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#FTULAX Review – New Friends and New Digs

December 4, 2012 24 comments

New Friends

It was my first ever Frequent Traveler University, and like everyone else, I am bummed that it was over so quickly.

If you’re someone who reads the blogs thoroughly and wonders if FTU is for you — it’s not. But if you’re someone who wants to get to know people in the community and learn some tricks that will never make it to blogs, then by all means, FTU is not enough!

My mattress run suite (though I did end up catching a few Zzzz's that night).

My mattress run suite (though I did end up catching a few Zzzz’s that night).

On Friday, after checking in to the Radisson to earn my free stay credit for a more expensive hotel night later, I met the infamous TravelBloggerBuzz (or George, or @FlyerTalkerinA2), who somehow got a better suite than me and breakfast certificates! Whaaat? Right there and then, I knew I had lots to learn! During the cocktail hour, I met loads of other bloggers, tweeters, and miles enthusiasts, and found it easier to just put my @PointsToPointB handle on my nametag. Apparently, people read what I write! Who knew?!

I also met the Santa Claus of Frequent Flyer Miles, Randy Petersen

I also met the Santa Claus of Frequent Flyer Miles, Randy Petersen.

Friday was a pure social session with free drinks, and I eventually headed out to dinner in Culver City with  FrequentFlyerUniversity, TravelSummary, JustAnotherPointsTraveler, and @HouseOfV, who taught me a lot about combining points and paid fares for future mileage runs. We later caught up in Santa Monica with GiddyForPoints and MileCollector, who talked to me more about his methods of points-earning.

Saturday’s sessions were somewhat informative, but what I was excited about was crossing off an item on my bucket list by having lunch with TheMrPickles, who explained some of his creative points-earning techniques to me. The sessions ended a bit early, so I ended up being found by MileValue, whom I met in L.A. earlier this year, and was invited to his “standard room suite” for a get-together before dinner, where we talked about the best premium cabin redemptions (although I ended up speaking about the Emirates A380 First Class shower for a while).

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MileValue MeetUp (pic courtesy MileValue)

We headed out to dinner at the Westchester In’n’Out, quite possibly my favorite fast food location in the world due to its location next to the northern LAX arrivals runway. I got to talk to FrequentMiler for a while about where the reload game was going, and met loads of others to talk about schemes and tactics. I don’t even think we ever sat down in the In’n’Out, we all just stood up and used the decorative ledges as tables while eating and talking points!

View of a Korean Air 777 landing, on a prior trip to In'n'Out.

View of a Korean Air 777 landing, on a prior trip to In’n’Out.

Sunday started off with a session all about the secrets that you won’t find on blogs. Depending on your travel habits and risk aversion, just this one session could save you hundreds of dollars. I won’t go into it because we would certainly kill the deals by posting on a concrete and lasting thing like the internet. We followed that up with some sessions to close the day, including two by beaubo from Flyertalk, who told some of the amazing entrepreneurial experiences he used to earn millions of miles at a time (I recommend listening to Steve’s Baht Run story at 14m:52s in this video).

The big guys like Daraius, Gary, and Lucky were quite busy and I wasn’t able to talk to them for a while, but there are future events for that (although I was surprised when Lucky came up to me to say he recognized my handle on my name-tag and thought my stuff was interesting … am I allowed to blush? Do you read this, Lucky? Comment, dude!). Although I did get to speak to Emily from Million Mile Secrets, and it somehow came out that I was the creator of the infamous “THE VANILLA RELOADS ARE GONE” video that Emily is apparently a huge fan of (phew, dodged a bullet there!). I’m so famous, she requested a picture, though I asked if we could use some props for it:

I need some circles and arrows!

I need some circles and arrows!

Sunday came to a sad end, and those who came from out of town had to make their way to the airport. I hung out near the bar and talked to those who had red-eyes or late flights. On Saturday, the hotel’s water was closed off due to a burst pipe, and those who stayed at the hotel got compensated as little as 4000 points to as much as 7000 points and a free room. However, it happened during the day, so it affected all of us at the seminars. Someone told me to go ask for compensation and I ended up getting 4,000 SPG points … without even being a guest! At 2.3 cents each, that almost pays for the seminar fee! Score!

I ended up heading out to get Korean BBQ with The Wandering Aramean, Just Another Points Traveler, and others, which was again, loads of fun with tidbits of information that can’t be gleaned from a blog post.

What all am I trying to say from this? It’s that despite subscribing to so many blogs about miles and points, there’s only so much you can learn from words on a screen. Getting to an FTU or Seminar or DO or Meetup really helps you learn things that you didn’t think would be possible. I’m not yet sure if I’ll be able to go to FTU DC in April, but I sure hope I can.

New Digs

One blogger whose work I’ve read since he started blogging is Scottrick at Hack My Trip. We met this weekend and had a genuine mutual appreciation for the unique ideas we had, especially since they seem to complement each other (with Scottrick having his ideas on maximizing fares and me having ideas on maximizing points). Starting today, I’ve decided to publish a few guest posts on Hack My Trip. You can read about my conversation with the founder of the Wallaby Card, who had a 5-minute spiel at FTU this past weekend. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing more ideas to Hack My Trip’s site, and we’ll see where it goes from there. I’ll still have this blog for other points-related things, and will definitely keep my Twitter going, but I want some of my ideas to capture a larger audience.

It was great meeting so many others at FTU — can’t wait until the next one!

Categories: Meetups, Travel Tools

#FTULAX this weekend!

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ll be making the drive over to LAX on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this weekend for Frequent Traveler University at LAX!

Friday night is the opening cocktail reception. I plan on being there around 4pm, hopefully earlier if I can get some work done. I’ll first stop by the Radisson to check in for my stay to get the free night credit, then will head over to the main event. I still need to figure out where to park my car, and if I’ll stay the night at the Radisson or make the 25-minute drive home.

I’ll be tweeting at @PointsToPointB,  with the hashtag #FTULAX, so send me a tweet if you want to meet up. Hope to meet some new and old faces!

PS, if you’re coming from out of town, bring an umbrella! The usually glorious LA weather will not be on display this weekend ….

Categories: Travel Tools

Delta Showing Korean Air Award Space Online!

October 14, 2012 5 comments

This is huge news! Korean Air is a member of Skyteam and one of Delta’s premier partners in Asia. It’s been really difficult to search for award space on them since Delta didn’t show it online, nor did they show up on most online systems like ExpertFlyer (on the other hand, Air France, KLM, and China Southern show up on ExpertFlyer, while Virgin Australia shows up on Delta.com).

I’m seeing A LOT of business class space online to Asia. Just check out these screenshots!

LAX to Seoul on KE A330 (via Tokyo-Narita).

JFK to Seoul on a mix of Delta and Korean Air (getting the new Delta 747 Business Class + getting the Korean A380)

It even works for destinations beyond South Korea. For example, I want to take my mom to Angkor Wat in Cambodia sometime next year, and it’s well setup for Delta miles with service on Korean, China Southern, China Eastern, and Vietnam Airlines. A simple “LAX-REP” (Siem Reap Airport) search shows me this:

Combine with ExpertFlyer for China Southern availability, and all of a sudden, this is a rather easy award to book with Delta miles!

Delta’s routing rules also allow you to fly Korean to the South Pacific, so long as Korean publishes a fare. Check out Los Angeles to Sydney:

An additional way to book Australia online!

However, you’ll notice that, in typical Delta.dumb fashion, this is an impossible connection, since it arrives Seoul on Nov. 1 at 7:45pm (despite it saying Nov. 2) and departs Seoul on Nov. 1 at 7:15pm … which means you should stick to multi-city searches and plugging in each segment at a time. Unfortunately, the multi-city search doesn’t work as well on Delta’s site …

Korean Air’s destinations in the USA are

  • ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • ORD – O’Hare International Airport
  • DFW – Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
  • HNL – Honolulu International Airport
  • LAS – McCarran International Airport
  • LAX – Los Angeles International Airport
  • JFK – John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • SFO – San Francisco International Airport
  • SEA – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • IAD – Washington Dulles International Airport

Korean also has some blackout dates per this FlyerTalk thread:

TRAVEL IS NOT PERMITTED
* 07DEC 12 THROUGH 06JAN 13
* 07FEB 13 THROUGH 12FEB 13
* 01MAR 13 THROUGH 03MAR 13
* 17MAY 13 THROUGH 30JUN 13
* 19JUL 13 THROUGH 25AUG 13
* 14SEP 13 THROUGH 23SEP 13
* ON 03OCT 13
* 05OCT 13 THROUGH 06OCT 13
* 07DEC 13 THROUGH 31DEC 13

I could post screenshots upon screenshots of availability, but I’ve seen availability from all of these cities using Delta’s online search!

If you are searching for economy class space, it will show up as “KE.X” (X is the booking class for economy class awards).

If you are searching for business class space, it will show up as “KE.O” (O is the booking class for business class awards).

First class is not bookable with Delta Skymiles. The A380 serves both LAX (KE flight 17/18) and JFK (KE flight 81/82).

Lastly, don’t forget that Korean Air serves a very interesting fifth-freedom route in LAX-GRU (Sao Paulo, Brazil) on KE 61 (LAX-GRU) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday, and KE 62 (GRU-LAX) on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Los Angeles to Brazil direct for 100K miles roundtrip in business! World Cup 2014, anyone?

Keep in mind that the Brazilian government is also very anti-YQ, so no fuel surcharges departing Brazil either. I’m in the process of trying to find some fun open-jaws to include this flight on but the Delta website is pretty glitchy.

Or if you need to get between Vienna and Zurich on Skyteam for some reason (stopover on a Europe award?):

Fifth Freedoms are AWESOME

To me, this really increases the value of Delta miles. It’s an actual enhancement! Okay, let’s forget the no cancellations within 72-hours rule, or the lack of low-level domestic feeder availability for now …

I can’t say that I’ve gone and booked one of these awards, since I still only have Gold Medallion status and need to wait until Platinum Medallion status to make free award changes. But I was able to hold an award through Delta’s website.