Help me craft a new strategy....

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by RE_Guy, Sep 1, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. RE_Guy

    RE_Guy New Member

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    Hi all -

    I am faced with a rare opportunity right now, one which I am hoping some expert travelers can help me out with. Essentially, I am starting from scratch as a FF, but have the ability to very quickly build up significant miles. I'm just trying to figure out the most efficient way to do this. First, the facts/limits of my situation:

    1. My home airport is DEN (meaning United, Frontier and Southwest are basically my choices)
    2. I will be traveling internationally extensively over the next 6-8 months - which therefore means United is really my only choice leaving DEN if I want to build any sorts of a points balance that means anything.
    3. The majority of my travels will be to Asia, using Singapore as a base, and then bouncing from there. Less frequent trips will be to Mexico.
    4. I intend on booking all trips on my AMEX SPG card (I don't have and don't want any other airline cards).
    5. My goal(s) are to obtain status as quickly as possible, so that I can get upgraded to Premium Economy or Business as much as possible (less concerned about first class right now), and to be able to bring my family along on a couple of trips as soon as possible.

    Now, the questions:

    1. I can get to SIN on UA with one stop (DEN -> NRT -> SIN), but budget wise the best I can pull off right now is Econ Plus. Should I suck this trip up a couple of times in order to get the quickest Silver or Gold status on UA?

    2. Alternatively, I can take UA to either LAX or SFO, then hop on a Star Alliance partner - SQ or Eva - and complete the trip from there. Benefit is I can pull off Premium Econ on them now, for basically the same price as the UA trip above. Downside is potentially not getting full credit for the flights on UA, given the booking requirements to get the Premium Econ now. Shorter term benefit that could result in longer term loss. Is Prem. Econ - and a slightly longer trip time - worth getting off of UA for a few round trips?

    3. Given my location and cc restraints, is there a different option I should be considering?

    4. Finally, I dug through a bunch of old posts around similar questions, but didn't see anything current (given UA's recent changes to their FF program). But if I missed something and am asking a stupid newbie question, feel free to shame me and point me in the right direction!

    Thanks!
     
  2. PaulOnion

    PaulOnion Silver Member

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    Wow man. You're in DENVER. You know, Colorado.

    Res Ipsa Loquitur.

    I love people in well connected 'hubs' who are like Eh, I don't really HAVE many options. ( You can easily get to Dallas or Chicago or LA or San Fran ) heck anywhere from Denver.

    I know. I lived near two hubs for 2 decades and never flew ... but it's actually rougher in other parts when it comes to this zero sum game.

    Quickest way to status? If you already have travel planned? do a challenge.

    But don't know what kind of upgrades you're looking for because it's probably going to be easier just to buy them and hope you get something with the residuals that are generated.

    If I had unlimited dates I could travel, and were in a major hub, this would be easy.


    P.S.- Oh thanks for reengaging my brain. I have some residual stuff myself but can't figure out a good way to use it to my advantage because you know "of course" i'm the evil one for trying to play the game so the wins go in my column. Perish the thought. An American playing to win in this politically correct era . Horrifying.
     
  3. PaulOnion

    PaulOnion Silver Member

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    Sorry I guess I'm misreading your question.

    You want to know which route to fly to get status for what purpose? Status isn't all that great. Don't get me wrong it's much better than not having status but in and of itself 'status' is not standalone something to write home about.
     
  4. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Well 1st off, with UA to get status you need to meet the minimum PQM + meet the PQD. Additionally you'll never get real premium economy on UA, just E+ and never business to asia unless you get to 1K and use a GPU, and even then you'll need to book in a fare class that is eligible.

    As for question #2, I dont know what Prem Economy on SQ/BR books into ... you'll need to maybe do a dummy booking and consult ua.com to find out if you get the PQM for them. But a quick look @ SQ's page show that all flights (within the listed fare classes) give you 100% PQM vs. BR that has some Discount Econ giving 50%/75%.

    #3 ... just wondering why you're so keen on the SPG?
     
  5. RE_Guy

    RE_Guy New Member

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    Thanks for the thoughts! Yeah, I know, not a lot of sympathy for living in Denver (understandable). But my original thought was that I would try to stick to one airline as much as possible, leaving United as the only real option out of here. But the more I dig into the details about what status on UA would actually provide, I'm not sure it is worth limiting myself to them. It would require A LOT of really uncomfortable miles flown in their terrible economy (or econ +) seats to build up anything meaningful. Probably better for my sanity, work production and health to be open to whatever airlines/routes make the most sense for each trip, and try to find the Prem Econ. At least until the company's budget can cover the business class seats!

    Also, I have had the SPG card for nearly ten years now, and love it. We use the points for hotel stays all the time. And Amex has always been great to work with - unlike most other banks that issue cards. I guess I'd rather rack up the points on SPG and then convert them into airline miles if need be (they have a pretty good exchange program with most carriers) then deal with another card. Simple as that.
     
  6. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    It makes sense to stick with the SPG AMEX if that's your only card and you spend a bundle on it since @ 1 starpoint/$ accumulating loads of them could be challenging unless you spend a lot.

    As a DEN-based traveler, let's says you fly a lot with UA and you purchase all your UA tickets with the SPG AMEX. If you spend $20K on the AMEX, you'll get 20K starpoints. One thing you won't be able to do and make sense would be to transfer your starpoints to UA miles because UA, being already in bed with Chase, has one of the worst starpoints-to-airline miles transfer rates at 2 starpoints for 1 UA mile.

    On the other hand, if you have the Chase UA Explorer or UA Club visa card, you would earn 2 UA miles/$ and the same $20K that would net you 20K starpoints or 25K miles with another SPG airline transfer partner with a more favorable transfer rate would net you 40K UA miles vs. "just" 25K.

    The bottom line is that if you are thinking about doing a decent amount of flying with UA, the SPG AMEX card is not your best option...
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2015
  7. mattsteg
    Original Member

    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Unless all you care about is domestic nonstops, you are not locked in to UA and star for mile usefulness. And other CCS may better options.
     
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  8. Counsellor
    Original Member

    Counsellor Gold Member

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    Or if you're looking for status in Star Alliance, you might want to consider Aegean. IIRC, you can get credit with Aegean for United flights, and unless things have changed recently (I'm too lazy to look it up), Aegean has not adopted a monetary requirement for achieving status.
     
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