I mentioned recently that it’s time to book next year’s Spring Break. Prime tickets are already going fast. Taking my own advice, I’ve been searching fervently for options that fit the Deal Family’s school holiday schedule. I finally found four tickets that worked and got them booked this morning. In doing so, I learned a few tips to share with you. Hope they help with your own planning.
- American Airlines off-peak tickets to Europe are terrific value, but beware: To recap, American Airlines offers award tickets in economy for only 20k miles one way October 15 to May 15. When I started searching AA.com for tickets, every single day was showing at least 4 tickets on every single route. I soon learned why: the vast majority of those flights are on British Airways, which attaches surcharges approx. $700/person/ticket.
- There’s an easy work-around to find availability: Run your searches on Qantas.com. American Airlines will list BA, AA, US, and occasionally Air Berlin or Finnair, but the best searches are run on Qantas. Qantas also picks up Iberia availability. You want to find a flight that does NOT transit London Heathrow, especially on our way home.
- It’s easier to find a way to Europe than to find a way home on prime dates: Work on getting back from Europe first, then fill in the rest. In my experience people are a lot more flexible on the front of the trip and are all rushing to get home on the same dates. Alternatively, if you can stretch your trip, stretch it on the back end.
- Just get over the pond: I’ve booked multiple trips now departing from JFK that were not available from DC. Those shuttle flights just weren’t available as awards. By getting to JFK many non-stop options opened up to Europe. Be sure to check JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Miami, LAX, DFW before giving up.
- Once you find your longest leg, fill in the rest from there: Once I found tickets to Europe (JFK-Madrid in my case) it would have been easy to let it rest. However, once you’ve found the longest leg intra-Europe connections (with less than 24 hours in-between) will be free. Which leads me to our final destination: Gran Canaria! From Madrid flights to Gran Canaria were wide open on both ends of the trip.
Where’s Gran Canaria? Why there?
I visited Tenerife, a nearby Canary Island, in 2012 and have wanted to explore more ever since. The Canaries are prime territory to use Endless Vacation Rentals or there’s an oceanfront category 2 Sheraton that is highly rated on TripAdvisor.
So for a grand total of 160,000 AA miles (earned through 3 US Airways/AA credit card signups over the last year) and $860 in taxes Spring Break is booked. Considering cash tickets on the exact same route run $4,187, I’ll take it!
I heard from many of you who were working on Spring Break (or had already booked some amazing trips). If you’re just starting, what are you finding? If you’ve been to Gran Canaria, I’d also love to hear from you.
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