Many wonder how I can live this lifestyle. It is all available through the info we have shared on this blog, other blogs and Flyertalk.com. It looks like a annual series of Life of the Rich and Famous but in reality is just Katybug and me taking advantage of the deals we all share. Here is the year in a recap and start of 2013.
January OneWorld MegaDo was a paid event behind the scenes tour of British Airways home office in London Heathrow. We flew over from JFK for the day then after London headed to Dallas for a behind the scenes tour of the American Airlines training facilities. We did the flight attendant smoke drills, I flew a 737 on American’s simulator, many did the life boat drill and down the emergency slide. Next off to Seattle and Boeing where we got a glimpse of the mock ups of the 787 Dreamliner, went to the factory where the 737 is built, then off to Los Angeles for a reception and private display of the Cathay Pacific 777 and Qantas A 380. The trip was expensive, but a one time deal for me. I can now say: “Been there. Done that” for a MegaDO
February was four Delta award seats to St Thomas and five free nights at the St John Westin in the US Virgin Islands. Katy and I took her daughter Shannon and her husband Chris along with our then 4 month old grandson Carter. It was a freebie for flights and hotels. We all left from Columbia, South Carolina and connected in Atlanta.
March and April were babysitting months, or the trips were so forgettable, I forgot them???
May we flew from Jacksonville to Dallas in first class Dallas to JFK and JFK to Manchester England. Then onward to Barcelona where we spent two nights at the Le Meridian on Las Ramblas for free on SPG points. Going rate was $700 per night. I paid coach prices for our tickets and upgraded with American systemwide upgrades available for use on any coach fare. We took a seven day Mediterranean Cruise to Marseilles, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, and Tunis, Tunisia on MSC paying cash. Return was on a coach ticket upgraded to first again with systemwide upgrades, The ticket was about $800 round open jaw and cruise was about $600 each.
June was an Alaskan cruise for four, two from Traverse City, Michigan and Katy and I from Savannah. We treated a couple to award tickets to the starting point of Seattle and first night hotels with Choice Privileges points for a free night. The cruise was on Norwegian Cruise lines and as the price kept dropping the closer we got to departure date, we were upgraded to two outside cabins for about $599 each for the week.
July was back home month to Traverse City, Michigan on one way award tickets and four free nights on hotels at the Sleep Inn and Holiday Inn in Traverse City then on to see friends in Albany New York on a one way award ticket, stayed with them for a week then back to Savannah on another free one way award ticket.
August was Park City Utah again on United award tickets, at no cost. We stayed at the Marriott Mountainside timeshare property that we swapped for with our Marriott Vacation Club points because we own a week at the Grande Ocean Marriott on Hilton Head Island.
was Hawaii for four and grandson at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, first class on American Airlines. We used award tickets for ourselves and I used four of my AA upgrades to upgrade Shannon and Chris’s coach tickets the hospital bought for them.We stayed at the Hyatt on the convention rate of $279 per night which was way cheaper than the $500 plus. Because of my status with Hyatt we were upgraded to an oceanfront room
Later in September I took my buddy Joe on his bucket list trip to Ireland and Scotland for a few days golfing. We flew to Ireland he, starting in Albany and me from Savannah meeting up in Newark for our Business Class award seats to Dublin where Joe got to spend a day in his native land for the first time in his life. I paid for the night in Dublin at the Hilton Dublin Airport as it was on 40% off special and paid only 40 euros per night per room. Our golf game got rained out and we flew to Edinburgh on Aer Lingus for about $50 each and stayed at the Edinburgh Airport Hilton again on points. We rented a car and drove to Carnoustie where we were humbled on one of the worlds toughest golf courses, particularly in a four club wind each day. We stayed on points at the Hilton Dundee / St Andrews again on points in St Andrews and last night free again at the Edinburgh Hilton before returning home on a coach (ugh seat) back to Newark where we went our own separate ways. Gold status on United got me an exit row aisle and it really wasn’t all that bad flying during the daytime.
October was our meetup with you and the Chicago Seminars. I was reimbursed for my ticket by the seminars and hotel room was comped as one of the speakers as well. Next week I headed off to Los Angeles on business and booked a one way Amtrak trip Los Angels to Seattle on the Amtrak Coast Starlight trip to Seattle. The cost is 25,000 Amtrak points for the one bedroom suite which included meals and accommodations for up to three people for the trip. Great redemption. Beautiful scenery, nice crowd on-board and a much more relaxed way to roll and see the west coast.
November is Aruba on award tickets via Jacksonville and Miami. We are then staying at the Renaissance resort on an award stay for five nights.
December I’m flying Katy and her nursing school friend from Durango, Colorado for a meetup after many years to spend three days at the Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa on SPG points and the airline tickets were award tickets as well. I’ll go along as well but go into the city for a little R and R and Texas Holdem. Award night redemption undecided at this points.
Our last trip of the year is tomorrow from Savannah to Chicago to Bangkok to Sydney Australia on award tickets in Business class on United and first Class on Thai airlines from Bangkok to Sydney. It is a 140K round-trip redemption each for Katy, myself, and our youngest son Aaron. We’re staying at the Potts Point Holiday Inn in Sydney again on points for the duration of the trip ending on January 2 2013. The hotel nights costs upwards of $600 AU per night and we got them by booking early for only 25K Priority Club points per night, a huge savings. We meet up with my oldest son, Andrew, who lives in Sydney and the four of us will spend New Years Eve at the Sydney Opera House Gala and Fireworks Display bringing in the New Year with 1 million Aussies and guests.
2013 starts out with first class award tickets to Singapore in January with hotel award stays at the Grand Hyatt Singapore and hopefully I can figure out how to take a dip in the 56 story high infinity pool at the (now I can’t remember the name of the hotel)
February 2013 it is off to Argentina and Chile for some trout fishing on Business Class and First Class award tickets. We’ll start with two award nights at the Sheraton in Valparaiso and a night at the Hyatt Santiago. After several days fishing we will take the boat ride and bus trip across the Andes to Bariloche Argentina for two nights then return via Buenos Aires with First Class awards with American.
March 2013 we are back in Kauai on a 6 night award stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai again and first class American award seats over and back.
April and May are blank still as it looks like Carter is going to have a little brother or sister arrive and grandpa will need to be on deck. Plus, it is a beautiful time in South Carolina.
June we are off to the Canadian Rockies via American Airlines award tickets and four nights from the Fairmont credit cards. We’ll spend two nights at the Banff Springs property and two night at Lake Louise both in upgraded rooms from the credit card sign up. I can’t wait to see those two properties.
That’s as far as I’ve got planned, so I’d better get back to work. The miles and points stash is still full thanks to all of you and the tips we share. There really are so many places to see, things to do and oh so little time to see it all.
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day American Airlines AAdvantage® has provided 2500 AAdvantage® miles for the best deals, fares, promotions, anything related to American Airlines, their oneworld partners or AAdvantage® partners. Add it to the comments section of this post or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post (with your first name, last initial, and home airport) to be eligible to win.
Rick Ingersoll is one of the world’s experts on frugal travel and flying free and the author of The Frugal Travel Guy Handbook. A retired mortgage banker from Traverse City, Michigan, he has retired to Hilton Head Island,... All Articles
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