Travel Planning has been backburnered recently, but we have deadlines looming, here’s the state of affairs.
- Trip 1 NCL Escape from Miami (Dec)
- Trip 2 Aruba (Feb)
- Trip 3 NCL Epic from Barcelona (Apr)
- Trip 4 UK (Aug)
Out of this, only the Escape is really ‘booked’.. hence the travel planning:
I booked 2×2 Nights at the Radisson, now Hilton pre devaluation. We have an outbound non-stop on JetBlue from NY. The return is prohibitively expensive on points:
- 23K JetBlue per person (plus $55 taxes or a revenue ticket of $290)
- 17.5K Delta per person (plus $55 taxes or a revenue ticket of $290)
We’ve also toyed with the notion of coming back via Miami, stopping there for a few days. From memory, it would be 17.5K AS or BA to include the stopover. Based on a mix of current balances, and future strength, I think BA would be smarter if we went that route.
Delta is a good price (in points) for a nonstop, but I’m down to about 10K so would require transferring in Membership Rewards to make that happen, and they are loosely earmarked for the next trip, Barcelona….
Very excited about this one, but haven’t yet managed to get points up high enough to secure 3 biz tickets in RT. Current balances are:
- 160K UA
- 160K UR
- 40K UR
- 75K AA (total)
- 60K SPG
- 40K MR (her)
- 35K MR (me)
Since creating the UA pts from Marriott pts the tendency is to go with what I know.. and focus on earning enough UR to transfer in. But if you step back and think about that, its a terrible program. UA round trips in business to Europe are often 160K, whereas other programs offer the same journey for half the points.
I’m particularly interested in Korean air right now, and would be able to source them from UR or SPG. 3 tickets (if they could be found..) would only cost 240K. However, I have seen a lot of space on Delta metal, especially compared to United and American, so I’m hopeful.
This is a measure twice, cut once situation. While i’m ‘almost’ ready to book Delta from Aruba, I’m also wondering about whether I might want to do something else:
- Transfer 60K SPG for 75K Korean
- Transfer 85K UR for 85K Korean
- Transfer 130K Membership Rewards to Delta
The process would be:
- Create family account with Korean
- Hold tickets if available (they hold without points)
- Check Delta space (again)
- Transfer Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards and SPG respectively
- Try to book Delta seat (a spell available on the dark web helps, it involves chicken blood and invoking the olde gods)
- When the Korean points hit, buy those two seats
- Travel on split PNRs
This is just one approach.. the value of this one is that it leaves enough points sitting around to add on a couple more nights in Aruba, perhaps at the Hyatt there (if I ever make Diamond…).
Cards applied for to achieve this:
I just added the Amex 75K BRG, and 2x 30K EDPs. With spend from the past month or two, the bonuses earned from these would be 200K MR. I’m hitting a wall with Chase, but did apply for a few more AA cards for the next trip…. note that they don’t obviously achieve the spend, but the theory is that I need to start hovering around the 300K mark in a program in order to have a plan B.
I hopped on open award space to LHR in August, but haven’t yet figured out a way home. My theory here is to top up the AA miles via another 100K, and book out 3 more seats to return. If we can find a smart way to do it, that could include coming back from many different locations, the goal being nonstop on oneworld. Seats are incredibly sparse, which does reinforce that the entire travel hacking game is fast coming to a close in its present form.
If the plan goes ahead as outlined here we should get everything booked without touching United, having depleted URs and AA. We’d have major travel booked until next summer (though we both want to go to Asia) and we would have a new stockpile in Membership Rewards.
Measure twice, cut once
At this point in the plan I’m just looking and calculating still. While this comes with a risk of losing space, jumping on space without thinking about how everything interlinks will cause more work in the long run. This, of course, is my own self made hell… as I like to keep low balances. All I’m doing for now is earning more ultimate rewards, and submitting my documents to Korean so that I’m ready to action this when the time is right. This also means that I’m not committing to transfer those SPG today, as I might have earned enough URs by that time.. it’s all about options, until, it is too late and you have none!
Stress and strategy
I do find that if I don’t get something done it stresses me out a bit, as I don’t like loose ends, however, acting fast isn’t always the best solution when things are irreversible. Instead, I think it can be better to act fast to write things out like a plan, and then revise. I’ve been asana, and blog posts for this 🙂
If you have any thoughts on how to better plan these trips, please let me know!