Thursday, 20 March 2014



Well, if you've stuck with this case study thus far, WELL DONE !.  Here is the itinerary set out as it stands.

7th Nov DUB-LHR-LAS in first, 21st Nov SFO-LHR-DUB in economy ON BA
12th Nov LAS-LAX-SJD in economy, on AA, booked on
12th -19th Nov  Westin Resort & Spa, Los Cabos.
19th Nov, SJD-SFO in economy on Alaska Air, booked on

As was discussed earlier, the SFO-LHR-DUB in economy is a placeholder, I really want to fly home in Business, and ideally direct on the Aer Lingus flight that has recently launched.

With that in mind, I phoned BA, but they were seeing zero availability for any time in November, or indeed in October.  It would appear that Aer Lingus is not terribly keen to put biz seats on redemption (or at least outside their own airline) until they have a better picture of what is happening.

I really needed to do something about that return flight, for 3 reasons.
  1.  I didn't want to do that 10hr or so flight in economy
  2.  I really wanted to move the departure date to the 22nd of Nov, so as to have 3 days in SFO. At the time of booking the 21st was the only available date to return on.
  3. I knew if I returned directly to Ireland, the taxes and surcharges refund from BA for not flying that return into LHR would be significant.
I'd like to keep the direct Aer Lingus SFO-DUB flight in the back of my mind, just in the off-chance it might become available closer to the time. The other options consisted off:-
  1. Fly AA via either JFK or ORD.  BA didn't have availability. AA did have availability but only on their more expensive Anytime awards, costing 200K AA miles. I only had 120K available to me.
  2. Fly AA to either JFK or ORD. Then fly Aer Lingus to DUB. I checked the KVS tool, a paid for service that can see award availability on some Aer Lingus flights (unfortunately not the SFO-DUB route, as its too new). It was showing me 2 seats were available out of Chicago on the 22nd Nov 19.15. BA was showing availability on AA in business class to Chicago, arriving there 15:30. That gave me almost 4 hrs connecting time.
So I went for the 2nd option. I phoned BA, and they could see the 2 Aer Lingus seats I needed. These were booked, at a cost of 40K Avios and £27 per person. The AA flights were also booked on BA, costing 30K avios and a grand total of £1.50 per person.  Cancelling the original return got me back 29.5K and £147 per person.

This was a result, remember that at the outset, a major goal for this holiday was to see how little cash outlay it would take. As a bonus because of a lot of technical issues with the ticketing BA waived all the usual phone booking fees.


Item Booked On Value Redemption Cost
7th Nov DUB-LHR-LAS in first class on BA £7500 168K Avios plus £367
12th Nov LAS-LAX-SJD in economy on AA £306 24K Avios plus £34
7 Nights in Royal Club Room, Westin Los Cabos SPG.COM £1615 69K SPG points, £0
19th Nov SJD-SFO in economy on Alaska £300 35K AA miles plus £74
22nd Nov SFO-ORD in biz on AA £868 60K Avios plus £3
22nd Nov ORD-DUB in biz on EI £2150 80K Avios plus £54

The "Value" column shows how much the particular flight/hotel is showing for as I type this. One-way flights are often a lot more expensive than return. For the purposes of the table, I priced each flight as if it was a return, and divided it by 2.

Now, if you add up the VALUE column, you will see that it comes to £12739. My cash cost for this, as it stands is £532. Is it really a saving of over £12,000 ? Not really, for a start, I have incurred some costs in getting the required 367K avios, 35K AA and 69K SPG points. In total, at a complete guess, I'd say they've cost me around £400. And then of course, I would never pay £12K for a holiday, so its not a saving. But what I can say is I'm getting a holiday valued at £12K, for around £950.

I also still have to sort out the hotels in Las Vegas and San Francisco. I have a good stash of IHG points, so I reckon, at the most I'll have to pay for 1 of those 10 nights


I hope you have found this series of articles interesting, and if it has piqued your interest, read some of my other blog articles to discover some of the ways I have accrued points. To get you started, you should strongly consider looking at the advert panel to the right of this webpage, for topcashback and the American Express gold card. Both of those are fundamentally free ways of getting your points balances started


  1. Thanks for the articles. Have a great trip in November!

  2. I'll be updating when I sort out the Las Vegas and San Fran hotels, and also if I should score lucky on the SFO-DUB EI flights.