It's finally happening, dear reader(s). I'm taking my first international trip booked entirely with points and miles (like ten fucking months ago). That's right - all this earning, and almost no burning to show for it. Technically my first all points & miles trip was to New York last fall, in which I took advantage of wide United transcon award availability right after they switched operations to EWR. But that was just for a couple days, and I was by myself, so it didn't really count. This trip will be different, since it will fling my wife and I to far-flung locales, all buffeted by the luxury my points/miles obsession provides. Here's the trip:
- SFO to Amsterdam via Seattle. Booked two seats in Delta One (A330) for 80,000 miles apiece. I had a really small booking window, since I had already booked the return flight, so options were limited. Plus, the A330 is the nice reverse-herringbone config, not the staggered forward-facing one that everyone rags on.
- Intercontinental Amstel, booked for three nights and 150,000 IHG points that I bought on sale last December when they did a 100% bonus.
- Amsterdam to Paris on KLM, booked with 16,000 FlyingBlue miles transferred from Citi. I could have booked cheap cash fares instead, but the cheap flights were either really early in the morning or late at night. The flight we wanted was around $250 each, so it made more sense to use some points.
- VENDOMING! Park Hyatt Vendome for four nights and 120,000 points, plus two additional nights via the Hyatt signup bonus. I'm kidding about Vendoming, by the way. I lived in Paris for a year and know the city well, and I'm actually nervous that I'll wish I had booked an AirBNB instead of a stuffy hotel. We'll see.
- Paris to Copenhagen on Norwegian. I love Norwegian, even though they're no-frills. Plus, my wife loves Orly airport, so that's a bonus. Obviously I paid cash, since tickets are like five bucks.
- Hilton Copenhagen airport, booked for one night with a cash and points rate using points I transferred from Citi. This ended up being a good deal, and I got around two cents per Citi point (which transfer to Hilton at 1:1.5). Normally I wouldn't waste points transferring to Hilton, but the hotel is connected to the airport, which is the main reason we wanted to stay here.
- Copenhagen to Vagar (Faroe Islands) on Atlantic Airways. Super excited to fly Atlantic - it's the flag carrier of the Faroes, and supposedly they're really proud of the service they offer. It's all economy, but you get a full meal even though the flight is only around two hours. I paid cash for this one, but I got $250 back via the Citi Prestige airline credit.
- Cottage in Funningur, booked for three nights on AirBNB. I had originally planned to stay in Torshavn (the capital of the Faroe Islands), but I saw the cottage and it just seemed too perfect. And a far cry from the Park Hyatt, I'm sure.
- Vagar to Chicago via Copenhagen. On SAS yo! For whatever reason, SAS is the business class I most want to try in the world. Maybe it's my soft spot for all things Scandinavian, or maybe it's the nicest non-diagonal, non-claustrophobic business class product I know of. Either way, The Points Guy loved it, and One Mile at a Time was meh. I already love it, and I haven't flown it yet. I booked two seats for 45,000 Aeroplan miles apiece, plus a negligible amount in taxes. I got in under the wire before Aeroplan bumped the cost up to a still-reasonable 55,000 miles.
- Hyatt Regency Chicago, booked for two nights using the club upgrade award (a bunch of cash plus 6000 points). This will be a chance to de-jetlag and see my family, and also to load up on free club lounge food.
- Chicago to SFO on Virgin America. Yes, I know I could have tried to tack on a flight as part of the transatlantic award, but I couldn't find availability in first, and I don't want to end such an opulent trip in economy. The original plan was to book the whole thing with FlyingBlue miles (KLM on the way out and Air France on the way back), none of which ended up happening due to poor availability. The upside, however, was that I had budgeted around $1000 in fuel surcharges that I didn't have to pay with Delta/Aeroplan, meaning I had money to buy two first class seats on Virgin outright.
I'll be sure to diligently photograph all aspects of the trip and write a detailed trip report, if by "diligently photograph all aspects of the trip," you mean "grab some images from Google image search," and if by "write a detailed trip report," you mean "write a bunch of disconnected rambling eight months from now." See you when I get back!