One of the best uses of points, miles, credit card benefits, and loyalty program status is using them for unique trips — especially travels to see loved ones.
And that’s exactly what I did the past two days.
My nephew Jake is a running back for his high school’s freshman football team in Boise, Idaho. My father-in-law Jim and I decided it would be fun to surprise him at one of his games.
So we ventured to Boise on Wednesday for a fantastic, memorable trip — and surprised the living daylights out of Jake!
Planning and Cost
The personal and business Delta Reserve cards’ companion certificates are good for select first class fares. Coach seats were going for $397.50 a pop. Tickets up front were more than twice that cost, so we decided to rough it in Main Cabin. Flights from BUR to SLC are under two hours (usually around 100-ish minutes) and SLC to BOI is under an hour. We’d be fine in coach.
I used my Platinum Card from American Express for the paid ticket and earned 5X Membership Rewards (the card’s bonus for purchases made directly with airlines).
We stayed at my brother-in-law’s house, so no hotels were needed. Parking at the Burbank airport came out to $20 for the two days.
Even though it’s old and doesn’t have any lounges, we love flying from Hollywood Burbank Airport. It’s the closest airport to where all of my Los Angeles family’s homes. Plus, it saves us the drive to LAX, which is sometimes 35 minutes, sometimes two hours and 35 minutes. Not to mention, we don’t have to deal with the madness caused by airport construction and staff. Flights are usually more expensive from BUR than LAX, given its a much smaller airport (a whopping 14 gates). But we don’t mind paying a (small) premium to avoid LAX.
Jim and I took an early morning flight to SLC. Our first class upgrades cleared five days prior to departure for BUR to SLC and SLC to BOI.
We had a three hour layover at SLC and took advantage of the Sky Club. (It was packed around 10 AM but thinned out around 10:45. It filled up again before we left around 1:15 PM). My business Reserve card scored me complimentary access to the lounge, while Jim is an authorized user on my Platinum Card from American Express and used that to enter the lounge free.
When we arrived in Boise, my brother-in-law Mike picked us up. He gave us t-shirts for Jake’s football team and took us to the game.
The team was in its pregame huddle when we arrived. A couple of minutes later, they jogged to their sideline. That’s when Jake glanced our way and saw us just before putting on his helmet.
He did a triple take and his jaw practically hit the grass. His eyes lit up as he gave us a big smile.
It was soon back to business. His game face returned and the contest started.
I think Jake played every down on offense — and even helped out at linebacker for a few sets on the defensive side.
He sparked a fourth quarter rally by scoring a touchdown! His team scored 24 unanswered points. (Unfortunately, that was after their opponents hung 32 points on them.)
We enjoyed a family dinner later that evening, talked football, discussed Thanksgiving plans, watched baseball and hockey, and the adults enjoyed some beverages after the kids went to bed.
Our return flight on Thursday wasn’t until 1 PM. We spent the morning with family, visited clients in Boise, and stopped by Albertson’s Stadium, home of Boise State’s famous blue turf.
Visits to the stadium are free (when events aren’t in progress, of course) when you visit the Boise State athletic hall of fame.
We flew home on Thursday afternoon. We finished 1 & 2 on the first class upgrade list from BOI to SLC. Our SLC to BUR upgrades cleared over the past weekend.
Final Thoughts and Your Experiences
What a special trip. Despite the team’s loss, the trip was an absolute success. Seeing the surprise on Jake’s face was priceless.
And that — at least, for me — is pretty much the heart of and motivation for my involvement with points, miles, status, and perks. Sharing experiences is a major part of the fun for me.
How about you? Do you use your points for any surprise trips? Tell us in the Comments section below!
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