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How to Travel to Las Vegas with Miles & Points
Las Vegas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With world class hotels, restaurants and spas seemingly everyone wants to visit. While parts of Vegas are expensive and try to break the bank, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on airfare. As a miles/points junkie, I rarely actually pay for a ticket to/from my hometown. Here are 6 awesome and sometimes creative ways to get to/from Vegas with miles/points.
Southwest is the king of direct flights to/from Vegas. While all of the other major airlines only fly from their hubs to Vegas, Southwest flies to a ton of smaller markets. As a Vegas local that means a lot. I love that I can get to places like Orlando or Austin without having to connect. It saves a lot of time.
One of the other great things (sometimes) about Southwest is that their program is revenue based. This means that you can always book an available seat with points and you can often find amazing deals on points if they have a fare sale. Southwest is also a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards and they sometimes run lucrative bonuses through their shopping portal.
Best For: Direct routes to/from Vegas. Short hauls like Los Angeles where one-ways can cost less than 2K points.
How I Get Points: Transfer from Ultimate Rewards if necessary and use the Southwest Shopping Portal.
Honorable Mentions: Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant all fly from Vegas to a number of markets, but their mileage programs stink.
British Airways Avios
British Airways has a distance based program that applies to their partners Alaska and American Airlines in North America. Up until recently redemptions for short flights (less than 650 miles) only cost 4,500 Avios. Unfortunately that changed and now all flights up to 1,151 miles cost 7,500 Avios with the cost going up from there.
Unfortunately Alaska and American only fly to Vegas from their hubs, but it can still be a good deal to use Avios. For example, you can fly direct from Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix and Dallas for only 7,500 Avios each way! Both American and Alaska would charge you 12,500 miles if you used their programs for the same flights.
Best For: Mid-range redemptions to Alaska and American Airlines hubs.
How I Get Points: Transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards.
Virgin America is another revenue based program which often has good deals. They fly directly from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas and New York to Las Vegas, but also allow connections as well. I often find redemptions from LAX-LAS for about 1,000 points each way.
Right now Virgin America has a 50% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards. I covered it yesterday in detail, but basically you can get some amazing rates. For example, Dallas to Las Vegas on Virgin is only 9,000 Membership Rewards on some days. What a deal!
Best For: Redemptions during fare sales. Direct and non-direct flights to/from Vegas at competitive prices.
How I Get Points: Transfer from American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou.
Bonus: Virgin America has one of the best domestic economy products around.
While not a creative redemption, the three major legacy carriers all fly to Vegas from their hubs meaning you are only a connection away at most. Domestic flights within the United states are almost always 12,500 miles each-way in coach if you can find Saver award space. Here are the cities served direct by the major carriers:
- Delta: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, Orlando, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Seattle/Tacoma
- American: Charlotte, Chicago–O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York–JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Washington–National (Note: It may be a better deal to book American flights with British Airways Avios.)
- United: Chicago–O’Hare, Cleveland (ends May 4, 2016), Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles
Best For: People who have miles in one of these programs they want to burn. Also good if you live in a hub city.
How I Get Points: Each of these airlines partners with a bank and has a co-branded credit card offering a bonus up to 50,000 miles at various times of the year. You can also transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Delta SkyMiles and Chase Ultimate Rewards to United MileagePlus. I also earn a lot of miles through shopping portals for AAdvantage, MileagePlus and SkyMiles.
While not a traditional way to go, I recently flew on Boutique Air from Las Vegas to Merced. (You can also go on to Oakland.) They also fly a number of other routes around the West including Phoenix to Las Vegas. Boutique’s tagline is “Fly Private for the Cost of Commercial”. While I wouldn’t quite call it “private”, the flight experience is unique. It definitely isn’t the fastest way to travel, but with only 8 seats, it is a different experience.
Boutique Air doesn’t have a mileage program, but you can use flexible points programs such as Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards to book their flights if they show up in the travel search results. It is a unique experience and one I won’t soon forget!
Best For: People who fly for the experience! You also fly out of Henderson Executive Airport and skip huge lines, etc.
How I Get Points: I keep a stash of flexible currencies to book cash flights with points.
Never taken a Megabus? Well, you are missing out. Megabus runs a route from Los Angeles & Riverside to Las Vegas. It takes about five hours and you get all the benefits of free WiFi and cramped quarters. The views from the upper deck are alright I suppose.
Found a cheap flight to Los Angeles? Well, connect on the Fly Away bus to Union Station and hop on the Megabus to Vegas! You might think that I am joking, but in 2013 my son and I actually took the Megabus down to Los Angeles to catch an award flight to Europe. At the time they were running one of their famous $1 sales and I couldn’t resist!
Best For: Cheap people who like to suffer.
How I Get Points: Just pay cash. Fares are as low as $1!
If you are looking to save money on travel to/from Las Vegas there are a ton of miles/points options available. From Megabus and budget airlines on the low-end to unique carriers like Boutique, Las Vegas is a premier destination and there is no shortage of ways to get here.
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