United throws some serious Super Bowl shade...

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Did you know that Japan has so many vending machines that if you lined them up side by side they would stretch from Tokyo to Hawaii… I’m serious.

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Did you know that Japan has so many vending machines that if you lined them up side by side they would stretch from Tokyo to Hawaii… I’m serious.

Good morning and happy Friday to everyone except the guy who sits in the window seat and still chooses to sprawl his legs and utilize both armrests. I see you — and you can go back to bed.

Now… where was I?

Oh yeah. The newsletter. And it’s a good one today:

  • ✈️ First-class Friday: Booking ANA first class on the cheap

  • 🏨 Marriott offers double nights + bonus points

  • 😮 United throws some Super Bowl shade at Southwest

✈️ First-class Friday: Booking ANA first class

Japan is weird.

From the smorgasbord of vending machines to the fake food that looks too real, to the Hello Kitty-themed… well... everything, Japan just has a certain character that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Unfortunately, getting there can often be really expensive due to the distance and the popularity of Japan among travel enthusiasts.

Thankfully, however, there are plenty of travel hacks to not only get you there on the cheap but in luxury.

Today, we’ll chat about how you can fly round-trip between the U.S. and Japan on what many believe to be the single best premium seat in the sky; ANA First Class.

Oh, and we’ll do it for less than half as many points as most people usually spend on it. 😉

ANA First Class

Most programs that partner with ANA (All Nippon Airways) generally charge sky-high prices for the luxury.

For example, let’s say you want to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo on ANA first.

Booking this ticket through Aeroplan would run you 110,000 points in each direction, or 220,000 points round-trip… That’s a lot.

Similarly, booking the same flight through United would cost you just over 120,000 miles, again just for one direction (not to be confused with One Direction).

But there is a secret travel hack that can get you this trip for just 110,000 points… round-trip.

That’s right, there is a points program that charges HALF of what those other ones cost.

I’m talking about booking the flights using Virgin Atlantic miles.

Virgin Atlantic is a weird program that only offers great value on a handful of routes and airline partners, one of them being ANA’s first class between the U.S. and Japan.

As you can see from their fixed, zone-based award chart, flying between the West Coast and Japan only costs 90,000 miles in business class or 110,000 miles in first class, both for round-trip fares.

Earning Virgin Atlantic miles is easier than you might think, despite it being a pretty niche airline based in the U.K.

That’s because you can transfer points from Chase, American Express, Citi, or Bilt at a 1:1 ratio to Virgin Atlantic.

So most of the cards on our Top Cards Page could pretty easily earn you enough points to fly this amazing round-trip.

But don’t think that’s where things end… because it gets even better.

Later this month, Citi will be offering a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic.

That means that from February 19th through March 18th, you could fly on ANA first class, round-trip from the U.S., for only 85,000 Citi ThankYou points (plus the 30% bonus).

I’ll tell you right now that this is one of the single best-value travel hacks I’ve ever seen. The cash cost of this ticket ranges anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 round-trip.

The fact that you could get this $20,000 or 220,000-point trip for only 85,000 points is bonkers. It’s just bonkers.

So mark your calendars for February 19th, make sure you have a card that earns transferrable points with this bonus and have fun enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

🏨 Marriott’s new promo could fast-track you to elite status

There are a lot of hotel promos going on right now. Some of them are pretty awesome, and some of them are just… meh.

Marriott falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum with their latest offer called “Delight in the Unexpected,” which sounds sort of vague and odd.

Here is the deal:

  • Earn 1,000 bonus points per night for all paid stays

  • Earn double elite night credits for all paid stays

  • The promo is valid from February 7th through April 23, 2023

  • You must register for the promotion

  • There are no limits on how many nights and points you can earn

Here’s why I love this promo, personally:

I’m definitely a fan of Marriott over other brands. As someone who travels beyond just North America and Europe, I like having elite status with a program that has hotels pretty much anywhere in the world, which cannot be said of any other major programs.

As a result, I end up spending many nights at Marriott hotels. For reference, I racked up 186 nights at Marriotts alone in 2022.

So for me, this promotion will be a super easy way to get a headstart on earning elite status again for next year because of the double elite night credits.

The 1,000 bonus points per night are also great for the same exact reason.

I know a couple of people who are currently in Sapporo, Japan (you wouldn't know them), so let’s look at an example stay at this property in Sapporo, which costs about $69 per night:

If I spend five nights here, I’ll spend a total of $345 and earn the following points:

  • 10x points for being a member = 3,450 points

  • 7.5x bonus for Titanium Elite Status = 2,588 points

  • 5x points on my Marriott credit card = 1,725 points

  • 1,000 points per night = 5,000 points

  • 500 welcome points

  • Total points earned: 13,263

If we value Marriott Bonvoy points at about 1 cent each, I’m getting about $133 worth of value back from my stay, or a 38% return.

As you can see, a large chunk of those points was earned from this promo.

So here’s the bottom line: This promo isn’t the best we’ve seen, but can easily earn you tons of points and fast-track you to elite status for next year if you play your cards right.

P.S. some people have had trouble registering for this promo online. If you have any trouble, just call Marriott - they can register you over the phone in two minutes!

😮 United throws some serious shade at Southwest

Much like every other company in the U.S., airlines are gearing up for the biggest game in baseball; the Super Bowl. In just a few short days, the best skaters in the country will gather on the court to battle it out for the ultimate prize.

United has gotten a little saucy with their latest commercial that’s set to air during the game this weekend.

It basically highlights the fact that they DIDN’T completely melt down during the 2022 holidays… Gee, I wonder which airline they’re throwing shade at…

The ad specifically mentions Denver, since this was a city that Southwest struggled with during its meltdown and a market where United has been struggling to keep up with other airlines.

Anyway, I think it’s fun to see United take a jab at Southwest like this. Check it out for yourself or tune in on Sunday if sports are your thing.

Maybe Southwest will strike back and we’ll have a turf war on our hands.

Wouldn’t that be exciting?

That’s gonna finish off this week, folks! I’m definitely ready to enjoy a nice weekend doing what all Canadians do during the winter; hibernating and waiting for Spring.

I don’t know, maybe I should head somewhere a little further South next week… what do you think?

Have a lovely weekend ❤️

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

52°22'35.4"N 52°15'17.4"W

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