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I am over the moon right now because I just booked an epic trip to Paris in June. I have booked complex, multi-stop and RTW itineraries before, but even still, was amazed at how easily and quickly this trip came together.
In This Post
Leaving from EWR.
- EWR-ORY in business class on British Airways
- 4 nights at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome
- 1 night at the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile on Club floor
- ORY-LHR-JFK in business class on British Airways
- 2 incredibly stoked adventurers
How I did it for free
I did this using points from 3 credit cards of my own and with 1 of my partner’s (NOT just the sign-up bonuses, I had to earn points above that to cobble this together).
- Chase British Airways Visa
- Chase Hyatt Visa (mine + partner)
- Barclaycard Arrival
…And that’s it!
First, I set about searching for space on British Airways. They have an award calendar that shows you when seats are available. I searched for 2 biz class seats in June. There was good availability there AND back.
Once you get your options set, click “Get flights.”
Once you play around and find a day you like, select the flight that fits best with what you’re looking for. A price will display down at the bottom like so:
Note that the price is 20,000 Avios each way per person. 20,000 there AND back times 2 (80,000 Avios total), and about $600 per person.
But we can do better.
If you have the Barclaycard Arrival, which I’ve decided to keep this year and explore the Barclaycard Travel Community, you can easily erase or seriously reduce this number. I know $283 per person sounds like a lot for a “free” trip, and fuel surcharges are a huge problem with British Airways especially, but you can sometimes get a good deal by using Avios.
For example, it’s 20K in economy class for the flight in the example above. Compare that to 30K with American AAdvantage miles. That’s 40K Avios roundtrip but 60K AAdvantage miles! So you’re essentially “paying for” all the miles you’re saving by booking through British Airways. Of course, if you have other miles, use those! Miles are for earning and burning. Just wanted to explain my logic with booking in this way.
My only request: make sure you’re following the axiom and getting at LEAST $.02 cents of value for each point or mile you use! How to do this? Look up the flight you found on the search tool on Kayak or some other website and see how much it retails for. If it’s dirt cheap, you might be better off buying it outright, THEN reducing the cost with Arrival miles. Just a thought.
For the Hyatt nights, I had to call the rep to piece together four consecutive nights at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome. The rep I got was patient and competent, and together we finally narrowed it down to four nights. Since I knew flights were available every day in June, once I got the dates, I focused on booking flights around those dates.
I couldn’t find a decent flight back after the fourth night, so opted to stay one more night with Hyatt points in a Club room, then fly back the next day when flight times were better.
So to recap
- I made sure award flights were ample on British Airways
- Then narrowed down the dates based on using the Hyatt award nights
- I filled in a gap with more Hyatt points
- Then reduced the fuel surcharges with Arrival miles, which made the trip completely FREE
The math. The beautiful math
What you’ve been waiting for, right? Wanna see how it added up to $20,000? I know, right?! I was shocked at the numbers, too. Thank god I don’t have to pay that much! In fact, I didn’t have to pay anything. I just want to show the value of points and miles. Note that I chose to go with business class, so my Avios redemption was 40K to get onto the flight over.
The flight there, EWR-ORY in business class, would’ve been:
The 4 nights at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome would’ve been:
1 night at the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile would’ve been:
And the flight back, ORY-LHR-JFK in business class, would’ve been:
Let’s add that up:
$7243 + $5424 + $558 + $6183 = $19,408
Plus the fuel surcharges that I erased with my Barclaycard Arrival.
Flight there: $453
Flight back: $422
Brings the total to…
The value of points and miles
Here’s what I redeemed:
- Flight there: 40,000 Avios on a $7243 flight – $453 surcharge = $.17 cents a dollar
- Flight back: 49,000 Avios on a $6183 flight – $422 surcharge = $.12 cents a dollar
- The 1 “gap night” at the Regency for 21,ooo Hyatt points for a $558 room = $.03 a dollar
- 87,500 Arrival miles for the fuel surcharges always get the standard $.02 a dollar
- The 4 nights at the Vendome were award certs, which cost me nothing, so I won’t include. Just know they’re VALUABLE!
Overall, an excellent set of redemptions. I could’ve paid for the one night at the Regency, but nahhh… it felt better to get it for free. 🙂
All this on 3 credit cards for myself and 1 for my partner. Also note, I didn’t use all of the points I earned for opening the Chase British Airways Visa. The signup bonus was 100,000 Avios, and I used 89,000 for this trip. I still have enough to take another free roundtrip to say, Montreal for a long weekend if I want to.
And I better get crackin’ on the Barclaycard Travel Community to build up my miles balance again!
This redemption was as easy as a search on ba.com, a quick call to Hyatt, and a few clicks at the Barclays website. All in all, I get a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris valued at over $20,000, and didn’t have to pay for any of it.
I’m over the moon thinking about the wonderful time I’ll have in Paris this June. My heart is bursting with gratitude and joy – I can already smell baguettes and taste the great wines. This hobby of mine (ours!) gives me (and us) memories that will last forever. You can assign a monetary value to a trip, but the thing that makes it so wonderful is that the memories we make are truly priceless.
As always, will post more closer to time. Can’t wait to review the Hyatt properties in Paris and British Airways business class!
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