Flying to Europe in Business Class — Reader Success Story

Mar 16, 2018

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Adrianna, who scored a heavily discounted premium award. Here’s what she had to say:

Last Spring I got an offer for the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card with a bonus of 60,000 miles (no longer available). With the minimum spending requirement being only $1,000 in the first three months, I thought it was a great deal and quickly signed up. After earning the bonus, however, I realized Delta didn’t have the best award options.

I went back and forth for a while about how to redeem the miles when I got an email from your daily newsletter about a Delta flash sale in December. After topping off my account by transferring 20,000 points from Membership Rewards, I was able to book a round-trip Delta One flight from Washington, DC to Italy for 98,000 SkyMiles and $60 in taxes/fees. Without that sale, the same flight would have cost 170,000 miles, so I feel like I got the most out of my rewards. Thanks for keeping me updated on the latest deals!

Award sales are unpredictable and usually don’t last long, but they can save you a ton of points. 98,000 miles round-trip is a very good price for a business-class award to Europe, and fortunately Adrianna was able to take advantage of it by booking quickly. Keep in mind, though, that just because an airline offers a discounted award rate doesn’t mean it’s your best option. For example, United recently marked down awards to Hawaii by 20% (from 45,000 miles to 36,000 miles round-trip). Of course you’d rather pay the lower price if you’re booking with United miles anyway, but given the choice you may be better off booking with British Airways Avios or Korean Air SkyPass.

Delta Air Lines no longer publishes an award chart, and the SkyMiles program tends to have more volatile award pricing than others as a result. Rates often vary wildly from one day to the next even outside of award sales, and that uncertainty is part of why I value SkyMiles less than most other airline miles. You should always look for opportunities to earn rewards quickly, but before you dive into a credit card welcome bonus or some other promotional offer, consider how you might spend those rewards once you earn them. Try searching for a few awards (even if your dates aren’t set) to get a sense of availability. Whatever you find, you’ll be better informed about your options when it’s time to book.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Adrianna for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo courtesy of TommL/Getty.

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