I admit, I tend to be a procrastinator. Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow? But sometimes you can only procrastinate so long before you have to buckle down and get it done.
I was in that boat for the last several weeks now. I had a couple of $400 flight vouchers from Delta that I received for volunteering to be bumped on a couple of flights last January. Problem is, they were fast approaching expiration and I could not make up my mind on how to use them.
Now that I’m not traveling for work I had considered using them for a couple of mileage runs this year so I could at least re-qualify for Gold Medallion. But then again, what good is elite status when you aren’t flying near as much?
Maybe a long weekend getaway for the wife and I would be a good use. But with a 3-month old at home the wife doesn’t seem to have any desire to do much traveling for a long time. Hopefully once he starts sleeping all night her attitude will change or I might be doing a lot of traveling alone!
Anyway, to my extreme surprise, two weeks ago, my wife actually suggested that I use the vouchers to take a little trip with just my oldest two boys. Never in a million years did I expect that suggestion from her!
This has been a ridiculously cold winter so I really wanted to take them somewhere warm, somewhere in the Caribbean. $800 is really not much to get 3 people round-trip airfare to anywhere warm especially when you do not live close to a major international airport.
The cheapest flights to anywhere in the Caribbean or Mexico areas out of Sioux Falls are coming in at about $500 per person. We are trying to save as much money as we can right now for a down payment on a bigger house, so there was no chance of me spending $700 just to use $800 worth of voucher.
Flights are usually much cheaper out of a major airport so I started looking for flights from Chicago and found flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico for only $311 round-trip with dates wide open.
But now I would have to get from Sioux Falls to Chicago. Enter British Airways Avios. As they have many times before, Avios have come to my rescue. Thanks to British Airways distance based award chart, I was able to book flights from Sioux Falls to Chicago for only 4,500 Avios each way since it is less than 650 miles. Those exact same flights on American Airlines priced out at $537 each round-trip giving those Avios a redemption value of almost $0.06 each!
Although to be fair, they really only saved me the difference between flights from Sioux Falls to San Juan and flights from Chicago to San Juan. That difference however is about $190 which still makes those Avios worth about $0.02 each and saved me almost $600. I’ll take that any day of the week.
Booking tickets for more than one person using Delta bump vouchers can be done but only over the phone. After an hour on the phone with the Gold desk I finally had my vouchers redeemed and had 3 tickets from Chicago to Puerto Rico for only $133 out-of-pocket.
The Bottom Line
If it wasn’t for Avios this trip would not be happening this March. This is why I always tell everyone to keep a size-able stash of Avios on hand. You never know when they will come in handy! Having Avios opens up your options and allows you to be more flexible when booking flights.
This applies not just to finding lower fares but also for looking for award space. When I redeem miles whether it is with United, Delta, US Airways or whomever, if I can’t find availability out of my home airport I then expand my search to flights out of Chicago or Minneapolis.
Now it is time to figure out our hotel plans. I have until March 1st but I don’t think I will procrastinate as long on the hotels now that I at least know where we are going.
How about you? Have you redeemed Avios to help you in a pinch? Also, if you have ever been to Puerto Rico please share your favorite destinations, sites, or hotels or any other advice you might have!