So what could be better than planning a mileage run to somewhere warm over the MLK weekend? The first quarter of the year is always the best time for low airfare and hotels. I also find that going for status on an airline is a lot easier if you get a bunch of miles early in the year, rather than try to cram in a bunch at the end of the year.
Always on the lookout for a great airfare deal, and inspired daily by TheFlightDeal folks, I found a good way to get out of D.C. and rack up a bunch of miles early in the year. A truism in airline pricing is that the price is not in proportion to the distance traveled. For example, I could fly to Seattle for $400RT, but I could also fly to Hawaii (twice the distance) for only $600. The choice was obvious. The only choice was whether to go to Honolulu or Maui! I found a flight on Alaska for $607 RT, so double that for the wife and I both to go. Note that I could have used one of our companion passes from the Alaska Air BoA VISA card to drive the total cost down to ~$750, but we’re saving those for later when we take $1,000+ flights together.
The next step in the process is to start to look for free stops that you can make along the way to add miles for no additional money. Connecting flights are usually cheaper than direct flights. For this trip I was able to arrange a side trip to San Diego for the same cost which added about 1,000 miles. The only hitch was that we would get into SAN at midnight and leave at 0730 to Maui. I didn’t want to waste money on a hotel, but thought that I could get a rental car and we could camp out in there to get a few hours of sleep. My wife was a good sport and said we could just tough it out in the airport and I was good with that. The end result was a flight that would earn 10,318 EQM. I am an AS MVP Gold (100% bonus on RDM) and my wife is an AS MVP Gold75K (125% bonus) so we would earn a total of 43,851 RDM. If you value AS miles at 2 cents each (which most do) then the miles earned are equal to $877. This really takes the edge off the cost. Additionally, as AS Golds, we can change tickets for free and using TripIt Pro, I get alerted any time the price of my flight drops. Thus, a month ago I was able to reduce our cost by $20 each. That subscription to TripIt Pro just paid for itself!
Also as you can see from our pre-departure itinerary above, we had already been upgraded for four of the five legs. The last leg finally got upgraded just as we got on the flight, so we wen five for five and flew first class the whole way! It’s one thing to love flying, but it is something altogether when you love flying in first class and no airline is better for that than Alaska.