I am going to explain how I booked two award trips back to back and why I did so. During August last year, we decided that we wanted to go back to Hawaii this year because we had a great time in Kauai. Since my wife is a school teacher, we know exactly when she will have time off. Booking award tickets to Hawaii can be tough during peak times such as spring break and summer time. Therefore, the best thing to do is to book as early as possible.
I originally wanted to make a trip out to Asia during spring break this year, but it was shot down… We eventually compromised to a trip to Hawaii again because we both enjoyed it last year. I’ve never been to Maui so I figured it would be a nice place to visit. We also planned to visit a relative and explore Honolulu, which we’ve both been to.
I started looking for award tickets in August 2012 for April 2013. I thought this was pretty early to plan, but apparently most of the spring break times were not available. I first checked on AA.com because you can use 12,500 Avios miles one-way to Hawaii from the west coast. I couldn’t find anything for our specific time frame. Since I have lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, I checked United and there were dates that we wanted. Even though the award tickets cost 20,000 miles one-way, sometimes you have to spend more miles to get the date you want. To get from Maui to Honolulu, I booked us two one-way tickets on Island Air using Citi ThankYou points.
On our way back, I couldn’t find any availability from Honolulu in economy class. However, there was good First class availability. For 37,500 miles per person, this is very expensive for a 5 hour flight. It is not worth spending that many miles for such a short flight. Then I thought, what if we went to Europe or Asia in the summer? I could then get the HNL-LAX portion for free if I continued on to another international destination due to American Airline’s free stopover rule of stopping at an international hub when you travel internationally. Therefore, we were “stopping over” in LAX for 3 months before heading off to our international destination in the summer.
Long story short, we settled on going to… London! We have never been there and the wife studied English Literature in college, so it was a good choice. I looked for availability from LAX-LHR and there was a good amount of First Class availability on British Airways First Class. I plugged in a multi-city intinerary for HNL-LAX-LHR and it ended up being 62,500 miles per person. We were “saving” 37,500 miles per person or spending 35,000 more miles for a First Class ticket to London. Advanced Tip: I booked a dummy leg from LHR-LIN(Milan) because the fuel surcharges were much lower flying to Italy than ending in London. We paid $329 in fuel surcharges per person. We will not be checking in luggage and will exit the airport at LHR after experiencing the First Class Concorde Lounge at LHR. 🙂
We also wanted to explore Germany a bit and see Neuschwanstein Castle and the German Alps because its much cheaper than visiting Switzerland. Also, I was inspired from Lucky’s photos of Berchtesgaden. I booked a one-way on EasyJet from London to Munich. For our return back to the states, I booked a ticket economy class from MUC-LAX because I did not have many miles at the time and we would rather take a direct flight economy than route through London on business class. However, I was able to change the flight for free due to a schedule change to FRA-LAX business class on the 747-8! In the end our trip looks like this:
I will explain in greater detail how I booked the award tickets, hotel stays, and a breakdown of the points/miles/cash used in my later posts. Hope you enjoy this series on Two Award Trips Back to Back.