Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chicago for $6/person

Flight #94 – American Airlines 315
New York (LGA) – Chicago (ORD)
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Depart: 7:29AM / Arrive: 8:59AM
Seat: Economy
Earned: 0 miles (733 miles flown)
Cost: 7,500 Avios / person + $6
Regular Price: $160 / person
Mile Redemption: 2.1 cents/mile
Lifetime Miles: 186,217 miles

After a month off, we're finally back traveling. While this is more of a work trip for my father's small business, my mother and I are tagging along to visit our friends Jack & Connor and their parents. Because we're so points/miles heavy these days, we decided to use one of our favorite mile redemptions -- the short-haul flight on American Airlines using British Airways Avios.

Remember, British Airways Avios is a distance based program. Since NYC-Chicago is about 733 miles apart, this would fall into the 7,500 Avios redemption band for our one-way flight. We only had to pay cash for the associated taxes (about $5.60/person).

Just 83 miles closer and it would have saved us 40%!!! But compared to the typical 12,500 frequent flyer miles it would normally cost on American, United or Delta, we're very thankful to pay only 7,500 Avios and $6 per person.

We did this Avios for AA redemption back in December when we flew NYC-Puerto Rico roundtrip for just 20,000 Avios miles (vs. 35,000 AA miles). My father also "used" this redemption when he was trying to get his lost passport replacement expedited. You can read those other posts if you want the details behind the Avios program and how to redeem them on American Airline flights.

Now, since my father has his new Citi American Airlines Mastercard, he gets the benefits associated with the credit card on his American flights, including free checked bags and priority boarding, but only when his AA frequent flyer # is on the reservation. But when you make an Avios booking, it automatically puts your BA frequent flyer # on the reservation and AA's website can't update it.

Last time, he still got TSA Pre-Check and priority boarding without having this AA number on the reservation. But just in case, my father went to Finnair's website (a OneWorld partner of American Airlines and British Airways) to find his reservation and update his frequent flyer #.  It's important to note that BA has its own reservation code and American has a different one. But to find it on Finnair, you use the BA one.

Now when it came time to selecting seats, my father remembered why he liked having elite status on United. We weren't able to pre-select seats together, and had to pick from a variety of middle seats in different rows. So we picked seats 21B, 22 B and 23B. Since he knew that the airlines alway keeps a few seats together for families traveling together, he knew we'd get re-seated at check in. And worst case, I'm sure someone would give up their aisle/window seat to avoid being seated next to a 2.5 year old sitting by herself.

We were able to get a direct flight on American Airines for a fraction of the miles normally required. So thanks to BA Avios, we're able to spend some quality time with our good friends in Chicago. Unfortunately, this Chicago trip is just a long weekend. In fact, we didn't find great availability on the return back to NYC, so we're flying back home Sunday at 12:30PM. I suppose that will be good for us to get back to our apartment by 4PM, but it would have been nice to spend all day Sunday relaxing with my buddies.

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