Time to Book!

I’ve been finalizing my travel plans for the Star Alliance MegaDO IV and the Chicago Seminars in the last couple weeks. Partly it’s because I have a few United Type B vouchers that need to get used up before they expire. Here’s my game plan. Email me for more details if you plan to go to these events and want to coordinate schedules. Just to get your mind spinning, here’s a look at my itinerary for the MegaDO, which will earn me about 22K PQM and 44K RDM:

GCMap flght map image

Map provided by GCMap.com

Positioning for Star MegaDO 4 (SEA-PDX-RDM-LAX) on November 10

I have to get to LAX for the international portion of the Star MegaDO (see below) that starts on Sunday. Rather than pay about $130 for a nonstop on a CR7 with United, I chose a more roundabout path. With connections in Portland and Redmond, OR, on an Embraer propeller plane, it will take more time but give me almost twice the miles due to 500-mile minimums for elites. Also there might be more opportunities to take a VDB.

Yes, my chances of an upgrade might be lower, but they weren’t great to begin on such a small plane as a CR7 even as a 1K. I considered Alaska (American doesn’t operate this route), but I definitely won’t get an upgrade that way since my EXP status is with American, not their partners. This is one of the most aggravating things about being an American Airlines elite in Seattle.

To do this, I’ll probably fly in the day before on Saturday, which will necessitate a hotel near LAX. Unfortunately the only Hyatt nearby doesn’t offer shuttle service, so it will be a good use of my SPG Starpoints to stay someplace like the Sheraton or Four Points LAX.

Star MegaDO 4 – International (LAX-FRA-ZRH-SFO) from November 11-13

I posted yesterday that international economy class bookings for the MegaDO had opened. Those spots have already been taken. At about $1,000 a pop, it’s not cheap but neither is it a bad deal. It will just be an expensive mileage run from with a lot of friends! (GCMap.com puts it at 11,823 miles flown, so a bit under 9 cpm.) The business class option will be priced on Monday, at about $3,000 each, so be ready and waiting to send your email asking for a spot. Being on the international portion guarantees you a spot on the domestic charter, and you get a chance to try out Lufthansa’s new 747-800. Check out the thread on MilePoint.

I have a room booked at the Park Hyatt Zurich on points, but at this point I’m thinking it might make more sense to see if I can change it to use on of my free night awards that I got for signing up for the Hyatt Visa from Chase. The free nights expire, but the points don’t. As far as I can tell there’s no difference in value when you’re talking about a top-tier Category 6 hotel.

Star MegaDO 4 – Domestic Charter (SFO-IAH-ORD) from November 13-16

The actual MegaDO charter flight is another $1,000 in economy and heads from San Francisco to Chicago via Houston. I guess I would I have liked to include an extra airport in there. It seems unfortunate that we’re only making one stop, but we will still have fun, I’m sure. Plus it’s on a wide-body, newly configured 767-400!

Although the itinerary is just under 2,500 miles and it’s a charter, United has agreed to provide economy class passengers 5,000 elite and redeemable miles. Other classes cost more and earn more. Elite bonuses apply as usual. Still, that’s 10 cpm, so not quite a mileage run. The detailed schedule for the domestic portion has also been posted.

Positioning for Return Home (ORD-IND-IAH-SEA) on November 17

I have another opportunity with my return flight from ORD to SEA. A non-stop from ORD back to SEA costs $289 if I want to leave Saturday (and I pretty much do, since I’m unlikely to make it to the airport in time if the Star Alliance 15th Anniversary reception lasts long into Friday night). Plus the nonstop is operated by an A319, with yet another slim chance of an upgrade. Or I could spend $285 and connect in Indianapolis and Houston! I will be out of B vouchers at this point (three of them went to the Chicago Seminars, below) so I will probably just use my Citi ThankYou points to take care of it.

Chicago Seminars from October 12-14

Also, don’t forget the Chicago Seminars are filling up, and some of the sessions have already booked solid. The main hotel (Holiday Inn Elk Grove Village) is also booked, and people are starting look around elsewhere. From what I hear, you might want to consider a rental car instead of trying to use the hotel shuttles to get to the seminars.

Fortunately I got in early and reserved my sessions and the hotel as soon as they were announced. But I didn’t book my flight until a couple weeks ago when Mommy Points noticed some good fares to ORD. For me, I dunno, the fare from SEA wasn’t that great. But it was good enough, and I got United to pitch in $300 to help make it happen with almost perfect departure/arrival times. ;) In this case, I had to go with a nonstop or risk red-eyes and missing part of the seminars, but you can’t win every day.

Scott created Travel Codex after learning how to travel better on a budget during grad school. He now flies over 150,000 miles every year.
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  • Steve

    I’ve just started reading your blog and getting into the points game. Is there anywhere which can explain what all the acronyms you are using mean? For example, in this article you use PQM, RDM and VDB.

    Thanks!

    • Scottrick

      Milepoint.com has a feature where you can highlight any word and it will pop up with a dictionary entry. There’s also a post with some of the more common terms.

      I started out defining most of these terms in my earlier posts, but it really does get bothersome after a while writing out each term over and over. Sorry! With practice these will become second nature to you. For the three you mentioned, PQM are premier qualifying miles (United’s name for elite qualifying miles), RDM are redeemable miles, and VDB is a voluntary denied boarding.

      • Steve

        Brilliant! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I take it I’ll have to find the word in milepoint first though?

        Cheers for explaining so quickly!
        As you say, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it eventually!

  • http://twitter.com/angelinaaucello Angelina Aucello

    Excited! I’m also doing both the International and domestic portions as well =). Now it’s time for me to look for positioning flight to LAX as well – I’m thinking I’ll book an AA international trip and use LAX as my free stop over.