Friday, November 14, 2014

Paris - May 2009

The first taste I had of what miles and points could lead to was in May 2009. I had always dreamed of traveling and up until this point had done a fair share of domestic travel. I had 43 of the states checked off. I had been to Vegas 8X. But had not been on a trans-any ocean flight in 20+ years.

Thanks to my full time consulting gig I had managed to accrue about 50K AA miles. Add in a Citibank AA card for a 25K AA miles bonus, and some spending on that credit card and I had collected 80K miles. Now, what to do with those miles?!? Of course, find a way to get to Europe. I studied the AA award chart and found out that there was a lower level of mileage redemption for Europe during the Off-Peak season. This was my A-Ha! moment. I had found a way to fly my new wife and me to Europe with the balance of my AA miles. It would take 20K one-way per person, or 80K miles total. 

“But what of our 11 month old son?” I asked the AA customer service representative. 

“No problem” she replied. Who knew that under 2 years of age could fly internationally at 10% of coach fare. 

I was set. By using 80K AA miles and under $300 for fees, taxes and 10% fare I had booked my first award ticket for the first week of May. I was giddy. I was going to see Paris for a song. I couldn’t believe what I did. I wondered why no one else was collecting miles and points and using them for international travel… how na├»ve I was. I had no idea what the next five years would bring to me within this hobby.

Little did I realize that booking the flight was just the tip of the iceberg in planning a trip. Back then, I had no hotel points. I had never heard of the Vendome Paris. But I did find and was further amazed at the options available for lodging. Thanks to some guidance from my sister who is an absolute Paris junkie, I found a couple of good options for lodging, finally settling on a studio apartment in the 1st Arrondissement, a short walk to the Louvre and Notre Dame. To this day, I still like to browse, the company that bought out, for lodging options. When traveling with a family, I find that vacation home options are much more comfortable than hotels and spacey.

Thanks to AA miles and, we had a wonderful week in Paris. For me, it was a great introduction to Europe.

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