Earlier I did a $0 trip all with miles and points to Latin America (Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala). The concept was to spend zero dollars on flights and hotels. That trip was nearly free in every other way too as taxis and what not were paid for via the hotel which I had reimbursed with credit card points.
I’m just finishing up another free trip, this time to Muscat, Oman. So let me introduce the trip with a quick overview.
Free trip to Muscat via Mistake Fares
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been sharing a lot of mistake fares on the Travel Is Free Facebook Page for the last year or so.
One of these mistake fares included mistake fares to the Middle East and Africa for ~$200. We were able to book this ticket not only to Kenya with a bunch of friends but to Muscat as well the week before.
The best part is that we’re earning miles the entire time. I wrote about these fares in Mileage Running Is Still Alive For Me, and how I’ll be earning miles for the trip. Unfortunately, since booking this trip (and the one to Kenya), earnings on Delta were devalued. The good news is that Alaska now gives its top tier members 125% bonus… on the 50% we earn.
This trip will earn us at least 10,000 miles each (based on what’s already posted). So we spent $200 each, and earned 10,000 miles each. It’s half of a oneway to Europe.
However, when these mistake fares came out, I put them on the Barclay World Arrival card so I can reimburse the flights. Since the flights were a little over $400 and since the Barclay card earns 2% on everything spent… I basically have to spend $20,000 on the card to earn enough points to cover the flight.
I wrote about a previous free MS method of mine, but since that’s not available to me, I’m using a slower method, similar to Target’s RedBird. RedBird can give $5,000 of spend a month for free, per person! Similarly, we’ll need about two months to rack up the free spends to get the $20k and therefore, get the flights covered.
The reason I love mistake fares so much is three fold.
1) This ticket is basically the same cash price as an award ticket because it was nearly 100% taxes… which would be passed on anyways. So if $200 is our standard for an award ticket, this is basically the same. It’s not really more expensive in any way, so passing up the ticket because of the price doesn’t make sense. And yet…
2) You don’t have to use miles at all! Now I can save my miles for another trip and still get to go someplace cool.
3) You earn miles. It’s the opposite of using miles.
What’s better than free?
The flight was long, DC to NYC, to Amsterdam, to Muscat. On the KLM flight to Muscat I was out. I basically woke up for landing.
While getting off the plane the FA apologized for the in-flight entertainment being broken and handed me a voucher.
Broken? I was asleep and hadn’t known. But even if I was awake I’d probably be working. I basically never use the IFE anyways.
Turns out we got €100 in vouchers to Delta, KLM, and Air France. Plus, we also get 4,000 Flying Blue miles. Now in the best circumstances, a oneway to Israel from the US could be as low as 12,500 Flying Blue miles. (See my post on the Best Use of Flying Blue Miles).
I’m sure this will be 1/3 of a ticket to Israel, and basically a free $115 for two tickets that totaled $400 and are going to be reimbursed by my Barclay card.
I’m taking the return ticket today, so wish me a bump!
Muscat, Oman trip Overview
But that’s just the flight to Muscat. Turns out Oman is beautiful, interesting, and a really friendly country for tourists. Women can drive, for example. Which for us isn’t a big deal, but considering that the neighboring countries (except UAE) prohibit such a thing, it’s a big deal. But in general it’s easy to travel around in and very safe.
There are a number of points hotels, so all of our nights were covered with points or free night certificates.
I’ll talk hotel details in an upcoming post, but more importantly is how interesting the culture is. It has been an awesome visit and I can’t wait to show more pictures from the trip.