- Introduction: 10 Day Norwegian Dawn Family Suite Vacation – On points!
- American Airlines (and connection) First Class South Bend – Dallas – San Juan
- Priority Pass The Club at Dallas DFW – a good choice when Centurion turns you away?
- Hard Eight BBQ Review Coppell, Texas – A “Must Visit Spot” on a long Dallas DFW Layover
- Marriott Sheraton Old San Juan Old Town Suite Review – Across from Cruise Port
- NCL Norwegian Dawn Family Suite 12016 Forward Starboard Side Review
- IHG Intercontinental San Juan Puerto Rico Hotel near SJU Airport Review Room 1601
- Priority Pass Avianca Lounge San Juan Terminal C
- Final thoughts booking an entire vacation on points (worth it)?!
This post is not going to be a traditional seat and product review. This post is more of my thinking and planning when it comes to all things points and how, when it comes to redemption, I am happy to mix and match any flights – any airlines – any hotels to get the best product and value I can extract.
I will use next January 2020 as a comparison to see just how much it would cost to replicate what I did this past year. The results are just mind numbing. Take a look at a one-way search from South Bend to San Juan Puerto Rico.
If I wanted to again fly American Airlines on points there is a decent amount of open space this far out at “milesAAver” level awards. First off, compared to Delta, it is just refreshing to have award charts and level vs. the price is whatever we want it to be. Now let’s compare Delta SkyMiles.
Well that is a bit depressing in comparison. In fact the lowest full one year search for 2 passengers from South Bend to San Juan is 43,000 SkyMiles one-way in business class. The total thus comes to 172,000 at the rock bottom lowest (not likely – so probably paying much more). This vs. Americans round trip for two at 100,000 with mostly wide open dates. Coach with Delta 19,000 per person each way or 76,000 SkyMiles all in vs. 60,000 on American.
Not only do award results like the above make the choice of what program to redeem points out of a simple choice but I get to enjoy a CRJ700 with first class seats (see this Google search for 1st class seat example) vs. a very long South Bend to Atlanta CRJ200 ride that is never any fun (even less so in C+).
My connection was then a 737 from Dallas to San Juan. Being a Delta flyer I am rather accustomed to the simple and expected things in air travel like seat back IFE and power ports close at hand. With AA you need to plan ahead and I used my GhettoIFE to keep myself entertained via my Amazon Prime movies pre-downloaded.
Since I had just had a nummy and rather large lunch at Hard Eight BBQ (more on that soon) I took advantage of the AA 30 days before flight pre-ordered meal selection and chose the cheese plate for my dinner down to SJU. I did put in a zip lock some spicy sausage to enhance the meal from my lunch visit (num).
The AA connection FAs as well as the AA mainline flight FAs were all simply wonderful. They were attentive and I never had to even think of hitting the overhead call button for anything. Heck we even were offered a preflight beverage! I know the latter is again nothing special for Delta flyers in business class but I hear from other AA frequent flyers that can be hit and miss.
The only tiny thing I could find to gripe even a little bit about (other than missing power and IFE that is) would be that our priority tagged bags were not sent out first in San Juan. Again, no big deal but Delta and Skyteam seems to get my bags out quickly.
Since I tend to toss in either a Citi AAdvantage AIRLINE personal or business card(s) or Barclays Aviator Red card (for myself and my wife) each time we go for a new round of cards my Advantage balance always seems ready for me to book whatever I need (plus I keep them from expiring with free points from Sprint each month). My only cost for the adventure so far, if you are keeping track, was $5.60 x 2 plus 25k points each! – René
UPDATE! Other Cards for American Airlines Fans to Consider
With a little thinking outside the box, there are a bunch of credit cards that can be used for American Airlines travel.
Chase credit cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred to British Airways and Iberia. From there, book award travel through those airlines — but on American Airlines-operated flights.
Plus, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can redeem Ultimate Rewards points at a rate 1.5 cents/each when booking travel through the UR portal.
Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders can redeem URs at a rate of 1.25 each using the UR portal.
Some other Chase cards to consider include
Chase Freedom (No annual fee!)
Chase Freedom Unlimited — especially with its 5X quarterly bonuses on select categories. (No annual fee!)
Chase Ink Business Unlimited (No annual fee!)
Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card (No annual fee!)
Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card — earn those miles and use them to book AA award travel!
American Express Cards
There are some great Amex options, too.
Membership Rewards points can be transferred to fellow oneworld airlines British Airways and Cathay Pacific. Or to AA partner Ethiad. Or they can be used as currency to book travel through the Amex Travle portal.
An option worth considering is the Business Platinum Card from American Express. Select American Airlines as your preferred airline and receive a 35% rebate on MRs when you Pay with Points for flights through the Amex Travel portal.
Another great Membership Rewards card is the American Express Gold Card, with 4X earnings at restaurants worldwide and US supermarkets, and 3X on flights booked directly with airlines.
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