Just booked: New Orleans for Mardi Gras!

We have lost our minds here at the Out and Out headquarters in NYC (AKA me in my living room in Brooklyn) – and my dog is giving me the side eye for using the royal “we.”

I’m going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras! (That is kind of a misnomer. “Mardi Gras” is a 3-week celebration. I am just going for the Baccus Parade and Fat Tuesday. But still – super stoked.)

How it happened

Really, I was just tinkering around on the Hyatt website looking at Category 3 and 4 hotels on a dark, snowy evening because that’s what points junkies do in the evenings, right?

But really, I had a free night cert from the Chase Hyatt Visa that I needed to use and wanted to maximize my value. I noticed, in the Category 3 list, the Hyatt French Quarter New Orleans. And then thought hmmm…. I wonder if…. (Basically a repeat of Oktoberfest booking.)

I couldn’t get the website to cooperate with redeeming the free night cert, so I called up Hyatt and a very patient agent plugged in a variety of dates surrounding Fat Tuesday (February 17th this year).

While she did that, I played around with points bookings with both Hyatt and Club Carlson (my two fave programs).

Paid $75 for the Hyatt card annual fee, getting back $315

Paid $75 for the Hyatt card annual fee, getting back $315

Hyatt French Quarter availability - 15,000 points or $500?

Hyatt French Quarter availability – 15,000 points or $500? #nobrainer

Now, I’d been saving my Club Carlson points for when I go to Ireland in May, but seeing that the Country Inn and Suites on Magazine Street in New Orleans was eligible for a BOGO booking sent me over the edge. I figure I can always manufacture some more Club Carlson points in the next couple of months, anyway. I still have my eye set on their Radisson Blu in Cork, Ireland.

Anyway, the Hyatt agent found a night at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans that was eligible for the free night cert. A quick Google search showed me that it was on the route for the Bacchus Parade. PERFECT.

But then, flights…

I recently signed up for a new AAdvantage Platinum Challenge, so it had to be on American, and I wanted it to be in First (for maximum EQPs) and I wanted to connect in Dallas, baby (ditto for EQPs but also the Centurion Lounge @ DFW).

I went ahead and booked the Hyatt Regency and the Country Inn and Suites – both for freeeee.

That left a one night gap that I filled with Ultimate Rewards points instantly transferred to Gold Passport for the Hyatt French Quarter.

On the American website, I was able to pull up some really great flights that connected at DFW (LGA-DFW-MSY). PERFECT.

You know how sometimes you get an idea and it feels like the universe is conspiring to help you? 

That’s how this whole booking felt. I went from idea phase to OMG I’M GOING within about 30 minutes. Seriously. It all happened so fast.

Now, I’ve been hoarding AA gift cards bought for free with my American Express Platinum Card for about a year and a half. I had $600 to play with, so whatever price the AA site spit out, I went ahead and lopped off $600, which was nice.

After massaging the dates and times very briefly (as they were pretty perfect just from the basic search), I was able to find 2 flights in First for $1,700 R/T. After the gift cards, I paid $1,100, or about $550 per ticket (on my new US Airways MasterCard). This was my only out-of-pocket cost but I was happy to pay it because…

This trip gets me so much

Though it was a decision made in haste, many benefits flashed through my little mind. Such as:

  • ~4,700 EQPs toward my AA Platinum Challenge (nearly halfway there – only need one more trip before April)
  • ~4,700 RDMs PLUS the cabin/fare bonus that AA has in 2015 (what is LGA-DFW, anyway? 10,000 bonus miles?)
  • ~2,200 RDMs from US Airways MasterCard
  • Got to use my Chase Hyatt Visa free night cert
  • Can use early check in/late check out thanks to Hyatt/Club Carlson status to maximum advantage for spectator activities

And really that last item is the biggest one. How freaking cool that availability was there, flights were available, and that it all “meshed” perfectly?!

I also get to trade this:

NYC weather

NYC weather

For this:

NOLA Mardi Gras weather

NOLA Mardi Gras weather

Raw deal? Nahhhh.

Bottom line

I am so excited to finally get back down to New Orleans, and for one of their famous holidays, no less.

I also get to put in a solid effort toward my new AAdvantage Platinum Challenge, go back to the Centurion Lounge @ DFW, fly AA First Class, and experience 3 new hotels – all in a few days, and for a (relatively) small cash outlay.

This is the magic of points and miles. This right here, captured in a perfect little bottle (of bourbon). Expect plenty of new reviews in the next couple of weeks (and maybe an editorial about NOLA Mardi Gras as a gay man).

Bon temps!

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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