Ibiza 2013: Part 3 – Lufthansa First Class New York to Munich on an A-330

This is the third post in a series about my 2013 trip to Ibiza for the closing parties. Part of the free plane tickets were funded by the 40,000 point sign up bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I redeemed 135,000 points for First Class flights from Miami to Ibiza on Lufthansa.

As I left the lounge I was able to get a glimpse of the Airbus A-330-300 I would be flying on from New York to Munich.

IMG_6881I had actually spent as much time in the lounge as possible so had missed the premium cabin preboarding call but as I went down the jetway, I realized there was a separate entrance at the front of the plane for First Class passengers so I wouldn’t have to wait in line after all.IMG_6882This dedicated entrance whisked me right into the First Class cabin where the flight attendants were waiting for my arrival. I had arranged seat 1K and it looked like it would be comfortable for the 7 hour flight to Munich!IMG_6883They offered me a snack and a drink so I got one of their selection of German beers.  And what a beer it was! No little cans here!IMG_6887As you can see, even though I am 6’2″ there was plenty of room for me to stretch out my legs. There was also a giant video screen(I think it was 17″) for watching TV shows and movies on demand or listening to music.IMG_6888I particularly liked that since Lufthansa is a German airline, they used a turntable for the “Audio” icon in the AVOD system.IMG_6897

They provided an amenity kit, a pair of pajamas and some slippers.

IMG_6889The amenity kit included toothbrush and toothpaste, an eyemask, some socks, some ear covers for the headphones and some facecream to help with the dry air of the cabin.IMG_6893

Shortly after take off they brought me the menu and you could tell right away this was first class due to the caviar service and other choices.IMG_6890They brought me some sort of a salad first which was tastyIMG_6895Then came the caviar service with vodka, the Peppercorn Beef, and the green papaya salad.  Since First Class wasn’t full they gave me an assortment of appetizers to choose from!IMG_6898For my main course I had the Masala Lamb with Curried Cauliflower and Fingerling Potatoes which was perfectly seasoned and cooked.IMG_6900They had a comprehensive wine list and I tried a few glasses including the Spanish LAN a Mano Red as well as some champagne.IMG_6892I finished off with some ice cream, fresh berries, and some coffee with Bailey’s to help me sleep on the way to Munich.IMG_6903They had given me a pair of pajamas and sleeping in jeans isn’t exactly the best way to arrive rested so I changed into the Oh So Stylish PJs. When in Rome….IMG_6902While I was changing, the steward converted my seat into the completely lie flat bed. This is really the way to fly!IMG_6905I was able to get a good 5 hours of sleep on the way to Munich but I did have them wake me up for my omelette for breakfast since I wanted to experience everything first class had to offer.IMG_6907As I opened my window shades (I had 4) I saw the rolling countryside of Germany enveloped in fog.  IMG_6908I only had an hour and twenty minute layover in Munich before my nonstop flight to Ibiza which I thought might be a tight connection.  I didn’t realize that one of the best parts of my first class experience was yet to come! Read about that in my next article 🙂

As always, feel free to comment with any questions and follow me on Facebook or Twitter!

5 things you can do NOW to go to the BPM Festival for free.

BPM ParadiseUpdate October 27, 2014:  None of this has changed since I published this article in January so I am reposting it again for anyone who might want to go.

By the time you read this, I will be on my way to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the BPM Festival.  This 10 day music festival brings all the best DJs from around the world into a beachfront community about an hour South of Cancun for day and night parties.  I’ll start out with the Diynamic party with Solomun, then the Circo Loco party on Friday daytime, the Innervisions party on Friday night, All Day I Dream with Lee Burridge during the day, Music On during the night, then the closing parties on Sunday.

Now that I have made you interested here are 5 things you can do now to get to BPM Festival for Free like I am this year:

  1. Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and transfer 9,000 of the 40,000 Ultimate Reward sign up bonus to British Airways Avios and just pay the international taxes of $72.  This is exactly how I got here this year and is truly the best use of your points if you are traveling from Miami. BA Summary 2Check out our Full Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card here and find out why it is our #1 travel card for people who want to get started with already established credit.
  2. Get the Chase British Airways card and use 9,000 of the 50,000 Avios sign on bonus for the same ticket we listed above.  If you play your cards right, you could even take 5 of your friends with you to BPM with this bonus!BA BannerRead this article about how to book American flights with British Airways points which is exactly what I did.
  3. Apply for the Barclaycard Arrival card and use the 40,000 Mile sign on bonus (worth $400 in travel expenses) to pay for a ticket.  This has the benefit of earning you miles for the flight as well since you are in essence paying for the ticket using the miles. ArrivalBanner The better use of this bonus would be for the hotel portion of your trip.  Some friends and I are staying at the Fusion Hotel which is right in the middle of everything for 3 nights for around $400 total.  This could be fully paid for with this sign up bonus!
  4. Get the Citibank American Airlines Platinum Personal Mastercard and use 35,000 of the 50,000 sign up bonus to book an American Award seat from anywhere in the US to Mexico.  Citibank BonusThis option obviously pales in comparison to numbers 2 and 3 since you have to use 35,000 miles for the exact same award seat that you could get for 9,000 Avios, but it might make sense for people who aren’t in Miami.  For example, British Airways if you fly from Seattle to Cancun via Phoenix costs 35,000 miles.  This is exactly the same amount as if you booked with American Airlines miles.  So if you are a long way from Cancun, then this option might be equal to the Avios option.
  5. Shop online with the British Airways online mall.  If you have read our article about How to Make Mega Miles with Shopping Portals, then you know how just by shopping online you can earn miles.  You just need to earn 9000 Avios to have enough for a round trip ticket from Miami. Here is a chart of some of the merchants they work with (but there are a bunch more!)BA Shopping$1125 at Shoes.com, $1125 at 1-800-Petmeds or $750 in flowers or Rosetta Stone can get you enough Avios to go to BPM!

Conclusion

There you go, 5 things you can do now to go to BPM next year.BPM CrewNext year, this could be you!

As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!  And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!

Happy Birthday to Travel With Miles! And your present is a facelift!

2nd BirthdayTwo years ago today I started Travel With Miles!  I had just finished my 5 month trip around the world and was excited to start this web site to share just how I did it.  Yesterday I chronicled my travels in 2013 all of which were free or close to free using frequent flyer miles. kilkenny castle

Since then I’ve earned and burned hundreds of thousands of miles and had an amazing time doing it.  I’ve talked about ways to get hundreds of thousands of miles with online shopping, written dozens of trip reports, and showed people how to get miles with No Credit and No Problem!

I’ve talked about cards that give you $400 for travel expenses like the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®,  cards that give you 18 months interest free if you are carrying a balance like the Discover It card, and cards like the powerhouse Chase Sapphire Preferred that gives you 40,000 of the ultra flexible Ultimate Rewards points. I’ve helped friends and received testimonials such as this one.

Most importantly, I have helped people to travel the world.  Just this morning the winner of our contest left to the BPM Festival in Cancun Mexico and I will be joining him tomorrow!

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Thank you everyone who have read my articles and told me how much my information has impacted your life.  Over the next week, I will be giving the site a facelift to keep it looking as good as the information that is on it!

Southwest Fare Sale. Good deals Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta, New Orleans, Austin, Buffalo, San Juan, Denver and more!

Have you liked TravelWithMiles on Facebook yet or followed us on Twitter?  Make sure to do it today so you don’t miss any of our great deals to travel the world!

Southwest has sales pretty much every week, but I found some good deals during this combination of 4 fare sales and I thought I would share.

Southwest Fare SaleFares have to be booked by November 4 and are good for travel all the way until March 14 so take a look if you have travel planned.  The other great thing about this sale is the point prices drop as well (they don’t always drop along with the fares).  If you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card which has a 40,000 point sign on bonus, you can transfer some of those points to Southwest Rapid Rewards to redeem for this sale. Here are the sales that seemed like a decent deal to me, but I just searched for places where I might want to go so feel free to check the ones you are interested in.

SouthWest SaleWith prices this reasonable, you could take 4 of these trips with the 40,000 points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred! What are you waiting for?  Let’s travel!

How I flew to Panama for $62.50.

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The view from my resort in the rain forest in Panama

I just got back from a quick 4 day trip to Panama which included a night at a beachside resort, a night in Panama City and a night at a resort in the rain forest near the canal.  And I only paid $62.50 out of pocket for my flight!  Here is how I did it.

  1. I had received 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points from the sign on bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I had to spend $3,000 within 3 months to get the bonus.
  2. I priced out a trip from Miami to Panama on British Airways.com and saw that it was 20,000 Avios round trip plus $62.50 in taxes.mia-pty2
  3. I transferred 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points to my British Airways Avios Account online via my Chase Ultimate Rewards account.UR Transfer to BA
  4. It took a few minutes to transfer the points to British Airways but then I was able to book my flights on British Airways web site!

Now it is your turn! Start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and start planning your adventure today!

 

How I made 1800 United Miles from $75 in online shopping. Debit cards OK!

United 1500Check your email for one from United Mileage Plus Shopping titled “Earn 1,500 miles simply by shopping”.  If you have it like I did then you have been targeted for a special promotion for extra miles.  This promotion is only open to those who received the email.  If you didn’t receive the email, sign up for mileage plus shopping so you can get the next one! The promotion gives you 500 United miles after you make a $25 purchase, then 1000 miles when you make two more purchases totaling $50 more. This ends up being 24 Miles per dollar on these purchases which is pretty awesome! All of the purchases have to be made by November 11, 2013. Here is how I am going to maximize it:

  1. Click through the United Mileage Plus Shopping page to K-Mart and buy one physical $25 gift card using my Chase Sapphire Preferred that I have registered with Plink.  You can use your debit card if you don’t have a miles earning card yet.  This will give me 25 UR points for the purchase plus 100 United Miles for the 4 miles per dollar plus 500 Miles for the first bonus plus $1.25 in Plink points.kmart mileage plus
  2. One day later I will buy two physical $25 Kmart gift cards in separate transactions, again with my Chase Sapphire Preferred.  For each purchase this will give me 25 UR Miles, 75 United Miles, and $1.25 in Plink points.  I will also get the 1000 bonus United Miles.
  3. Keep in mind that you can do this even if you only have a debit card and still get the 1800 United Miles and the Plink points.

This means I will receive a total of 1800 United Miles, 75 UR Points and $3.75 in Plink points for $75 in purchases.  I will receive even more miles and points when I use the gift cards at Sears or K-Mart.  What a deal! I love this game!

Feel free to comment on this post if you have any questions and don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter!

Ibiza 2013: Part 1 – How I went to the 2013 Ibiza Closing Parties in First Class for $218.

Lufthansa PlaneThis is the first post in a series on my 2013 trip to the Ibiza Closing parties. Part of the free plane tickets were funded by the 40,000 point sign up bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I redeemed 135,000 points for First Class flights from Miami to Ibiza on Lufthansa.

I love last minute travel.  One minute you have no plans and the next you are flying across the world to have an amazing time.  This was one of those times!

As many of you know, last year I went to the Ibiza closing parties for the first time and while I only paid $239 and flew business class, this year I wanted to do even better!  I had some friends who were going to the closing parties and had rented a bad ass condo and had invited me to stay with them.  So I just needed to get a plane ticket out there and some tickets or guestlists to the parties and I would be all set!

I have oodles of Chase Ultimate Rewards points that I got from my Chase Ink Bold card (40,000 point sign up bonus) and my Chase Sapphire Preferred card (50,000 point sign up bonus) so I was free to use any of the three alliances.  I checked Oneworld since Iberia flies right into Ibiza, but there was no availability.  I then used the same steps that I explained to you guys in my article on How to Check Star Alliance Availability on United.com and I saw a couple of business class seats but not a whole lot of routing that would make sense.  I don’t mind hopping around airports a bit as long as I fly in business or first class and have lounge access during any long layovers. I always try to fly business or first class to get the maximum value from my miles.  Here is the chart for using one way travel using United miles on Star Alliance carriers such as Lufthansa. For round trip travel it would be 60K miles for Economy class, 100K for Business class, and 135K for First Class.

United Europe AwardUnited has an interactive planner you can access here or you can access the full award chart here if you want to check other destinations.  What I did see available when I checked was some Lufthansa First Class seats!

Lufthansa First Class is one of those things I have been wanting to fly forever and the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is the stuff of legends in the travel and points world.  I found a routing that I thought would work and then I called in to try and book it since it wouldn’t let me book it online due to the complexity of the routing.  When I got the representative on the phone though, one of the segments was showing phantom availability, which happens with Lufthansa sometimes when the actual seats become mismatched from the seats showing on United.com. The representative was awesome though and she checked several alternate routings and found out a great solution that had availability.

Before I get to that, a couple of things about getting to Ibiza using Star Alliance carriers.  Since Ibiza is a small, seasonal island, there aren’t any direct flights from the US.  You typically have to fly to Madrid or Barcelona and then take a small plane from there.  But there aren’t any Star Alliance carriers that fly from Madrid or Barcelona to Ibiza!  What I found out though are there are some limited flights from Munich to Ibiza on Lufthansa on certain days.  By booking my outbound flight through Munich, I was able to take this non stop flight and save buying the flight from Madrid to Ibiza.  Getting back I wasn’t so lucky and the only thing that was available was Madrid to Frankfurt and then back across the Atlantic through Toronto.  So I would need to buy a one way flight from Ibiza to Madrid to catch my award ticket home.

So when all was said and done this is what I came up with for a total of 135,000 United miles and $218 ($118 + $75 last minute booking fee + $25 Phone booking fee).  Keep in mind that this was all booked the day before I was scheduled to leave!

MIA-IBZ-FLL-LAX

You will see that I booked this using an Open Jaw (called this because I fly into Ibiza and out of Madrid) and I flew out of Miami and back into Fort Lauderdale.  I had to do this so I could tack on a Free One Way flight to Los Angeles as I discussed in this article.  A trip around Valentine’s day to the Surfing Championships in Huntington Beach sounded like fun!

So there I was, booked again to travel to the White Isle for some of the best parties in the world.  And I was able to go First Class for the first time as well!  Wait until I write about that, it was incredible!

IMG_6905
First Class on Lufthansa. Yes, this is my seat / bed on the plane!

How to check Star Alliance Award availability at United.com

One of my friends called me this week and had a great problem.  After getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 40,000 Ultimate Reward Point sign up bonus and the limited time Chase Ink Bold with a 60,000 Point bonus, he was ready to redeem his points for a free trip but wasn’t sure how!  Today I will cover how to check Star Alliance availability and book using United.com.

First go to United.com and log in using your Mileage Plus account.  I use my Awardwallet page to autologin for me which saves some time.  In the top left corner there is a flight search section.  Here, put in whether you want one way or round trip, where you want to fly to and from, some approximate dates, and make sure you check Award Travel under Search By.

United Award SearchAs you can see I am searching for tickets from Miami to Barcelona for next summer. On the next screen you will see a calendar view as well as available flights.

United Award Calendar

As you can see from the color coded chart, availability is pretty wide open for next summer.  On the dates with the green, both economy and first / business are available.  On the dates with the yellow, only economy is available.  If the date you want isn’t available you can click on the color coded date to see which dates are available.  The default sort is by increasing travel time.  They list flights first that are all on United planes.  In this case there isn’t any low level availability on United (which is fine, because other Star Alliance flights are nicer especially in business class)

United Flights

If you scroll down, you will see Star Alliance Partner flights availability. We are looking for saver availability so we get the minimum amount of miles.

Partner FlightsI like to fly business class for any flight over 5 hours so for the purposes of this example I will choose the blue button next to the 50,000 mile and $19.10 option on a TAP Portugal flight. I go through the same process for the return flight.  The return flight has US Air and Swiss Airlines availability.  I know that Swiss Air flights are much better than US Air in business class so that is the one I would choose.

Partner Flights 2

Hitting the blue button next to the flight I want takes me to a summary screen.

united summary100,000 Miles and $87.80, not bad!  Click the blue Reserve button underneath to hold those flights for 24 hours or go ahead and purchase it if you are ready.

Advanced Tricks

Trick 1. Especially if you are looking for a specific airline, search for the individual flights that make up the journey, starting with the transatlantic flights which are typically harder to find.  For example, if you wanted to to find available flights on TAP Portugal only then a good way to go would be to search for the MIA to LIS flight first (since Lisbon is one of their hubs), then once you find availability, find the LIS to BCN flight.  You can combine this with trick 2 as well.

Trick 2. Use the nonstop search at the bottom of the search results to search for only one segment.  At the bottom of the first search results page, there is a section where you can specify to only search for non stop flights.  Using the above Lisbon example, we can search for just the MIA to LIS leg by entering that and checking the non stop only checkbox.

nonstop searchThis will bring up a calendar of just when there is award availability of the non stop flights. This will allow you to see which dates have the availability for the non stop flights that you want.

nonstop calendar There you have it!  How to search for Star Alliance Award availability using United.com.  Now plan your dream vacation now!

How to spend money without spending money for almost free miles!

Update April 6, 2014: CVS has stopped selling Vanilla Reloads with a credit card.  However there is another way to accomplish the same thing.  Check out this article for more information.

One of the biggest concerns when I tell people about earning miles with a credit card is how to meet the spending requirement.  For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred currently has a 40,000 Ultimate Rewards sign up bonus, but you have to spend $3,000 in 3 months to get the bonus.

For some people, this is a daunting task because they don’t spend that much money each month.  But there is an easy solution that I will share with you today.

Most people are familiar with a PayPal account.  It is sort of an online bank account where you can deposit money then use it for online shopping. There is a similar account called Bluebird that is backed by Walmart and American Express. Here is an article we wrote about the Bluebird account and how to apply. It is free to apply and is one of the most useful tools because it can help you get miles for paying your rent or mortgage!

Today though I am going to show you how to meet your spending requirement for your new credit card easily, safely, and without spending any money!

Back to the example of the Chase Sapphire Preferred with the 40,000 point bonus for $3,000 in spend.  Follow these simple steps.

1. Buy $1,000 in Vanilla Reload Cards

Vanilla Reload cards are available at a number of merchants such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite-aid, 7-11, Family Dollar and more.  We did an article about where in Miami we have personally verified they are available.  You can find a complete list of stores on the Vanillareload.com web site under “Reload Locations” although all locations don’t always carry the reload cards. The reload cards will be in the gift card rack and will look like this:

20121124-224620.jpgTake two of them to the cashier and tell them you want to put $500 on each one.  The total will be $1007.90. Use your new credit card to pay the total.  You may get a call after from your credit card company verifying the charge, but that is somewhat normal since it is a large amount.

2. Deposit the Vanilla Reload cards into your Bluebird account

Go to Vanillareload.com and enter your Bluebird account number and the PIN number which is under the scratch off section on the back of the Vanilla Reload card you just purchased.

vanilla reload newOn the next screen you will put in the account number from your Bluebird card, say you accept the terms and conditions and hit next.  It will bring up a final confirmation screen before the reload is applied to your account.

You will need to do this twice for the two $500 Vanilla Reloads.  Bluebird has a maximum load amount of $1000 per day, so the two that you bought is all you can do today.

 3. Pay off the credit card you just used from your Bluebird account

Log onto your Bluebird.com account and you should see the Vanilla Reloads reflected in your new balance. Click on the Pay Bills button.

Pay Your Rent With Bluebird

Type in whoever your credit card is from in the “Who do you need to pay?” box and it usually already be in their system.

chase bb

Enter your credit card account number in the spot provided so it gets applied to the right account. Put $1000 in the payment amount and hit continue to send the payment.

chase BB pay

4. Repeat as necessary until you have met the spend requirement!

So you would need to do this 3 times over 3 different days to get the 40,000 mile bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred. 3 days are required because you can only load $1000 to your Bluebird account each day.

If you are paying attention, you will notice that you are actually spending $7.90 in fees for each $1000 in reloads so you are actually spending a tiny bit of money.  So with the card we have used in our example, you would have to pay $7.90 X 3 = $23.70 to get the 43,000 points (40,000 for the sign up bonus plus 3,000 for the “spending” you did).  This is almost enough for a round trip ticket to Europe on many carriers so it is well worth it!

So there ya go.  How to spend money without spending money!

 

Reader testimonial I received last month. This stuff works!

I got an unsolicited text message a while back from a friend I haven’t seen in a while.  I had no idea he was even following my site.  This made me so happy.   Check it out!

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This could be you!  He followed my Credit Repair 101 article to get these results and you can too!  A good card if you are just starting out or are rebuilding you credit is the Discover It for Students card.  This might be even easier to get than the Chase Amazon Visa he received.  Once your credit gets good again, you can get the juicy Chase Sapphire Preferred card that we reviewed here.

What are you waiting for people, fix your credit, get the right cards, and let’s travel for free!?