Recently Returned From Tenerife & The VIII International Parrot Convention

You probably didn’t notice because I had pre-written posts scheduled to appear daily on this blog, but I was away for over  a month.  The main focus of the trip was to attend the world’s top parrot conservation conference in Loro Parque, Tenerife – VIII International Parrot Convention.  This amazing conference is held every 4 years and I had been to the 2010 one and loved it!  For readers coming from the miles & points community think of it as FTU on steroids with people coming from all over the world!

Since we were traveling all the way from Australia to Europe in business class, I wanted to maximize the time we were over there so I had a pretty convoluted flight schedule booked.  I wanted to visit Israel since I hadn’t been there since the mid-80’s and my husband had never been there.  Since most of our trips are birding/eco-tourism type trips, I wanted to do something different so we took a Mediterranean cruise after the conference.  Since the cruise didn’t stop in Monaco, I used miles to slot in a 2 day stop-over in Nice before the conference.  None of this would have been possible without the extensive use of miles and hotel points!

I will be elaborating in further detail on how I booked everything and how I maximized my miles and points after my Tasmania series is finished but for now, here is a synopsis of the trip.  Since the Israel, Europe & cruise parts are off-topic for this blog, I won’t be elaborating on what we did and saw there but just covering the parts that pertain to miles and points as it shows how you can take a business trip and maximize it.

BNE-BKK-IST-TLV business class – outbound leg of US Airways award before they left Star Alliance for OneWorld.

2 nights Crowne Plaza Jerusalem – IHG points

2 nights Park Plaza Orchid, Tel Aviv – Club Carlson points with 2nd night free

TLV-IST-NCE economy class – one way award using United Mileage Plus

2 nights Radisson Blu Nice – Club Carlson points with 2nd night free

NCE-MAD-TFN economy class – one way award booked with Iberia Avios

5 nights at Hotel Botanico, Tenerife as part of conference package, paid cash (actually Chase Ink)

TFN-MAD-VCE economy class – one way award booked with Iberia Avios

1 night Comfort Inn Diana – Choice Rewards points

12 Day Grand Mediterranean NCL cruise – booked with United Cruises to earn points, also some minor manufactured spending is possible on cruise ships.

BCN-ZRH-FCO-PEK-SIN-BNE business class – return leg of afore-mentioned US Airways award)  This one got pretty convoluted as it was hard to find space in business class and I was trying to get a 12 hour layover in Beijing on the return for a quick trip to the Great Wall.

As one might expect with any trip booked so far in advance (I was pretty much right on top of it at the 330 days mark), there were dramas, schedule changes and world events that threatened to wreak havoc on my carefully planned trip.  Did all go as planned?  Tune in after a month or so when I start blogging this trip in detail!

ALERT – Iberia Devalues Avios Without Notice, Could BA Be Next? (False Alarm)

UPDATE:  Thankfully this has been proven a false alarm.  Iberia’s award chart has always been the same since they converted to the Avios system, it just hadn’t been published in chart form before.  British Airways has confirmed they don’t have plans to devalue Avios.


This is all over Feedly (various blogs) and Flyertalk but I’m hat-tipping Matt from Saverocity for alerting me first, a good reason to subscribe to his newsletter!

Avios are a favourite miles currency of mine for use in South America on LAN, and can save you a bundle on intra-Peru fares!  I personally would also use them on Qantas for short-haul flights and on Comair (BA partner in South Africa) for my upcoming African adventure.

The current chart on British Airways (and Iberia up to today) was very attractive for short-haul, though once you get over 2000 miles into the 10k Avios zone you are probably better off with American AAdvantage miles.


Here is the new chart posted on Iberia’s website.  The same rates apply to non OneWorld partners Avianca, Taca and a few others.  Currently redemptions on Iberia and British Airways are the same as the old chart above.

Iberia only allows round-trip redemptions on partners so if British Airways follows suit, the rates below would be half that for a one-way since they do allow one-way redemptions on partners.  Awards under 600 miles will cost 9750 Avios.  601-1000 miles will cost 12000 Avios.  At this point, most redemptions with Avios cease to be a good deal  and you are better off with American AAdvantage (providing THEY don’t devalue)!  Bear in mind that BA charges YQ fuel surcharges on most partners and AA doesn’t.

If you have travel planned up to July 2015 requiring use of Avios, I recommend you book it asap!

New Iberia Chart


LAN flights under 2000 miles within South America, also routes that AA has across two zones such as LIM-VVI (Lima to Santa Cruz, Bolivia).

Qantas flights under 2000 miles (must be QF metal, no Jetstar or codeshares).

BA flights on Comair within South Africa, I also used them for JNB-MRU as the taxes are cheaper using Avios.



Use Your Miles To Get To Tenerife For The Loro Parque Parrot Conference

The VIII International Parrot Convention, organized by Loro Parque and Loro Parque Fundación, will take place in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, from 22nd to 25th September 2014.

This conference takes place every 4 years and is one of the best conferences that is geared for conservationists and eco-tourism.  Several of the speakers represent parrot research projects from all over the world.  See the full program.

The cheapest way to get to Tenerife is by using miles from a OneWorld airline member such as American Airlines or British Airways on Iberia.  The Tenerife Norte airport (TFN) is closer to the conference location of Puerto del la Cruz although the southern airport (TFS) can also be used with a longer commute by bus or taxi.

Iberia flights to Tenerife Norte


Availability is limited so you want to get in quick!  You should arrive well before 19:00 on Monday when the conference has the inauguration speech.  Here is availability for Monday, 22 Sept.

To use American miles or British Airways Avios, you need the Iberia site to show availability in Blue class.  These flights can be added on to any other OneWorld redemption, for example LAX-DFW-MAD on American or Iberia, then connection to Tenerife.  I’d be shooting for the morning flight as the one that gets in at 17:35 on a Monday is cutting it too close.  Actually, we are flying in the day before and have had our tickets booked for months!


If you want to play it safe and arrive the day before, here is availability for Sunday, 21 Sept.

As you can see, only the first flight has availability in Blue class.  If you miss out, you can book using Iberia Avios (transferred in from British Airways or SPG) at a higher level.



To get back to Madrid and subsequently your homeward flight, start with one of these flights on the 26th (after the conference) which show availability in Blue class.



Using the example of Dallas as a nice central AA hub, we see good availability on British Airways on the 20th which can be used with one of the Iberia flights above.  Beware that using British Airways can come with a hefty fuel surcharge of $312!  Since the AA website doesn’t show Iberia’s availability, you could experiment with the Iberia site to try to make a good connection or simply call American Airlines to find the space.  If you travel on the 19th instead of the 20th on American Airlines, the taxes are only $5.  The savings of $307 would more than pay for a night at a hotel in Madrid or Tenerife!  You will need 60,000 miles for the round-trip in economy all the way from the USA to Tenerife which could be easily obtained by getting a Citibank credit card or two!

From Australia you are looking at 90,000 round trip in economy and the fuel surcharges/taxes could go as high as $500-ish if you can’t avoid British Airways.


If you are new to the world of miles and points, the above may be a bit confusing so please feel free to ask questions in the comments if you need further clarification.

Top 8 Frequent Flyer Programs For Eco-Travelers

*** UPDATED FOR 2016 ***

It’s always good to be diversified but then not TOO diversified that you end up with tiny amounts in too many programs.  Everyone, no matter where you live should join these programs right now and be ready for the New Year in case bonuses and promos are released.  It’s also a good idea to make your own spreadsheet and track your miles in each program and set up a special email folder to put all emails that come from these airlines.  Throughout the year, I will be blogging about any promos that come up but will concentrate on these programs as I feel they offer the best award opportunities for eco-travelers in particular.   You will be on your way to a free eco-tourism adventure in no time at all!

1.  United Airlines Mileage PlusStar Alliance member, very easy for Americans to get LOTS of miles via Chase’s Ultimate Rewards (see reference tab at top), especially strong for Central America with partners Copa and Taca, but can get you to Asia pretty easily on Singapore or Thai.  Has an excellent online award booking engine and allows one ways at half round trip for extra flexibility.

2.  American Airlines AAdvantageOne World member, has more options between USA and Australia on Qantas, Air Pacific or Air Tahiti Nui, also great for LAN or AA to South America.  Can book several of their partners online with AA planning to add more as they go along.  One way awards at half round trip rates.

3.  US Airways Dividend MilesStar Alliance member, noted for great promos in the past such as Grand Slam (between me and my husband, we got over half a million miles in 3 years with this promo).  Good option for non-USA residents as they offer frequent discounted buy/share miles promos throughout the year.  Same redemption opportunities as UA but no one-ways and you must call them to book so they lose points for inflexibility.  They have recently started to enforce MPM (maximum permitted mileage) on award tickets so booking Australia to/from USA via Asia may or may not work.

4.  Avianca-Taca LifeMiles –  Star Alliance member, has frequent buy share promos so good chance for worldwide members to get discounted tickets.  Has online booking of partner awards but the real benefit to eco-travelers is the great rates on their own flights within Central America and Peru.

My analysis of Avianca-Taca LifeMiles


5.  British Airways Avios and Iberia AviosOne World members, same Avios currency but you need to join both BA and IB’s versions to maximize it.  Pretty easy to earn Avios via E-Rewards and can also credit stays at Accor hotels to Iberia’s program and transfer easily between BA and IB.  Americans can get lucrative credit card bonuses.  Not a program for long haul or itineraries needing connections but excellent for short haul within South America on partner LAN or within Australia on partner Qantas.


6.  Qantas Frequent FlyerOne World member – Join at Woolies via Everyday Rewards and get points from your weekly grocery shopping and Optus phone/internet.  Various credit cards to get more points.  Use for domestic Australia or short-haul to NZ, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

7.  Virgin Velocity – Not in an alliance.  Good for credit card bonuses, transfers from Amex and short-haul to New Zealand and Pacific islands.

8.  Singapore Airlines KrisFlyerStar Alliance member.  Don’t keep miles in here if you can’t use them within 3 year because they expire whether you have activity or not.  Good for redemptions on NZ between Australia and Pacific islands.