Monday, March 17, 2014

Bad Redemption – Great Memories

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I got the better of Avios. Well this time they got the better of me. I have read a lot of stuff about getting the most value out of your miles, but sometimes, it’s just about saving some money and enjoying yourself. And that’s what I decided I will do, earlier this year.

My wife and I were contemplating what to do for the long Martin Luther King weekend in Jan. It was already Jan 10th and we were a weekend away from three days of holiday and no plans. And then, we just decided to show up at our friends place in San Francisco. We had never been to West Coast and this seemed like a good time. We checked flight prices and they were all upwards of $150 per person per way for an AUS-SFO/SJC flight (big surprise there). So $600 just for flights. Somehow that threw a damper on our plans.

Enter our miles balance that we earned last year through App-O-Rama’s. This was my turn to show my wife that my miles obsession CAN and WILL save the day. I quickly checked our options. It was mostly United and American Airlines – OK don’t forget, this was the first time I was ever trying to book redemption miles in US, so I am not very good at it. I din even think of checking Jet Blue and use my Membership Rewards point. Checked AA and I was in luck – they had availability on the flights I wanted. Only issue was as this was within the 21 days period, they were charging a hefty fee. So it was coming to 50000 AA miles for two return trip tickets and $310. That din see like a lot of money saving. Disappointed, I got ready to be ridiculed by my wife.

Lighting struck. Suddenly some things I had read all these months started coming back – BA Avios, One World, no last minute fee, beaches, love of wife. I woke up with a scream. I knew what to do. Opened my Avios account and checked. My hands were trembling. And just when I thought I had conquered the world, it all came crashing down. No availability. But I was baffled. AA was showing availability, so why wasn’t BA. I finally decided to call the famed BA Customer Care. A little bit of explaining and before long, I had myself the till-now-elusive ticket for me and my wife to San-Fran-Cisco, for just 58000 Avios and $10 tax. They even waived the phone booking charge, as the website was somehow not showing availability, for tickets that were available.

I know what you must be thinking – what a bad use of miles. Got a value of just 1 cent per mile. But comeon, seriously, does it matter? When I got into this obsession, I told myself, it would be all about having fun and saving money. And so far I think I am doing great. I had a great long weekend, my wife had a great 10 days’ vacation to herself and she finally saw that miles can be put to good use. And this was the first time I was using my miles for my travel. I don’t regret it one bit. I just wish I had done more homework and gotten a better deal. May be next time !!

So how was your long weekend ? What was your first use of miles this year ? or first use of miles ever ?? Did you get a good deal ??