10 interesting comments from the BoardingArea contest

The Win a Trip for Two to Australia’s Gold Coast contest generated tremendous interest. As I was getting all the entires in on my blog (I approved each and every one after reading them), I was just amazed by the vast range tips and experiences my readers shared in their comments. While the winner was selected using a random number generated on random.org, I decided to bring to the attention of my readers some of the most unique comments I got. I of course do not expect anyone else to read all 383 comments, but I consider every entry near and dear to my heart, and so I am reading them all again. I plan to share some of the most unique or interesting comments I read. Here are my 1st 10 selections:

  1. Adam said: Bookmark a site like evreward.com, and anytime you make an online purchase, check it out. It lists all airline/hotel points available for shopping at a particular site. The little miles add up, and are also great for keeping accounts “fresh.”
  2. Katie said: look for hotels offering discounted point stays. That way, you make the most of your points. For instance, on certain dates 25k Marriott points can be used for a night at a Ritz-Carlton.
  3. Jonathan said: It never hurts to ask… just for asking I’ve recieved status matches, waived CC fees, gotten agents to round up total miles to book a flight or hotel when I was short. If you have a bad trip/stay be vocal, write a letter and an email, I’ve been well rewarded for my valued consumer feedback.
  4. Steve said: Two tips for the price of one entry! I know this doesn’t increase chances of winning, but I surely hope it doesn’t break the rules :) 1. If you think you might lose elite status the following year due to changes in travel patterns, focus more on paid (point/mile-earning) flights and stays while you still have status. Two reasons this helps: (A) you take advantage of the elite benefit of bonus earning (10%, 25%, 50%, 100%, etc) that should more than compensation for the risk of devaluation in the coming year, and (B) you will continue to take advantage of upgrades associated with your status in the paid flights/stays. This means avoiding redemption of miles, points, and “free” vouchers (e.g. VDB) that do not earn miles — use these for your family and friends instead, or maybe offer a tit-for-tat exchange (you’ll pay for someone else’s trip using points, and they’ll pay for your similar or less expensive trip using money). 2. Don’t overestimate the value of your miles/points or be overzealous of spending money just to collect rewards, since this is counterproductive to your more important personal finance goals (that will fund more travel!). For example, if you would never pay $20,000 for an international first class flight, don’t benchmark your miles based on that cost! If you do the math, you might find that cashback cards will be more beneficial to your pocketbook than mile or point-earning cards. For example, the Schwab InvestFirst Visa gives 2% cash back on all purchases; would you rather have 2 cents in your pocket for every $1 you spend, or one mile/point? If you always redeem for domestic flights for 25k miles, are those limited-availability flights worth $500 to you?
  5. jumpcut said: Check airline partner websites for seat availability to international destinations. Then call your airline and suggest the dates that you found available on the partner sites.
  6. ryan said: Don’t get too sucked in to the miles and points game as you may end up making uneconomical decisions just to push that extra status level. Take advantage of the good deals (us airways TIBs, BA card, US mint) and leave everything else to the die hards. Pay someone to do your award redemption research.
  7. YD said: When booking award travel, be flexible and be EARLY! The magic number is 330. Most airlines load new inventory into their reservations system 330 days prior to the flight date. If there are any award seats on the flight you want, they will be available right after that flight is loaded into the system. Of course, popular travel days (i.e. holidays, spring break, etc.) and popular travel routes/destinations may cause these seats to disappear nearly immediately after release, but be patient, plan well in advance, and mark (and double-check) your calendar for the correct day to start your search. Happy travels!
  8. Ripper3785 said: Explore ALL your options when booking Award flights. Pull up the route maps for airlines in your alliance and look for the obscure/unusual, and then check availability. Never trust a phone agent to help you find a creative award routing. Do the legwork if you want to find that dream trip, and be flexible.
  9. Chuck said: Don’t just travel, be an adventurer. One year while booking reward travel to Athens, the agent told me she could get us to Athens, but couldn’t find a return flight. I asked, is there anything available from a nearby city. She responded, “Two days later, I can get you out of Bucharest Romania.” Without thinking how I was going to make it work, I told her to book it. That trip to Greece ended up taking us through Turkey to Romania. We traveled on boat, bus, prop airplane and taxi to complete the trip. It became one of the best vacations of our lives.
  10. Martin said: Be Happy. Think Positive. Read FlyerTalk

(OK, not unique, but I love it!)

I once again thank everyone who took the time to post.

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