FW-50 -- Frequent Flyer Miles: A Frugal Traveler's Friend

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:

* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, March 29, 2005 Issue No. 50

- What's new (Frequent Flyer Miles: A Frugal Traveler's Friend)
- Bargain Roundup: (Good Frequent Flyer Mile Deals)
- Frugal tips (Frugal Flight Tips)
- Credits

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Dear Frugal Readers,

I'm on vacation this week (sort of), but not from Frugal
Watch! A business trip to the US combined by a jaunt to see
family has me writing the 50th issue of Frugal Watch from a
desk in rainy Richmond, Virginia. After a long 13-hour flight
compounded by a few horrible layovers, I thought frequent
flyer miles, and their effective use, might be a good topic
for today's issue.

For anyone that flies between their home country and Japan
once or more per calendar year, taking advantage of frequent
flyer miles can be extremely important. In my case, I make
at least one trip to the East Coast every year, earning
20,000-plus miles, if not more, per trip. In past
years, I simply used the same airline over and over again.

After two such trips in a year, I had accumulated enough
miles to gain elite status in the airline, which allowed me
to board flights earlier and ensured a more favorable seat
location. (Many airlines will place elite mileage status
members in the front of their coach sections, and simple
fare-paying in the back of the cabin.) After three 20,000-
mile trips, I qualified for a free flight between my hometown
and Japan (60,000 miles), albeit coach class. Two trips later,
I had enough miles to upgrade my father for free to business
class during his first trip to Japan. So, the strategy of
simply using one airline over and over does pay off if you
have frequent high-mileage trips.

My last trip in 2004, however, involved a different airline.
This time, the company had a special offer for those with
an address in Asia - free immediate upgrade to Super Elite
status. Practically speaking, this meant we were first in
line for upgrades (received a free upgrade to business class
on our trip from Japan to the US, and two free upgrades in
the US), had privileges to enter and enjoy the FirstClass
lounges at various airports (very nice), and earned
mega-miles on our trip. Although some luck was involved, it
was an extremely pleasant trip all around!

Where did I find out about this offer? A special website for
frequent flyer mile junkies called www.flyertalk.com. The
website not only gives information on how to enroll and
track your miles from programs, but how to maximize them.
The MilesBuzz! forum in particular is particularly useful
for getting the inside track on a variety of special offers
available for your particular airline or preferred route.
You'll even find information on mileage runs, trips taken
specifically for the purpose of building miles. If you are
a travel nut, or just travel frequently, I really urge you
to take a look at this website. Thirty minutes spent here
in 2004 really made the difference in my trip. Enjoy!

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura
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+++ BARGAIN ROUNDUP: (Good Frequent Flyer Mile Deals)

I thought I would introduce a few good deals between Japan
and other countries found on the FlyerTalk.com website.

*Great Deals between US and Nagoya on United.
"Between March 26 and June 11, 2005, fly roundtrip on a
qualifying fare to or through Nagoya, Japan, and you will
earn up to 15,000 Bonus Miles! Simply register prior to
travel, but no later than June 1, 2005."
Some special fares are being offered - such as an
unbelievable $294 US from Chicago to Narita round-trip!
The special fares being offered are eligible for the
5,000 mile bonus. (See this thread:

These, and other good deals and information about frequent
flyer programs, appear periodically in the Flyer Talk
forums. To search the forums, however, you"ll need to
familiarize yourself with the terminology: using the
airport code (a three-letter code of the airports you'll
be flying in and out of) to do a variety of searches.
You can find the airport code for any airport in the
word here: http://flyertalk.com/help/
(Click on Airport Code Lookup)

Additionally, the site's search function is currently
out of commission! The best way to search FlyerTalk now
is to use Google to search flyertalk.com only. See here
for instructions:

Also check out the Travel and Dining sections for great info
about travel technology, traveling with kids, and other
travel advice.
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+++ FRUGAL TIPS (Frugal Flight Tips)
(From FrugalJapan.com)

"When I am booking tickets I talk like an agent and tell them
about what flights I want. Use destination codes if you can
find them (you may still have one on your luggage or on an
old ticket hanging around the house.) I call them up and say,
for example, "I want the afternoon flight 123 from KIX to YVR
transfer on Air Something; fly YVR via YTR to YYT. The YVR
flight departs at 23:50...

"I found a great discount on domestic flights with JAL. It's
called Time Waribiki. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,
JAL sells discounted tickets for the weekend (Sat, Sun, and
holiday, if applicable) that falls 10 days later. The tickets
are only for certain flights, to or from Tokyo (to Osaka,
Fukuoka, Komatsu, Toyama, Kumamoto, and Miyazaki) and Osaka
(to Sapporo and Naha). The Osaka flights depart/arrive at
both Itami and Kansai airports.

The discounts range from 51% to 68%: Some examples include
Tokyo to Osaka for 7000 yen (a 62% savings), and Osaka to
Sapporo for 12,000 yen (a 66% savings).

There are some restrictions - they must be round-trip tickets
for 2 or more people and both departing and returning flights
must use the discount. You can't just use the discount for
one way and then return with a regular ticket. This means that
this discount can only be used for a short weekend trip -
one night on most weekends, or two nights on long weekends.

One very good thing about this ticket is that it's easy to
buy. It doesn't sell out fast like the cho-warabiki tickets,
so for the full three days of each week's sale it should be
possible to buy tickets.

Information in Japanese: www.jal.co.jp/5971/index_time.html"
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Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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