Thursday 12 Sep 2013

8,000 Southwest, & 15,000 AMEX Points For A Night with Colbie Caillat & Friends!

Some of you know that my full-time ministry & job is playing drums in the band For Today. We have been fortunate to release 3 albums worldwide and tour in 18 different countries. This summer we will be performing on the entire Vans Warped Tour. The tour is essentially a traveling festival with multiple stages, and over 100 bands of all genres. It lasts from June 16th – August 5th, and spans all of North America, including dates in Canada. 100′s of Tour Busses, Semi-Trucks, Bands, People, Vendors, and thousands of kids every day. Coming to an arena parking lot near you!  I plan to add a page to this website soon that lists my travel & tour schedule, and these dates will obviously be included. If you are coming out to any of the dates, let me know!

About every week or so of being on tour with the band, there will be a day-off worked into the schedule due to long drives, or just to give everyone some time off to rest. Warped Tour has 2 scheduled off-days in a row in California. Looks like this:

June 24 – Ventura, CA @ Seaside Park
June 25 – OFF
June 26 – OFF
June 27 – San Diego, CA @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre

Colbie Caillat show…

I get an email from Ticketmaster when new events go on sale in my home area (Sioux City, IA). The last one I got had a pre-sale link for Colbie Caillat performing at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City with Gavin Degraw on June 26th. WHAT?! I’ve been trying to see and meet Colbie for quite a while now. My friends can testify to this. I’ve just always been a fan of her music since the “Coco” album in 2007, and she is absolutely gorgeous!

After I got the email, I was like “Oh nooooo, I’ll be on Warped Tour!”. Then I pulled up the schedule just in case there was an off day, and sure enough – TWO OFF DAYS!! How good is that? So I obviously have to make this happen.

Step 1 – Find & Buy flights

I immediately started pulling up my Award Wallet account to see what my frequent flyer balances looked like. I have a ton of miles in a ton of programs (over 1 million), so I started scouring multiple windows of American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Alaska Airways, US Airways, etc… The only trick is that I have to be back in San Diego on the 27th in the MORNING to make our set for Warped Tour that day.

Sure enough, I found a flight out on United for $150 that leaves at 1:30am late at night on the 24th (technically the 25th). Our booking agent has agreed to haul me to LAX airport after the Ventura show. I could book the flight for cash, 12,500 United Miles + $5, 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points (pay with points), or 15,000 AMEX MR Pay with points. I value my United miles & Ultimate Rewards points higher, and I have over 160,000 AMEX MR, so I did the Amex Pay with Points. Only 1 cents per point in value, but it saved me $150, and I didn’t have to lower my Ultimate Rewards or United miles, so I’m happy. This was my first time booking with American Express on their pay with points feature. It was fast and painless.

For my flight back to San Diego for the tour, I found another red-eye on Southwest leaving Omaha at 5:30am on the 27th and arriving in San Diego at 8:30am day of show. It was only 8,000 Southwest Rapids Rewards points! I don’t have any Southwest points, so I transferred 8,000 Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest. This was also my first time transferring to Southwest and booking a Southwest reward. Super easy. Southwest points have a fixed value at about 1.66 cents per point on their cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fares. So I actually got more value out of the return flight than the departure.

So the new schedule is:

June 24 – Ventura, CA @ Seaside Park   *flight @ 1:30am on United from LAX to Omaha
June 25 – OFF *with friends in Sioux City
June 26 – OFF *Colbie Caillat concert in Sioux City
June 27 – *Flight from Omaha @ 5:30am to resume Warped Tour – San Diego, CA @ Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre
Step 2 – Purchase Tickets with friends

The Colbie Caillat tickets started as cheap as $42 + fees, and went all the way up to $180 with fees for a “VIP Meet & Greet” with Colbie which includes an exclusive t-shirt, signed poster, & a laminate along with premium seating. Instantly when I saw the VIP tickets with the chance to meet Colbie, I called my friends and we bought 3! Some of my friends thought it was ironic that we sell VIP Meet & Greet tickets to our tours, and then I’m paying to go to one on Colbie’s tour. Gotta do it! I’m pretty excited.


Overall it’s going to be a fun, tiring, and adventurous couple days at home with friends! I’m stoked that I finally get to see Colbie Caillat, and I’m hearing good things about Gavin Degraw too so it will be a fun night. I’ve been tweeting @ColbieCaillat to convince her to let me show her and her crew or TM around Sioux City day of show, but no answer yet! Yet… :)

Just wanted to give a realistic example of using miles & points to book flights when you need them. This was one of the weirdest ways I’ve redeemed points for flights, using 2 methods I had never used before. Whatever works!

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