Am I the only one really struggling with planning travel for the rest of the year? Perhaps my ability to work from home and ultimate schedule flexibility works against me, because I only end up pulling the trigger on trips when they’re perfect. For the rest of the year I have mostly domestic travel planned, along with a trip on Virgin Australia in business class to Sydney (using Delta SkyMiles thanks to the lack of fuel surcharges on Virgin Australia redemptions).
I’m still not entirely sure whether to take that trip or schedule it as part of a larger trip, as there are a few other promotions I’m looking to take advantage of.
For one, American’s double miles promotion through the end of the year is seriously tempting me. Given that I’d be earning double elite qualifying miles and points AND double redeemable miles, it’s very tough to justify redeeming awards right now. For example, I’m still seeing some reasonable fares on American to Beijing for around $800 roundtrip, and that would earn me roughly 50,000 redeemable miles, plus the 70,000 miles from American’s 2012 Elite Rewards. That being said, Beijing really isn’t my first choice as far as destinations go since it’ll be darn cold and I’ve been a couple of times before. Otherwise I’m looking at some reasonably priced flights to/from Hawaii, though I’ve been before and would really like to go somewhere new. But I feel like I should push that off to the new year, when American isn’t offering double miles anymore.
Furthermore, Starwood has an awesome redemption promotion for up to 50% off select hotels through December 20, 2012. I’d love to spend a few nights at either the St. Regis Aspen, St. Regis Monarch Beach, or St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort for 50% fewer points than are usually required.
But then there are the destinations that I really want to visit, though they don’t earn me any American miles:
Even in the peak of winter I’d love to visit Iceland. It’s just a quick seven hour nonstop flight from Seattle, though I’m sure it would feel worlds away. And the prospect of being somewhere where it’s dark 20 hours a day sounds awesome to me. At this point I’ve convinced myself to push that off into 2013, though… I think.
I see a good amount of LAN business class award space, so this is the option I’m leaning towards. I’d love to visit both the Tambo del Inka (from which I could make a day trip to Machu Picchu)and Hotel Paracas, both of which are Starwood Luxury Collection resorts. The best part is that they’re both available on Cash & Points, making them just 4,000 Starpoints plus $60 per night. I had a friend return from the Tambo del Inka just last week, and she said that the hotel was so amazing that she felt like she was stealing by booking a Cash & Points rate.
The issue is that December is the rainy season in Peru, so I feel like I should push this trip off till March or April when it will likely be less rainy.
Generally December is the toughest time of year to find award space to Australia/New Zealand, though with a creative routing it’s not impossible. I’m thinking of canceling my Virgin Australia ticket to Sydney and instead planning a longer trip to both Australia and New Zealand. Queenstown, New Zealand is probably my favorite place on earth, so I’d love to return there during (their) summer. Thanks to hotel points this wouldn’t even be all that expensive.
Using a British Airways Companion Certificate
This might be my biggest “obstacle.” I have a British Airways companion certificate valid for travel through January 11, 2013. A British Airways companion certificate entitles the second passenger to travel on the award ticket without paying any mileage (though they do have to pay the hefty taxes/fees/fuel surcharges). Through today British Airways is even running a 25% off promotion, though I just can’t find any award space.
As much as I hate paying the huge fuel surcharges, I’d hate to see the voucher expire even more. But I’m still torn, because I’d rather travel to a warmer region than Western Europe in December.
Korean Air/China Southern first class to Taipei
I’ve really been wanting to try out China Southern and Korean Air Airbus 380 first class, as it’s a great use of 160,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles. I’ve outlined this redemption in the past, but just haven’t had the chance to actually use it yet.
Someone point me in the right direction here, please! Is anyone else pushing out award flights to next year and replacing them with paid American travel? Or going out of their way to stay at one of the promo Starwood resorts?
I sure could use the help of someone more decisive than me!