Yes, seats are still available for FTU Dallas + get $20 off
Frequent Traveler University (FTU) is taking place this coming weekend (April 17-19 2015) in Dallas. This will be the last general session FTU to be held this year, but I do expect that one or more FTU Advanced sessions will take place before the end of the year. If you haven’t been to FTU in the past, I do think that the general session is well worth attending.
Tickets are still available here (Use code MILEPOINT to save $20)
A full schedule can be found here, but in case you’re interested, this is my presentation schedule:
Saturday April 18th
- 1:00 [Breakout #2]: Using Bluebird, REDbird, and Serve to earn miles
- 4:00 [Main Room]: Maximizing your miles with online shopping portals
Sunday April 19th
- 10:30 [Breakout #1]: Introduction to Manufactured Spending
You can’t pre-book particular classes, so just make sure to show up a bit early to any session that you want to attend to make sure you get a seat. As always, you can find details of events where I’ll be speaking under the Start Here menu on my blog on the page titled “Frequent Miler Event Schedule”.
Option 1: British Airways Avios
Since Dallas is an American Airlines hub, and since AA is a OneWorld partner with British Airways, you may be able to use British Airways points to get to Dallas cheaply. The key is to search for non-stop Economy MileSAAver awards on AA.com, then book on BA.com.
Check out Wandering Aramean’s map of Avios Destinations by Price:
Flights from airports in green cost just 4500 Avios each way (9K round trip). Airports in yellow cost just 7500 Avios each way (15K round trip). And, airports in blue cost just 10,000 Avios each way (20K round trip).
If you do not have Avios, you can transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, or Starwood Preferred Guest (NOTE: Starwood transfers can take a while, so they’re not a good option for booking flights for this weekend).
Award Availability ain’t great
One problem with this approach is that AA’s award availability to and from Dallas isn’t great. Even if you find availability on the dates you want, the times may not work for you. For example, I searched for Detroit to Dallas round trip and found availability on both Friday (outbound) and Sunday (return), and it priced correctly:
But, look at those times. The outbound is at 1:55pm. Not bad if you can take a half day off work. But the return is at 7:30 am on Sunday. Ouch.
Keep checking though. Often, award availability opens up a day or two before departure. Best bet: book as two one-way awards rather than as a single round-trip award. That way, if you have to change one of the flights, you can simply cancel one (and lose only the $5.50 TSA fee) and rebook.
Option 2: AAdvantage Reduced Mileage Awards
If you have an AAdvantage credit card, you are eligible for Reduced Mileage Awards for flights to and from certain cities. Even though Dallas isn’t on this month’s list, you can qualify for the reduced mileage awards if you are flying from one of the listed cities.
Award discounts are either 7,500 miles or 5,000 miles round trip based on the particular AAdvantage credit card you have (most of the common AA cards offer the 7,500 mile discount). This means that you may be able to book a round trip award for as low as 17,500 miles. It is necessary to call to book these discounted awards.
An advantage of booking with AA miles rather than BA Avios is that AA awards cost the same regardless of whether flights are nonstop or involve connections. A big disadvantage to booking with AA miles, though, is that AA charges close-in ticketing fees: $75 for awards booked less than 21 days in advance. Ouch.
Here’s a snapshot of the speaker lineup for FTU Dallas: