TradingPlaces wrote:Victoria, did you learn any special tricks that you thought were particularly valuable?
"Valuable" is related to one's prior knowledge and one's specific travel interests. I came to FTU with very little knowledge, and my interests are somewhat different from the mainstream of the attendees. I don't mind flying Economy, prefer to stay in hostels, and usually don't rent cars. However, I will have at least three international flights every year, and possibly more, and would prefer to use rewards for these flights.
Having said that, here are some things that I highlighted in my notes in red:
1. Booking in advance is different for different airlines, e.g., for Quantus it starts much earlier than for others.
2. There is a smart phone app, http://www.HotelUpgrade.com
that gets for you hotel upgrades, points, and confirmed reservations.
3. Daraius's top three credit card recommendations were:
(a) Chase Sapphire Preferred
(b) Barclay Arrival Plus
(c) SouthWest credit card (because of the companion pass)
He recommended to apply for the SouthWest card in December, spend in December, the points would post in January and would be good for 2015-early 2016. One could get 110k points per calendar year, using SouthWest Business card and SouthWest Personal card.
I did not follow up on this, because currently my primary interest is international flights.
4. Earn-and-burn philosophy: don't earn miles unless you are planning to use them within 12 months; don't hoard.
5. You can transit
through China, but not transfer
through China if you don't have a Chinese visa. A recommendation was to get a 10-year visa to China, so that this would not be an issue.
6. Sites TheFlightDeal.com, ExpertFlyer.com, and Matrix.ItaSoftware.com were recommended for selecting routing and flights, but I have not tried them yet. ExpertFlyer carries an annual fee, which is supposedly worthwhile for frequent flyers; other sites are free (I think). After a route is constructed, book on the airlines' own sites. GCMap.com is good for mapping routes.
7. Recommendation: subscribe to the FlyerTalk thread "Good Deals Premium Fares 2014" and if you see a good deal take it right away.
8. Apparently, there are scripts available on the web that can be used to get approved for credit cards.
9. AvisFirst is free with Chase Ink. I think it would provide 2 free days of rental.
10. Costcotravel.com is a good portal for getting rental cars. One must be a Costco member.
11. For international rentals, go to the country site. For example, Hertz in Jersey, UK, gives better rates than the general Hertz site.
12. A relatively cheap way to travel to Antarctica is to come to Ushuaia, Argentina, and take an unclaimed cabin. A few days ago, I started a separate BH thread discussing this possibility.
13. Alaska Airlines is underappreciated. Their credit cards offer a 25k-30k sign-up bonus, and one can sign up often, up to 4 cards at a time. Alaska partners with Cathway Pacific, Emirates and others, and charges different amounts of points for different partners.
14. AwardWallet keeps track of one's miles. (I still prefer to create my own spreadsheet and keep track of my rewards off-line.)
15. American Airlines has a generous definition of off-season travel, 15 Oct - 15 May, and charges only 20k miles for one-way Economy tickets.
16. KrisFlyer provides booking service and can transfer miles from Chase's Ultimate Rewards. (I have not investigated it yet.)
17. Gary Leff (ViewFromTheWing) and Ben Schlappig (OneMileAtAtime) provide booking services using one's miles. I met both of them at the FTU but have not used their services (yet).
18. Australian Frequent Flyer forum is more user friendly than FlyerTalk, because people don't talk in code.
19. Stefan Krasowski (RapidTravelChai) gave a talk about extreme travel, i.e., remote and dangerous destinations. For getting cash, he recommended a Schwab debit card, because it does not have a foreign exchange fee or ATM reimbursement.
20. Krasowski recommended getting a 3-year Russian tourist visa, 10-year for India and 10-year for China.
21. Those who want to get 70,000 reward miles on opening a Chase Ink Business card should go to a physical branch. Unfortunately, for me this is too far and out of the question.
The above is based on a quick review of my notes. At some point, I will go through them in a greater detail to uncover additional gems.
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