Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Google Flights

As we just past the July 4th holiday (and the halfway point for the year), my father decided to look at the rest of 2015.

Since it's never wise to book flights close to your departure date, he went online this week to see where we might go for Columbus Day Weekend in October (so 3 months in advance).

Since we didn't actually have a specific CDW destination in mind, he went to Google Flights. The great tool that Google Flights has is that you can input your Origin Airport and dates of travel.

Google Flights will then create a map of countless destinations with prices so you can evaluate your choices at once without having to test each individual city pair. So if you're not entirely sure where you'd like to go, this tool can be a tremendous time saver. You can then filter results to show only Star Alliance (United) flights or any other airline alliance you want, such as OneWorld (American or US) or SkyTeam (Delta).

It's important to note here that as of this post, my family was well on our way to qualifying for United Silver elite status (25,000 miles).

However, I was furthest away with 19.083 miles year to date, so I personally needed another 5,917 miles to hit Silver through February 2017. Since we knew that we'd be visiting Chicago at some point this summer/fall, we knew we'd have 1,466 miles (733 miles each way) accounted for. So that meant we needed 4,451 miles to hit Silver.

Now, to be 100% clear, we're not flying somewhere JUST for the sake of earning frequent flyer status - especially lowest tier Silver. After all, you can replicate most of the Silver benefits from simply having a co-branded United credit card (priority boarding, free checked bag).

But rather, since we were going somewhere during a long holiday weekend anyway, we might as well choose a destination that worked out for elite qualification too. So scanning the map for interesting destinations that were around 2,200 miles away from New York, we came across Phoenix, Las Vegas and the West Coast.

Since (a) I'm not yet old enough to enjoy Las Vegas and (b) flights to Los Angeles or San Francisco were too expensive ($400-450), we decided to return to Phoenix (last visit was 2013) where we found reasonable United flights for $335/person.

Phoenix (or rather Scottsdale) was a great choice to spend a relaxing Columbus Day weekend where we could just lounge by the hotel pool in October and not worry about having rain ruin the short trip.

According to, the weather in October is usually around 88 degrees on average and obviously sunny.

Last time we stayed at The Phoenician Resort and had a great time at the luxury Starwood hotel. But this trip, we wanted to try the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa which was known to be the best kid-friendly Starwood resort in the area. And as many of you know, I love sleeping on those Westin Heavenly beds too.

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