San Francisco Trip Deal: $256 round-trip from SFO to Costa Rica on Copa Airlines

Copa Airlines has some pretty amazing flights from San Francisco to San José Costa Rica right now. Flights start at $256 round-trip, after taxes with open availability between October 2018 and May 2019.

Copa Airlines is part of the Star Alliance and these flights are coded “T,” which earn 100% Premier Qualifying Miles on United, so this can make for a great mileage run.

To find this deal, use my Expedia link to search for flights between SFO and SJO.

United is keeping its PQD credit card waiver for 2018… or is it?

To earn Premier elite status on United Airlines, you need to fly a certain amount of miles (called “PQM” or “premier qualifying miles”) or segments (“PQS” or “premier qualifying segments”) and to spend a certain amount of money on United flights (called “PQD” or “premier qualifying dollars”).


So, to obtain Premier Silver status, I would need to fly 25,000 PQM and spend $3,000 PQD. An issue with this system is that, especially with cheap flights, it can be difficult to reach the PQD. For example, in 2017 I earned 31,384 PQM on United but only $738 PQD.

United, like American and (new for 2018) Delta, had a workaround — you could spend $25,000 on a United-branded credit card and receive a waiver of the PQD requirement for Silver, Gold, and Premier status.

However, all mention of the waiver has been taken off the website, only mentioning it in reference to 2017.


Well, I’ve got some good news (kind of) — after spending nearly an hour on the phone with United (and speaking to 7 different representatives) , they confirmed that the credit card PQD waiver will still apply in 2018.

That said, every time I asked for it in writing — either on the website or in an e-mail to me — they refused. They agreed to make a note on my account saying they’d told me the waiver would apply, but there’s nothing stopping them from announcing they’ve discontinued the waiver at this point.

I don’t think United has motivation to discontinue the waiver and I appreciate their customer service saying it will continue in 2018, but as a lawyer, I want to see it in writing.

Portland Trip Deal: $271 round-trip from PDX to Quito, Ecuador on American Airlines

American Airlines is putting flights from Portland, Oregon to Quito, Ecuador on sale! Flights start at $271 round-trip, after taxes with availability in September and October 2017.

This is an incredible deal to South America and if you’re thinking of going, this deal won’t last long!

To find this deal, use or Google Flights and search for flights between PDX and UIO.

How I scored a lie-flat bed on American Airlines for $106.20

Did you know that American Airlines uses lie-flat bad in its first class between New York City (JFK) and Miami?

When I was looking at booking a flight between these cities, American Airlines has the best deal, coming in at $106.20 after taxes for June travel. When I went to pick a seat, I noticed that the plane had lie-flat beds (notably, the flight on American leaving later in the day did not), and decided that I would request a 500-mile upgrade for the flight.

For those who don’t know, American Airlines has a unique feature where, once you obtain premier status on the airline, you’re given around 500-mile upgrades to use for future flights (with Gold, I was given 10). For each 500 miles that you fly, you need to use 1 of your 500-miles upgrades. If you want to purchase more upgrades, it costs $40 for each one.

I generally like this system, as it makes it so you only request an upgrade when it’s most beneficial to you – and I’ve found I’m much more likely to get a 500-mile upgrade when I use it, compared to complimentary upgrades on United, where I also have status.

Unfortunately, the flying distance between JFK and MIA is 1,090, meaning it cost 3 500-mile upgrades (if it was just 90 miles less, it would have been 2!). Still, I decided to try for the upgrade because of the flat bed.

The flight was fairly empty, and I got confirmed for my upgrade at check-in. Because I’ve yet to go through all 10 500-mile upgrades (and I’ve upgraded on 3 flights now, including Turks & Caicos to Charlotte), I was able to score a flat bed for cheap!

The flight wasn’t particularly amazing, but, despite the short flight time, I actually used the bed and took a nap. Since I doubt I’ll maintain my American status, the good news is that the flight was around $300 to book directly for the flat bed; which, although not ideal, isn’t totally unreasonable.