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Free flights are great and gratis hotel nights are a dream, but if you’re a true #AvGeek, then redeeming your hard-earned points and miles for something a little more AvGeek-y is even more rewarding.
Luckily, numerous airlines out there offer (often relatively exclusive) aviation experiences for rewards members, like flying an Airbus A320 simulator or experiencing an A220 flight simulator. Since most of these experiences aren’t available on a regular basis, you’ll want to start stockpiling your points and miles now instead of burning them on a meager redemption.
Here are a few of the aviation-centric opportunities you could find yourself taking advantage of if you play your rewards right:
You’ll find United’s aviation experiences and unique experiences that otherwise can’t be purchased, through its MileagePlus Exclusive program. The way it works is that members bid on an experience, so you won’t be using a set number of miles. Typically, experiences go for about 100,000-500,000 miles. Although flight simulator experiences similar to the one TPG contributor Jason Steele got to experience firsthand are only offered at select times per year, they are well worth it, according to Steele. While there aren’t any simulator experiences available at the moment, recent examples include an auction for parts of the airline’s now retired 747 fleet as well as the chance to experience a Boeing 777 flight simulation. Make sure to check the MileagePlus Exclusive website for upcoming opportunities.
Delta Air Lines
Delta’s aviation-related experiences are hosted through SkyMiles Experiences, which launched in 2010. Experiences offered range from touring the A220 facility before Delta took delivery to bidding on seats in Delta One as a part of the airline’s 747 farewell tour last year. While this journey around the country with the 747 was primarily an employee tour, according to Delta, “customers were thrilled to share that exclusive experience with Delta employees.” In order to determine what to feature, Delta says it regularly talks with customers to determine what types of experiences resonate best and develop ways for members to customize their experience with Delta using miles.
If you are one of the few to join Alaska’s 2-million-mile club and earn lifetime MVP Gold 75K status, you’re in luck. While not bookable with points and miles, a representative for the airline tells TPG that these elite flyers get “surprised” with a free flight simulator experience — one of several congratulatory gifts members can choose from after hitting the milestone — using a Boeing 737 at Alaska Airlines Flight Ops.
Representatives for JetBlue, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said in individual statements that the airlines do not offer anything similar to the aviation experiences detailed above at this time.
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Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.
- Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees