Travel Giveaway: Two Business-Class Tickets Anywhere in the World
Image: Haisam Hussein
Just share your best frequent-flier success story -- a true-life example of how you engineered a free ticket, upgrade, or other miles- or points-related victory against the odds. Tell us, in 200 words or less, what you got, how you got it, and the lesson that the rest of us can learn from it. The person with the best frequent-flier triumph and tip wins.
Competitours founder and mileage mastermind Steve Belkin will be donating the prize and co-judging the contest with me. Steve is a frequent-flier extraordinaire who, in the past 12 years, has collected more than 17 million miles and has successfully redeemed them for those hard-to-snag free international business-class tickets that so often elude the rest of us. If you've read my article "How to Maximize Your Miles" in Condé Nast Traveler's April issue, you already know Steve, as he's one of the mileage mavens whose advice I quote.
The two business-class tickets that Steve is giving away in this contest will, in fact, be mileage-award tickets. He will magically turn 250,000 of his own frequent-flier miles into two business-class tickets to get you to the destination of your choice.
Click on "Continue reading 'Travel Giveaway...'" below for details about how to enter Condé Nast Traveler's contest.
Got no frequent-flier triumph or tip to share? You're hardly alone. But if you join one of Steve's Competitours trips that are happening in Europe from late May through late July, you'll have a chance of winning a different sort of prize. Competitours is a team travel competition where 17 teams compete for a prize pool of either $9,000 or 320,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points. All that's necessary to accomplish the fun and quirky daily Competitours challenges is the ability to be creative and resourceful. The trips are nine days long and follow a mystery European itinerary that hits both must-see cities and hidden-gem locales.
HOW TO ENTER THE "MAXIMIZE YOUR MILES" CONTEST:
* Post your submission in this comment space on perrinpost.truth.travel.
* Describe in 200 words or less your best success story with an airline loyalty program, as well as your best tip gleaned from that experience. Include where and when you traveled (or will be traveling) and any other pertinent details. When we judge the entries, Steve and I will be looking for frequent-flier victories that are both impressive--in other words, you accomplished something that is ordinarily tough to accomplish--but that are also clearly understandable--not arcane. We'll be looking for tips that are original rather than widely known. Most important, the tip should be something that a substantial number of travelers will find useful and can apply to their own lives, perhaps replicating for themselves. In other words, it shouldn't be a tip that will prove useful only to a tiny number of air warriors with super-elite airline status and a gazillion miles.
* Post your comment by April 30 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. More than one entry per person is allowed.
* Here's an example from my own life: In January I wanted to redeem Continental miles for four Newark-San Francisco round-trips in coach over the July 4th holiday. Continental.com showed no round-trips available at the 25,000-mile award level; the only flights listed cost 50,000 miles. So I phoned Continental's award desk to speak to a human being. A very helpful agent informed me that, actually, a larger inventory of 25,000-mile award seats is sometimes available to passengers like me with silver elite status (Continental's lowest level of elite frequent-flier status); she figured out a way to get me four 25,000-mile award seats if we were willing to return a day later than planned. The $25 fee per ticket to book through a human being was well worth it, as I spent only 100,000 miles rather than 200,000. My two tips: (1) When an airline's award-booking tool shows no flights available, call the award desk: a creative agent can often look up alternate routes or use other hidden strategies; (2) Consider getting an airline-affiliated credit card that helps you attain elite status based on spend, since that status can translate into big dollars saved (in my case, it saved me the cost of two EWR-SFO round-trips).
* The prize is 250,000 frequent-flier miles. The best usage of these miles is probably two international business-class tickets. You tell Steve where you want to go, and he'll book the mileage-award tickets for you. If you prefer, Steve says, you can use the miles for 9 coach tickets within the U.S. or 3 business-class tickets to Hawaii or South America. However you decide to use the miles, Steve will get to choose the airline(s) and route(s), and he'll help you stretch your 250,000 miles as far as possible. You'll need to have some flexibility with your travel dates, since Steve will redeem "Saver" awards (meaning, the tickets will be subject to the availability of "Saver" award inventory). You'll also need to pay any airline- or government-imposed taxes and fees, up to a maximum of $400 per ticket. The tickets must be booked by December 31, 2010, and your travel must be concluded by October 31, 2011. The prize is not transferable (meaning, the winner must be one of the two travelers).
* NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Click here to read the full rules. Contest starts 12:01 AM ET on April 6, 2010 and ends 11:59 PM ET on April 30, 2010. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States/D.C. and Canada (except Quebec) 18 or older, except employees of Sponsor, their immediate families and those living in the same household. Void outside the 50 United States/D.C. and Canada and where prohibited. Sponsor: Condé Nast.