Redeeming travel rewards

Ah…retirement. COVID’s pretty much behind us. Let’s cash in those points/miles we’ve been saving. It’s GO time!

Not so fast.

Is it just me, or have the airlines added so many restrictions into the mix that it’s almost impossible to redeem the travel awards that you’ve accumulated? Or the points required to redeem for a “free” hotel room have increased by 30%?

One of our credit cards offers a free companion ticket for anywhere you want to go in the lower 48 states each year at renewal. Your choose the level of service – first class, comfort plus or main cabin. It’s been a really nice perk.

Due to COVID, the airline extended the expiration date on the companion certificates. Sadly, we were only able to redeem ONE prior to the expiration date. Why, you ask? Increased demand for air travel and airlines trying maximize the revenue per available seat mile (RASM). How are they doing this?

  1. Changes in award redemption program meaning fewer flights are now eligible for the companion certificate.
  2. Changes in award redemption program meaning fewer seats/classes of service are available for redemption.
  3. Upcharge on single ticket price in order to use the companion certificate.

When took our two trips out west last fall, we discovered it was more economical to buy two main cabin tickets and request an upgrade (credit card/airline loyalty program perk) than it was to try to buy a first class ticket on one of the few flights available to redeem the companion certificate.

We couldn’t use a companion certificate to book our upcoming trip to Alaska as it is limited to travel in the contiguous 48 states only.

One of the good things about retirement is you’re able to travel at off peak times and save significantly on the amount of points required for the first class ticket you want for your bucket list trip. We saved 100,000 points per ticket by flying out at 2:00 p.m. instead of 8:00 a.m. We still arrive the same day and return on the flight we originally wanted.

And if you can believe this: it costs the same amount of points for a Hampton Inn in Pigeon Forge, TN as it does Fairbanks, AK. I’m traveling during “shoulder season” in both places. I thought Pigeon Forge would be less than Fairbanks. Not so.

Any other travel hacks you can share? We double dip reward points where possible, use AAA and other affinity discounts, travel off peak, etc. Trying to maximize the value of my travel dollars as I do my quilty dollars.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on

See what we made today?

This is an Easter version of the Halloween and Christmas bags made by other students. Don’t you just love the bunny appliqué? The student placed her bunny exactly where she wanted it. Thread painting/decorative stitching some Easter grass would have been cute, too! No time for that today in our busy 90 minute session.

This stitchy ‘tween learned how to do raw edge appliqué. She chose her design and traced the image onto Wonder Under using a lightbox. Then, she determined placement of her design, zigzagged around the bunny and sewed on the button eye.

Today, she also learned two different ways to box corners, how to make straps and how to topstitch. It’s so nice when a student becomes more independent when using a sewing machine. She can thread it, change the feet, select a stitch and adjust for seam allowances as needed.

This project is my own design. I’m currently editing the pattern and will be sharing it soon.

Can’t wait for our next session! We’ll be exploring projects that utilize Infusible Ink from Cricut. I already have an idea what we’re going to make. I’ll be experimenting over the next few days, so I can be ready.

3D Printer to the Rescue

Bless the individual who came up with a slant shank prototype for vintage Singer machines using their 3D printer. The darn thing actually fits my 301! I’m able to use the same trusty snap on feet I use with my Singer Featherweight. Oh happy day! If case you’re interested, I found them on eBay.

Miss Carmella also received two more needed accessories this week: a full-color machine manual and an acrylic extension table. Instead of Sew Steady, I had Tailor Made Tables LLC make the table this time. Well made product with a nice fit around the machine bed. Like the carry handle and extra support leg along the front edge of the table. The bottom of each adjustable leg is smooth, so the table slides very easily into place around the machine. Too smooth for my existing sewing surface – I’ll need to trade Miss Carmella’s current quilted sewing mat for a nonslip one. Everything slides around too easily with the quilted sewing mat.