experiences

An American Family in Europe (Part 3) or How Many Mistakes can a Person Make??? (Tiff Guest Post)

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In our last episode, our heroine realized she made the mistake of not checking on return flights from Rome and that her family was going to have to travel to another country first before flying home non-rev…

A bit distraught at another complication in the plans, I started looking at every European city American Airlines still flew to the US from.  I also started looking up how much flights from Rome to each of these cities would cost.  I was originally leaning towards Barcelona or Madrid since it seemed easy to get discount flights from Rome to those places.  Then my husband mentioned he’d rather go someplace we hadn’t been if we have to go somewhere else to fly home so I concentrated my efforts on Madrid.  After further discussion he said he’d rather go to Paris since he’d never been.  We agreed if I could find anything reasonable for Paris I’d look there first and Madrid would be our back-up plan.

We were getting off the ship on a Saturday.  The best flight to Paris I could find was on Vueling for $65 a person ($305 total including bags and a credit card fee).  For a low-cost European airline they weren’t a bad price, they charged for checked bags, but allowed real carry-ons.  The first problem was this flight was for early on Sunday morning.  So we booked a different Priority Club hotel (closer to the airport) for that Saturday night.  They had a free shuttle to the airport, but unfortunately we were leaving too early to take advantage of it and would have to arrange a cab ride (cost:  $65).  Though I hate early morning flights, the plus side is we would be arriving in Paris just after 8am.  We agreed to stay two nights since we had a better chance of getting out as non-revs on a Tuesday than a Monday (and since we were going to be there we wanted to see some of Paris).

So far, so good, but our next mistakes came in our hotel planning.  First I found a hotel in Paris we could get for points + $70.  Great!  But, we didn’t have enough points to book the room.  My first instinct was to move points from our Sapphire account to Priority Club so we could book the hotel since hotels in Paris are notoriously expensive.  The mistake came when the points transferred and the website still wouldn’t let us book the hotel.  For the Rome hotels, if a hotel didn’t allow four people per room with the Priority Club points rooms at certain hotels, it would show us that there were too many people per room.  Paris wasn’t showing that, it was showing rooms available for points for four people, but then it wasn’t letting us reserve the room on their website.  We called Priority Club, they weren’t sure what the problem was, but they told us they could reserve the room and if there was a problem they could give us a refund, but they’d have to refund in all points and not points + cash.  This is where the 30,000 point mistake started to haunt me, if I hadn’t made that earlier, we wouldn’t have had to transfer points from our Sapphire account (and those points can be used for flights).

Worried that this deal would fall through I came up with our back-up plan of buying some Club Carlson points to get my account to 200,000.  We couldn’t find a Club Carlson hotel close in Paris that had rooms for four people, but I could get two rooms for two nights at most of their Paris hotels for 50,000 per room per night.

This is where not getting in on the full points for the Park Inn promotion started to haunt me; if I had I wouldn’t have needed to purchase any points and we would have been ready with a back-up plan.  But I purchased the points (luckily at the points + 50% rate) and waited for them to go through in case the Priority Club points hotel fell through.

We got an E-mail the next morning (and later talked to them on the phone); the Priority Club people were very nice, but the Priority Club points room did not allow 4-people per room.  This was definitely some error on the website; like I said in other cities, it showed that rooms weren’t available for more than a certain amount of people, but we didn’t see that for Paris.  So far we had 30,000 points moved to Priority Club without needing them, and we paid another $140 that got reimbursed to us in points (20,000).  We have a good number of points for future use, but it doesn’t help us for our current trip.  I also spent $133 for the points for Club Carlson.  Priority Club offered us (since we’re platinum status) a guaranteed room for four at another hotel for points plus an additional $140, but we decided to wait and see if the Club Carlson points would go through for me to book a hotel through them since so far we had spent $273 and still didn’t have a hotel in Paris.  Luckily the points went through Club Carlson by the next morning and I was able to book two rooms for two nights at the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan with our points.  But if you’re keeping track my mistakes have now cost us $210 and 30,000 points out of Priority Club and 30,000 points out of Sapphire (that were moved to Priority Club, but I would have preferred to save them to use for a future flight).  If you really wanted to get technical you could say my missing the Park Inn promotion also cost us $133 in extra points I had to buy for Club Carlson.

In Tiff’s not-so-humble opinion the most costly mistake was not booking the original hotel when it was for less points and I could get every night for points.  That mistake ultimately is what cost me to move the points from Sapphire to Priority Club without needing to and that hurt.

With all these mistakes, did we still make it under budget for our trip???

Stay tuned!

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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.

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