Trip Planning: The Big Easy & ATL

TRIP INDEX
Intro – Planning
Delta and Weather Troubles to Start
Wyndham La Belle Maison
Cajun and Creole Goodness
Delta Strikes Again!
Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel
Southern Comfort Food

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In light of this new found travel bug, Joann and I are once again going on vacation. We’re heading to New Orleans and Atlanta during Labor Day week.  It’s a great time for a full week of vacation because the kids will be back to school and you can outlast the vacationers that are just touring places for the weekend. For flights, we redeemed Delta awards and for lodging, we used a combination of Priceline Name Your Own Bid, and my parents’ Wyndham Vacations timeshare.

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How To: Vacation in Bora Bora – Part 1

Yesterday, a friend asked me what it would entail for his wife and him to economically vacation at a luxury destination in the next 3-4 years. The ultimate goal is to use miles for the Business class flights and points for the luxury lodging. There are a lot of things to consider when planning a big vacation where you want to redeem awards for both large ticket items (flight & hotel). The only points/miles earning credit cards they have are the Chase OnePass Plus and Chase Sapphire Preferred. They are willing to open one more line of credit if the bonus offer and earning potential are lucrative enough.

I’ll go through a few questions that I posed to help reveal a better idea of how to formulate the free flight part of the vacation.

"It's like a screensaver!"

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Delta 100% Bonus when you Buy/Gift/Transfer Miles

According to Gary from View from the Wing, Delta is offering a 100% bonus on purchased, gifted, or transferred miles through September 30. The one restriction is that the account has to be open for at least 10 days. Since this promo is going until the end of September, sign up now just in case!

This offer is great for me (or my parents, rather) because I am using their Delta miles to send them on a trip to Europe in Business class next Spring.

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A Suprise Birthday Getaway: South Beach

As my first post about this Frequent Flyer hustle I’ve gotten myself into the past few months, what better way than to explain how I booked a surprise birthday trip for Joann 2 days before departure? This is just a quick overview of the process & a mini trip report. Sorry but since it’s my first post about this whole gig, it’s going to be long.

First let me start out by explaining how I came into the abundance of Delta SkyMiles & Silver Medallion elite status. Basically I parlayed the following:

http://goo.gl/J9V7w: I bought about $1000 worth of SpaFinder gift certs and sold most of them on eBay, make my net cost $220. This gave me 40,000 miles.
http://goo.gl/Z90Wq: I used some Amex MR points I had from a sign-up bonus to transfer to Delta, and this gave me a 50% mileage bonus along with Silver Medallion elite status.

Now I would be poised to find low-tier (25,000 miles) award flights to Miami for Joann’s birthday.

As you have read from one of the travel gurus, low tier Delta awards are a b*tch to find [http://goo.gl/eHfyI], but with a little work and knowledge of routing, it’s not impossbile. Delta’s only direct service to MIA from NYC is from JFK but we prefer EWR since it’s more convenient to access. So flying nonstop was out of the question. The trip would have to go through ATL, Delta’s main hub/HQ.

Using TPG’s one-way search methods, I found several 25,000 mile segments from EWR-ATL and then ATL-MIA and reverse. It was pretty simple to do and the whole process took less than an hour of my time. I booked the flights that would leave us with 2-3 hour layovers because, well, we’ve all flown Delta before so we know what they’re capable of (read: delays). Also, Delta & Amex are having a promotion in which they give you a 300 point voucher just for checking into their Sky Clubs with the Amex Platinum card. With 3 hours to kill at ATL and 8 Delta Sky Clubs, you know what we did…

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