Skip to content

How changing airports saved us 88,000 miles — reader success story

Sept. 13, 2019
4 min read
Hanalei Bay
How changing airports saved us 88,000 miles — reader success story
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader John, who chose an alternative departure city for his family's trip to Hawaii:

For a few years, my family of four had our eyes set on a trip to Hawaii using my AAdvantage miles. As I built my balance over those years, the program made changes that seemed to devalue any balance increases I achieved. Finally, the time had come for me to book our flights to Kauai, our island of choice for our first trip to Hawaii.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

I waited until the booking window opened 331 days prior to departure and tried to snag MileSAAver tickets, but even though I checked daily for over three weeks, I had no luck finding what I felt like was a reasonable rate for our economy-class trip. The first round-trip itinerary I found totaled 256,000 miles, and while I waited for a better price, that amount grew to 262,000 miles. Our home airport is DFW, and I realized that for all the benefits this affords me (like lots of nonstop flights), booking awards can be a challenge due to the number of AAdvantage members in the area.

I decided to check three other airports within a four-hour drive (AUS, OKC and IAH). When I saw a similar itinerary from IAH for only 174,000 miles total, I snagged it with the TPG-inspired logic that saving over 80,000 miles is worth at least $1,000, which more than pays for our time to make the drive. I also plan to sign up for a Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® to get access to Admirals Club lounges during our trip, which will help justify the card’s $450 annual fee along with the bonus miles it offers. Thanks for inspiring a creative approach to booking our trip, and I hope other readers can benefit from it!

Whether you're paying cash or booking an award, broadening your flight search to include more airports naturally provides more opportunities to find a good deal. But like John did, you should weigh any potential savings against the costs involved with choosing an airport far from home. That includes transportation costs like rental cars, hotels or extra meals you need to cover in transit, though you should also account for costs that aren't measured in dollars or points. Paying less for your flights isn't as enticing if flying out of a different city eats up a day of vacation time or forces you into an undesirable itinerary.

John says he saved up for his family's trip to Hawaii over the course of several years. The downside of stockpiling rewards over such a long period is that devaluations are nearly inevitable; you're better off redeeming points and miles more quickly so their value is somewhat predictable and you don't have to worry about them expiring. TPG recommends keeping enough on hand to fund your travels for roughly the next year, though you can extend that horizon for transferable points since they have a more stable redemption value. There are plenty of ways to accumulate rewards if you want to move up your timeline for booking, so you don't have to take the long view like John did.

Related: 8 ways to earn more points and miles by double dipping

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending John a 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 info@thepointsguy.com; 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, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected.

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

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases