Having been actively “travel hacking” for the past few years, I have learned many things. First and foremost of these is the principle of “earn and burn” aka “your airline frequent flier miles and credit card points will not be worth more tomorrow”. I have also learned that the best way to maximize the value of your points or miles is to redeem them for first and business class international airline tickets at the “saver level”. After all, are your 150K miles more valuable when you exchange them for a $500 television set or a $12,000 first class round trip ticket from the USA to Hong Kong? Nothing against the television set for a non-traveler, just not a good value proposition!
With that in mind, I just booked the following business class itinerary:
New York to Montreal (connection) one hour flight in economy class, possibly will be upgraded
Montreal to Istanbul (business class flat bed seat), 9.5 hour flight
Istanbul to Lisbon (connection) business class seat, 5 hour flight
Lisbon to Marrakech (economy only plane) 2.5 hour flight
Barcelona to New York (business class flight) 8 hour flight
I will be responsible for filling in the blanks, i.e., getting from Marrakech to Barcelona and any other side trips but my point is this: the above award is a single award redemption, making use of a stopover in Istanbul for as long as I want and my destination as Marrakech. As a result, I am taking 3 trips instead of one, seeing Turkey, Marrakech and Barcelona (Asia, Europe and Africa). My international business class itinerary cost me 140K points plus about $50 in taxes. Compare this to a 2 hour flight in domestic (peanuts and a Coke) business class from New York to Chicago at the standard award level- 100k miles and $24.
Again-it’s all about the value proposition!