Tag Archives: hawaii

Now Boarding: United changes its frequent flier program

Photo by Todd MacDonald

You used to be able to take 35,000 frequent flier miles and travel to Hawaii, which was the best use of miles since Hawaii is so far and so expensive.

That was the game plan for me and Jon to do over this Thanksgiving, now that we’ve reached the 35,000 mile mark on United.

However, United quietly – very very quietly – released new changes to its frequent flier program that made it impossible for me to get to Hawaii for 35,000 miles. In fact, it will be 40,000 miles… ONE WAY.

?!?

The “saver” version is 20,000 miles one-way, so you could theoretically get a round-trip for 40,000 to Hawaii, but nobody is ever that lucky. In fact, I was just looking online around Thanksgiving, which is five months away, and no such ticket exists. Perhaps if I looked for next April I’ll be lucky.

I checked other airlines to see if anyone else has jumped on the baggage cart, but it seems only United has done this. However, others, like American, are allowing you to book one-way tickets using miles, for 12,500, a nice change from when you had to book a round-trip only for 25,000.

The key? Don’t rely on your miles to get you somewhere but use them for a flexible trip way off in the distant future. I don’t doubt that other airlines will start to add more restrictions to their awards programs as well. They are still a great way to fund a trip that can otherwise cost a couple thousand dollars, so use them wisely.

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Wanderings: If I could have planned my snow week

If you’re a travelin’ fool like me bound by three weeks vacation, you’ll understand how much it bothered me to be handed an entire week off from work with nowhere to go. Once Wednesday came around with another foot of snow, I knew I wouldn’t be required at work until Monday. We started looking at local ski mountains. I started thinking about going to New York. I wanted to substitute my snow shovel for a coconut with a straw sticking out of it and steel drums in the background on some beach.

If I could have planned my snow week with one day’s notice – say, last Thursday they said: by the way, this storm coming your way is going to shut you in for the rest of the week. What would I have done? Here’s my wish list.

Grand Canyon. I would have packed up my little Civic with our camping gear and bags of Trader Joe’s groceries and headed west, young man. I did it before in that little car and I would have tried again. Jon and I missed the Grand Canyon on our last roadtrip across the country (though I have been twice already on separate trips) and this would have been a perfect time to head out to explore, when the crowds are few. We would have hit a few other sites along the way, possibly Canyonlands, Arches, Zion, and wherever else that wouldn’t involve much snow. Four days driving roundtrip, leaving 5-6 days of exploring.

Colorado. Again, packing up the car with snowboarding gear and attempting to drive it through the snowy mountains of Colorado to experience some fresh powder. Yay! Again, four days of driving roundtrip, leaving 5-6 days of snow fun.

Hawaii. I would have hopped on a last-minute ticket flight to Hawaii, no matter how many times we had to change planes, and gone hiking through volcanoes, surfing on giant surfboards, wearing scenty leis and gotten a tan.

Paris. Flights to Europe are cheap in winter. So why not catch the next flight to one of my most favorite cities in the world? Wander through some smaller art galleries I missed last time, eat macarons, check out the latest fashions at Le Printemps, pick out some tres chic items for our house at BHV.

Dominican Republic. The country’s tourism is hurting because of Haiti’s earthquake. An ideal situation would be to sit on the beach, perhaps away from all the other tourists in Punta Cana, and maybe hike around the tropical forests, and then spend some time volunteering to help Haiti. Portions possible to write-off on taxes, too.

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