There are few things in life that match the thrill of a new adventure. I am feeling this right now, as nearly 40 of us are preparing to barge through Burgundy in early April. The preparation got me thinking about the exciting moments of a new adventure. I can think of at least three.
1. Boarding In Business Class: I am not prone to extravagance and spending needlessly, but I am tall, tired and cranky when forced to contort my frame into an economy class seat. And so I have become, by necessity, resourceful and experienced. I’ve learned how to fly comfortably across the Atlantic in business class for not much more than I would have paid to fly economy – and at least once for far less than I would have paid in economy.
That was in 2010. I was searching for flights from Copenhagen to Asheville, North Carolina when I stumbled upon a fare that was too good to be true, a business class ticket for $28. Yes, you read that right, $28.
The fare obviously was a mistake, so I called Delta and was surprised (in a good way, which, as we know, doesn’t happen often) by the response. “I see it in my system” the Delta rep said. “So from that perspective, it’s legit. You can book it if you wish.”
I booked the ticket.
The flight was not to Asheville but to San Francisco. I could make it work, though, as I was allowed a stop-over in Detroit on my way back. I booked a hotel night in San Francisco for less than $50 (remember, this was during the great financial crisis), got back on the plane the next morning, landed in Detroit and flew on separately booked tickets to Asheville and, after a week there, returned to Detroit for my flight back to Copenhagen. My total spend was under $500, and I collected more than 20,000 points.
Today, business class fares are excruciatingly expensive (and so are some economy fares – I can’t believe a piece of luggage costs $150 to transport, something that used to be included in airfares).
There are ways to mitigate the costs of business class fares. For my April trip, I used 290,000 miles during an Award Sale, but the story gets better.
Two months after I booked the flight, the fare dropped to 260,000 points, so I canceled my flight, had the points redeposited and pocked 30,000 points.
In researching for this article, I went to delta.com to see how much that ticket would cost me today. I was surprised to see that the cost in award points had gone down yet again I booked an award ticket, same flights, same date, for 195,000 miles. Once I was sure that I had that flight, I canceled my previous ticket and had 260,000 miles redeposited to my account. For five minutes at the keyboard, I gained 65,000 miles. In all, I had gained back 95.000 points. There was another twist, though.
During the transaction I was invited to apply for an American Express Delta Airlines card that would give me 15 percent off award travel and a bonus 90,000 miles for spending $2,000 using the card within six months. The 15 percent savings put 29,250 miles back into my award account.
During the same period I noticed the cost of business class was rising for those paying cash. The ticket was more than $5,000 last time I checked.
Who can make sense of it all? Certainly not me. But on occasion I get lucky and swing the pendulum back in favor of the consumer – well, at least this consumer, me.
Next week, I’ll talk about another exciting moment when planning a new adventure. Until then, you can learn more about my April barge trip here and pick up the last cabin if you wish. If that’s too soon for you, check out my Dream Cruise for October of 2024.
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