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Half-Price Awards to Hawaii & Free Megabus Tickets!

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less:

Don’t forget to check out the Miles To Go Podcast where we bring you the latest travel news, tips and tricks each week to help you save money and travel better.


Full Transcript

NowBoarding, your daily travel news in 7 minutes or less. This is your host, Ed Pizza, bringing you the latest travel deals and travel news you need to know Monday through Friday. Tune in daily so you don’t miss any of the best deals!

Look for links to all of today’s stories in the show notes on whatever podcast platform you’re listening. And, please share the show with a friend!

We’ve got 6 stories to cover in today’s news, so let’s get started.

First up is a great piece about how to find 8,000 mile awards on Star Alliance flights with your United miles. Deals like this can represent a phenomenal value for your miles. We’ve used these short-haul award in Europe to position between cities frequently on family vacations.

The best way to hunt for these, in my opinion, is to start with the hubs of partner airlines. Back when AirBerlin was still an airline, we used cheap awards from American Airlines to get us from Catania, Sicily to Salzburg.

United has some fabulous , and well located partners in Europe. Lufthansa has hubs centrally located in Frankfurt and Munich. Aegean has Athens. Austrian has Vienna. Throw in Warsaw and Lisbon and you can cover a good chunk of Europe from these hubs. The key to the 8,000 mile awards are that the flights need to be 800 miles or shorter.

The big value here is closing what we call an “open jaw”. Since the vast majority of awards are sold as one-way tickets, we will frequently plan a trip like Washington-Dulles (our home airport) to Rome, then home from Vienna to Dulles. We might go North or South from Rome, but at some point we’d need to get to Vienna. The train network and short-haul awards like this are the best way to get it done.

This article by Miles to Memories walks through some good strategies about how to start looking for flights like these on your own.

Next up is a deal that you should jump on since I doubt it will last long. American Airlines currently has web specials for first class flights to Hawaii for 28,000 miles one-way. That’s essentially half the price of a normal first class award to Hawaii. These flights are available from popular cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington-Dulles, Los Angeles and Houston. I still haven’t been to Hawaii and I’m really tempted to book these.

AA web specials are exactly what they sound like, usually really solid deals that you can only book via the AA website. There are also restrictions on these awards when it comes to changing or canceling.

Now through January 2nd, TopCashBack, a popular cashback platform, has increased a number of payouts for popular merchants. Amazon is bumped up from 2% to 3%, Gap, Nike and Petco from 5 to 10%, Target from 3% to 4% and Walmart from 1 to 2%.

It seems like we’re talking an awful lot about bus service this week. Yesterday we had 99 cent fares from FlixBus. Today, we’re looking at Megabus giving away 200,000 seats for free. These are for travel in January and February of 2020. And, it’s a scavenger hunt to find the seats. Search their website to find the free seats for your dates and routes. I’m not a huge bus guy, but I think promotions like this are a lot of fun for folks looking to save money.

We’ve got another article from Miles to Memories. It’s an easy $15 from Amazon when you sign up for Amazon Photos. You’ll need to upload at least one photo to activate your account, and that should be all it takes to earn $15 in free Amazon cash.

And, we finish up the news today with Hawaiian Airlines new service between Las Vegas and Maui. Hawaiian already flies between Las Vegas and Honolulu 3 times per week. Now, they’re adding 3 flights a week between Maui and Vegas on their new A321neo aircraft. I’d be more excited for this new route if it was getting one of the A330 with the new lie-flat business class product. Still, the new A321neo seems to come with 39 inches of pitch in their first class seat, which is a couple more inches of space than most of the first class seats on other domestic carriers like United and American.

The extra capacity to Hawaii is great and should continue to hold down pricing. The departure time from Las Vegas is great for a day at the beach, landing at 11am. However, the flight back is painful, landing in Las Vegas at 4:30am. But, if there’s one city that’s awake at that time, it’s Las Vegas.

That’s a full wrap on today’s travel news. If you’ve got a piece of travel news that you think I should feature on NowBoarding, you can e-mail me at, or find me on social media, Twitter, Facebookand Instagram. And, you can find me blogging daily at

Lastly, I need your help, for just a minute. Reviews and ratings are a huge part of what helps us reach a larger audience. So take a minute and help us out, leaving us a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. And, please tell a friend. That’s your travel news in 7 minutes or less. I hope you’ll join us again on a future flight!

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