How the Winner of Into the Blue Will Spend His 1 Million JetBlue TrueBlue Points

Jun 9, 2016

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

I was backpacking in Lisbon, Portugal, when I first read about The Points Guy’s million-mile photo contest and scavenger hunt. I knew instantly which travel photo to submit, and the scavenger hunt was organized in my former hometown of San Francisco. Within minutes, I had decided the million JetBlue TrueBlue points would be mine.

Everyone likes my picture of Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador. The challenge was getting them to confirm it with a click.
Everyone likes my picture of Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador. The challenge was getting them to confirm it with a click.

To recap how the competition played out: My first challenge was to get people to “like” my picture. I rallied all of my friends, and they rallied all of theirs. But I still needed more votes and a potential +1 if I was a finalist. My little sister, best friend and main travel and adventure buddy Karen, who is getting married next year, was the logical choice. The call was an easy sell:

“Hey Karen.”
“Hey Brian.”
“Want a free honeymoon?”
(Pauses “Games of Thrones” DVR)
“I’m sorry can you repeat that?”

With her additional “Help me win a free honeymoon!” appeal plastered across social media, we finally accrued enough votes to put us in the running. Our picture won over the judges and we became semifinalists. I had drifted into Morocco by the time I got the news, so I booked a one-way United Star Alliance award flight home to Chicago for 40k miles. It wasn’t the best value for UA miles (round trip awards offer many more perks), but I needed to get home! And the potential payoff would make it well worth it. I circumvented the close-in booking fee, and I worked in an overnight layover in Geneva to visit a new city and see one of my best travel friends. The airport is a quick 4-kilometer train ride into town, making Geneva a convenient, but expensive, choice for an overnight.

The views of Jet d
The views of Jet d’Eau fountain and Lake Geneva are free, but prices in Geneva go up quickly from there. Here I am (right) with my good travel friend Chris J.

After two unforgettable days in San Francisco and running ourselves ragged in the scavenger hunt portion of the competition, Karen and I were JetBlue TrueBlue millionaires. I didn’t want to plan how I would spend the points before actually winning them, so I initially didn’t have an answer to everyone asking “What are you doing with the points?” But, now I’m finally ready to take these TrueBlue points and make it rain:

jetblue (1)
This balance will soon have a lot more zeros.

Campaign Promises

My first priority is sending Karen and her fiancé Mike on their honeymoon. They had already locked in Hawaii as their choice, and luckily JetBlue’s only airline redemption partner is Hawaiian Airlines. I offered to send them in first class, but Karen has adopted my philosophy on award travel: I’d rather fly somewhere twice in coach than once in first class. So, Karen and Mike get free flights to Hawaii, and they are applying for hotel credit cards for a free stay. I’ll also throw in a future anniversary trip to the Caribbean, where JetBlue has many more options.

Cost: 150,000-200,000 points

The otherworldly landscape of Maui
The otherworldly landscape of Maui’s Haleakalā Volcano crater, which Karen will never see from her honeymoon beach cabana.

I Get High (as in Flying) with a Little Help from My Friends

The backing I received as I promoted my picture early on in the contest was a little overwhelming. Family, friends and even people I barely knew voted, shared and flooded their news feeds to get me the likes I needed. Since winning, I’ve gotten well over a million miles worth of “So where are you taking me?” And while no one actually expects anything in return, I’m giving something back to those who helped to get me there. I’ll have my very own unscientific and impossible-to-make-fair lottery where I’ll give one lucky supporter 50,000 points — potentially enough for two round-trip flights to the Caribbean! Thank you, everyone! And you’re welcome, one person!

Cost: 75,000 points because I’ll probably invite myself along.

At one point Facebook
At one point Facebook’s automated security determined the support for my picture was so great it couldn’t possibly have been human.

Aruba, Jamaica, Ooh I Wanna Take Ya

I was supposed to be adventuring through Malta and Italy’s Amalfi Coast with my friend Claire on the weekend of the scavenger hunt, and she agreed to push back our trip a month to accommodate. To show my gratitude, we’ll go on another adventure to… Bermuda? Why not. It’s the only spot I haven’t explored from The Beach Boys’ song “Kokomo.” Thanks again, Claire, although I think you’re coming out ahead here.

Cost: 50,000 points and that song in my head for the rest of the day.

Team “Biros Bonuses”

Even a million points won’t cover an exotic vacation for all of my siblings and their families (27 people!), but Karen and I can at least thank our parents. Mom and Dad, as “bonus” children No. 5 and No. 6 (hence the scavenger hunt team name), even if we weren’t part of your original plan, we’re sure glad we’re here, and we want to make sure you are too. A long weekend in Savannah or Charleston will have enough history and Southern charm for dad, plenty of flowers for mom and a beach for us kids.

Cost: 100,000 points

Under the fishing pier at Folly Beach in Charleston, SC.
Under the fishing pier at Folly Beach in Charleston, South Carolina.

Even after my spending spree, I’ll still have over half a million points in the bank. I’d make a terrible hotel chain heiress/socialite — bingeing isn’t my style. Instead, I’ll enjoy a steady Caribbean perma-tan for the next several years (Cuba is high on my list), and I may dabble just a bit in JetBlue Mint.

Featured image of Pink Sands beach in Bermuda courtesy of Shutterstock.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.