Everything You Want to Know About Miles, Points, and Travel: Request for Requests

Here’s your chance. I will my best to cover them. Please leave requests in the comments section.

As my boss once wrote making a similar request on his blog, “The only promise is that of weak monotonicity, namely that your mention won’t lower the chance of the topic being covered.”

In other words, I won’t promise to cover everything, though I’ll read and ponder everything that’s written here in the comments. It may take me awhile to work through, goodness knows there are things I’m behind on (I have an Emirates first class trip report I need to start…).

But I’d love to hear from you! Thanks….

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Your recent post about the woman being charged w/ crimes regarding miles and points was very interesting!

    Exploring more legal areas of this hobby or crimes relating to it would be cool!

  2. I am looking to fly BOS-FAI on AA in June. I found availability for BOS-ANC only at first saver. However, when I search ANC-FAI, I find business availability as well at the perfect time. I am wondering why it doesn’t display all of the segments. Could it be because the connection time for ANC-FAI would only be about a half hour? Thanks and keep up the good work.

  3. I have a lot of Hyatt award nights booked for this fall in Asia and planned for next summer in Europe. While building up my points, I’d intended to do a Diamond Challenge early this summer, to have the status for this year and next. Now, with the Challenge effectively dead, I can (and likely will) get the Hyatt card later this year, but it only comes with Gold status. I value breakfast and club access, but am a bit dubious as to whether Gold status will get me anywhere, especially in Europe. I don’t have the points to move up to a club room for more than a few nights. Any thoughts or ideas?

  4. What’s the best MS method these days? I can’t seem to find any $500 visa cards anymore.

  5. if I am in Perth, Thai has a non stop to Bangkok. But if I want to route through Sydney and fly first class, is this allowed? Can I book it online? If I have to call, will they waive the phone fee?

  6. Which foreign airline mileage programs permit tag flight to/from NA gateway city to NA home city on a single award when redeeming its own program’s miles?

  7. When I try to make a reservation using my American Airline miles, there’s always a fee of $500-$1200 included. Do you know why?

  8. I’ve booked myself a flight to Hawaii but having trouble finding a good one home in F. I’m looking at AS,AA & UA since I have points for all & UA seems to have the most options in general, just not to MSP. My idea is to do separate award searches to one of the hubs, then from the hub to MSP and see what I can find. If I do find something, can I call United to feed the agent segment by segment, even if the website does not list my proposed itinerary as an option when searching HNL to MSP? (date home is March 31-April 2 if it matters).

  9. @gary asked you on Twitter too, just wondering what’s your cash back strategy these days for buying plane tickets. Esp since UR doesn’t offer Expedia as a merchant anymore.

  10. I’d like to see you talk about the singapore waitlisting process (especially for the much touted suites class). There isn’t much written about it so it would be interesting to hear your analysis as a “professional” award booker. Possible areas of content: Is it ever successful? How often does it clear and on what routes? Is it worth speculatively transferring flexible miles over for the chance of getting into suites? Is there any way to predict your chances? Etc etc…

    Admittedly, I have a selfish motive behind asking this. I have a J award on the A380 booked around Christmas and I would obviously love to bump myself and my wife up to suites!

  11. Go through booking a complex international itinerary with us.

    For example, a flexible vacation in the fall to Europe where you originate in a non-hub airport in the US, cross the Atlantic, then visit >3 cities (open jaw is allowed) over a <14day period and return back to the place of origin.

    I think it would be interesting to see your approach to fare construction for a complex trip, how you chose points vs miles per segment, when you pick business or economy, etc.

  12. I’m interested in using Amex MR points on ANA to fly United, but I can’t seem to understand how that works, or if there is YQ on those flights. And everyone raves about using ANA’s website to search, but I can’t seem to make it work without putting miles in my account, but I don’t see an easy way to put a few miles in the account. Any ideas?

  13. I am waitlisted currently on an upcoming trip with Delta using Global Upgrade certificates. I am current Platinum with the Reserve credit card. Is there any strategy or something I can do to snag a single upgrade seat. My outbound flight has 22 seats available but the return only has 13 left and the trip is at the end of April


  14. I was recently updated to 2 Barclay world elite mastercards.will I have the opportunity to upgrade to silver cardsi. If so will I get credit for the two cards that I have paid for?

  15. Is there a service which can assist in arranging a multi-city vacation in Europe using AX and American miles…air and hotel. Appears to be too complex for my computer skills.

  16. Hi, Gary. Other than reading the wiki and almost the entire FT thread, could you help summarize, or simplify, the FD tips and tricks? I think someone could monetize on creating an online course about this subject. Do any exist? There are mistake fares probably every day but only a small percentage know about them, as they are kept privy within inner circles. I would like to better understand how to find them, while keeping it to myself, as well. The added comment relates to the above questions. Thank you.

  17. Two unrelated questions…

    I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred last year in April, I believe before they stopped offering the 7% bonus. I have heard the bonus posts in February, but I haven’t seen them on my account yet. Should I contact Chase or is there some variability in the timeframe in which bonuses post?

    Also, while we were out of town this week, we received an offer from United to join an economy plus “club” for $500 annually. We’re not considering it, but I haven’t heard of it before and have never seen you post about it so I was wondering if it’s a new, targeted offer. At the very least it seems like a sort of interesting reflection of the way airlines are chopping up and parsing out fees. Is United the first to do offer this?

  18. This may seem dumb but it’s on the topic of manufactured spend. We call it that, but I view it as mostly channeling current spending through various avenues to make sure it ends up on our credit card instead of debit/checking account etc to collect the points.

    But, is there a real way to manufacture spend? i.e. Can you just load a Redbird and then bill pay yourself? Not irresponsibly, but to clear spending thresholds for welcome offers etc – or is that too, dangerous of red flags?

  19. I’m always using AA miles on CX awards to Hong Kong/ SE Asia. What are other options that may not be obvious? Like, are there possible routes through Europe, or HNL?

  20. I am US Chairman, and I have a trip to Alaska this fall (EWR-SEA-ANC). I would like to somehow get into First. I’m thinking I could do an Elite Match with AS to qualify for an upgrade. But I need the AA EQM’s to re-qualify for top AA status. Can I change the FF #’s after securing an upgrade?

  21. Thanks for the offer!

    I’d like to know how to hold award flights at the different major airlines and how long you can do so. Haven’t come across an authority post on this…

    Also, if I’m just a regular Joe booking economy Saver award seats, what relevance does the “booking class” (or whatever the precise terminology is) have to me? I see those thrown about on travel blogs and in comments and I’ve yet to determine why I should care.


  22. You already provided a useful answer to me when I asked about Chase some time ago (thanks!), but I think it could prove useful more generally if for each of the major credit card-issuing companies (Chase, Citi and Amex) and if possible the smaller ones (Barclays and US Bank) you provided:

    1. For each of these cc companies, how long one has to wait after getting a card affiliated with a given airline or hotel chain before having a good chance of repeating the initial sign-up/spending bonus of miles or points.
    2. Whether one has to cancel the previous card in order to get the new bonus – and, if so, how long one should wait after cancellation before applying for the new card.

  23. Amex lost some big partners recently, can we expect some big signup bonuses from them in the near future (1-3 months)? I’m thinking of signing up for the Amex Plat but wouldn’t want to miss out on a big bonus.

  24. If you had to pick one type of miles to amass for specific trips, what would it be?
    For instance, what gets you to Asia easiest? Western Europe? South America?
    Thank you!

  25. Hi Gary, my husband and I each have about 115K US Airways miles. What do you consider the 2 or 3 best redemptions on these before the window closes? I am based in ORD, but of course could position elsewhere. Thank you!

  26. I realize you don’t specialize in Delta Skymiles. But a posting about what one could do to get around the new obstacles. We are thinking of putting all our Delta flight earning on Alaska Mileage, but that isn’t a solution to using the points we have.

  27. What is a good way for someone to get into award booking? After getting involved in this hobby, I’ve thought it might be a fun way to earn some extra money.

  28. Hi, I’m from Japan, now living in California.

    Can you tell me how to fly to Honolulu from California, with flat-bed business seats using miles? It’s difficult to find out from airlines. Also, I sometimes will continue to Tokyo. Many thanks to you.

  29. My question is for the RTW tickets:

    Which RTW do you think is the best value and has better availability for multiple passengers in Economy class?
    Also, if you had to pick the top 10 Beach destinations in terms of quality of affordibilty (<$500/night)/sand (not black sand like Hawaii's Big island but white/soft)/water (clear, minimum waves)/snorkeling (schools of fish/turtles etc. in shallow water)/accessibility(award travel)/accommodations choices (award + reasonable $$ private villas)/scenery(water, mountains, caves)/food (reasonable prices)/safety (inside and outside the resort/hotel)/weather (summer & winter)?
    Just trying to pick your brain..thx in advance.

  30. I would like to start opening up credit cards for my wife, but don’t want to need to have two separate user names to track for each of the banks. Any way to combine to make tracking easier?

  31. What about Alaska award on emirates? Can we have a serious conversation on that?

  32. Hi Gary – Do you have any recommendations for points or miles careers working out of Boston? Maybe working in the loyalty space or for a blog? I have a financial services consulting background and recently left my firm. I am an avid traveler and would love a career where I could pursue my passion. I have been reading your blog for over 6 years now and would love any advice you have to offer. Thank you so much!

  33. Hi Gary – When you have traveled in the past to the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa have you or your wife ever done the dinning plan at the property? I think it is all inclusive of drinks and food for $320 a day. I was wondering if you did take advantage of it – if you found it to be a good value? Thank you.

  34. Hi Gary – One more questions. Cathay Pacific is introducing 4 non-stop flights a week from Boston to Hong Kong on May 02, 2015. Have you seen two first class seats released on this route using American AAdvantage miles? I have looked on BA.com but have not seen anything for 2 first class seats on this route using AA miles? Is there a best practice or strategy to get 2 Cathay Pacific first class seats using miles? I wanted to try to go to Australia from Boston and thought Cathay Pacific would be a good option using miles. Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you for your time. All the best!

  35. Gary, would you tell us about your favorite Thai restaurants in NYC? Are any of them the same caliber as Elephant Jumps?

    Bonus points for being run-down, hole-in-the-wall places.

  36. I’d love to know more about how to transfer points from one airline to flying on a partner (example: AA to Cathay Pacific). Sites seem intentionally vague on how to do this and how many points it would cost. Am looking to fly ORD-PEK roundtrip as an example. THANK YOU for opening this up to your bloggers!

  37. What is the best way to credit airline miles to another airline while still maintaining as many elite benefits as possible. In my case I am UA Premier Gold. If I book a flight I can get Econ+/Exit Row at time of booking. When/how can I change to earn miles on another Star Alliance carrier (e.g. Singapore Airlines) and still keep my Econ+/Exit Row seat?

  38. Are most people who follow these blogs fluent in several languages? I only know English and would like to know if I could travel comfortably on my own to Asian and European countries even though I don’t speak the native languages.

  39. Can you please write a post regarding points strategies (transfers: MR, Airlines, other) with luxury boutique brands not associated with larger hoteliers, i.e. Rosewood, O&O, Aman, Banyan Tree, etc….

  40. I always fly out of IAH to NRT three or four times a year. I stopped taking United non stop to enjoy a better ANA flight by connecting on West coast. ANA will now offer non stop this summer. Would it be better to join ANA’s flyer program instead of accumulating miles on Mileage Plus?

  41. I am looking to go to Southeast asia for a trip in September or October, what’s my best bet credit card wise for accumulating miles to use on a flight?

  42. If I book a trip as two one ways and skip the final destination on the outbound is my return affected? Thanks for your help Gary!

  43. I would love to hear about how to maximize redemptions between South America and Africa, namely South Africa. I don’t know that I’ve ever really seen that covered.

  44. I do not understand how buying gift cards is a huge benefit to gaining points and how that works?

  45. You are very high on a Chase Visa card. I have a J.P.Morgan Visa Signature card ,is there a big difference?

    I have anI-Phone 6. Verison is my company. Going to France for a month want to make and receive calls mostly in country . What is the best approach? Guess I will also want data for email when out of hotel and not on wifi.

  46. Hi Gary,

    I will be making a charitable contribution of $7500 soon. Which personal credit card(s) should I apply for to maximize flying in business and first class? I may combine with the current Plastiq offer now. Would love to go to the Galapagos, Thailand/Bali, Australia. I recently transferred a bunch of spg points to Delta at the end of May, then was shown the Delta reality in June, so I could not use any of those points transferred. Sigh!
    I have the Chase Sapphire, Citbank AA and Premier, Barclays AA. Thanks for your blog!

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