Why I chose United Economy over British Airways First Class

Posted on: July 8th, 2012 by: Jason

I made preparations to experience British Airways First Class all the way back in 2009 by applying for the British Airways Visa Card when there was a 100,000 British Airways Avios sign up bonus. My wife did the same and we each hit the $2000 spend in order to get the total of 200,000 Avios sign up bonuses.

In 2010, I then planned to hit the $30,000 annual spend on my card in order to receive the British Airways buy one award ticket get one award ticket voucher. Purchasing coins from the US Mint was still in full effect at this time and hitting the $30,000 was pretty easy. I completed the $30,000 spend in June of 2010. I therefore had two years in order to use my voucher.

In 2011, I thought about using the voucher in order to get myself to the Maldives, but finding business / first award seats from London to Male was impossible. I ended up using Delta Skymiles via Malaysia Airlines instead.

Fast forward to the fall of 2011 and it’s time to start planning our 2012 vacation and with the voucher expiring in June 2012, I was determined to finally use them. I start searching preliminarily for several destinations trying to decide where we wanted to go. I still several destinations in Europe on my bucket list.

Then in November 2011, I fell off a ladder at my house and broke both of my wrists and the last thing going through my mind was using these vouchers. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to even function much less worry about a vacation. So I put the thought of a vacation far away and instead worked on recouping and doing massive amounts of physical therapy.

By March of 2012, I had healed to the point where I was functioning again and I began to think again about taking a vacation. However, I was positive with such short notice of only four months till June that I wouldn’t be able to find open award seats and use the British Airways voucher. I signed up for the Platinum level of the KVS tool to search British Airways availability. I started to search for flights out of Los Angeles to London Heathrow and there was nothing available in first class on any of the days in late May or early June. It was not surprising given how late in the year I was looking to leave. I was pretty much ready to give up the search at this point.

I then started to search for flights leaving out of New York and Boston and I was totally surprised. Flights from Boston to London Heathrow had First Class seats available. It wasn’t even on specific days, it was basically every day (except weekends) in May and June. I reread through the KVS tool instructions to make sure I wasn’t missing something. It was wide open!

The next part was to piece together something leaving out of London Heathrow and now I had to decide where to go. Lisbon? Madrid? Athens? Istanbul? After a lot of research I felt like going to Istanbul would be a departure from our usual beach vacation we had taken recently in the Maldives and before that in Phuket, Thailand. Once again there was decent availability from Heathrow to Istanbul and back in business class. Return flights in first class from London to Boston where wide open again. Everything was magically falling into place.

A quick check of award nights at the Conrad Istanbul showed they had nights available and therefore I could use my large stash of Hilton points to stay for free.

I went to the British Airways website and entered in all the dates that I had pieced together on the KVS tool and finally had the entire itinerary as we wanted it. I went to the final check screen – and it showed $2000 was due for the taxes and surcharges. I knew ahead of time that taxes would be in that range – so I wasn’t surprised. It gave me a second to pause. I would still have to either buy two $300 tickets or use Skymiles to get from Salt Lake City to Boston. Factoring in that, I was looking at a possible outlay of $2600 before we had even stepped in the country. I knew all of this all the way back in 2009 when I started this whole process. However, I started to weigh the pros and cons. It’s an incredible First Class journey to Istanbul. I thought about this blog and writing a sweet trip report and all the pictures I could take. It would be an amazing trip! The cost of the taxes pales in comparison to the actual value of those First Class tickets if purchased separately. On the other hands, $2600! That could pay for an entire vacation elsewhere! After discussing it back and forth, my wife and I agreed – we weren’t going to Istanbul. We weren’t going to fly First Class. We were going to allow the vouchers to expire and not spend all that money at this time.

Instead, I used the KVS tool and searched for flights from Los Angeles to Maui. On United. In Economy. I found plenty of dates and low award availability for 40,000 United miles per ticket. I searched the Starwood site for award night rooms available at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa and it was wide open as well. So I booked the United economy tickets for 40,000 miles a piece plus $20 in taxes and secured nights at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa where I’ll be making my first stay as a newly minted Platinum and we’ll put that $2600 to good use in Maui.

It’s not as glamorous as staying in Istanbul but I just couldn’t bring myself at this time to spend that much money on taxes but I’m excited to be going to Maui. So what now with all those British Airways Avios points I have stashed away? I imagine that in 2013 I’ll make another run at a $30,000 spend for another voucher or perhaps use them for trips domestically. Whatever the case, I will fly British Airways First Class – now just wasn’t the right time.

This is what is so great about this hobby – I’m feeling down from heading to Maui after having been to Phuket, Maldives, Bora Bora, and Stockholm recently on award trips!

Up to $100 back for dining at New York City Michelin rated restaurants when using British Airways Visa Card

Posted on: March 28th, 2012 by: Jason

British Airways is offering two $50 credits for dining at New York City’s Michelin Guide 2012 star-rated restaurants. A minimum order of $50 is required each time you dine through July 31, 2012. If you dine once, you receive a $50 credit. If you dine again, you receive another $50 credit. No registration is required.

Peter Luger doesn’t take credit cards and therefore isn’t part of this promotion.

Airline World Cup: British Airways vs Lufthansa

Posted on: March 25th, 2012 by: Jason

Vote for your favorite airline between these two. The winner will advance to the next round of the final 8. The poll will remain open for 48 hours.

Vote for your favorite airline from these two

  • Lufthansa (56%, 69 Votes)
  • British Airways (44%, 54 Votes)

Total Voters: 123

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The downloadable bracket of all the match ups can be found here.

Airline World Cup – Austrian Airlines vs British Airways

Posted on: February 23rd, 2012 by: Jason

Vote for your favorite airline between these two. The winner will advance to the next round. The poll will remain open for 48 hours.

Pick your favorite airline from these two

  • British Airways (59%, 33 Votes)
  • Austrian Airlines (41%, 23 Votes)

Total Voters: 56

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The downloadable bracket of all the match ups can be found here.

3,000 Free British Airways Avios Points with trial offer

Posted on: February 6th, 2012 by: Jason

The Points Guy points to an offer of 3,000 Free British Airways Avios Points for trying out the Realtytrac service.

Realtytrac allows you to research real estate properties at a cost of $49.95 a month. They do offer a 7 day free trial and people have reported receiving their points even for the free trial.

Simply login to the British Airways e-store and search for Realtytrac to take advantage of this offer.

If you choose to cancel your free trial, you can call them at 1-877-888-8722 or by going online to realtytrac.com and selecting “My RealtyTrac” >> “My Account” >> “Cancel Free Trial“.


Heading back to home and thinking of our next trip

Posted on: March 26th, 2011 by: Jason

Today is our last day in paradise, we have thoroughly enjoyed our vacation at the Conrad Maldives and would easily consider it #1 on the places that we’ve been.

I’m laying in my superior king water villa looking out the glass doors at the midnight blue waters rolling by.

We have a long, long way back home but I’m already thinking of our next trip.

I have two first class tickets on British Airways courtesy of the BA Visa card that have to be used by June of next year. We’ll be flying out of LAX – so what is the best use of these tickets?

A targeted offer from British Airways

Posted on: October 29th, 2010 by: Jason

My wife just received a targeted offer from British Airways to spend $2000 in the month of October, November, and December to receive a bonus of 5000 points.

That’s a pretty hefty spend requirement for that kind of bonus but more puzzling is why British Airways decided to send it out on October 29th? If I wanted to participate, I would have exactly 3 days to spend $2000. I’ll pass.

My British Airways buy one get one reward voucher arrives

Posted on: October 8th, 2010 by: Jason

I followed Gary’s advice and so we have enough British Airways miles for anywhere in the world in First Class.

I hit a $30,000 spend on my British Airways Visa Card this year which entitled me to a buy one get one reward ticket voucher. I was expecting to receive it by mail and was surprised to see a link when I logged in to my British Airways account two months later.

We’re already booked to the Maldives in 2011 and the voucher expires June 2012 and so now I’ve got to figure out where to take my free trip……

Keeping track of promotions

Posted on: June 12th, 2010 by: Jason

One of the irritating parts of this hobby is when points and miles don’t post like they were supposed to.

For each promotion, I have to print off copies of all the registrations, terms and conditions and put them in a tickler file for later on.

Unfortunately, I often have to come back to this file to find out why in the world the points and miles haven’t posted like the company said they would.

Back when the Vinesse Wine Club was giving 4500 Northwest Worldperk Miles for joining their wine club, it took weeks and weeks to finally get the miles. They kept trying to get out of giving the points but finally relented.

The British Airways Visa Card still owes both my wife and I 5000 miles for adding an authorized user.

Another example is the recent Priority Club Visa Card that I signed up for. It seems like it would be pretty straight forward that the sign up bonus would post pretty quickly when you enter in your Priority Club number during signup. However, after three months and no points in my account I called them up.

They informed me that for some reason my number wasn’t in the system but that they had added it and assured me that it would post on the next billing cycle. Two billing cycles later – still no points.

Today I’m going to give them another call to find out what is going on. My advice would be to keep hard copies of any and all promotions because you unfortunately can’t always rely on the company to follow through with what they have promised.

The best way to track your frequent flier miles

Posted on: January 25th, 2010 by: Jason

With all of the programs out there, it oftentimes can get confusing keeping track of all the programs. Especially the ones that are seldom used.

I’ve done quite a bit of research on the easiest ways to keep track of all of your miles and points.

My new favorite website is Award Wallet. You can add all of your frequent flyer numbers and accounts and it will send you emails with your balances. The best part is that it will also tell you your expiration dates as well.

You can also enter in your whole family to track their accounts as well.

I spent this afternoon submitting everyone’s numbers in. Here are our balances:

My Delta 250,000
My American Airlines 200,000
My HIlton 200,000
My Priority Club 260,000
My Marriott 120,000
Both of my kids Delta accounts: 20,000 each
My wife’s Delta account: 40,000
My wife’s American Airlines account 200,000
We’re also in the midst of earning enough points with British Airways to fly anywhere in the world in first class.

The point of this is not to brag, but just to show what flexibility I’ll have for our next trip(s).

We’ll have Marriott, Hilton, and Priority Club properties to choose from and three airlines to get the best tickets on.

While it certainly helps that I travel quite a bit, I also take advantage of every offer I can to earn more miles. I’ve switch to DirecTV, opened up bank accounts, and bought gold coins all for the sake of miles.

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