Everyone loves a sale. Sadly, award charts are getting more expensive with the cost of miles growing faster than sales of selfie sticks, a social tragedy. I truly hate saving miles with a finish line in mind only to find that the finish line has been moved, and I'm already out of gas. Thankfully there are airlines which from time to time offer award seats for less than their usual cost in miles. At the right moment you can get from US to Europe for 25,000 miles in coach or 55,000 miles in business class round trip. More travel for less miles? Alright.
The Deal: Virgin Atlantic has been trialling 25,000 mile "award sale" round trip flights between the US and Europe originating in either direction. Though I love their Upper Class, I can't balk at a deal this good for their improved economy service to Europe or the US. Taxes and fee's of £249 mean you're still paying something, yet during peak (summer) travel times, you come out seriously ahead. In months when economy fares are over $1000 this is an incredible opportunity to see London or the United States without robbing the Federal Reserve or Tower of London.
Getting The Miles: This one is very easy. Virgin Atlantic are transfer partners of American Express, Chase and Citi giving you total flexibility to create Virgin Atlantic points, even if you've never flown with them. In addition, Virgin Atlantic offers a credit card netting you at least 18,000 miles after your first purchase. With the expanded partnership with Delta, you also have the option to credit any flights you take on Delta or Virgin Atlantic to Virgin Atlantic's frequent flier program.
The Deal: Lufthansa offers monthly discount award prices. Hooray! They have an amazing business class product and you can now experience it to most of Europe or the United States for 55,000 miles round trip, less than most coach awards. You can currently (as of posting) snag a seat from either side of the pond to a great destination on the other side with cities including London, New York, Chicago, Barcelona, Athens, Montreal, Milan, Paris and Boston. At 55,000 miles for round trip flat bed business this is a steal of a deal on one of the best European carriers. Business for less than the usual cost of coach in miles is the definition of elevated travel at minimal expense.
Getting The Miles: Sadly this is a harder case as you cannot directly transfer to Lufthansa from any credit card partner. The silver lining is that Lufthansa offers a credit card which regularly carriers a 50,000 mile sign up after your first purchase. Certainly worth a look. If you happen to be a semi frequent flier, you could credit all your flights on any Star Alliance carrier to Lufthansa to create a sizable stack of miles even if you are in fact flying on Singapore, United, Thai or any other premier Star Alliance carrier. A great way to collect miles.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
The Deal: Every first of the month, Flying Blue, the frequent flier program of Air France and KLM offers "Promo Awards". Promo awards feature discounts between 25-50% off meaning you can snag economy seats across the pond (and on intra Europe flights) for half the usual cost in miles for economy and business class. For US to Europe and vice versa you can snag economy seats on sale for only 30,000 miles round trip and 62,500 miles respectively in business. 62,500 miles for the opportunity to fly business class on an Air France A380 is something to relish and thanks to competition from Gulf carriers, KLM and Air France have pledged product upgrades to compete for your business.
Getting The Miles: Fortunately, this too is easy. Flying Blue is a transfer partner of American Express and Citi allowing you to turn your every day consumer habits into copious frequent flier miles. As a Sky Team member, you can additionally credit any flights you take on Delta or many of the other Sky Team airlines to Flying Blue, likely offering far better value for your hard earned miles than banking them with Delta.
These days I fly mostly up front, mostly using miles and it's no accident or sheer luck. Use this post as a guideline towards maximizing and strategically planning your mileage earning. Whether you never set foot in an airplane or step into one every day, you can take advantage of any of the offers above. Make a plan, always earn miles and snag some amazing tickets to see the world. Travel is better than anything.
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