My parents are excellent and diligent mileage students (hi guys 😉 ) and they fully support my “hobby”, so it’s nice when I’m able to find them the exact flights they are looking for. They aren’t very picky either, a Caribbean trip over winter break (fulfilled with Avios or AAdvantage miles) and a trip to Europe over the summer. In all honesty, they’d probably be fine with economy, but I like to treat them to a premium cabin when flying to Europe.
Prior to the Delta/Northwest merger, I had them both get two Northwest WorldPerks Visas and two Delta AMEX cards. They each had over 200K SkyMiles in their accounts post merger. They knew nothing of the SkyPesos title, but for them the miles haven’t lived up to the “peso” name. Granted, European trips originating from JFK without the need for a DL domestic connection make booking a bit easier. In any case, their luck has been incredible. Three years ago they flew on DL metal from JFK-FCO and VCE-JFK on low level business awards in August. The following year it was JFK-CDG, also on a low level business award on DL metal. This year, I didn’t have as high hopes for their planned trip to Spain. Their dates weren’t all that flexible (August 12-16th for departure for 9 or so days) and things have become a whole lot tighter with the essential loss of AF/KLM award space.
So it began, I searched one segment at a time, hoping for JFK-MAD (Madrid) on the way there and BCN (Barcelona) -JFK on the return. You can imagine my shock when the first date I checked, August 12th, showed two low level business seats on the direct flight. Had to be a mistake right? Nope, the space was actually there when I proceeded to the confirmation page! Next, could I find a return from BCN? Not even close. There were no business class flights available until the very end of August. I also tried AGP (Malaga), no low level space at all in business or coach. Unfortunately, a one-way award was out of the question as Delta still charges the full 100K. My next thought was to connect them in Dublin via a paid Aer Lingus or Ryanair flight. Dublin is sort of on the way and Delta has two flights per day from Dublin (plus US customs clearance). The DUB flights also usually have slightly better availability than most other European DL cities. Well, lucky enough, the first date I checked had two business seats available on the 2:15pm flight, allowing for sufficient time to connect from Spain. I then opened up another tab and tried to request both flights in a multi-city itinerary, success! Total booking time 35 minutes…shocking…WOW!
Is it perfect? No, but it’s close enough…especially for SkyMiles to Europe in the summer time. My parents are very happy and excited and that’s all the counts. It’s also a great value considering the low value placed on SkyMiles. For me, the 50K each way is not the same as parting with 50K UA or AA miles which I value much higher. Next, on to the hotels…
*I should note that AirEuropa had availability (as they normally do) in both business and economy on the exact dates* You can read more about their flight service and allowable SkyMiles redemptions here.