Tim wins 2024, LarryNYC’s turn at game-master, getting the best rates guaranteed and more [Week in Review]


All hail the king: Tim has been crowned the champion of the 2024 Frequent Miler team challenge and it was a well-deserved victory. Greg reflected on this year’s challenge and what he’d like to see in the next one and reader LarryNYC heard that call and dialed up some incredible ideas for next year (you’ll have to read the comments for details!). Read all about those topics, hotel best rate guarantees, the best uses of Chase Ultimate Rewards and a lot more in our week in review below.

This week on the Frequent Miler blog…

Tim Wins Flying by the Seat of our Points!

Tim wins!

Congratulations to Tim, winner of the 2024 Frequent Miler team challenge, Flying by the Seat of Our points. The landing page linked above has links to daily summaries, judging posts where Stephen and Carrie explain their scoring, and our journals which include more information about the places we went, the things we did, and the points and miles we used to book. If you want to catch up on what you missed during the challenge, see the landing page above for links to everything.

Challenge Reflections: It’s Getting Better all the Time…

In this post, Greg reflects on this year’s challenge, including what went very well and where things might have shaken out differently than past challenges. The truth is, we spent many hours discussing completely different iterations of the challenge and what we hoped we would get out of one idea or another. When we landed on the idea of the last-minute challenge, I assumed that we wouldn’t have much along the lines of “new discoveries” given the parameters of the game, and we discussed as much for hours in team meetings. I expected before the challenge that this one would do a better job of featuring award search tools and programs with reliably good close-in availability. As it turns out, I found award search tools to be both incredibly time-saving and at the same time very limiting when working with limited flexibility (and thus needing a maximum view of availability across even more programs!) — and I feel like I actually stumbled on a few new findings in terms of a LifeMiles airline search showing expanded availability on an airline it already showed in Smart Search and in forcing the Aeroplan site to show availability on a long-haul flight by forcing a stopover. Tim confirmed that using Finnair’s site to add his Alaska frequent flyer number to a British Airways Avios booking would indeed populate his elite benefits (this has worked in the past for AA, but I wouldn’t have known for sure that it would work with Alaska). We all discovered a newfound appreciation for the challenges of living in LA :-). I imagine that the next challenge will be significantly different and will lend itself well to learning something different than past challenges yet again. We’ve had some great reader suggestions, both before this challenge lifted off and in the comments of this post (see LarryNYC’s suggestion for a masterclass in being a gamemaster). I’m sure that our 2025 challenge will be more epic yet — and we may even sneak in a mini challenge or two throughout the coming year or two with additional ideas we’ve floated.

A couple of Nick’s booking tricks uncovered during Flying by the Seat of our Points challenge

a man juggling balls in a field

I ran into a number of obstacles during the Flying by the Seat of Our Points challenge. In this post, I cover the techniques I used to get past a few issues I ran into during the booking process. While you probably won’t run into exactly the same scenarios, the techniques I used could certainly be useful the next time it looks like you can’t find any availability for a desired award.

Malaysia Airlines Business Class Review: A350-900 Doha to Kuala Lumpur

Greg flew Malaysia Airlines business class from Doha to Kuala Lumpur and reviewed the experience here. I was certainly curious to hear about the in-flight experience and it sounds like it was quite good. I’d not really considered flying Malaysia Airlines for years, but Greg’s review made me realize that they are worth a look. I ended up flying Malaysia Airlines (albeit in economy class) from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok on the way home, setting myself up for Japan Airlines first class from Bangkok to Tokyo and on to Chicago.

Here’s How Hotel Best Rate Guarantees Work (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, IHG & More)

Hotel Best Rate Guarantee

If you’re booking a cash rate, it’s always worth taking a look around to see if you can take advantage of a best rate guarantee. It’s often possible to save quite a bit with a best rate guarantee, but you do need to pay attention to the finer details. Stephen has updated this complete guide to the major best rate guarantee programs so that you can increase the odds of your claim being approved.

Best ways to fly to Hawaii using miles from the US mainland

an airplane wing over water

The Hawaiian islands are the type of tropical bucket list destinations that are worthy of a dream or two. If you’ve been dreaming of paradise, this post covers many of your best options to get to and from Hawaii using points and miles. Keep in mind that partner awards have become increasingly difficult to find, but if you’re able to snag one, you can still get an amazing deal on flights to the Aloha State.

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card Review (2024)

The Amex Bonvoy Brilliant card is packed with some valuable perks, but it comes at a significant cost. Does it make sense to spend $650 per year on a hotel credit card? For some, it likely does. See Tim’s full review if you need help deciding whether you are one of those people for whom it does.

Podcast: Highlights and lowlights from the Last Minute Travel Challenge | Coffee Break Ep14 | 6-11-24

Coffee Break Episode 13

This week’s coffee break is a summary of the highlights and lowlights from our Last Minute Travel Challenge, Flying by the Seat of Our Points. It was an epic little journey filled with some nice wins and some frustrating booking issues. For this week’s coffee break, Carrie has summarized a bunch of them from our last live stream of the challenge.

Best uses of Chase Ultimate Rewards

If you’ve got a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and you’re looking for the best ways to use them, this post lines up a multitude of ways to easily get excellent value out of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Podcast: Top 10 Tips for Last Minute Award Travel | Frequent Miler on the Air Ep259 | 6-14-24

Frequent Miler on the Air Ep251 (8)

On this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air, we talk 10 top tips that we’ve picked up regarding last-minute travel, both from our years of travel and our week of nonstop last-minute travel on this year’s team challenge.

That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Keep an eye on this week’s last chance deals to be sure you snag them before they’re gone.

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Have you noticed… it looks like Qatar Airways devalued its miles. When I check on QCalculator it’s showing me a higher price than before on the routes I searched.


Was it peak pricing? That’s been there as of a few months ago whether you book thru QR or BA. Covers dates 1/3 of year approx, with 20-35% miles increase.