Drumroll Please: The StarMegaDO4 Giveaway!!!!!!

And now the moment that everyone has been waiting for….

The StarMegaDO4 giveaway!!!!!

I have been talking about this for a while now but the logistics of the SMD4 and running the contest were quite complex, however it is now time to release the kraken!

What You Talking About Willis

For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about when I say StarMegaDO4 or SMD4, it is basically a frequent flyer / aviation enthusiast’s dream!

More information can be found in my previous post but for the last 3 years, 200 or so frequent flyers have chartered an entire commercial airplane and jetted around the world for a week. On previous MegaDOs, participants have gotten behind the scenes access at various airports, visited Boeing, Airbus, and Bombardier Headquarters, got serious facetime with Airline Executives, and even have gotten to fly actual United flight simulators!

Thanks to Randy Petersen, I was fortunate enough to go on last year’s StarMegaDO 3 and it was an amazing experience!

Although it was a whirlwind trip comprising of 3 countries, 6 cities, and over 11,000 miles in 5 days, it was well worth the jetlag!

I am a big fan on the concept of paying it forward and since Randy gave me the opportunity to go on the SMD3 last year, I think it’s only fair that I provide that opportunity to someone else.

I am fortunate enough to have a real job outside of Frequent Flyer University, so any money that I receive when FFU Readers sign up for Credit Cards goes directly into a separate account with ING Direct that I don’t touch. I use this separate account as a means to give back to all the loyal FFU Readers and fund any giveaways and contests for the site.

That being said, I will also be sponsoring a Reader to come to Chicago for the Chicago Seminars in October, and more than likely the OneWorldMegaDO in January 2013 if they decide to do that again.

So when you sign up for a Credit Card on FFU, you can give yourself a big pat on the back because your hard work of earning free frequent flyer miles is directly helping fund these once in a lifetime giveaways for FFU Readers.

Hopefully one day you will win!

The Prize

As described above, 1 lucky FFU Reader will be chosen at random to tag along with me on the StarMegaDO4.

I will cover all expenses for the trip including:

  • Positioning flights for getting to and from San Francisco & Chicago
  • The $999 Coach ticket for the U.S Charter portion of the SMD4
  • Your own room at all Hyatt hotels during the trip
  • Meals if needed

Basically you are my guest for the entire duration of the SMD4.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) as more and more people have heard about the great experiences people have had on the StarMegaDOs, the more people end up signing up for the MegaDO the following year!

The only problem with this exponential growth is that there are only a limited number of seats on the Chartered Airplane.

Since I don’t have any special connections,  I will be in line with everyone else trying to snag 2 seats. 

I am fairly confident that I will be able to get 2 seats, but in the event that I am unable to secure any seats on the SMD4, whoever wins the SMD4 giveaway will get a $1,500 United Giftcard and a $500 Hyatt Giftcard that they can use to have their own vacation of their choice.

Hopefully it doesn’t come to that because the SMD4 is really a once in a lifetime experience, but it is important to have a contingency plan.

If you are selected as the Winner of the SMD4 giveaway, I will email you and ask you to the provide the information that is need to register for the SMD4 like Passport Number, Date of Birth, etc.

Date & Schedule

The SMD4 has 2 parts – the U.S Chartered portion and the optional European portion.

I am doubtful that I will be able to do the European portion, since that would be almost a full week off of work, so I will most likely just be doing the U.S portion.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 – Charter begins in San Francisco with a Hyatt reception as well as a meet and greet with representatives of EVA Air and Singapore Airlines. Charter then flies to Houston for a Texas BBQ party and a stay at Hyatt.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 – Charter departs Houston for Chicago for a face to face meeting with the CEO of United and other United Executives. There will also be a reception and tour of United.

Friday, November 16, 2012 – Star Alliance Reception in Chicago.

The Contest

If you read FFU on a daily basis, you know that my number one goal for the site is to help other people learn how to travel for free.

It is for that exact reason that I’ve created The Beginners Guide and am always accessible via email to answer any questions, big or small, related to frequent flying.

When coming up with how I wanted to administer this contest, the one thing I realized is that most people don’t even know that websites for frequent flyers even exist!

If more people knew how easy it is to take world class vacations for free, I am fairly certain they would jump at the chance to do so!

Therefore I think it is time to tell them!

How To Enter

To enter the SMD4 giveaway, simply complete any of the following entry methods below.

You can enter once a day, and are free to do all 3 if you want.

If you came across the site because of a friend who was entering the SMD4 giveaway, you are free to join in as well!

I know there are some technology adverse readers (ie. my mom), so I have included a non-social media way to enter as well!

For all of the entry methods, you need to sign up for FFU Email Updates because that is how I will contact you if you win!

Sign Up For FFU Email Updates

  • You can sign up for FFU email updates by submitting your email address in the box to the left.
  • I promise that you won’t ever get spammed, as it is automatically set up to send ONLY 1 email a day with a summary of the day’s posts.
  • This is how I will contact you if you win! So if you don’t submit your email address, I won’t be able to contact you. 

Entry Method 1 – “Like” Frequent Flyer University on Facebook

  •  Your status update can be anything, good or bad as long as you use @FrequentFlyerUniversity in it.

Entry Method 2 – Follow @FrequentFlyerU on Twitter

  • Again, please surprise me. It can be funny, silly, goofy, etc. It doesn’t matter to me!

Entry Method 3 – Email Your Friends


Contest Duration

From what I have read the SMD4 registration opens on July 9th, so this contest will run until Friday, July 6, 2012 11:59PM Central Time.

I will export all of the names from everyone that enters via Facebook, Twitter, and Email into Excel and then use a random number generator to select a winner.

If you win, I will contact you via email on Saturday morning or I may show up at your doorstep with a big fake check and a camera crew. I haven’t decided yet.


If you have any questions, please email me at

Good luck to everyone and remember that all it takes is 1 entry to potentailly be the winner!


Star MegaDO 4 – Just DO It

British Airways 100,000 Avios Offer

REMINDER: The British Airways 100,000 Avios Credit Card offer ends this Thursday, June 7th, so if you haven’t already taken advantage of this offer, I’d highly suggest it.

The 100,000 Avios offer only happens once a year, and typically every year they make the qualifications to get the full 100,000 Avios more rigorous, so it is better to get this Card now than wait another year.

All the posts this week on FFU will primarily focus on how to use the British Airway Avios Points to redeem for award tickets to some really awesome destinations. Also I’ll take this time to answer any Reader questions about the British Airways program, as well as this offer. So if you have any questions, feel free to email me and I’ll write about them this week!

Link To Prior Post About This Offer

Link To Sign Up For The British Airways 100,000 Avios Points Offer


For those of you new to the game of collecting Miles & Points, there is 1 event that the most hardcore of mileage addicts look forward to and that is the annual MegaDO.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here is a great piece in USA Today about it, but basically it is where a group of about 100-200 frequent flyers charter an entire plane to themselves and fly around the World to different Airport Hubs and get behind the scenes look at operations and other random stuff that you probably could only do if you worked for an Airline or were an Reality Travel Show Host.

I was fortunate enough to go on last year’s SMD3 as the social media guy, so I blogged, Tweeted, and Facebooked the entire experience. Needless to say, it was pretty awesome.

In the span of a couple days, we went from New York on Lufthansa’s A380, to Frankfurt, then Munich. Got a tour of Munich Airport, celebrated Ocktoberfest, hopped back on the plane within 24 hours and were off to Chicago to meet with United, then took off to Montreal to visit the Bombardier Factory as well as Air Canada, and then ended the trip in Denver.

For the full experience, I’d highly suggest checking out the photos on Facebook here.


Last night in Washington D.C, there was an official launch party for the SMD4, which consisted of revealing the actual itinerary.

So the SMD4 is broken into 2 parts, the optional European Segment and then the Chartered U.S Segment.

For the European Segment, you just fly on a regular (non-chartered) flight to Europe. Some people I met last year actually used miles for that leg of the journey to keep the costs down, so I’d suggest trying that. The Chase Sapphire Preferred or the United Mileage Plus Explorer sign up bonus would almost cover that part of the journey for free.

For the U.S  Segment, the group actually rents out an entire airplane for the SMD4 that holds 150-200 people! It is really something special because everywhere you turn, people are talking about points, miles, and credit cards! Not to mention there are a lot of libations going around!

SMD4 Official Schedule

Link To Official SMD4 Blog

Optional European Portion

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

  • Bon Voyage Party at the Lufthansa lounge at Washington Dulles Airport.
  • Fly to Zurich, Switzerland via Frankfurt, Germany on Lufthansa’s brand new 747-8 plane.

Monday, November 12th, 2012

  • Land in Frankfurt and then fly onwards to Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Reception hosted at Park Hyatt Hotel in Zurich by Swiss Airlines and Lufthansa. 
  • The Park Hyatt Zurich is technically the host hotel for this stop, but due to price, you can stay elsewhere. If you have free nights from the Hyatt Card or Ultimate Rewards Points to burn, this might be a prime place to use them!

Start of U.S Portion

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

  • Back on the plane and off to San Francisco to meet with Singapore Airlines, EVA, and some other surprises!
  • Also in San Francisco, the European Section will meet up with the U.S portion of the SMD4.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

  • Back on the plane, but this time in a chartered 767 that stops in Houston for the night for a good old Texas BBQ party.

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

  • Back on the Charter and off to Chicago to meet with Executives from United. 
  • There is a reception that night which will be hosted by United. 

Friday, November 16th, 2012

  • In celebration of the 15 year anniversary of the Star Alliance Network, there will be another reception.

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

  • Randy Peterson is hosting an optional “Cowboy Day” in Chicago. Not sure what it entails, but I’m sure it will be a good time.

The Damage

So as I said before, you can get away with the optional European trip by using miles and points, but for the Chartered U.S portion of the flight, you have to pay out of pocket. The prices below are just for the U.S portion and do not include hotels, although a special rate has been negotiated with Hyatt.

  • Coach: $999 (will earn 5000 qualifying/redeemable miles)
  • Economy Plus: $1249 (will earn 7500 qualifying/redeemable miles)
  • Tommy Class (Middle seat blocked out in each row): $1599 (will earn 7500 qualifying/redeemable miles)
  • BusinessFirst: $1999 (will earn 15000 qualifying redeemable miles)

As you can see, this trip is not for the faint or heart (in either price or jetlag), but it certainly is a once in a lifetime experience.

I am reading that there are going to be some special offers from Hyatt and United on this MegaDO. In January 2012 when AA held their MegaDO with Hyatt, all participants got a special challenge offer that granted Executive Platinum status on AA if the participants flew only 25,000 miles on AA. Typically to get that status, you would need to fly 100,000 miles! Additionally, Hyatt gave everyone Diamond Status, which is their top tier status.

So if you factor those special offers in, the miles you earn on the actual flights, along with the sweet behind the scenes activities you get to take part in, it is a pretty sweet deal!

Hopefully, this has encouraged some of you to think about going on your first MegaDO!

Tickets are more difficult to get than to a Justin Bieber Concert, so if you are truly interested, check out the official SMD4 MilePoint threads here.

Tickets to the SMD4 should go on sale July 9 as of right now.

I am going to try and snag an extra ticket for the SMD4 to give away on the blog, but we will see if I can even get a ticket for myself first!