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I cannot imagine a scenario where Tim Tebow is a Jacksonville Jaguar. Even if he is released.
We got our man.
I’ve made it clear from Day One that we pledge nothing less than to deliver the first Super Bowl championship to Jacksonville.
Wheels Up Duval: Chapter 2 – JAX -> LHR -> JAX
In Chapter 1, we covered how Jaguars fans can replicate the NFL On Location package for 2013’s game at Wembley Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers for less than half the official rate, saving thousands of dollars. Now, it’s time to start cutting even deeper as we roll on towards our goal of $500 per person for a 2-person trip.
The biggest cost component of the trip is, doubtlessly, airfare. We found a number of roundtrip options, including tax, on Delta for $1,077. This number can be brought down all the way to nearly $200 if you have good credit and are willing to take advantage of some insane offers from Citi and American Airlines. No, I don’t get a referral of any sort for this and yes, I’ve already done this for myself.
The first step is to go to this link. This is a special offer that gives you 40,000 American Airlines AAdvantage points after spending $1,000 on either a Citi MasterCard or Citi American Express in the first four months you have the card. The card also entitles you to a free bag when traveling, 10% of your miles back on any award travel and a companion pass that lets someone else travel free with you on a domestic flight if you spend more than $299 on that flight.
What makes this an even more exceptional opportunity is that it’s possible to sign up for both of these cards in order to earn a total of 80,000 miles just for spending a couple grand on your regular expenses over the first few months you have the cards. To do this, you need to sign up for both cards at the same time using two separate browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox. This outstanding page from Million Mile Secrets has the specific steps for you to follow. Please note that even though he references 50,000 mile deals, these appear to be expired. This works with the 40,000 mile link I provided above, though, so my advice is to use the 40,000 mile offer following Million Mile Secrets’ steps. If you don’t already have an AAdvantage member number, make sure to get one before applying for these cards, as you have to indicate which rewards account you’d like these miles to be deposited to once earned. Also, it’s possible if you’re married for both you and your spouse to separately apply for both of these cards.
So what can 80,000 miles get you? This chart from AA has the answers. Scroll down to North America to Europe and prepare for your jaw to drop: Off-Peak travel requires just 20,000 miles each way. While not all mileage programs are created equally, AAdvantage is often comparable to Delta Skymiles, through which this trip would typically cost 60,000 miles each way. Note the off-peak dates for AA travel to Europe from America: October 15 through May 15, an insanely long “off-peak” season, and one that aligns perfectly with the Jaguars game on October 27th.
You can go here to look up various travel dates. I’ve had my entire family follow these steps, and we’re tentatively planning to stay for a week around the game. Because fares are booked as one-way components, it’s possible to fly into one city and fly out of a different one. For example, we may choose to fly into Paris or Edinburgh initially and fly out of Heathrow at the end of the trip, beginning and ending in Jacksonville.
An important word of warning: while travel on British Airways is almost certain to be a better experience than traveling on American, and is possible through American’s OneWorld mileage program, British Airways charges tremendous fees and fuel surcharges for award flights. It’s CRITICAL therefore when putting together your personal itinerary to not select flights that include “BA” as one of the flight components. If you do, your taxes and fees will skyrocket to above $700, instead of around $200.
In this example, you want the AA and AA flight, not the AA and BA one, unless you’re comfortable paying a much higher fee due to BA’s fuel surcharge.
There are many flight possibilities available. Your taxes and fees will shift somewhat, but I made a sample trip that connects through Miami on the way out and through O’Hare on the way back, originating and ending in Jacksonville and London Heathrow. This itinerary costs 40,000 miles and $197.10, a more than $800 savings over booking travel on the cheapest cash flight. What’s more, if you sign up for both cards like I did, you’ll be able to do the exact same thing in 2014, or fly to other destinations like Japan.
A final note on the credit cards: people are often hesitant to sign up for more credit cards than they feel they need, believing it harms their credit. It’s true that opening a new account can ding you 5-10 points in the short term, say for the next 6 to 12 months. The reality, though, is that 30% of your FICO credit score is calculated based on credit utilization. Because of this, signing up for more credit cards can actually improve your credit in the long run.
Let’s say you spend $2,000 a month and have $10,000 of credit availability. You have a credit utilization ratio of 20%. If you open new cards driving your total credit line up to $20,000 but spend the same $2,000 monthly, your credit utilization would now be 10%, which is perceived as twice as good by the FICO formula. If you’re looking to refinance or obtain a new auto loan imminently and don’t have a solid credit history, this might not be a good idea for you. If you’re not in the market for a big loan in the next 6 months, though, I would highly recommend this method, with the caveat that I am not an expert in the field by any means.
If you have any questions, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help you however I can!
Wheels Up, Duval: Making the Jaguars London Home Game an Affordable Adventure
It takes dedication to want to travel across an ocean to see a presumably 2-14 team play a game against a potential Super Bowl champion. It also takes a good amount of money. However, if you’re smart about it, it doesn’t have to cost nearly as much as the National Football League would have you believe.
The Official Package
Information on the official NFL On Location packages are available here (PDF file). They start at $2,899 per person, assuming double occupancy, and provide four nights of accommodations in London and roundtrip airfare between Orlando to London, as well as ground transport to the hotel and to Wembley Stadium for the big day.
Getting Into the Stadium
At this rate, the seat you’ll receive is in a section similar to those that were available for £45 right here. While single game tickets in that particular section are presently sold out, it’s still possible to purchase a 2-game package at a significant discount, providing you tickets to both the Jaguars/49ers game and the Vikings/Steelers game set for earlier in the season. The 2-game packages start at £72, or roughly $116. You can most likely sell off the Vikings/Steelers ticket on a site like Stubhub.co.uk if you’d like, but the relatively low cost makes the idea of simply wasting the first game’s ticket less than a tragedy.
Taking Advantage of Packages for UK Locals
Another way to put together a game-focused package quickly and with a fair amount of savings is to purchase your tickets and accommodation through ThomsonSport.com. Thomson’s packages are focused on UK residents, so they range from 1-to-3 night options for accommodations. Packages start at £229 per person for a lower end-zone ticket and 1 night at a 3-star hotel. The cheapest 3 night package is £369 per person for double occupancy. An advantage to booking through Thomson is that they have ticket upgrade options that run the gamut from lower sideline to club and premium club seats, and the company hosts an NFL Kickoff Party at the same hotel where the League schedules most of its events during the week of the game, which includes the chance to meet and greet NFL alums, see cheerleaders at work and enjoy complimentary drinks and appetizers. This party is an extra £75 per person.
Do It Big
For many, though, traveling to London isn’t about having a shoestring budget when it comes to the game itself. You can replicate the finest finery offered by NFL On Location on your own, without having to commit to packages that max out at $5,000 per person. To do so, you’ll want to purchase one of the Hospitality Packages available through Ticketmaster UK. £329 each (roughly $520) will net you the Sapphire Package, in which you receive a premium club ticket, giving you a midlevel sideline view of the game. The package also includes a 3 hour pre-game buffet at Club Wembly, with complimentary bar for 3 hours prior to the game, during half-time and for an hour following the game. The Diamond Package is £439 each (roughly $709). This includes a champagne reception on arrival, a 3 course meal at Wembley’s most exclusive restaurant, complimentary bar during the same hours as the Sapphire package and a seat located right around the 50 yard line. These are doubtless expensive, but compared to the $5,000 that NFL On Location’s version of the Diamond Package requires, it’s a relative bargain.
Of course, the most critical element is travel itself. I’d recommend checking this Kayak link for the latest pricing on flights. As of publication, the cheapest available option is through Air France, via Atlanta, for $1,044 per person. This is a very limited itinerary however, departing on Saturday and returning on Monday. A far greater number of options exist through Delta, with most flights ranging from $1,077 to $1,084 per person.
Lodging On The Cheap
As far as accommodations go, a simple option for travelers wishing to stay at an American-branded hotel might consider the Best Western Palm Hotel, located 3.2 miles from Wembley Stadium. It starts at $118 per night with tax included and has a 3 star rating. Cheaper local options and hostels are available, but the savings don’t seem significant enough to be worth rolling the dice.
So, let’s make a four night package given this information for two people, as an example:
Flight: $1,077 (Delta) per person
Accommodations: $118/night (Double Occupancy, so half the cost per person)
2-Game Package, Upper Sideline: $116 per person
Ground Transport: Estimated $50 per person from the airport to Best Western and Best Western to Wembley and back
Total: $1,479 per person.
A Good Start, But…
For roughly half the price of the base $2,799 NFL On Location option, you’re able to fly from Jacksonville and see the game from a nearly identical seat. The only loss is access to the pre-game tailgate and the “commemorative gift”. I’ll let you judge whether they’re worth about $1,400 put together.
The good news is, it just gets better from here. In the days and weeks to come, I’m going to continue driving down this cost for fans willing to do some legwork to save big bucks. For example, I’ve already found a way to lower the cost of airfare a stunning 90% from the $1,077 listed above. I’m going to apply some of the same techniques to hotels next. How would it sound to stay in 4 or 5-star accommodations in the heart of London for a 60-70% discount or, if we’re all a little lucky, free of charge? That’s the goal.
My hope is to create, at the end of this adventure, a package where Duval’s finest can nab airfare, excellent accommodations, ground transport and a ticket to the game for $500 or less, with options to improve on any of these elements for an extra charge. I look forward to sharing my findings.
Tomorrow is forever.