Category Archives: Miles and Points

It’s not about free travel! “Value” is the name of the game!

EU2016tripoptions

The wife and I recently traveled to Paris and Prague for our 2nd wedding anniversary.  It was a great trip and Paris has quickly become our favorite city; we might even try and move there in a few years 🙂

What I want to write about though, is a decision-making process that I think every miles and points junkie has gone through at one point or another: do you go the long way in a premium cabin, or take the most direct and significantly shorter routing in coach so you can maximize time at your destination?

We started planning this trip about 3 months before we wanted to travel. There was ample availability in Business Class on Turkish Airlines out of SFO for our dates. Unfortunately, there was no J availability out of LAX on Turkish or LH. We also explored flying Austrian out of ORD. Given the dismal availability from Southern California to ORD for our dates so we could connect to Austrian, the best option was to take Turkish out of SFO. R and I have flown Turkish in J before and loved the comfort, the food, the entertainment, as well as the lounge in IST. All in all, this was good for us: SNA-SFO-IST-CDG.

The problem was that the total journey (incl. very reasonable layovers in SFO and IST of 2 hours each) would take ~24 hours and got us into CDG at 10pm. This was mainly because transiting IST to get to Western Europe results in significant backtracking. I convinced myself that for premium cabin comfort, this was fine. But as we got closer to departure, the time required for this journey started to gnaw at me – we usually get to India from the US West Coast in less than 24 hours and it seemed unnecessarily excessive for a hop to Europe.

A week before the trip, I started exploring direct routings from LAX to CDG. Ideally, I wanted either J or Premium Economy on Air France. The best I could get was Economy LAX-CDG. The flight time was 10h45m! That’s less than half the time our Turkish itinerary in J would take! Not to mention that it would get us to Paris at 11am instead of 10pm, meaning we got an extra day in Paris – who can say no to that! I bit the bullet and booked one ticket with some orphan Delta SkyMiles (30k) and 32.5k Alaska Air miles. The flight was comfortable and we were enjoying L’as du Fallafel at 1pm in Paris! We took a short nap and in the evening, walked around the Notre Dame, stopped for some hot chocolate, and headed to dinner at a delightful wine bar – none of which would’ve been possible had we landed at 10pm.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you value more – getting to your destination in comfort and well-rested; or getting an extra day  at your destination? Of course, it also depends on which destination it is, how much time you have planned at your destination, and what works for you! For example, I’m okay with a direct routing in Economy over Business to Europe (even from West Coast USA); my valuation and choice would be very different if the destination was a remote island in South-East Asia.

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Hello!

My friends call me H and that’s what I’d like my readers to know me as too. I came to the US in 2009 as a student. Having completed graduate school, I now have a full-time day job and will be blogging on the side. I strategize credit card sign-ups and award redemptions for  my wife and I. We love traveling and our points and miles have enabled us to travel in style, stay at amazing hotels, and be the envy of friends and family 🙂

Why I started writing about this hobby- I’ve been in the miles and points hobby for only about 2 years now. Right from the start, I could see a dearth of people in this community who had started with no credit score. That’s right! I started from SCRATCH!

That’s hard to imagine but completely plausible. I’ve come a long way since 2009 –  came to this country as a student, got a brand new social security number within a week of landing in the US, built a credit history from scratch, and now am able to travel in style with miles and points.

I come from a country where there is no “formal” concept of a credit score. My parents didn’t believe in any sort of credit (my dad still hates using his credit card; my mom doesn’t even have one). I had educated myself and developed a strictly decent credit score by 2013. That’s when I stumbled upon Milevalue.com and haven’t looked back since. I remember emailing Scott Grimmer for some strategy help and received the most gracious and humble response. He was so patient even with a newbie like me. I decided that I would pay it forward if I could and this blog is my way of doing just that – paying it forward to newbies; especially those that come to the US and have to build a credit history from scratch. You too can TRAVEL IN STYLE!

I follow three blogs religiously:

I owe a lot to these blogs…I’ve learnt a lot from them (including how to start figuring stuff out on my own).

If you have any questions for me, please browse through the “Ask H” and “Credit Card Strategy” sections. You can ask me questions there too.

Disclaimer:

The advice on this blog does not amount to legal advice. Applications for credit are at your own risk.