After having redeemed over 25 premium class flights in the past few years, I've found that it's extremely useful to try and get maximum value out of my miles. If I can save 10,000 miles here or there, the numbers really start to add up. Recently, I was very excited to find a 30,000(!) mile discount in the US Airways award chart. To my knowledge, very few people have been taking advantage of this loophole. The routing I'm talking about is Mexico or Central America/Caribbean to South Asia.
Having many friends in the region, I've redeemed several flights to Bangkok and Singapore. As you can see from the below chart, North America (my region of origin) to South Asia is 120,000 miles in business class and 160,000 miles in first class. Compared to United (120k/140k miles) and American (110k/135k miles) this is not a very good value.
However, one day I looked a little further down the list, and saw that Mexico or Central America/Caribbean to South Asia is only 90,000 miles in business and 120,000 miles in first class. This is actually a 33% discount on a flight from the US to South Asia and for a longer flight distance! This got my wheels spinning on how to take advantage of this extremely generous loophole.
No offense to my neighbors to the South, but I bet most of you Norte Americanos are thinking, "So what? I don't live in Latin America or the Caribbean." However, thinking outside of the box can often provide outsized benefits in the travel game. Here's how I made this work and effectively got two vacations for less than the price of one:
LAX – SJD AKA Los Cabos International (One way paid flight for $129) – Economy
SJD-LAX (Stopover) – First
LAX-BKK (Destination) – Business
BKK-LAX (Return) – Business
LAX-SJD (Throwaway) – Economy
Total output: $129 for one way to SJD and 90,000 miles + $162 in taxes and fees
Grizzled travel hacking veterans are probably nodding their heads right now in understanding, but for newbies, I'm sure that this is a lot of gobbledygook. Rest assured, in Part II of this guide, I will flesh out what the above itinerary entails, and how to replicate many bookings for a similar benefit.