Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Business Class Flight

My first exposure to using miles and points for travel was my trip to Paris in 2009. My first exposure to a premium class product was in June 2012 when we traveled to London and Greece. In the Fall of 2010, Chase offered their British Airways co-branded credit card with a sign-up bonus of 100K Avios, the British Airways loyalty program currency. I had read about this offer in the now defunct Budget Travel magazine. The article quoted a travel blog site called The Frugal Travel Guy as saying that this was an outstanding offer and that it was a no-brainer to sign up for it. Up until then, I had limited exposure to the miles and points hobby. I did not realize you could sign up for multiple credit card bonuses. I did not realize that credit cards were giving away airline and hotel statuses. After signing up for the Chase British Airways card and meeting the requirements for the 100K bonus, I was excited about visiting Europe again. 


Flash forward a year. My wife had also received her 100K Avios bonus. We had both spend $30K on each card during the calendar year which qualified us for a one-time use British Airways companion pass. This is not the same as the Southwest companion pass that I wrote on earlier. Now, how to use those Avios and the companion pass to get to Europe and where to go once we got there. The companion pass could only be used on British Airways flights. Ok, I would be flying on British Airways. Most, it not all, of their flights connect from North America through London. The problem with British Airways is that they have nasty fuel surcharges attached to their airfare. I wanted to enjoy this trip, so I went ahead and booked four business class flights on British Airways using the two companion passes. The fees and fuel surcharges were about $950 each or about $3800 for the four of us. OUCH! But I have to admit that traveling in business overseas is such a nice way to travel. The benefits of our flight started when we arrived at the airport. With our tickets, we had access to the BA Lounge. This was my first time in an international business lounge. I was floored by how nice the lounge was and that they had hot food available pre-flight. Then it got better as we were being seated. Our family of four was seated in the middle four seats, with the two middle seats adjoining. I didn’t think that the seats were all that wide, but then figured out that they were fully lay-flat seats. WHAT?!? I didn’t know that people could travel like this. Then the flight attendants came by and asked what we would like to drink. I said that one drink looked good, but I wasn’t sure I would like it. To which she replied, “why not try both?” Ok!


Then they served dinner. For a dinner at 40,000 feet, it was delicious. After dinner, I did manage to get a few hours of sleep before our flight arrived in London. 

This was only the beginning of this trip. I had to arrange lodging, ground transportation, other air travel between smaller destinations, ferries and rental cars. PHEW! I had no idea how much planning went into a two-week international vacation. More on the rest of this planning to come in future posts.

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