500,000 flights for 5,000 points

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🚨 STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING for a sec. The Southwest Companion Pass deal is ending soon, so now is your last chance to snag the deal of a lifetime. Okay, carry on.

It's been over 72 hours since this Newsletter was published, so some links might be out of date or expired.

🚨 STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING for a sec. The Southwest Companion Pass deal is ending soon, so now is your last chance to snag the deal of a lifetime. Okay, carry on.

Good morning from beautiful Atlanta, Georgia! I’m getting psyched for the Travel and Adventure show this weekend, and I look forward to seeing some of you here.

For you one million-ish other readers who aren’t here, don’t worry; here are some travel hacks to keep you occupied:

✈️ AA is selling 500,000 seats for 5,000 points each

Fancy flying with American? Well, now could be an excellent time to book your next flight… 👀

And that’s because American Airlines has launched a flash sale for its AAdvantage members where you can book select domestic and short-haul international (e.g. Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America) one-way flights starting at just 5,000 miles!

They’re calling it their “biggest AAdvantage miles redemption offer ever” by opening up 500,000 seats that’ll qualify 🤗

Screenshot showing AA award sale of routes for 5,000 miles one way

There are dozens of cities and dozens of routes that qualify from all across the country. You can find the list here.

And here are some terms and conditions to know about:

  • You have until March 15th to book a qualifying economy seat using AA miles

  • Departure days must be on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday (yay!) in April or May 2024

  • That’s it!

It’s a pretty straightforward sale, and it’s really nice that American has included a Saturday departure for the masses (for once).

However, if you don’t have a ton of AA miles, Bilt is the only transfer partner to American, unfortunately.

But if you have one of the airline’s credit cards or just a happy stash of points sitting in your account, this could be a GREAT way to use them for some spring travel while flights are still available!

😡 WTF is going on with bag fees??

You know what really grinds my gears? When airlines arbitrarily raise the prices of their services and products…

If you’ve been paying attention to airline news recently, you may have seen that Alaska raised their checked bag fees a couple of months ago.

Nobody really put up a stink about it, so naturally, every other major U.S. airline did the exact same thing at the exact same time, raising their fees by around 15%.

Needless to say, bag fees have gotten a bit out of control…

A meme about how baggage fees are BS

So today, I’m going to break down the recently changed checked bag fees for each major airline - and tell you how you can avoid paying them altogether. 😉

Let’s start with the most recent culprit: Delta Air Lines, who recently increased their bag fees effective immediately.

And in true Delta fashion, they did it in the sneakiest way possible, by casually hiding it in the bottom corner of the home page of their website…

A screenshot of Delta's home page o their website

Here are the new fees:

  • $35 for the first checked bag (increased from $30)

  • $45 for the second bag (increased from $40)

These rates apply to U.S. domestic flights, and the rates for international flights remain unchanged… for now… 😈

How to avoid these fees

There are several ways to avoid Delta’s checked bag fees. If you have any level of Delta Medallion Elite Status, you can get at least one checked bag for free.

A chart showing which elite members get free bags with Delta

Given the ridiculous requirements for earning this status, I’d recommend picking up one of these credit cards, all of which offer at least one free checked bag. 

If you fly Delta a few times a year, these cards could easily pay for themselves with this perk.

Finally, Delta (and most airlines) offer free checked bags (and other benefits) for active-duty military service members. So if this applies to you, make sure you know what you’re entitled to (and thank you for your service 🙏🏻).

United has also increased their bag fees in a totally un-creative copycat move, with the new fees as follows:

  • $35 for the first checked bag (or $40 if you pay at the airport)

  • $45 for the second bag

Starting to see a pattern here…?

Of course, this also only applies to Domestic flights in the U.S… If you don’t know what to expect for your upcoming travels, United (and the other airlines) offers an online tool to help you calculate the baggage costs for your trip:

A screenshot from United's online baggage fee tool

How to avoid United’s new fees

Similarly to Delta, United allows elite members a certain allowance of free checked bags.

Personally, my Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status also gives me free United Silver status every year, which gives me a free checked bag on all United flights.

A screenshot of United and MArriott's partnership

But if you don’t have any United status, you can also pick up one of their credit cards, which each offer free checked bags.

Finally, we have American Airlines, which for some reason, I’m less mad at than the other airlines… here’s why:

Although American has increased their baggage prices (to the same as United), American stands out in that earning elite status is WAY easier than with the other airlines thanks to their Loyalty Point system.

A banner image from American Airlines' website, showcasing their Loyalty Point system

To reach the first tier of AA elite status (Gold), you only need to earn 40,000 Loyalty Points.

Unlike the other airlines, however, you can earn these without ever setting foot on a plane, making it way easier and less complicated to earn status.

If you want a more detailed look at how this program works, check out the newsletter I wrote about it last year.

💡 Pro Tip: Southwest remains the only airline that offers TWO free checked bags to EVERY passenger on EVERY flight, which is a great way to avoid baggage fees without any credit card or elite status.

Current Transfer Bonuses

  • 15% bonus from MR points to Avianca LifeMiles (ends March 15th)

  • 30% bonus from Thank You points to Virgin Atlantic (ends March 16th)

  • 20% bonus from MR Points to Etihad Guest (ends April 4th)

Did you know that Daily Drop has a big ‘ol online community of savvy travelers?

It’s called the Daily Drop Lounge, and it’s great. Thanks to the help of fellow lounge members, this lounge member was able to book an amazing set of flights (in business class) all the way to Morocco. 👇

A post fro the Daily Drop lounge discussing an epic redemption from a lounge member

So come check it out if you want to meet cool people, learn about travel, or share some of your favorite redemptions!

That’s all for this week, amigos!

I hope that many of you can avoid these ridiculous bag fees through some form of elite status or credit card, and I hope that even MORE of you are able to snag those 5,000-point flights.

For now, I’ll let you get back to your Friday and I hope you have a wonderful weekend ❤️

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

33.7488° N, 84.3877° W

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