantas flights.

Proof

Right now, you can go to ba.com and see that Los Angeles to Brisbane on December 13 has one Business Class award seat.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 6.56.57 PM

That seat does not appear on aa.com. In fact, no award space from Los Angeles to Brisbane on the direct Qantas flight is showing up for the month around December 13. We know that because the ability to filter results for non-stop only isn’t even available on the left side of the calendar where it normally is.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 7.17.32 PM

You can put on hold and book the space that is on ba.com. For instance, I put this space on the hold that didn’t appear on aa.com.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 6.55.10 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 6.55.16 PM

What FlyerTalkers Say

Here is the pertinent part of the Using / Redeeming AA miles on Qantas (QF) thread:

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 7.25.40 PM

Congrats to them for uncovering it first. FlyerTalkers usually do.

The bottom line is that the proof above is not an isolated incident. There is a major problem with aa.com not displaying Qantas award space. However American Airlines phone agents can book Qantas award space, and you can search it properly on other websites.

Bottom Line

Don’t search Qantas award space on aa.com for the time being. Search it on ba.com, qantas.com, or Expert Flyer and call American Airlines to book the award space. Ask that the phone fee be waived since the award space wasn’t bookable online.

Now is a great time to book Qantas premium cabin award space to Australia or New Zealand. It is relatively plentiful (compared to how it has been in the past), and is going way up in price on March 22. So lock in your Summer 2016/2017 travel to Australia or New Zealand before then.

Current prices to Australia:

  • 37.5k AA miles one way in economy
  • 62.5k AA miles one way in Business
  • 72.5k AA miles one way in First

Book March 22 or later to Australia:

  • 40k AA miles one way in economy
  • 80k AA miles one way in Business
  • 110k AA miles one way in First

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

17

United has a setting you can activate called Expert Mode that allows you to see how many seats are in each fare bucket on a given flight.

I mentioned it first in “Booking Two Tickets on the Same United Flight” and I got some questions in the comments about what Expert Mode is, how to use it, and why you’d want to use it.

What is a fare bucket?

Every ticket you book with cash or miles has every segment come out of a fare bucket or fare class.

The fare bucket is a one or two letter code that represents what cabin you’re in, whether you got the seat with cash or miles, and how much you paid.

Everyone walking through this door has a ticket that booked into one fare bucket

Airlines are willing to book a certain number of tickets in each fare bucket. If the Saver economy award fare bucket has zero seats, you can’t book a Saver economy award on the flight, but if it has six seats, you can book up to six Saver economy award tickets.

Knowing how many seats are in each bucket will let you know whether you can expect an upgrade, whether you can book an award, and whether elites have better award access on a certain flight.

  • How can you enable Expert Mode on united.com?
  • How can you use Expert Mode on united.com in award bookings and to secure upgrades?

Turning on Expert Mode

To enable Expert Mode in your United account, click this link and sign into your united.com account.

You’re on the Search Preference page, and you can turn on Expert Mode by checking a box saying you “acknowledge these considerations”…

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.16.22 PM

…and then clicking Save at the bottom of the page.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.16.39 PM

Now any time you are signed into your united.com account and do a flight search, you can use the tools of Expert Mode.

Using Expert Mode

To use Expert Mode, do a standard flight search on united.com, selecting “Search for award travel.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.20.08 PM

On any search result, click Details.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.19.17 PMEach entry next to “Available fare classes” is a fare bucket and the number of seats available in that bucket.
Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.19.31 PMIt’s not just United flights that show fare buckets; even partner flights like Avianca, Swiss, and ANA show their fare buckets.Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.23.18 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.23.58 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.24.34 PM

In fact, the only partner whose fare buckets showed up incorrectly for me was Copa. All fare classes showed as having zero seats.Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.22.44 PM

Key Fare Buckets for Awards & Upgrade

Remember that Saver award space is the cheaper award space that we try to book. Standard award space is the (approximately) double priced award space we try to avoid booking.

Saver Award Space
  • O: Saver award space in international three-cabin first class
  • I: Saver award space in international three-cabin business class or domestic two-cabin first or business class
  • X: Saver award space in economy

Extra Saver Space for Elites

  • IN: Extra Saver award space in international three-cabin business class or domestic two-cabin first or business class. Available only to Platinum elites and higher.
  • XN: Extra Saver award space in economy. Available to all elites and United credit card holders.

Standard

  • FN: Standard award space in international three-cabin first class
  • ZN: Standard award space in international three-cabin business class or domestic two-cabin first or business class
  • HN: Standard award space in economy

Extra Standard Award Space for Elites

  • JN: Extra Standard award space in international three-cabin business class or domestic two-cabin first or business class. Available to all elites and United credit card holders.
  • YN: Extra Standard award space in economy. Available to all elites and United credit card holders.

Upgrades

  • R: economy to the next highest cabin

In this screen shot–for a Washington to Frankfurt flight–we can see that the flight has no zero space in the O bucket (First Class.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 12.19.17 PM

The flight has zero Saver award seats in Business Class (I). There are 9+ Saver award seats in economy (X) and the same number listed for elites and credit card holders (XN).

There are four Standard First Class awards (FN) and nine Standard Business Class awards (ZN).

When to Use Expert Mode

Using Expert Mode quickly tells you exactly how many seats are available for awards and upgrades in every cabin at the Saver and Standard level.

That information would be slower to gather from awards searches as you’d have to change the number of passengers manually and repeat your search many times to figure out this info for a single flight.

If you’re thinking of buying a ticket with the plan to use an upgrade, Expert Mode lets you know which flights have confirmable upgrade space.

If you want to know whether getting the United credit card will open up extra economy Saver award space on a route you’re eying, Expert Mode will show you how much extra space is hiding in the XN bucket.

If you want to see exactly how many Saver award seats are available in each cabin on a flight without having to manually change the number of passengers on your award search over and over, Expert Mode will save you a few clicks.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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