Award Travel 101 Podcast Episode 14: Incredible Trip to New Zealand on Points, Freddie Awards Award Travel 101 Podcast Episode 14: Incredible Trip to New Zealand on Points, Freddie Awards

Award Travel 101 Podcast Episode 14: Incredible Trip to New Zealand on Points, Freddie Awards

Bonus Points

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The Award Travel 101 podcast is back with more Award Travel 101 member wins, huge wide-open award space bookings, and answers to which loyalty programs brought home the prestigious Freddie Awards  If you want us to air your question, send us an email or reach out to us in the Award Travel 101 Facebook Community.

Award Travel 101 Podcast Show Format

We break each show into six sections:

  • Question/Win of the Week — asked or shared by members of the community
  • News & Enhanced Offers
  • What Bonuses Did We Get — which will tell you what credit cards we're working on and why
  • Trip Updates
  • Highlight Feature
  • What You Didn't Know — a feature dedicated to a big or small tip that will help you better maximize the value you receive from your rewards.

How to Listen to the Award Travel 101 Podcast

You can find us anywhere you listen to other fine podcasts including:

Previous Episode Show Notes

Award Travel 101 Podcast Episode 14 Show Notes

Points for the Win (from the Award Travel 101 Group)

Award Travel 101 member, Nicole Fischer Swallen, shows us how it's done BIG with her New Zealand trip report. It's a great example of how to piece a trip together: “I used certs that were going to expire by March. We were not penny-pinching or trying to make the stay free.”


  • Position to the West Coast (EWR-LAX) in Alaska First Class.
  • Overnighted in LAX using an expiring Marriott Free Night Award certificate.
  • Continued on to Sydney in Qantas Business Class. Used 55,000 Alaska miles +$51 per person to cover both flights. Here's how to get more Alaska miles.
  • Cash price of the flight at booking was a bit over $15K for two passengers


  • Qantas Premium Economy (CHC-MEL-LAX)
  • AA economy (LAX-JFK), but it only took 4 hours thanks to a great tailwind
  • 65k AA miles + $47.27 per person (one card bonus offer could net those miles)
  • Cash price of the flight at the time of booking was $7,200 for two passengers

News & Enhanced Offers

  • Hyatt Acquisition of Mr. & Mrs. Smith
  • United Polaris Saver Rate Blitz. Remember to always book now, ask questions later!
    • Mike booked: Initially looked at Europe but did CLE-IAH-SYD March 14-19. Very short window but looking at my options to extend. 165k per person. Transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer from Membership Rewards supplemented by Ultimate Rewards.
    • Looking at stopover in SIN. Strength of SQ award chart… plus they still have an award chart!
      Also looking at Qantas from LAX for ~100K. Saw that from the Thrifty Traveler email.
    • Also booked 3 nights at PH Sydney
    • Joe booked: CLE-IAH-SYD on March 15
    • 2 nights at Hyatt Regency Sydney
    • Delta One back to the states unless…Something better pops up
  • Spirit Status match — What are we going to do with our newly minted status?
  • Hyatt Bonus Journeys — 3000 bonus points every 2 nights (max 30 nights). Goes until May 26 so only a week or two left once this podcast airs.

What Bonuses Did We Get?

Trip Updates

  • Mike — Las Vegas/Grand Canyon/Phoenix
    • Bellagio- MGM/FHR- Got $100 credit + $60 for breakfast, resort fee discounted $5 to $40. Earned Hyatt points but no elite night credit. Gambled a bit and earned some comp nights. So I can stay up to 4 nights at the dirty castle for free.
    • (1 night) Grand Canyon Best Western- disappointing so we pivoted and reduced it to 1 night instead of 2 to head to Sedona earlier.
    • (1 night) Booked Sky Rock Sedona instead for 77k Marriott points. Had to scrounge points so luckily Bonvoy just rolled out the online point-sharing option so combined points with Player 2. Good decision. Sedona was beautiful. Did a Jeep tour. The Sky Rock was a great property.
    • (3 nights) HR Gainey Ranch- All the Globalist perks. Two-room fountain court suite upgrade, free breakfast, free valet Solid property for families. When ordering drinks at the pool it’s just easy to forget you’re not at an all-inclusive.
  • New trip booking — Austin in late September with brothers-in-law for beer and BBQ. AA two one ways out of PIT 3 x 18,500 miles vs $424 ($694 for Main Cabin Extra seats)
  • Joe — LAS with Player 3's Breeze points, Luxor, FHR. We'll discuss more in a future episode.

Highlight Feature: Freddie Awards

What are the Freddie Awards, why was Randy Petersen in a spacesuit, and how did Bonvoy sweep the awards? See more in the Award Travel 101 by AwardWallet Community. There were nearly nine million unique votes with 50.8% of those votes coming from outside the U.S. So, who won?

  • Best Hotel Customer Service: Marriott (2. MGM 3. Accor 4. IHG)
  • Best Airline Customer Service: Southwest (2. Aeroplan 3. Westjet 4. SkyMiles)
  • Best Hotel Elite Program: Hyatt (2. MGM 3. Marriott 4. IHG)
  • Best Airline Elite Program: American AAdvantage (2. Aeroplan 3. Southwest 4. Delta)
  • Best Hotel Promo: Marriott (2. MGM 3. IHG 4. Accor)
  • Best Airline Promo: Aeroplan (2. Southwest 3. Avianca LifeMiles 4. Delta SkyMiles)
  • Best Hotel Redemption: Marriott (2. MGM 3. IHG 4. Accor)
  • Best Airline Redemption: Aeroplan (2. Southwest 3. Avianca Lifemiles 4. WestJet)
  • Best Credit Card: Southwest Rapid Rewards (2. Air Canada Aeroplan 3. MGM 4. IHG)
  • Hotel Program of the Year: Marriott (2. MGM 3. IHG 4. Accor)
  • Airline Program of the Year: Aeroplan (2. Southwest Rapid Rewards 3. Delta SkyMiles 4. WestJet)
  • 210 (Best Up and Coming Program) Hotel: Accor
  • 210 (Best Up and Coming Program) Airline: Westjet

Keep in mind that these results are just for the Americas. There were a different set of winners for the Middle East and Asia as well as Europe and Africa. What do you think of these results?

Where To Find the Award Travel 101 Community

For questions, you can join us in the free 93,000+ member Award Travel 101 Community.

  1. If you want to jump into more intermediate and advanced strategies, our Award Travel 201 community ($89.99 annually) is filled with those who want to dig into the weeds, looking for more outsized value.
  2. To book time with our team to discuss how to better your earning and burning strategies, check out Award Travel 1-on-1.
  3. You can also email us at
  4. If in-person learning is your style, you can check out our next meetup or register now!
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AwardWallet Tip of The Day
Did you know that you have a personal referral link in your AwardWallet profile? If you invite people to AwardWallet using your referral link, you will receive an AwardWallet upgrade coupon for every five members you invite. Also, if these users upgrade to AwardWallet Plus, we will credit your AwardWallet account with AwardWallet Bonus points, which can be redeemed for points and miles in your program of choice. We spend roughly 50% of the revenue we receive from those referrals to purchase those miles for you. All of this can be tracked via the Invite to AwardWallet widget in the left navigation bar on your Accounts page.
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