I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

A few weeks ago, Rookie Alli applied for her very first cards. Her cards were all instantly approved except the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card.

She really wanted the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card because it comes with two free weekend nights at almost any Hilton worldwide. With the recent major devaluation to the Hilton award chart, Hilton points are worth way less, but these two free nights are still two free nights.

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card

When her application for the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card was not immediately approved, she did what I always suggest. She called Citi’s reconsideration line immediately. These are the reconsideration line numbers I use.

American Express (866) 314-0237
Barclay’s (866) 408-4064
Chase (PERSONAL) (888) 245-0625
Chase (BUSINESS) (800) 453-9719
Citi (800) 695-5171
US Bank (800) 947-1444

I’ve made several reconsideration calls, and this was Rookie Alli’s third. In our experience, reconsideration calls are painless and a bit of a misnomer. Most of our reconsideration calls happen not when the application is denied, simply when it’s listed as pending.

And most of the time, the agent only asks questions we’ve already answered on the application.

The one thing I always do to prepare for a reconsideration call is to rehearse an answer to the question of why I want the card I’m calling about. The best answers reference the co-branded partner (ie Hilton on the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card), some benefit of card membership besides the sign up bonus, or both.

For this card, Rookie Alli’s answer was going to be: “I want the Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card because I travel a lot and am loyal to Hilton, so I want to have a card that has a high earning potential of Hilton points.”

It’s not difficult to formulate a good answer.

But as with many “reconsideration” calls, there were no tough questions and no reconsideration–just a short hold and an approval. Take a look.

Hopefully this video clears up any apprehension you might have about calling the reconsideration lines. Not all calls are this painless, but most are.


If your credit card application is not immediately approved:

  1. Come up with a reason you want the card that does not reference the sign up bonus and does reference the card’s co-branded hotel or airline.
  2. Call the bank’s reconsideration line.
  3. Tell the agent you wanted to see if the bank needed any more information to process your application.
  4. Answer the agent’s questions truthfully.
  5. Generally, be approved.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Want to book a dream summer vacation to Europe? The time is now. Award space is still very good on a number of great routes on great products and will deteriorate in the coming months.

Here’s how I would go about booking my dream award. Step one is the miles–more on getting those at the end of the post. You need:

  • 60,000 miles for a roundtrip economy class ticket
  • 100,000 for a roundtrip business class ticket
  • 125,000+ for a roundtrip first class ticket


This post will focus on booking a business class award for next summer. The next installments will focus on economy and first class.

I recommend collecting United or US Airways miles to book a business class award to Europe for next summer. Both are members of the Star Alliance, so both type of miles can be used on the same flights on the following Star Alliance options to Europe.

  • United (flat beds)
  • US Airways (flat beds on A330)
  • Lufthansa (flat beds on 747-8)
  • Austrian (flat beds)
  • Swiss (flat beds)
  • Brussels (flat beds)
  • Air Canada (flat beds)
  • Scandanavian (angled beds)
  • TAP (angled beds)
  • Turkish (flat beds on 777-300ER)
  • LOT (flat beds on the 787 Dreamliner) <– secret weapon

When to Use United Miles and When to Use US Airways Miles?

Not only does the Star Alliance have the most space, but it has the most options in lie flat business class beds, the goal when you’re shelling out 100k miles for a roundtrip.

When booking an award in business class to Europe, I follow a simple procedure.

  1. Find transatlantic space in both directions.
  2. Find domestic US space to/from transatlantic space.
  3. Find intra-Europe space to/from transatlantic space.

The first step is to find the transatlantic space. All the airlines’ space we want is searchable on United.com, so I head there.

I use wikipedia to determine possible routings before searching. See How to Use Wikipedia to Book Awards Like a Pro.

Then I fill out the form on united.com for a oneway flight on a route that I expect to have award space. If I wanted to search united.com for award space from Chicago to Frankfurt on Lufthansa or United, I would search like this:

Now we can easily use the award calendar at the top of the search screen to see what’s available when. (Don’t forget that sometimes you need to trick the award calendar to get it to show what you want.)

Here are some routes’ availability this summer. Keep in mind that yellow denotes economy space, blue denotes business or first space, and green denotes both. White means there is no saver space on the route that day in any class. (Saver space is space at the 100k miles roundtrip price point.)

Chicago to Frankfurt

Chicago shows strong availability if you have even a little flexibility. About half the days in July and August have space on direct flights on United or Lufthansa. Click a date to find out which of United’s two flights or Lufthansa’s two flights have space.

United’s flights depart at 2:20 PM and 6:15 PM. I saw more space on the earlier flight and more space in first class than business class in general.

I would prefer United’s fully flat bed to Lufthansa’s angled beds on the 747-400 in business.

Overall Chicago to Frankfurt has excellent space in business class at the moment for next summer.

New York to London

Without a Star Alliance partner in London, only United serves this route with five daily departures, all from Newark. Space is limited early in the summer, but readily available by July.

Here are United’s five flight times–four redeyes and a daytime hop.

Four of the departures fly a 757 with the fifth on a 777. All the planes are configured without a true first class, but the business class seats are lie flat beds.

The most common business class space was on the daytime departure, leaving at 9:00 AM and arriving at 9:30 PM. Not taking the redeye would have its advantages and disadvantages, but this is certainly the hardest flight to connect to if you don’t live in Newark.

San Francisco to London

What about us West Coasters? It’s normally much tougher to find transatlantic award space from the west coast to Europe than from the East Coast, but San Francisco to London on United has incredible space for Summer 2013 on its two daily flights.

There is generally more space on the 1 PM departure than the 7:40 PM departure. The 1 PM departure can be tough since you land at 11:10 PM San Francisco time.

Miami to Zurich

Swiss business class is a holy grail for some. I usually search for it from Miami, an odd route since Miami is not a Star Alliance hub. Space out of Miami is bad, but there are a few days this summer when you can hop on a Swiss bed.

Mondays in July are the best bet.

Here’s a video of Swiss biz to whet your appetite; definitely a product on my bucket list.

The other thing I noticed for Swiss biz out of all of its gateways–New York, Newark, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami–was that there was some business class space this week. Swiss opens up business class seats at the last minute, which may be your best chance to get on board.

Chicago to Vienna

Austrian’s new business class looks world class. It impresses me enough that I booked a flight in October from Vienna to Chicago on it instead of a direct flight from Munich to Chicago on United. There is incredible business class space on the flight five days a week this summer.

Here’s how I got a seat in Austrian biz as part of my best award ever.

The flight leaves Chicago at 4:00 PM and touches down in Vienna at 8:40 AM the next day.

Philadelphia to Rome

US Airways flies most of its European routes with an A330, on which it has a worldclass business class bed that it calls an Envoy Suite. Availability isn’t great to Rome, but it is worth a look.

If you’re flexible, there is space early in the week.

Domestic Space

To get to the gateway of the transatlantic space you find, you can search united.com for domestic award space. You should find plenty as United offers the most domestic award space of any legacy carrier in my experience. Remember that both United and US miles can access this United space.

Tip: You are entitled to domestic first class (or business on three cabin services), but you can also use economy class space if the times work better.

Intra-Europe Space

I think you’ll find this incredibly easy to find on united.com. Many of the European airlines release space on seemingly every flight of theirs. Intra-European business is the exact same seat as coach, so don’t hold out for business if economy space is the only thing available.

Putting it all together

If you book with United miles, you should be able to easily book online. If you can’t easily book online, you can book by phone for free using this trick.

If you book with US Airways miles, write down all the flight dates, numbers, times, and cabins and call US Airways at 800-622-1015. Partner bookings do not incur a phone fee.

Tricking it out

See here for more information on adding free oneways to United awards (article, video) and US Airways awards (article, video).

Getting the Miles

There isn’t quite a quick way to rack up 100k US Airways miles. You can get 30k US Airways miles on first purchase with the Barclay’s US Airways MasterCard, but the card has an $89 annual fee the first year. You can also get the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express with a 25k bonus that transfers 1:1 to dozens of airlines with 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred.

Application Link: Barclay’s US Airways MasterCard

Application Link: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express


Space to Europe in business class for summer 2013 is excellent right now. I recommend booking now before it deteriorates as it certainly will. I ran through the process to book, specific routes with great availability, and specific fantastic beds.

I even told you how to get the miles for a roundtrip business class ticket with two credit card applications on the same day. Now it’s your turn to live up to your part of the bargain: I do the work. You do the travel.


I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

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I made a YouTube video called How to Add Free Oneways to American Airlines Awards to include in my Los Angeles Frequent Traveler University Presentation.

The video goes through using aa.com to perform award searches, how to use the multi-city booking tool, and other pertinent info for booking these awards online or by phone.

The video is a companion to Master Thread: Free Oneways on American Airlines Awards.

It is included in my slide show about booking free oneways that has been downloaded over 10,000 times. You can find the slide show here.

I have several other YouTube videos on my YouTube page including videos on booking free oneways on every airline, Southwest tutorials, and one on how to use my Mile Value calculator.


I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

I made a YouTube video called How to Add Free Oneways to US Airways Awards to include in my Los Angeles Frequent Traveler University Presentation.

The video goes through using united.com to perform award searches, the exact order of the searches you need to perform, and how to call US Airways to actually book.

The video is a companion to Master Thread: Free Oneways on US Airways Awards.

It is included in my slide show about booking free oneways that has been downloaded over 10,000 times. You can find the slide show here.

I have several other YouTube videos on my YouTube page including videos on booking free oneways on every airline, Southwest tutorials, and one on how to use my Mile Value calculator.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

This is the another post in my Anatomy of an Award series, in which I take a real award I’ve booked and break it down step-by-step to elucidate the award booking process. If you have a real award you’d like to write up in a similar post, please contact me, and you can write a guest post.

I am going to the Chicago Seminars for frequent fliers, being held October 12-14 at an O’Hare Airport hotel. Having some friends in Chicago, I wanted to arrive October 11 to go out in the city with them one night before the conference. Having been to Chicago once, I know that Midway Airport is connected to the city via the ‘L’ Train, so I wanted to fly into Midway to get to my friends in the city easily.

The only airline that flies direct flights to Midway from Los Angeles is Southwest. A few weeks back, I wrote a post that explained in detail how to exploit the Southwest-Airtran merger. The upshot is that the merger presents an arbitrage opportunity. Whereas before the number of points needed for a roundtrip Southwest award was uncapped and equaled 60 times the base fare, for a limited time the number of Southwest points needed for a roundtrip fare is capped at 19,200 points.

Why? Because you can currently transfer 1,200 Rapid Rewards (Southwest) points to 1 A+ (Airtran) credit, and 1 A+ credit to 1 Rapid Rewards credit. Since 1,200 RR points can become 1 RR credit, and 16 RR credits is enough for a free roundtrip or two free oneways, 19,200 RR points is enough for a free roundtrip. The only hitch is that awards that derive from 16 RR credits require you to find award space in much the same way that most airlines require a flight to have award space for you to book an award on the flight.

The question I faced was: Am I better off using my RR points to book the LAX-MDW oneway, or am I better off converting the points to credits? One wrinkle is that while 16 credits gets you two free oneways, 8 credits gets you nothing, so I’d have to prepurchase two free oneways with my points even though I only wanted one for this trip. (I wanted to return from O’Hare since the conference is there.) Luckily I have another oneway I want to take on a Southwest award from Tampa to Burbank next February, so getting two now is not a problem since they are good for one year.

Since half of the 19,200 points I’d need to convert into two free oneways is 9,600 points, I only wanted to convert points to credits if the LAX-MDW flight I wanted cost more than 9,600 points. I needed a mid-morning direct flight to Midway, and the price was over $200 in cash and 11,580 points, well above the 9,600 points it would cost if I converted to credits.

It was time to convert points and book a Southwest award. I’ve made a video of this, which you can see here, or you can continue reading with screen shots.

I signed into my Southwest account, and clicked My Account.


Once you’ve clicked on that, you have to click on the My Rapid Rewards tab.

Now click on transfer between A+ Rewards and Rapid Rewards.

At this point, you’ll have to sign into the A+ Rewards login box on the next page or sign up for the program.

Now that you’re signed into both accounts, you can transfer. You need 16 Rapid Rewards Credits to get anything. And that anything is two free oneways. Subtract the sum of any Rapid Rewards Credits and A+ credits you already have from 16. Now multiply how many short of 16 you are by 1,200. That’s how many points you need to transfer to A+ credits. Example: You have 2 RR credits and 3 A+ credits. You are 11 short of 16. 11 * 1,200 = 13,200, so you need to convert 13,200 points to 11 A+ credits. Below is the screen on which you convert the points to credits.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll come to a confirmation screen. Where it asks what you’d like to do next, click Transfer More Points, Credits, or Awards. Now you have to select to transfer your newly minted A+ credits to RR credits.

Once you have 16 RR credits, they disappear and are replaced by a Southwest award, which is two free oneways, which you do not have to book at once.

You can now call 800-I-FLY-SWA or book the awards online. Here’s how to do it online:

Click on the My Rapid Rewards tab again as shown in the second screen shot. Click on View My Old Credits and Awards as shown in the third screen shot.

Find the tiny link for View Awards:

If you have any awards there, you can click Book a Flight. After filling in your dates and airports, you are taken to a screen showing which itineraries are available for awards. In my experience, most flights from LAX are available as awards. See for yourself:

Almost all of the flights you could buy with cash or points are also available on an award. My preferred flight was too, so I selected it and booked it for $2.50.

Here is some info about the booking:

LAX-MDW cost: $204

My subjective value of the LAX-MDW: $204, would have paid cash if necessary

Rapid Rewards points price: 11,580

Rapid Rewards points used to get 1/2 an award: 9,600

RR points saved by converting to credits to an award: 1,980 (worth $33.46)

Total taxes and fees: $2.50

Points foregone by not purchasing itinerary: 1,158

Cents per mile as booked: 1.87! according to the milevalue calculator. (I plugged 204; 2.5; 9600; 1158 into the calculator. Do you see why?)

I’m pretty excited, since many people think that Southwest operates a fixed-value program with points worth 1.67 cents. While you can transfer points to credits, 1.67 cents is a minimum value for points, not a fixed value!

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