I love redeeming frequent flyer miles! I hate saving miles. In my view, saving miles seems to decrease their value as many U.S. based airlines have changed their policies and have made it increasingly difficult to redeem miles for flights at the best redemption levels. As such, I use miles as I accumulate them.
I redeemed a total of 5,985,218 frequent flyer miles/points from November 2013 through November 2014! So how did I use nearly 6 million points in the last year? Here are the highlights:
- Multiple trips to the Maldives.
- One Maldives trip was on Singapore Airlines with the flights between LAX and Singapore on an A380 in the First Class suites. These are the cabins that turn into a double bed that Tara and I enjoyed!
- Another trip to the Maldives was a Round-the-World in a Week trip. We flew from the west coast via Singapore to the Maldives and then flew on Emirates Airlines via Dubai back home.
- We also spent New Year’s in the Maldives flying round-trip on Emirates Airlines. We redeemed for business class seats relatively last minute on Emirates. The miles utilization was pretty poor, but we were able to use points over the busy New Year’s period on short notice.
- My favorite utilization of points was a 7 nights stay at Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s Private Island in the British Virgin Islands. This stay required the most miles of anything during the year – 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for the week. We loved our stay so much that we booked a week next year as well – another 1.2 million miles.
- We flew to Seattle and stayed at the Four Seasons (using Chase points) to enjoy a cocktail hour with Ferran Adria and listen to the culinary genius give a memorable speech.
- One fun trip involved a couple nights in each of the following places: Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, Charleston, Miami, Belize, and Guatemala. My policy of never checking a bag was stretched to the max on this trip!
- Another highlight of the year was going to the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix (redeemed first class flights going on Singapore Air and returning on United Airlines).
By the numbers
2.5 million miles were redeemed on hotel stays. 2 weeks at Necker Island (one of which is for next year), a couple nights at the Four Seasons Seattle, a night at the Ritz Carlton San Juan, and a night at the Westin Airport hotel in Los Angeles.
3.4 million miles were redeemed on airline flights. About 1 million miles were used on Singapore Airlines and about 950,000 miles were redeemed on Emirates Airlines. I redeemed about 1 million points through Chase for flights on a number of airlines when we couldn’t get the flights we wanted through the airlines miles programs directly. About 200,000 were redeemed on both United Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Seaborne Air even flew us from Puerto Rico to Tortola using American Express points.
50,000 American Express points were redeemed for $500 worth of West Elm gift cards.
A number of our trips were planned with relatively short notice (about a month out or less) so the best utilization of miles was not always possible. I did choose flights with the best schedules and avoided red-eyes and bad connections whenever possible. I also opted for premium airlines like Singapore and Emirates which sometimes required more miles.
Would I change anything or do things differently? I’d skip the Red Bull Air Race in Las Vegas (wasn’t my favorite event). Everything else was amazing! I love to use points and experience the World.
What sorts of trips or purchases have you redeemed points and miles? I’d love to hear.