Aeroflot Enforcing Married Segments on Award Tickets

Everyone knows Delta Skymiles are difficult to redeem.  Aeroflot remains one of the partner airlines that has decent availability on flights to Europe.  I am working on an itinerary now for my parents, and searching Aeroflot availability had confounded me.

The Wandering Aramean has developed a great search that finds Aeroflot availability.  I was using this to look for flights to and from the USA to Russia.  Their first stopover is to be St. Petersburg.  So I used the Wandering Aramean’s search, and saw this availability:

Decent availability JFK to St. Petersburg

Decent availability JFK to St. Petersburg

“J” stands for business class, and “Y” for coach.  So for the 2PM departure on September 10, there are 3 business class seats from JFK – SVO and 2 from SVO – LED.  That is awesome, right?  You can just call Delta, spoon feed them these segments, and *poof*, you have them in there.

So after searching like this, I called Delta and tried to book this.  I gave the agent JFK – SVO, and he said there was no availability.  I said surely you must jest, sir, as I have it direct from the source, it’s available.  So I went back to the Wandering Aramean’s site, which is an accurate reflection of Aeroflot’s offerings, and sure enough, to my horror, this is what I saw:

Where the hell did all the availability go!?

Where the hell did all the availability go!?

So for the same day, typing in JFK – SVO gives one economy class seat on the 7PM flight, and all the other flights have zero availability!  I hung up, discouraged, and started freaking out about computer glitches, other people booking the space, etc.  The crazy part was I looked at multiple dates, and its as if the availability has just disappeared.

After a couple hours of thinking on it, I tried the search again, typing in JFK to LED.  Sure enough the availability was there.  So I realized that Aeroflot is giving away the availability only on flights with connections.  So JFK – SVO, no availability to book.  But JFK – SVO – LED, decent availability.

I called Delta, and was able to get these flights on hold as part of a 100,000 mile award ticket!  Woohoo!

Moral of the story: Aeroflot has better availability if you are connecting somewhere!

Where did all the points come from?

When folks ask me about the Trip of a Million Lifetimes, they usually say, you and Lady Tocqueville travel almost 100% for work, that must be where all the points came from.  For our hotels, this logic is mostly correct.  I had over 1,000,000 Marriott points, Lady Tocqueville over 200,000 and we each had about 200,000 SPG points.  For some of our Hyatt resumptions, we used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points earned by a credit card, since neither of us stay at Hyatts.

But believe it or not, we barely touched our miles earned butt in seat for the flights!  Yes, 600,000 airline points, and none of it came from our current balances.  We have roughly 600,000 airline points between various airlines, but we did not use this.  We have this on reserve for future trips.  Below is the breakdown of how we churned through credit cards the 600,000 airline points needed.

As the conclusion of this post points out, we had 3 (well really 4) separate tickets each to make our jaunt across the world.  This chart reflects the 4 tickets and the origin of the points.

 

Chart breaking down points earning

Chart breaking down points earning (click for full size)

Basically, between my wife and I, we opened and closed 6 credit cards for a total bonus of 330,000 points.  We had another 150,000 come through from spending we had done over the last year on our work business cards.  We traded for 80,000 points, and had 40,000 existing.  It took us about a year to do all the opening and spending, and fortunately we were in the process of getting married and moving in together, which helped facilitate some of the spend.  The 6 cards we opened (and closed) were the:

  • American Airlines Citibank Visa
  • American Airlines Citibank Mastercard
  • American Airlines Citibank Small Business Amex
  • American Airlines Citibank Small Business Amex
  • American Express Small Business Gold, and
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred

I don’t have referral links for these, although View From the Wing, One Mile at a Time, or Points Miles and Martinis usually has the most up to date bonus offers.

So for those of you thinking of taking that dream trip around the world, start early and hoard those points!  Maybe you can take your own Trip of a Million lifetimes.

Qantas Offering Chauffer Service to Business and First Class Customers on Longhaul = AWESOME

5 days ago, the View From The Wing blog noted that Qantas is adding free chauffeur service for first and business class customers flying on Qantas metal on their long-haul flights to the USA, Dubai, and London.

This is great news for me because on the Trip of a Million Lifetimes we have one of the coveted long-haul Qantas legs in business class, Sydney to Dallas.  We actually have other Qantas flights as well, including:

Noumea – Sydney – Melbourne (stopover)

Melbourne – Cairns (stopover)

Cairns – Sydney (stopover); then as noted

Sydney – Dallas

I think normally the pick-up drop off service is only supposed to apply to your long-haul flight and any connections you have to it.  Well I checked the Qantas website, and it treats all our legs above as valid connections for the service.  Thus they are offering Lady Tocqueville and I a total of four chauffer pickups!  They are:

  • Airport pick-up at Melbourne
  • Airport drop-off at Melbourne
  • Airport pick-up at Sydney
  • Airport drop-off at Sydney
  • In Cairns, we have a rental car and wouldn’t need this service anyway

We were going to take taxis, or the city bus, so this is a massive, free perk I value at around at least $300 USD.

Here is how to register on-line for this awesome service:

  1. In my case, I had an American Oneworld Explorer Award.  I called American and asked for my Qantas record locator number.
  2. I then went on the Qantas website, and under ‘Manage my booking’ put in the record locator number and my last name.
  3. Once there, I clicked on “book now” under customize your journey.
  4. This screen showed all my eligible legs, and I registered our flight information for each one.
  5. Our flight arrival times and terminals were prepopulated.  I keyed in our hotel addresses and we were good as gold as they say down under.

Click Manage Your Booking

Click manage your booking

Book Now

All our eligible flights were displayed

All our eligible flights were displayed

I had to do this again for Lady Tocqueville based on her record locator number.  I have got to believe Qantas or their chauffeur vendor are smart enough to combine our rides, instead of send 2 limos to pick us up at the same time for each segment.  However, we will find out!

How awesome is this!

 

Valle de Bravo – A Gringo Weekend

Three friends and I took a long weekend to celebrate a 30th birthday.  Our destination, off the beaten path in Valle de Bravo Mexico, about 2 hours from Mexico City.  It is a place I had been to at age fifteen, and returned triumphantly with three friends for a weekend of cultural exploration, and personal excess.

15,000 British Airways Miles down, 17,500 United Miles back

15,000 British Airways Miles down, 17,500 United Miles back

Three of the four of us took award tickets, 1 from Atlanta on Delta for 37,500 miles.  The other two, me, and BB, went down with British Airways award tickets on American Airlines CLT – DFW – MEX on the way down for 15,000 British Airways points each, and returned for 17,500 each United points for the nonstop flight from MEX – CLT.

For three nights we stayed in a beautiful house, had a housekeeper cook fresh Mexican food, clean, and take care of us.  We explored the town on foot, checked out some of the local bars, took a boat on the lake, and rented ATV’s to climb a local mountain.

It was an AWESOME weekend.  We were the only gringos in town that day, and the Mexican people we met were very kind and friendly to us.

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View from our balcony.

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3AM fresh streetfood.  Not pictured is VERY SPICY salsa verde.

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Enjoying fresh food made by a wonderful housekeeper

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Because governments limit the freedom of travel, people in Valle de Bravo have to come here to get a passport or to apply for a visa to a foreign country like the USA.

My Chase Ink Bold credit card provided rental insurance CDW coverage, a savings of $38 a day.  With a favorable exchange rate, and a great corporate discount, our rental car for 3 days came out to $75 with all taxes and fees.

I am looking forward to my next trip to Mexico – slated for December 2013.  Sayulita will be the destination of choice then.