united

The Week in Review

Points Envy had a blast at the StarMegaDo4 this week. It was a wonderful chance to see how the sausage is made at United and to finally meet some of the most infamous points bloggers around. Most importantly, it was nice to have easy access to the buffet line from which said bloggers were all eating. Our last experiment failed, but we will rule this world yet!

The miles blogs have been filled with talk of an upcoming 30% Membership Rewards transfer bonus to British Airways, but the bonus does not begin until December 3. This reminds us of the way our dead parents used to start mentioning Christmas in November. This type of teasing did not end well for them.

Points Envy brought you an exclusive look, via Lucky (via Gary), at a 25% award redemption sale in the Avios program.

Dan’s Deals provided an excellent guide to maximizing this week’s Staples promotion whereby you receive a $15 Staples Gift card for every $100 Visa or Mastercard gift card purchased. So far, we have bought $30,000 worth of gift cards at our local Staples stores, and this afternoon we are flying to Nebraska to visit a few more Staples. Nobody in Nebraska is in the game yet, right? We assume it is like living in the 1990s there.

As predicted, Lucky has given us the beginnings of a stellar review of Lufthansa first class. Not to be outdone, MommyPoints also flew the most German of all airlines this week, and the full review of her A380 trip is forthcoming.

Million Mile Secrets provided a nice rundown of some ways in which to maximize the fourth quarter Chase Freeom bonus on hotels and airlines by purchasing gift cards. We plan on using this method to max out the $1500 bonus on all sixteen of our Freedom cards.

Last, but not least, our friend George was mentioned in a critical post by The Frugal Travel Guy, and has responded with a couple posts of his own. Rick then engaged George and his readers in a vicious catfight in the alley (aka comments section) of George’s most recent post. As a wise man once said: hate hate hate hate.

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The Week in Review

United is offering discounted award tickets to Europe for travel between January 15 and March 13, the precise timeframe in which nobody wants to go to Europe. But if braving cold weather and flying a U.S. carrier transatlantically are worth saving 12,000 miles to you, then by all means, have at it!

Via Million Mile Secrets, a new Ink Bold/Plus deal is on the way from Chase, requiring only $5,000 in spending within three months to receive the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points bonus. This surely means that soon nobody will be able to find Vanilla Reloads at Office Depots, except of course those of us who are already bribing our local store managers.

Small Business Saturday is back on November 24 this year, and registration begins November 18. Last year we convinced our local wine dealer to let us split purchases on multiple cards and managed to get several bottles of fine champagne gratis. Between this and Bluebird, we are having trouble figuring out how American Express stays in business. Is the entire bank just some elaborate money laundering front?

The Mr Pickles has developed an intriguing new way of ranking your miles earning: miles earned per minute. We propose a new method: miles burned per minute. Our number has got to be in the thousands.

Lucky is back in the sky, and we are looking forward to yet another mouth-watering review of Lufthansa first class. We particularly love reading his reviews of Lufthansa first class while flying Lufthansa first class. We are meta like that.

The Points Envy assistants sent in another photographic update from their latest vacation, this time from Moscow:


TPG’s Bad Taste Keeps PE Out of Contest Finals

This morning, esteemed travel blogger The Points Guy announced the 5 finalists in his caption contest, the winner of which will be his seatmate for the upcoming Star Alliance Megado 4. We were hesitant to enter this contest, seeing as the grand prize is a seat in the oxymoronic Economy Plus cabin, but we figured we would brave the new experience for the opportunity to chop it up with such a legend. Here is our entry, which somehow did not even make the top 5:

Our entry to TPG's contest

Everyone makes mistakes, even the great Brian Kelly, but this one is hard to explain. All of the people we showed it to said it was hands-down the clear winner, including the flight attendants and fellow passengers in the first class cabin on our JFK-LAX flight this morning. When we found out that we had been given the cold shoulder, we began to weep. With tears falling into our champagne and warm nuts, we found ourselves transported from the lap of luxury to the hell of rejection. Our pain was eased only slightly by a nice ice cream sundae and 8 servings of Glenfiddich.


Deal Alert: 600,000 United Miles for Simple Surgical Procedure

In the past, we have seen U.S. Airways offer a large mileage bonus for undergoing lasik treatment, but we have just found out about a new deal from United that makes that bonus look puny. On Tuesday, we were contacted by a doctor in India whose brother works for the MileagePlus program. They have put together an incredible offer that’s just too good to refuse. All you have to do is fly to India, let the doctor remove your kidney and sew you back up, and voila! Within three weeks you should have 600,000 United miles deposited to your account.

The only caveat seems to be that you have to get to India yourself. From the US it will run you 80,000 United miles roundtrip, so you’ll come out 520,000 miles ahead (or 480,000 if you fly first class on the way back, to help ease some of the post-surgery discomfort). File this deal under no-brainer! A couple of the editors here at Points Envy are even considering donating both kidneys. And we thought earning 40x UR points from that white van was a great deal!

Look for our success reports in a few weeks.

Who doesn't trust a doctor with Mickey Mouse ears?

There are 600,000 United miles in there, let’s get ’em out!


Points Envy Rakes in Over 13 Million Wyndham Points

Congratulations to all of you who were able to capitalize on yesterday’s Daily Getaways promotion! We were so excited about the opportunity to stock up on Wyndham points at such a low cost that over the past few weeks we quietly developed a technological beast to take advantage of the promotion. Naturally, our scheme worked, and we were able to purchase 13.8 million Wyndham points for just a little more than $35,500. Below, in a Points Envy exclusive report, we get an insider’s perspective on the brilliance behind Points Envy’s scheme.

Shortly after the Wyndham deal was announced, the Points Envy editors began throwing around ideas to capitalize on it: training a litter of puppies to buy points online, infiltrating the tightly-secured Daily Getaways technological headquarters, or maybe even just giving up. It became clear that although we possess the strength and good looks to pull off any number of such schemes, a certain intelligence was lacking. So we contacted an old friend of ours who is working on his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford. After much back and forth, we agreed to pay his team a commission of 20% of any amount we ended up spending on Wyndham points. We also supplied roughly $10,000 as a technology budget, though it curiously seemed to be used largely for the purchase of a few new iPads and digital cameras.

Nevertheless, things worked out splendidly. Our team of geniuses focused on the 50,000 Wyndham points packages priced at $128.70 (after the 10% Amex discount). Through a complex use of computers and computer keyboards, they were able to get past the restriction intended to limit each account to only one promotional package. Ultimately, we were able to purchase 276 of these 50,000 point chunks. After seeing these geniuses at work, we frankly find it unbelievable that anyone is questioning the value of higher education in this country.

Points Envy’s team, hard at work.

We plan on converting our Wyndham haul into roughly 5.5 million United miles, easily enough for more than thirty first class trips between the U.S. and Southeast Asia, more specifically to our secret island getaway in the Gulf of Thailand (hint: it is not Ko Samui). Factoring in the commission and tech budget, we still paid only $0.0095 per mile, which is not too shabby at all. We do apologize to those of you who were unable to take advantage of the deal as a result of our tactics. Well, maybe “apologize” is a little strong, though we do almost feel sorry for being so much better at this than all of you. But as we always say: all’s fair in love and points!


Plane Diverted After In-Flight Easter Egg Hunt Goes Awry

In an unfortunate incident yesterday, a United flight from Chicago to San Francisco was diverted when an onboard Easter Egg hunt went horribly awry. The airline had promoted the hunt as the first of its kind and offered discount tickets for children under the age of twelve. On final boarding in Chicago, the passenger manifest showed that more than two-thirds of the passengers were children.

According to the rules, these lucky kids would have approximately one hour to search for the more than one hundred dyed eggs hidden throughout the main cabin. A separate hunt involving genuine Fabergé eggs occurred at the same time in first class. Once at cruising altitude, the crew announced that the hunt would soon begin, and the excitement of the children was palpable. Soon after the announcement, the captain turned off the seatbelt sign and with the accompanying “ding,” a swarm of children began to run and crawl around the plane.

The first hints of trouble came only a few minutes later when two young children began fighting over an egg under 38C that both claimed to have discovered first. The egg was quickly crushed in the struggle and the children were wrestling in the aisle in no time. A flight attendant stepped in and was able to quell the juvenile violence, but just ten minutes later screams began to emanate from one of the rear lavatories.

When flight attendants were finally able to open the door, they discovered a seven-year old with what appeared to be an impressively painful wedgie. Through his tears, he complained that his eggs had been taken by some of the older children.

Despite these incidents and the fact that the crew ran out of alcohol for the adults, the hunt was going fairly well overall. Only thirty minutes remained when suddenly the captain requested that everyone return to their seats and fasten their seatbelts. A five-year-old child had somehow managed to sneak his way into the cockpit, where he found eight of the eggs.


The plane was diverted and made an emergency landing in Omaha. Fortunately nobody was injured, but we would guess that Jesus will rise again before United attempts another in-flight Easter egg hunt. In related news, it’s reported that El Al’s inaugural in-flight Afikomen search went off without a hitch.


Revolutionary Mileage Run Strategy Fails Because of Non-Fatness

Upon first meeting David Kilos, you might think he was just your run-of-the-mill road warrior, a reliable and unassuming employee. But after just a few minutes of talking points with him, you quickly realize you are dealing with a travel heavyweight (which, as you will see, is unfortunately only figurative). Kilos has been in the game for more than two decades and his knowledge runs deeper than Scrooge McDuck’s pockets, having already singlehandedly changed the way we think about points on numerous occasions. Multiple same day card applications, stopovers and open jaws in Europe on Delta awards to Africa, and the cents per mile unit of calculation were all pioneered by Kilos. And earlier this year Kilos had an equally revolutionary idea: earning miles for two tickets on a single flight.

“I kept seeing these amazing mileage run deals for around 3 cents per mile, and I just wished I could do them multiple times without it taking so long,” explains Kilos. In thinking along this line, his most recent epiphany occurred when he remembered reading that overweight people can earn miles for two seats on a single flight when they buy two tickets. With this strategy, Kilos figured he would be able to double the points-earning power of his mileage runs.

Kilos made his first attempt in early March on a United routing of FLL-IAH-SFO-LAX-SFO-IAH-FLL that priced out to about 3.2 cpm. He contacted United, explained his purported weight issues (Kilos is in reality a modest 5’9” and 160 pounds), and soon had his reservations in place. On that fateful morning, Kilos checked in with an automated teller, made his way through security and was soon waiting patiently for the moment of truth. When boarding began, he approached the gate and handed the gate agent both of his boarding passes. She seemed confused, and Kilos immediately grew nervous. He explained his purchase, but the agent did not understand and said he was “not fat enough for two tickets, even if you are a 1K.” She called her superiors and after much back and forth, the airline ultimately canceled one of the tickets because it concluded that Kilos was indeed too skinny to qualify for a double seat purchase.

When we met up with Kilos last week, he still seemed a little dazed by the ordeal. “I was so close to perfection,” he said. “Do you know what it feels like to be that close and then have it all come crashing down, just because you’re in shape?” Despite the failure, Kilos remains optimistic about his strategy. “I’ve been eating at least two meals a day a CiCi’s Pizza for the past several weeks. I know I’ll get there soon.”