Like many peeps, I got in on the fantastic British Airways business class fares to Europe.
There were so many ways to stack that it was hard not to.
And, without a trip planned, I was starting to feel weird.
October is the time of year you have to be on alert for a really good deal. And you have to be ready to jump. I knew this one would be fast-moving, and man, it was.
Here’s how my flight plans came together.
1. Messed around with fares
These fares were not kidding around. I casually typed in JFK to BCN not expecting to find much. But wow. The prices were incredible.
JFK-BCN was pricing out at $436 round-trip in business class!
Literally every date I tried was turning out fares for ~$450, after the AARP and Avios discounts. Just insane.
Your pick of routes, airlines, and connections, too.
2. Gathered Avios/AMEX EFFED ME
Their aggressive anti-customer antics are the biggest reason Chase is winning and Citi is gaining a huge market share. In fact, the Citi ThankYou cards (which I’m intensely interested in) cover the best of AMEX, and if it weren’t for the lounge access on the AMEX Platinum Card, I’d probably dump them altogether… and I’ve been wondering how useful the AMEX EveryDay Preferred card really is.
I transferred over all of my Chase Ultimate Rewards points. And here’s how many Avios I had:
For 2 tickets, I needed 60,000 Avios. I was hmmm… 555 points short.
Not a problem! I’d just transfer over 1,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points (which now translate to 800 Avios, but even still, that would’ve been enough).
My points kept bouncing back. I kept refreshing my British Airways account.
The transfer wouldn’t go through.
I made most of these aborted transfer attempts myself, but the
unhelpful lovely (sarcasm) AMEX reps made a couple of them.
I was on hold for nearly an hour, transferred around to 5 or 6 different reps and departments. Each time, they asked me to verify the numbers on my card, my verbal password, etc.
And each time, I grew more and more frustrated to the point where I was ready to cuss these idiots out. No one could help me.
Finally, a rep came on the line and told me their system was down. F**k.
And SPG transfers to Avios take 3 days. I was ready to call it done.
3. Chase saves the day
But, I called Chase again. I don’t really know why.
I explained my situation and how close I was to this award. I thought there was maybe… something… they could do. Advance me the points somehow?
After all, I could see I’ve already earned over 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points on just 1 of my 3 UR-earning cards this month, and the points will post next week.
The rep (who answered after 1 ring on the CSP line – I just love that) put me on hold and less than 2 minutes later came back and told me he’d adjusted my account and sent 1,000 points to British Airways.
No advance, no repayment, just… here’s enough and it’s already done.
I refreshed my British Airways account and had enough Avios to book the award, finally.
You know where this is going, right?
4. The price shot up
Yup. That hour on hold with AMEX really screwed me over.
I looked again, and the price on the dates I wanted shot up to $747 per person, round-trip.
Now, that’s not bad. At all. But it’s not $436.
So this AMAZING DEAL OF A LIFETIME got demoted to really good deal. I had a moment of…
- Wow, AMEX is such a piece of shit…
- Chase is awesome…
- This is still a great award…
- I’ve never been to Barcelona…
- Just do it. Do it. Book it. Eff it.
And it kinda happened all at once. But there it was, all in front of me.
And then, it was done.
So, I paid ~$1,500 for 2 round-trip business class tickets (and 60,000 Avios) to Barcelona.
Not the amazing ~$450 that some peeps got, but not a bad deal, either.
And certainly better than the ~$5,000 it would cost out-of-pocket with no discounts!
Why I did it
Lots of reasons.
- I paid with the Chase British Airways Visa (which I still plan to dump before the annual fee comes due) which earns 3X Avios. So I’ll earn ~4,500 Avios – enough for a short 1-way flight (the kind that are usually really expensive like connecting flights or 5th Freedom flights to the Caribbean).
- American has a sweet promo for 25,000 bonus AA miles on round-trip business class flights to Europe. Hell yeah!
Plus, I’ll earn over 11,000 more miles for the actual flights, and get a nice head start on AA elite status for 2016 right at the beginning of the year.
So yeah. Chase basically rocks. AMEX is garbage.
I was blown away by how amazing Chase was and how terrible AMEX was. The contrast was really quite striking. AMEX’s incompetence, in a roundabout way, cost me hundreds of dollars. Because the time I wasted on hold with them was just long enough for me to lose an incredible deal.
That burns, a lot, but more importantly, I get to visit a new place, I got a great deal, and it’s still well worth it to travel. #MrBrightSide
Oh, and I’m an AARP member now!
But, I can see how my experience would’ve turned off someone new to “The Hobby” – especially the hour of boiling rage with AMEX. Imagine if that was your first time trying to transfer points? After getting your first AMEX card?
And, seeing how fast the deal can move, and how the prices shoot up when you think you’ve locked something down.
In a lot of ways, this was a deal for those more experienced with booking these types of awards. To stack all the various discounts, use the right card, transfer the points, and find the right fare.
But it also goes to show a little stick-to-it-iveness is well worth it because you can wind up with a $436 (or $747) round-trip business class ticket to Barcelona.
So, that’s my story of booking Barcelona. Hopefully it was much simpler for others!
Now that that’s done, anything I should look forward to in Barcelona this upcoming January? Anyone else find a good fare?* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!
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- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card - Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months and 3X bonus points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
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