2013 Recap

Back In Chicago

After a whirlwind 2 weeks of trekking around Asia and enjoying 80F weather, I am finally back in Chicago where it is a balmy -14F, with a windchill of -38F.

Chicago Weather 1d

2013 Recap

It is hard to believe that it has been over 2 years since I started FFU on January 1, 2012! What a wild and crazy trip it has been and I can only imagine what the coming months and years will bring!

Every year I like to do a little recap of the previous year, just to showcase what it possible if you properly redeem and collect miles, and to also remind me of everything I have done in the past year.

All in all for 2013, according to TripIt, I logged 62,807 miles for the year (which is a new record for me)!

Also I was able to do on average 1 trip a month (some longer than others), and visited 35 new cities and 18 new countries in 2013!

The best part about those 2013 stats is that with the exception of 1 or 2 flights, most of the 62,807 miles I flew this year was all on miles and points! Meaning, outside of taxes, those flights were basically free!

2013 Trip Recap

All flights are in Economy and roundtrip unless noted.


  • Chicago – Las Vegas
  • Cost: 15,000 Southwest Points


  • Chicago – London – Madrid
  • Cost: 40,000 AA off-peak award

  • Madrid – Istanbul
  • Cost: $225 paid out of pocket on Turkish


  • Chicago – Austin
  • Cost: 10,000 Southwest Points

  • Chicago – New York
  • Cost: 9,000 Avios on AA


  • Chicago – Sanibel, FL
  • Cost: 15,000 Southwest Points


  • Chicago – Colorado Springs
  • Cost: 15,000 Avios on AA


  • Chicago – Baltimore
  • Cost: 9,000 Avios on AA


  • Chicago – San Francisco – Napa
  • Cost: 40,000 Delta SkyPesos

August – September

  • Chicago – Eastern Europe (stopover) – Seychelles
  • Cost: 60,000 United Miles in Business Class on UA to Europe and Ethiopian 787 to Seychelles.

  • Seychelles – Abu Dhabi – Dublin
  • Cost: $387 One Way Mistake Fare on Etihad Business Class

  • Munich – Chicago
  • Cost: Was 60,000 but became FREE after United messed up my ticket and refunded my miles when I upgraded from United Economy to Austrian Business Class!


  • Chicago – Baltimore
  • Cost: 9,000 Avios on AA

  • Chicago – Baltimore
  • Cost: 12,000 Southwest Points


  • Chicago – Jacksonville, FL
  • Cost: 15,000 Southwest Points


  • Chicago – Zurich – Hong Kong – Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Brussels – Chicago
  • Cost: 90,000 US Airways Dividend Miles


Overall, 2013 was a fairly awesome travel year for me and I would have considered myself fairly lucky to have visited even just one of the above destinations, let alone all of them. However thanks to miles and points, it was all possible!

As you can see, I primarily used Avios and Southwest Points for Domestic flights this year, and tried to save my United and US Airways miles for International travel in Business class. Although I redeemed quite a few miles this year, thanks to credit cards sign up bonuses, I basically replenished all my balances this year!

My favorite place I visited this year was easily Seychelles, although Croatia, Austin, and Thailand come in a very close second.

My favorite plane that I flew this year was probably the Thai A380 this past December, while my favorite flight I flew was probably either Austrian Business from Vienna – JFK or Etihad Regional Business Class from Seychelles – Abu Dhabi.

While I did spend a fair amount this year on Hotels, Award Taxes, Hostels, Tours, etc, in the end thanks to miles and points, it was still way less than it would have been out of pocket and I got to mostly fly in Business for long-haul flights as opposed to Economy.

While 2013 was great, my personal opinion is that 2014 is going to be a bit more tough given all the coming devaluations and mergers. That being said, the frequent flyer community has always been fairly creative to say the least, so I am sure we will find some crazy scheme to make 2013 even better than 2014!

Anyways, I hope everyone else had a great 2013 travel year and I wish you all a very happy 2014!


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