For those of you that have been trying to book AA saver awards from smaller markets or saw Gary’s post on the topic, you are aware that AA seems to be blocking out almost all saver space for smaller cities.
For example, a one way economy ticket from St. Louis to Chicago is now 30,000 AA miles and it is priced like this until at least February 2016.
AA Blocking Saver Space
My parents just moved to St. Louis and I’ve been flying down there every couple of weekends from Chicago. Although it is only a 45 minute flight, a normal fare costs around $450 roundtrip!
Thankfully, I’ve been using Avios to book AA awards and because the distance is less than 750 miles, it has only been costing me 4,500 Avios each way…
Since AA is now blocking Saver space, I haven’t been able to use Avios this past week and had to look into purchasing a revenue ticket.
Thankfully I had some AMEX Platinum and PRG AA reimbursements (aka giftcards) that I used to offset the cost!
As I looked to book a flight home from St. Louis, I fired up Kayak.com to check the prices and it was coming out to $221 oneway.
I didn’t think that was a particularly good price since I could have also just taken Amtrak or MegaBus from St. Louis and it would cost only $27 and taken the same amount of time door to door.
Since Chicago is a hub for United, AA, and Southwest, I knew hidden city ticketing was possible.
So for example, St. Louis – Chicago – Columbus, OH might be cheaper than flying St. Louis – Chicago direct…
While I used to manually use ITA Matrix to do these kind of hidden city ticketing searches, SkipLagged.com now does it automatically for you.
If you aren’t familiar with the site, SkipLagged is of course being sued by United Airlines for providing this free service to customers and ironically the lawsuit only ended up drawing more free publicity to SkipLagged…
To use SkipLagged.com, I simply entered my airports and dates and it spit out what was the cheapest flights from STL-ORD.
SkipLagged Can Save You Serious Money!
As you can see the 5.03am United flight and the 6.35am AA flight to Milwaukee via ORD were both $147, while on Kayak the direct STL-ORD with the SAME EXACT SEAT ON THE SAME EXACT FLIGHT was $221!
Thanks to SkipLagged, I was able to save $74 (33%) off of my original ticket.
I went ahead and booked a St. Louis to Milwaukee via Chicago ticket and I simply hopped off in Chicago this morning instead of continuing onwards to Milwaukee.
Word of caution though, if you plan to use SkipLagged, many airlines are not fond of hidden city ticketing so make sure you don’t include your frequent flyer number.
In the end,when booking airline tickets, it really pays to take a few extra minutes and check some other sites.
By using SkipLagged, I was able to easily save 33% off the cost of my original ticket.
While it doesn’t always find you the cheapest fare for every search, it is a good tool to have in your backpocket.
A Reader sent me an email asking if the 100,000 Avios British Airways offer was still available and if there is a way to combine Avios between family members.
Unfortunately the 100,000 Avios offer isn’t available anymore but there is a 50,000 Avios offer. If you are interested in that, you can find it here. (If it doesn’t come up, then try searching for it.)
As for the 2nd question, there is a way to combine Avios between family members using a Household Account.
British Airways Avios are already one of my favorite currencies for domestic redemptions. However when you add in the Household Account, they become even more valuable.
The Value of Household Accounts
Household Accounts are probably one of the most valuable features that a frequent flyer program can allow, hence why not all airlines allow them.
In fact, to the best of my knowledge, British Airways is one of the only major airlines that allow Household Accounts.
Household Accounts basically allow you to pool all your family members miles into one account, which makes these types of accounts extremely valuable for a few reasons:
1. Booking Tickets
With most airlines, because each person’s miles are in their individual frequent flyer account, when you book award tickets, you have to book them separately via each person’s account.
While this isn’t a huge deal, it can be annoying having to book each itinerary separately.
With British Airways since all the Avios are in a single Household Account, when you book a ticket, you just select which family members are flying and add them to the itinerary.
2. Transferring Miles
Household Accounts are also useful if you have Avios and want to transfer them to someone else.
I had this exact issue with United last year when I needed to transfer 10,000 miles from my Mom’s United account into mine.
Since United doesn’t allow Household Accounts, I was forced to pay $150 to transfer the miles between the accounts.
Had the award ticket been with British Airways, since all the Avios are already in one Household Account, I wouldn’t have had to do any transferring and could have just used my Mom’s Avios.
3. Traveling With Kids
In my opinion, probably the biggest benefit of Household Accounts is to people who travel with kids.
My Parents are from India and when I was younger, every few years my entire Family would go visit India.
Unfortunately I am not sure my parent’s got us frequent flyer accounts when we were younger, so my brother and I probably missed out on 100,000+ miles over the years.
Obviously there is no separate designation for children’s frequent flyer accounts and adult accounts. It is for this reason that many parents don’t ever sign their kids up for a frequent flyer account because the kids will never earn enough miles on their own for an Award Ticket.
With British Airways Household Accounts, since you can combine your Avios into one central account, if a family of 4 goes from the U.S to India on British Airways, instead of 4 accounts that have 16,000 Avios in them, you would have 1 Household Account with 64,000 Avios (16,000 x 4)!
Who Can Join A Household Account
British Airways is fairly explicit on their website to not include the word “family” when describing Household Accounts.
To qualify for a Household Account, you just have to be registered under the same permanent mailing address.
I read the fine print and couldn’t find anything that said you had to be legally married, have the same last name, or anything like that to be included in a Household Account.
As long as you live under the same roof, you qualify.
Also up to 7 people total can be included under one Household Account.
How To Sign Up For A British Airways Household Account
First thing you need to do is to log into your British Airways frequent flyer account at BritishAirways.com
Once you are logged in, click on the the “Manage My Account” tab on the sidebar.
It will expand and allow you to click on “Apply / change my Household Account”
Once you click that, it will ask you if you want to “Apply now for a Household Account” or manage an existing account.
Click on “Apply now for a Household Account.”
In the future, if you need to add or remove anyone from your Household Account after it has been set up, you would click “Already set up? Manage your account” button.
Once you click on “Apply now for a Household Account”, it will take you to the page to add your family members.
Technically, your family members don’t have to be registered with British Airways just yet. So you can always hit the no button and it will ask you to input their email and it will invite them to join British Airways.
Once you enter your family member’s BA frequent flyer numbers as well as their last name, it will send them an email confirmation asking if they would like to join the Household Account.
Once they accept, their Avios Points will be added to the Household Account.
After you have added everyone to your Household Account, when you go to book a flight with your Avios, all your family members will be included at the bottom. You just select who all is flying, and it will do the rest.
Also on the right side of the screen, it will show your individual Avios, as well as the total balance of the Household Account.
If there is one drawback to the British Airways Household Account program, it is that once you have created a Household Account and added your family to it, you can’t book tickets for anyone that is not part of your Household Account.
For most people that isn’t an issue but if you are booking an Award Ticket for a friend, etc, it might be a problem.
Of course, in a worst case scenario you could always just add your friend to your Household Account…
All in all, the British Airway Household Account is an excellent way to pool all your family’s Avios in one place. Between myself and my Parents, we have over 200,000 Avios pooled together in our British Airways Household Account.
Now if only British Airways would drop the ridiculous fuel surcharges…
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Being in my mid 20s, inevitably many of my Friends are starting to get engaged.
Typically after congratulating the newly engaged couple, the first thing I mention is how they can use Miles and Points to have an unbelievable Honeymoon for free.
Since I have a couple of friends getting married this year, I thought I would type out a step by step guide on how to have a Honeymoon for free in case any Readers are getting married, or knows of anyone getting married.
Obviously I am a bit biased in my opinion but I really believe this information is the best wedding gift you can give ; )
While explaining to my friends how they can take a 5 Star Honeymoon for next to nothing, I realized that Honeymoons really do meet the trifecta for earning frequent flyer miles.
The Honeymoon Trifecta
1. Long Range Planning
The biggest mistake that most people make when earning frequent flyer miles is to not think about the long term.
Although you might not need 50,000 United miles in the next few months, you may need them for a future trip 18 months from now.
The great thing about Honeymoons and Weddings are that the planning starts at least 1 year in advance, so there is plenty of time to earn enough miles and points for it to be free!
2. Lots Of Planned Expenses
This may not be earth shattering news but Weddings are expensive.
The great thing about Weddings being expensive is that you can charge most of it to your Credit Card, thus easily meeting any Minimum Spend Requirements while earning Miles / Points at the same time!
3. Go Big Or Go Home
Finally, Honeymoons are great because it is the one time you really want to go all out!
On a normal vacation, you might hesitate at paying $800 a night for a suite or spending 150,000 miles on a First Class plane ticket when you can fly in Economy for only 60,000 Miles.
However on a Honeymoon, it is your one time to splurge and not feel bad about it!
This is great because Frequent Flyer Miles and Hotel Points allow you to do exactly that, just at 1/10th the cost!
How To Have A 5 Star Honeymoon For Free – Part 1
So for those of you that are new to Frequent Flyer University and have never before signed up for a Credit Card solely to earn frequent flyer miles, I’d suggest first checking out The Beginners Guide, primarily Lessons 1 & 2.
Additionally to maximize the amount of free nights and frequent flyer miles you earn, I suggest that both the Bride & Groom each apply for their own Cards. I call this “doubling down”!
Pick Your Destination
Before you can choose what Credit Cards to sign up for, the first thing you have to do is figure out where you are going.
If you have already picked your destination, feel free to jump to the next section.
Chase also has another Hotel Credit Card that offers 2 Free Night Certificates at Fairmont Hotels after you spend $1,000 in 3 months.
Many people may not be familiar with the Fairmont brand because they only have a limited number of properties worldwide, however the properties that they do have are EXTREMELY luxurious.
A full list of Fairmont properties and locations can be found here.
Since the Fairmont Credit Card is also issued by Chase, you can’t sign up for both the Hyatt and Fairmont Card at the same time, but you certainly can apply for one and then apply for the other one in 3 months.
While there is a $1,000 Minimum Spend Requirement on the Fairmont Visa, it is definitely still worth it because Fairmont properties are so nice!
Below are 2 fabulous Fairmont properties that would make a excellent Honeymoon destination!
While Chase does also offer a Marriott Credit Card with a 50,000 Point Sign On Bonus, the reason why the Hyatt and Fairmont Card are far more valuable than Marriott’s is because both of those Cards give you 2 Free Night Certificates which you can use anywhere regardless of what “category” the property falls under.
All Hotels place their properties into different “categories” for Rewards purposes.
A full list of Marriott’s property locations and rewards categories can be found here.
So a Hotel’s 1 Star property might be a Category 1 or 2 and cost only a few thousand points for a Rewards Night, while a Hotel’s 5 Star property might cost 50,000 Points for a Rewards Night.
As you can see from the Marriott’s Points Reward Chart below, with 50,000 Marriott Points that you will receive by signing up for the Marriott Credit Card and spending $1,000 within 3 months, you would only be able to get 1 free night at a Category 8 property since it costs 40,000 Marriott Points a night.
So with the Hyatt and Fairmont Cards, you could get 2 Free Nights, but with the Marriott Card you would only get 1 Free Night.
Of course there might not be a Hyatt or Fairmont at your Honeymoon destination, or there might be a very specific Marriott property that you would like to stay at, in that case then I’d suggest that you each get the Marriott Card and get 100,000 Marriott Points total.
Also Marriott does own Ritz Carlton, so if you would like to stay at a Ritz Carlton property, then it might make sense to sign up for the Marriott Card since you can use Marriott Points at Ritz Carlton.
Hilton is a unique case in that they offer 2 Credit Cards, one that gets you 40,000 Hilton Points and the other that gets you 2 Free Weekend Night Certificates.
What is nice is that the Hilton Credit Cards are issued by Citibank and not Chase, so if you wanted you could apply for any of the Chase Cards above AND a Citi Hilton Card and get both Sign On Bonuses!
While the Hilton Rewards Chart is similar to Marriott’s, in that it takes quite a few Points for a free night, the Hilton Free Night Certificates are pretty valuable.
Hilton also owns Waldorf Astoria as well as Conrad Hotels, so they do have some pretty amazing properties in places like Tahiti that would definitely make for an awesome Honeymoon!
A full list of Hilton properties and locations can be found here.
Hopefully this tutorial has shown you just how valuable Hotel Points can be in helping you have a 5 Star Honeymoon for free.
Just by you and your Partner signing up for 1 Credit Card like the Hyatt Credit Card, you can get 4 FREE nights at properties that cost upwards of $500 a night.
Remember that as long as the Credit Cards aren’t issued by the same Bank (primarily Chase), you can apply for a Hotel Credit Card from Chase and Citibank on the same day without issue!
If you were to sign up for a Chase issued Card and a Citibank issued Card, you could possibly end up with 8 free nights at either Hyatt, Fairmont, or Hilton at no cost to you!
In Part 2 of this series (coming soon!), we will explore how to earn enough free frequent flyer miles to get a free Business or First Class ticket to your Honeymoon destination..
In the mean time, I suggest starting the Honeymoon process now by applying for any of the above Cards.
The earlier you start the process, the better it is because once you have your new Cards and Free Night Certificates in hand, you can go ahead and reserve your rooms and avoid any drama with not finding availability!