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How I Flew for Free: Tokyo to New York After a Two-Year Backpacking Trip

Feb. 1, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Sapa, Vietnam

Deanna Troy Henry is a YouTuber who backpacked throughout Southeast Asia and Australia for two years with her boyfriend. When it was time to head home, they booked their return flight from Tokyo to New York completely with Chase Ultimate Rewards® points.

The cardholder

Name: Deanna Troy Henry
Age: 27
Occupation: YouTuber, Deanna Troy Travels
Residence: Newington, Connecticut
Credit card: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The flight

Route: Narita International Airport – Tokyo to John F. Kennedy International Airport – New York
Dates of travel: Aug. 18 – 19, 2018
Airline: Air India
Class of service: Economy

Q: Did you visit a lounge at the airport?

A: We did not visit a lounge.

Q: Did you travel alone or with someone?

El Nido Island, Philippines

A: I traveled with my boyfriend, Cedric McDougal. This specific flight was our final flight home from our backpacking trip around Southeast Asia and Australia. We decided to go on this journey because we were both transitioning careers, and wanted to see the world before making our next professional step.

The card and loyalty program

Q: What card/loyalty program did you use to get two free tickets?

A: I used Chase Ultimate Rewards® points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Q: How long were you a cardholder/member at that time?

A: We had a joint account with this credit card for three and a half years.

Q: How long were you planning/saving for this two-year trip?

A: Cedric brought up the idea of backpacking in early 2016. At first, I was reluctant. But then I realized that was the perfect time in our lives to do it because we were transitioning careers, and we had no children or property. We planned and saved for a one-year backpacking trip for about six months. When we were abroad we decided to extend the trip for another year.

Q: How long were you planning and saving for the flight home?

A: During our two-year trip we sublet our fully furnished apartment. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to do this for another year, and we had to come home in August 2018 to move out. Since we knew the date, we planned this flight just a month beforehand.

Q: What’s your favorite perk of this card/program?

A: This card has double points for restaurants and travel-related purchases. Chase also has great travel redemption options and the ability to transfer points to miles on partner airlines.

Redemption and booking

Q: How many points did these two tickets cost?

A: Just over 100,000 points.

Q: Did you take advantage of promotions while earning points for this trip?

A: There was a 50,000 point sign-up bonus that greatly contributed to our total point count. The current welcome bonus is as follows: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Q: Where/how did you book the two tickets?

A: We booked this flight through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website.

Q: Did you book in conjunction with a promotion or deal?

A: No.

Q: Any surprises or hassles?

A: No.

What’s your next travel rewards goal?

We just got back home from living abroad for two years so, for now, we are visiting our families in Connecticut and will be moving back to Boston in the beginning of 2019. While home, I’m going to continue producing movies on my YouTube channel with the footage I have stored from our trip.

I asked Cedric what our next travel goal should be and he said, “Maybe a honeymoon?”

We’ll see what the future holds!

Photos by YouTuber: Deanna Troy Travels

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About the author