2012 Here We Are

There are so many things about the new year which is very exciting for me and hopefully for you. I have made a decision to share with you many things about my life and travel. Last year I had made many of my dreams come true with travel.  I have already explained to some of you the way the ways you can save on travel. This blog is going to be explaining how I saved my airline miles by using a specific credit card. There are many out there that offer miles however you have to tailor to your specific travel needs. There are plenty of airlines that have alliances or work as teams.

In my case I have chosen Chase cards because I have had a Star Alliance account and used my miles for travel. This year alone I found that if I want to visit a friend in Alaska it would cost me either $367 plus 25K miles and a tax of $7 to make it the grand total of $374. This would be a long day and I would have to have a total of three connecting flights. I would still be able to collect miles one way but forfeit collecting miles on the reward travel. So this is how I went about looking at my trip.

Usually if  you fly on a week day you have a better chance of flying a more economical flight. It is not possible for everyone but this is the ideal. For example if I am leaving a New York City airport on a Thursday and decide to return on a Thursday the full fare as of todays date from Continental Airlines is $1000. Looking at Alaska Air it was $874. Looking at my budget it was not working for me at all. In this economy to pay that price for a week trip just does not seem worth it. Last year I spent $580 for the same ticket. Again timing is everything. Last year I left in March. This year I may be going in June. There is a lot to be said for traveling off season.

So I began the usual routine of looking at both airlines and seeing if there was another airline as part of the Star Alliance that I could use my points or airline miles. I found a flight from Newark one way to Anchorage with two stops and a total of 10 hours for $478 one way and return 25k airline miles. Because I know how to bank my miles this year I have achieved Gold status so even with an economy ticket there is a strong indication I will be placed in first class.

Basically I am looking at going first class for the price of a one way ticket. This past year I have learned a tremendous amount of information about how to achieve point status. You can do this many ways. You as a traveler can fly everywhere and pay lots of money to achieve mileage or you can economize and travel via train and other partnerships and earn segments. It takes 30 segments to achieve Silver Status on the Star Alliance. That allows you to have your luggage  being tagged at the airport as Elite. You have access to the Clubs at the Airport and you have an upgrade of your ticket if there is availability.

Segments are technically given as anywhere from point a to point b. So if you fly direct from NYC to Madrid. That is one segment but approximately 9k miles. So you need 25,000 airline miles to reach this status or 30 segments. So if you fly to Boston non-stop from NYC its one segment and 300 miles. If you take a train its one segment. So there are many ways to accomplish the same goal if  you are looking for Silver, Gold or Platinum status.

Recently, some airlines such as Continental, United and US Airways have added features that can help you reach these goals. You can use a mileage maximizer from Continential to boost your miles. You can double and triple your miles and it does count towards your goal of trying to achieve Status.

US Airways and United help you buy your perks. Economy seating for a year. Free luggage for a year. Other perks can be bought at a price. It is steep so you have to evaluate whether it will work for you.

So how can this work for you all this wheeling and dealing. Well for one thing I visit my mother in Del Rio, Texas quite often. She is elderly and has a medical condition that I monitor from afar. It can be quite nerve wracking at times but it is what it is. I am not in a position to be able to always spend anywhere from $250 to $500 round trip depending on the market for a round trip ticket. I make my way there every 6 weeks or so.

Deciding whether to fly into San Antonio Airport and drive the 2 1/2 hours one way is not as bad as it sounds. However, if I can fly directly into Del Rio then it is a few miles to her house and I could walk if an emergent situation called for it. I always weigh out the cost of a ticket vs car rental. With that being said because I have a Veterans Advantage Card I receive 5% off my airline ticket. I pay with my Chase Card. Rent a car with my airline membership which is tied into the program. Pay gas with the card and have points adding up besides the airline miles. Miles are coming in from everywhere.

Of course you have to be goal oriented and know that this takes work and will spend approximately 2 to 3 hours of researching in order to make it happen but it is worth it to save your hard earned money.

I am not advocating that you buy or find this credit card. I am writing from my perspective and what I use to make my life work. This is template for you to use for  yourself and I will be more than happy to help you if you need the help.

What I am going to let you know is that I am trying to have the best life I can have without going into debt. My budget is my own and I am attempting  to assist you into your goals of independence.

I have been discussing travel and finance. The other issues I will be discussing in the coming weeks will also be about personal changes. As a therapist I know that life sometimes is not fair. It is not easy to make life work when you think life is working against you. I know for some of you it is a temporary situation but when you are faced with challenges they may seem overwhelming it feels like it may never end. This is when you find out who are your friends and who was just there to tag along. The next few blogs will be about life and its adversities and how to work with them and hold on to living the best life you can. You are always free to write me at lovinglightning@gmail.com

Peace to you and be prosperous in all areas of your life. Denise

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