Finally….it’s here. Our trip to New York City. Nancy and I haven’t fully unpacked from our last trip in February when she and I went to Iceland and Sweden. I still can’t believe that I can now say I’ve been to Iceland. It wasn’t even in my vocabulary. If you asked me 5 years ago if Iceland was in my bucket list, I’d probably say, “Iceland? Seriously? Why?” Well, the rest is history!
Yes, we’re headed back to New York. It has been awhile since I was in New York (November 2015 to be exact). How I miss it!!! Nancy and I have visited many times, Ethan and Madison have visited three times in the past, and this trip to NYC will be a first for Evan and Caitlin. They’ve been so enamored with the thought of visiting NYC. Many thanks to the TV shows and movies they’ve watched, and it doesn’t help that we always talk passionately about our trips to NYC.
Why New York for Spring Break?
First of all, why not New York? Since we couldn’t go to New York last summer, no matter how hard we tried, instead, we ended up going on a trip to Maui, and then off to Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, and Paris. So we have this unfinished business of wanting to bring all four of our kids to NYC. We didn’t really need a catalyst. But if a catalyst was what we needed, we found no better catalyst than this. I already have a whole blog entry on Hamilton. So, you’re just going to have to “Wait For It.”
I purchased the tickets to Hamilton in early June 2016, but it wasn’t until October when I started to check on airfares to NY. My goal was to get us to NYC using points. We also thought of extending our East Coast trip by going to either Washington D.C., Boston, or Upstate New York. We chose to head Upstate, to Buffalo as this will allow us to kill two birds with one stone – visit Niagara Falls, and visit Canada. This required some careful planning.
Of course, I wasn’t about to look for airfares that will make me pay out of pocket. You know me better than that. My plan was to get us there for free, or nearly free by using airline miles and hotel points earned. Knowing that I have a party of six to care for, I needed to be cognizant of the amount of points that I’ll be needing for the trip. Here’s my high-level flight routing plan.
My goal was to find six tickets:
- LAX to NYC (either JFK, EWR or Newark, or LGA or La Guardia)
- NYC to BUF (this is the flight from NYC to Buffalo, NY – closest to Niagara and Canadian border)
- BUF to LAX (this is for the flight back to LAX)
I checked on quite a few airlines such as United, American, JetBlue, Delta, Air Canada, and Southwest. For the LAX to JFK leg of our trip, the best choice was Delta. I needed 12,500 points per person + $5.60 in fees. So for six of us, I needed 75,000 Delta Skymiles + $33.60.
I had to be creative. I was used to using Chase Ultimate Rewards but these rewards don’t transfer to Delta. I used my American Express Membership Rewards and transferred them. Bam…done….booked.
While I was happy that with the booking based on points usage, I was not thrilled with the flights we got. My preference? Direct flight and a red eye flight, but the red eye was charging more than 20K points per person (120K for six of us). So I settled for a flight that was scheduled to leave LAX at 8:45 pm with a 35-minute wait and connecting flight in Salt Lake City that gets us to JFK at 6am the next day. Fine! I settled. Not a big fan, but I settled.
A month later, on the day after Thanksgiving Day, I received an email from Delta advising me that our flight had been changed.
We have been moved to an earlier flight, a 6pm flight to Salt Lake with a three-hour wait and then a connecting flight to NYC. Not thrilled with that. So I called Delta and explained to them the situation and why I didn’t like being moved to an earlier flight. My reasons were, by flying at 6pm means:
- Be at the airport by 4pm;
- Take the kids out of school earlier
- Three-hour layover in Salt Lake City
It doesn’t hurt to ask
I also informed the rep that I really wanted the direct redeye flight from LAX to JFK with a 10:45pm departure but they were charging more miles 20K vs 12.5K. She placed me on hold, and after a couple of minutes, she offered us the direct redeye flight leaving at 10:45pm…for the same amount of points of 12,500 therefore, it was an even exchange! Woo-hoo! Yes!!! Thank you, Delta. If we paid for this flight in cash, it would’ve been $228/person (one way only). That’s actually cheap compared to other flights leaving on the same day for $405/person ($2,430 for six of us). However, we only paid $33.60 out of pocket and 75K miles….that’s roughly $5.60/person.
So there, ask and you shall receive. Ask nicely and it shall be given unto you. We not only got the flight we wanted, we also did not pay anything extra, and nothing beats flying direct from LAX to NYC.
So, yes, that’s how much we paid for our one way flight to NYC. My future entries will cover how else we paid less for our flights and our hotel accommodations. It’s insane. Flying alone to NYC is costly as it is already, not to mention the lodging. But, thanks to the miles and points I’ve earned with my credit cards, our airfare and hotel stays are all going to be nearly at no cost to us. We’re off to a great start on this Spring Break.
So what do we have planned? Other than Hamilton, lots of exploring around the city. We can’t wait to show Evan and Caitlin how much we love NYC. It’s a city where I don’t get tired of visiting and revisiting. A city that I frequently visited for a couple of years during my business trips to New Jersey and New York. Traveling on business became an adventure whenever I was assigned to visit the East Coast. It has been awhile since I visited, and what better time than to bring my family along with me.
Here’s a list of excellent credit cards that I have access to with special promotions
American Express Platinum Card – earn 60,000 Membership rewards points, great for flights, hotels, and special access to hot tickets using American Express Concierge
Another card for FREE hotel stays is the Marriott Rewards
Lastly, for more FREE hotel stays, the American Express Hilton Honors card where you can earn 80,000 bonus points – great for Hilton brand hotels worldwide.