Wednesday, 16 January 2013

HOLIDAY OF A LIFETIME, PART I

OUT AND BACK AGAIN

Well, I think it's time I put on display the holiday as I envisioned it.  My health situation is such that I'll not be actually taking this holiday, it's just too much travelling (and that's from someone who used to love travelling).  But it's what I had in my mind when I started this whole project.
 
Although I am going to detail my itinery in terms of flights, hotels etc, what I havn't done is attempt to dovetail the various awards flights together.  This holiday involves multiple reward flights, and a major problem in getting reward flights is finding the seats on the planes/dates you want....any one flight will only have a limited number of seats available for reward booking, especially in the more premium seats.

All the following costings are for two people.
 
 
Anyway, on with the holiday

My First port of call in the USA is Los Angeles, and my last city will be San Diego, so the first flights are:-
 
 
 
   
Outbound BHD-LHR-LAX 
Return SAN-LHR-BHD
 
Total cost if booking for OCT 2013 today using Cash: £12519
Cost to me: 125,000 Avios plus £1200 approx in taxes (plus using the 2-4-1)
 
Three things about this flight
  •  I'm booking the outbound in 1st class, and the return in business class. The return flight is a nighttime flight and therefore will be mostly spent sleeping. No point in paying extra for 1st class and then sleeping through it. It also costs less avios this way
  • I'm using my 2-4-1 "companion voucher". This voucher was earned on a BA premium plus (BAPP) credit card, by spending £10,000 on it over the period of 12 months.  This allows you to book a BA flight using awards, and have a companion come along at no additional charge (except taxes). The flight MUST all be on BA planes (no codeshares)
  • I'm based in Northern Ireland. When I started this project, BA had no flights out of NI. Since then they have bought BMI, and have taken over the Belfast City -> LHR route. Not only that, but they dont charge any extra Avios for the connection flights.

Now, as outbound is in 1st class, entrance to the fabled BA Concorde lounge is allowed, and indeed, if we left enough time in our connection, we could get some spa treatments in the spa.

Concorde Lounge @ heathrow

BA "new first" should be a great experience.
Typical "NEW FIRST" seat
And the Business class seats for the overnight flight on the way back look plenty good too.



After a flight to the west coast, I generally have at least an overnight in a hotel. In this case, I'll stay in the Intercontinental In Century City. I stayed in this hotel some years ago when it was the park Hyatt.



I think this time 2 nights is called for.  I'll be availing of quite a few IC properties on this trip, so I'll "acquire" an RA(Royal Ambassador) referral cert, at a cost of about £400.  Royal Ambassador is the highest level of recognisation for loyalty customers in Intercontinental Hotels. It gives loads of perks, the most rewarding ones being, automatic 2 level upgrade in most properties, a 2-4-1 weekend certificate,and free use of the in-room minibar. Those that are given RA status are provided with a referral certificate to allow them to bestow the same status on a friend of collegue. Given the value that these can have, rather than giving them away, these are often sold, a fair average is around £400.

Two nights @ the weekend in October in the IC LA, would normally cost £500 in an executive suite. I'll use the 2-4-1 certificate and pay £150 to book a basic room and get a 2 level upgrade to the executive suite.(I'll add on the cost of the RA cert later on).

Total Cash Price: £500
Cost to me: £150
Executive Suite @ the IC LA

So, as JRR Tolkien would say, thats me "there and back again". Next part will detail the couple of hops I'll take to get to the main meat of my holiday, the islands of Bora Bora and Maui.

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