Alaska Blog III-Using Frequent Flier Miles

Frequent-Flyer, cr-Buenos-Aires

Frequent-Flyer, cr-Buenos-Aires

Third entry -Alaska Blog

It took me about three hours to spend 150,000 frequent flier miles. I had 96,000 American Airlines miles and 60,000 credit card miles. I promised two of our traveling companions, Roberta and Paulette,  that I would get their plane tickets to Bellingham, WA where we would embark on the ferry and the plane tickets back from Anchorage.

I had to book these flights early because we were a group traveling, and because, all of a sudden, I was grasped by the fear of missing the boat. The boat (aka ferry) departs on June 1, so we all agreed to gather in Seattle on May 31. A friend has offered to drive us to Bellingham the morning of June 1 for a 4 PM boarding.

First I went on line to book the American Airline tickets for Roberta and me from St. Louis. We could have taken a red-eye with two plane changes for 12,500 miles each. Or we could have flown first class arriving in Seattle near midnight for 25,000 miles each, again with two plane changes. What I selected was economy class with one plane change, arriving in Seattle at noon on May 31 for 25,miles each.

Flying back from Anchorage to St. Louis we would have to make two plane changes, no matter what, 25,000 miles each. So I chose first class, departing at 11 PM from Anchorage to Los Angeles, arriving at LAX at 7 AM, ensuring we would get some sleep. Then on to Dallas-Ft. Worth and St. Louis, getting home on June 18 at 3 in the afternoon.

But I only had 96,000 miles! Never fear. American Airlines has a remedy, miles for sale. So I spent $200 for 6,000 miles and put the reservation on hold.

Now I called the MasterCard travel agent make reservations for Paulette from JFK in New York to Seattle and from Anchorage to JFK. The first thing the travel agent said was that this wasn’t a good buy. I’d get better use of my miles on some other trip. No, I said. This is the trip I want. She argued with me, but I held firm. And in the end she got me a direct flight to Seattle arriving around noon and a return Anchorage-Salt Lake City-JFK for 50,000 miles.

I took the hold off the AA reservations and clicked “purchase.”

I am very happy with how I spent my frequent flier miles. But I might have gotten a better deal if I were footloose, not fitting my miles into a set itinerary.

This is some of the more tedious portion of planning a terrific trip on a budget. But it is part of the anticipation too. I was really nervous about making these reservations and when I got those confirmation emails, my camping outlook was happier. We are going to Alaska, and we are coming back home.

Next blog: the river trip itinerary!

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