We love to hear stories from our readers about how a passion for collecting miles and points and sharing all sorts of do-it-yourself information on our site has affected their lives. Honeymoon plans in the works, celebrating an anniversary in the Maldives, a gift to their parents, a vacation to Srinagar or Singapore or just that premium airline seat that they secured on redemption. We’ve heard many such stories, and this year we are trying to share more of these stories with you.
We often hear people say that booking a miles redemption equal to planning much in advance. So, today, I want to share how our longtime reader Daljit used his miles to fly Business Class to the United States and come back in First class, and all this was planned and booked in less than a month before travel.
A trip to the United States had been on my mind for some time. While I had travelled to the US before, it was largely for work. I wanted to catch up with some friends and see around a few places that I have always wanted to visit but like most of us in the corporate world, my leaves got confirmed pretty late. I wanted to spend 2 weeks in the US and my trip planning started only 21 days ahead of travel.
I love travelling comfortably, but due to the time constraint, I wasn’t sure if I would find any Business or First class award space at such short notice. Flying the Etihad A380 First Class Apartments has been on my wishlist for the longest time. It is a luxurious product, that comes with a private lounge, a private chef and a shower-on-board and is still bookable on JPMiles.
This is where Ajay’s article on spotting award availability on Etihad Airways came handy. While the process is manual and required me to be on the phone for long hours with the JetPrivilege team, as luck would favour, a First class seat was available for one date at such short notice and it coincided with my travel plans. The only little bummer was that it was on my return leg of the journey and I would not get to land in Bangalore, which is where I am based.
That said, this was a little adjustment that I was happy to accommodate to experience an apartment up in the air as I had learnt from the Mileage Mentor Masterclass workshop that the underlying principle of booking with miles and points is to be flexible. Finally, after all the phone calls, emails, Twitter follow-ups and paying the taxes and surcharges, I booked my ticket from New York to Mumbai via Abu Dhabi and paid 1,80,000 JPMiles plus 47,071 INR as taxes, surcharges and fees. All those JPMiles collected by me over the last few years through the co-branded cards, shopping with their partners and flying with Jet Airways and their partner airlines had been put to good use.
With the return leg sorted, I had to now figure out how I reach the USA. I had already checked award availability on Etihad across both First and Business class across multiple airports in India and no premium award space was available. Adding to this, I was also keen to explore a different airline given that my return leg was already booked on Etihad Airways.
This is where my learnings from the Mileage Mentor MasterClass that I attended almost a year ago came in handy. Traditionally, I had only been a JPMiles collector and spender but the learnings from the class opened my mind to diversifying my mileage portfolio.
One such airline loyalty program that I have been fascinated with is LifeMiles by Avianca, which is a part of the Star Alliance. Ajay explained in the masterclass how to maximise LifeMiles and soon after I opened my LifeMiles account. Since then, I have had three different opportunities to buy miles at 145% bonus effectively bringing the price down to INR 0.93 (1.35 US cents) per mile. The other good part about Avianca LifeMiles redemptions is that there is no extra fuel surcharge.
I quickly moved over to my LifeMiles account and started searching for premium award space. But as my travel date was too close, I could not find any space at all. After an entire day searching across almost all Star Alliance Airlines, just when I had made peace with travelling Economy on my way to JFK, I spotted award space availability on Turkish Airlines from New Delhi to New York via Istanbul. I was thrilled and didn’t mind that I could not fly out of my base in Bangalore and to position myself in Delhi.
In the bigger scheme of things flying out in Business Class and returning back in First Class took over flying out and landing back in Bangalore. A total of 78,000 LifeMiles were redeemed and I paid just 41.45 US Dollars or 3,000 Indian rupees for this ticket.
On this entire US trip, I was out of pocket by 180,000 JPMiles and 78,000 LifeMiles and 50,000 INR. So as you can see, as long as one exercises some amount of flexibility and remains patient, the rewards can be very enriching.
If you’d like to learn more about how to maximise your daily spends to earn miles and points, join us for the next Mileage Mentor MasterClass workshop. Sign up for updates at livefromalounge.plus. We would love to hear more from you, our readers about your success stories as well as failures with respect to using miles and points.
Tell us about your success stories with scoring a great redemption, a fantastic hotel deal and everything in between, please share it with us, on firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com and we will pick the best stories and publish them for everyone to be inspired from.