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In 2013, Alissa Haupt needed to travel to China for a job teaching English. What she did next was slightly more complex than going to Kayak and buying the ticket using cash. Instead, Alissa booked a round-trip set of flights from Minneapolis to Shanghai in business class using, the now discontinued, US Airways miles program. Her route flew from Minneapolis to Chicago, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Bangkok, Seoul, and Shanghai; and returned from Shanghai, to Zurich, Munich, Chicago, and finally to Minneapolis. Alissa used the knowledge that she gleaned from reading the travel blog written by Scott at milevalue.com to book a ten segment award ticket for 90,000 US Airways miles.
How did Alissa get 90,000 US Airways miles? She got 30k by opening a US Airways MasterCard and she purchased another 60k from US Airways for about $1,200. Since US Airways was a member of Star Alliance, Alissa was able to use her miles to book flight segments on the company’s airline partners. First Alissa used united.com to search for reward availability, segment by segment. Then she called US Airways to book the award and fed the phone agent each flight segment one by one. After the reservation agent located all the available award segments, the final ticket cost Alissa 90,000 miles and $140 in taxes and fees. Alissa was ecstatic all her efforts yielded such a fruitful experience. She reflected on the experience saying, “[$1340] is a decent price in economy between Minneapolis and Shanghai, and a great price to fly around the world in business class. According to my quick search on Kayak, it would have cost somewhere between $5,000 in cash to fly between Minneapolis and Shanghai business class on my dates, and $19,000 to book the trip around the world.” – Adapted from Mile Value