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$400 flights to Fiji — reader success story

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 12/18/2019 Peter Rothbart
a group of palm trees next to a body of water © Provided by Bankrate, LLC
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Dorothy, who paired an award flight with a long-haul fare sale:

Fiji has long been on my bucket list, so several years ago I signed up for email notifications from Fiji Airways. In March of 2019, I saw an email advertising fares to Fiji for around $400 per person round-trip! I couldn’t believe it, and I immediately booked flights for myself and my husband out of LAX for a grand total of $790.50. I booked the trip for October to coincide with our wedding anniversary, making the trip even more special.

Then I got to work on getting us to LAX. We had just bought a house and were working on a few home improvement projects, so I didn’t want to spend a ton. I searched on the Citi ThankYou travel portal and found flights on Delta from RDU to LAX via DTW that fit the timing of our flights to and from Fiji. I paid 74,080 Citi ThankYou points for the two of us — flights from RDU to LAX were expensive, so I was happy to use points instead of cash.

My husband and I like to stay in smaller, adults-only resorts, so I emailed the Citi Concierge for a reservation at a resort on one of the Mamanuca Islands. The process was easy and we were able to get a free night using the fourth night free benefit on my Citi Prestige card. Resorts in Fiji can be expensive, but since our flights were so cheap, I didn’t mind splurging some on the resort.

About a month before we were due to leave, I applied for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express ($195 annual fee, $250 if application is received on or after Jan. 30, 2020, see rates and fees) to take advantage of the free checked bags and the $100 statement credit, which we received immediately after we bought cocktails on the DTW—LAX flight. As long as all goes to plan, I will earn the welcome bonus in the next couple of months. On the way home, we were able to utilize the Fiji Airways Premier Lounge in Nadi and the KAL Lounge in LAX thanks to the Priority Pass membership from my Citi Prestige® card. This made our time in the airports much more comfortable.

I’m not sure if we will keep the Prestige card next year due to the recent changes, but there is no doubt that we got our money’s worth out of it this year! Fiji was an absolute dream and it was definitely an anniversary to remember. Thanks for helping us take advantage of so many travel perks to augment our inexpensive cash fares!

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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When you see an exceptional fare deal but your travel plans are uncertain, keep in mind that fares to or from the U.S. can either be held for 24 hours or canceled within 24 hours of purchase (depending on the airline). That means you can lock in your flights while you sort out other travel details, and then cancel with no penalty if your plans don’t come together. Dorothy smartly bought her tickets to Fiji without delay (since flights can disappear quickly); what remained was to get herself to Los Angeles in order to take advantage of those cheap fares.

If a fare sale doesn’t quite align with your travel plans, look for opportunities to fill in the gaps with points and miles. Depending on award rates and availability, redeeming airline miles may have been preferable to booking through Citi. In Dorothy’s case, since flight awards generally offer better value when cash prices are high. However, booking with ThankYou points at least kept her from having to pay out of pocket for the pricey connection between Raleigh-Durham and Los Angeles. This approach works in reverse too: you can use a cheap cash fare to position yourself for a hard-to-find premium award. Just beware in either case of the risks involved with splitting an itinerary into separate tickets.

Related: How to beat limited award availability once and for all

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Dorothy a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

For the rates and fees of the Amex Delta Platinum card, please click here.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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