Earning/Crediting strategy to achieve US-Israel award flight

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Credit Cards' started by more2life, Jun 17, 2015.  |  Print Topic

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Which alliance should I credit to to achieve this strategy

Poll closed Jul 1, 2015.
  1. Star Alliance

    50.0%
  2. One World

    50.0%
  1. more2life

    more2life Silver Member

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    *moderator please feel free to move this to the appropriate forum, though I didn't see one that talked about destination-oriented earnings strategy*

    Hi folks,

    I will be taking several business trips this year and want to consult with the community on what airline/alliance to credit the flights in order to save up for an Israel redemption next summer. My accounts are generally empty, so I can start fresh and complement the flight miles with cc sign up bonuses.

    I've been researching Dan's Deals Forums and most of the information is out of date, given the 2014/2015 devaluations, changes since the US/AA merger, and changes in routing rules, etc.

    Redemption side: here is what I've compiled for SFO-TLV (see attachment). Its about 25k more r/t UA miles to get to Israel, but lower taxes/fees.

    What I've found so far is that earnings for my business trips is about the same regardless of alliance/airline.

    Any thoughts about which alliance to credit to (*A or OW), and which airline (United/A3/ANA or AA)?

    Thank you
     

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  2. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    Consider flying with Iberia on AA miles (OneWorld).
    Air France (SkyTeam) requires fewest miles in business: 100K RT.
     
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  3. mattsteg
    Original Member

    mattsteg Gold Member

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    How much are you flying, what routes, and how much can you earn via cc? What airlines offer you the best reliabilitt, valye, and experience fir your business travel? What is your scheduling flexibility for redeeming your award?
     
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  4. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Good job doing your background research first!

    Some star alliance data (no opinions, sadly, but things to consider):

    If you can find space on one of UA's EWR-TLV flights (3x/day in some cases!), it's only 140k round trip in C. (All mileage prices below are for north america to Israel RT in business class.)

    If crediting to A3 (Aegean): North America - Middle East is only 110k miles, but earnings are limited. If you're earning on UA, you'll get:
    • Full fare economy Y, B 100%
    • Economy M, E, U, H, Q 100%
    • Discount economy V 75%
    • Deep discount economy W, S, T, L, K, G, N 50%
    ANA awards are 104k, but earnings on UA are even lower:
    • Y, B, M 100%
    • U, H, Q, E 70%
    • V, W, S, T 50%
    • L, K, G, N 30%
    And even though it wasn't listed in your original post, you might want to consider Singapore KrisFlyer. Awards are 115k. And it earns 100% on UA! Miles expire three years from when they were earned, even if you've had more recent activity. And they're a transfer partner of Starwood, Citi, Chase UR, and Amex MR. Here's Gary's article on using them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
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  5. more2life

    more2life Silver Member

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    Thank you, Mx, mattsteg, and traveltoomuch,

    I'm considering a SQ play, though I don't have experience redeeming on them and my first experiencing collecting AA miles and redeeming with them was less than stellar. But I guess that is true for learning how to earn/redeem on a new FF system. So far I've mostly earned/redeemed on UA.

    To answer your questions, I did the math and will be earning approx 30k butts in seat miles (its surprisingly about the same regardless of which airline/alliance). I don't care to earn status since my strategy is just to redeem for J, but I would be meeting the lower tier min revenue requirements as well for most airlines that have them. As MS has become more difficult where I am, I don't foresee earning more than 200k points/miles from CC sign ups by the time I would need to book the flights. So that gives me ~230k points, which I guess is just enough for 2x SQ awards (btw is that the price for non-SQ metal included in the legs, or do all legs have to be SQ metal)?

    My default was to credit the 30k miles to UA, but indeed, the prices are quite high. What do you guys think about trying SQ? Any experience transferring points over from UR/MR/SPG and the speed?

    Thanks!
     
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  6. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Another thought... might it make sense to still use UA, but only use it to Europe? Fly into Cyprus/Rome/Athens/Munich/Frankfurt in business class, and then connect on a paid ticket to TLV? That makes the UA tickets 115k miles RT (assuming UA metal over the pond), and buying a ticket for the last segment may cost less than fuel surcharges on another carrier. UA's definition of Europe includes Cyprus, Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia. Cyprus is only 200 miles from TLV.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2015
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  7. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    I haven't used SQ KrisFlyer myself, but I would consider it in your situation. The biggest downside I see is the three year expiry. That's less worrisome if you might, as a fallback, be willing to use the miles on for some other (domestic?) award, knowing that the only miles "stuck" there are ones earned from flying - you can delay UR/MP/SPG transfers until you're ready to book tickets.

    I have done UR/MR transfers to other carriers, and they're fast enough. Chase UR takes mere minutes. I don't recall the timing for Amex MR, but no more than a couple of days. These are all online transfers; there's no mailing in of signed forms and waiting for weeks.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2015
  8. mattsteg
    Original Member

    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Your schedule flexibility, especially if you have no destination flexibility (other than possibly connecting to a paid ticket) is really important. How much cash, in addition to the miles, are you OK to to contribute for the tickets (whether in surcharges/fees or for a paid ticket to connect?) award charts are great...but you need to make sure that the availability and redemption costs of the program line up with your needs.


    Also, choosing the airline that meets your business travel needs best is not to be ignored! It sounds like the bulk of your earnings are non-flying anyway (although they may put you over the top), and getting work done efficiently is important.

    Locking in to one destination, date-range, and one mileage currency far in advance is a risk. You can mitigate this by researching award charts, costs, and availability, or increasing flexibility somewhere, but know what you are getting in to. Some routes are very predictable (we picked a date in advance and redeemed to Tahiti, knowing that space was consistently released 11 months out, for example), others are much more hit and miss. Ideally you have miles and flexibility to redeem with different programs, or move your dates or destinations around a bit if needed.
     
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  9. more2life

    more2life Silver Member

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    @traveltoomuch I like your idea of 115k to IST/ATH and then a final cash or avois tix to TLV.

    Currently the SFO-IST on TK80 has pretty good availability 11 mo out, but that pushes up the price to 160k r/t. If I just end the itinerary at IST and do a cash final leg, the UA price is still 140k r/t. The UA metal availability doesn't seem open at all from now till 12 months out.

    @mattsteg My schedule has about of a +/- 2 weeks of flexibility, which is ok. In terms of cash costs, I'm ok paying up for connecting flights or reasonable YQ (like what SQ has). I definitely considered how the current flights would meet my business travel needs, and they do.

    After reading Gary's post about crediting to SQ (but the focus seems to be redeeming solely on the SQ metal routes), I feel a little better crediting 30k miles to SQ...If the TLV trip doesn't work out with SQ miles, I can also liquidate it for some domestic travel within 3 years.

    Btw @mattsteg, what is the last symbol on your signature panel - is that Hyatt Diamond? Also, does SQ space show on award nexus? I forget.
     
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  10. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    I hear you re: award availability on UA metal. Try searching by segment (e.g. just the IAD-whatever or EWR-whatever or even SFO-FRA), so that the transcon segment isn't getting in the way.

    And re: mattsteg's sig panel, yes, that's the Hyatt Gold Passport logo.
     
  11. more2life

    more2life Silver Member

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    Yea I tried that and UA84/90 by themselves are still showing no saver availability in econ/business for the entire year. Any idea if UA Plan B works?

    Question: even if I could get that leg, would the miles be worth that single leg, or does it only make sense if I can piece together the trans-con legs as well?
     

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  12. Pizzaman
    Original Member

    Pizzaman Co-founder

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    You might be able to find a cheap transcon flight to go with a reward. However, as said above, you might do better getting to Europe and then figuring it out from there. I'd suggest searching ex-SFO to Europe.
     
  13. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Not sure what you mean by UA plan B.

    The suggestion re: searching for just east coast-Europe was driven by thinking that transcon award availability might not have opened up YET but likely will at some point along the way. If you're seeing the requisite transatlantic space, I'm assuming the transcon bits can be worked out later. Maybe I'm optimistic. :) I would absolutely want to get the transcon seats as part of the same award.
     
  14. more2life

    more2life Silver Member

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