2019 SUMMER VACATION PLANNING: PASSING ON EUROPE AND AFRICA, BUT HOW YOU CAN DO IT ON POINTS AND MILES

We just booked a trip for next summer to Tahiti for the 4 of us! (I will be posting details soon on how we did it on miles and points) One of the hardest items to overcome is schedule and finding flights for 4 people with miles and points, and trying to do it in business class. We have a few other week long trips we want to plan for 2019 so trying to keep vacation day use to minimum. Finding flights on points and miles that can accommodate this schedule can be hard.  We were looking at a few different options.

Our first option was going to South Africa on Qatar Airways and then onto Mauritius. You can use 75k AA miles to fly from a city such as Houston-Qatar-Johannesburg in Business. Then stay there a few days and buy a cheap flight to Mauritius. Then I was looking at Air France to get back to the states. The Houston-Qatar leg especially interested me because they have Q suites on this route which would be awesome for the 4 of us.

qsuites

I found a few flights that would work, but not on the exact dates I needed. It can be very frustrating when you find flights that are oh so close, but don’t work.  Something like a flight leaving Houston on July 4th, arriving in Qatar at 5pm on July 5, and then they only award availability they have is a flight from Qatar to Johannesburg on July 5th that departs at 1pm (so doesn’t work) and the next available award flight isn’t until July 10th…. So close but not close enough. The best way to search for Award flights on Qatar is using the British Airways Website.

IAHDOH

Then to get to South Africa you have to do 2 separate searches. One for the the US-Qatar, and then again from Qatar to South Africa. You then have to call AA to book it and they can piece it together and their routing will only charge you 75k miles for business. I spent a few hours looking at multiple combinations form all the US gateways, but couldn’t make it perfect. If I would have been more flexible, I could have found something that would have worked.

So then I pieced together a complete European vacation. I have never used Air Canada Aeroplan miles before but they have some great value. 55k miles one way to Europe in business is one of the lowest redemptions out there. (We would have transferred in 220k miles from our American Express Membership Award account) I found a direct flight from Chicago to Zurich on the exact date I wanted for 4 people. (Aeroplan can get even better because on round trip tickets they allow 2 stopovers and an open jaw, however I found 0 availability coming back to Europe for the dates I needed)

aeroplan
This is for the 4 of us

My plan was to stay in Zurich a couple nights, then buy a cheap 1 way ticket to Mallorca, Spain.

zrhmallorca

After spending a few nights in Mallorca, buy a cheap 1 way ticket to Lisbon, Portugal.

zrhlisbon

Then spend a few nights there before coming back to the US. There is business availability from Lisbon-London-US for 57.5k AA miles and about $300 a person. While the fees are high, I have seen a lot worst. I am OK with paying high fees if it’s for the dates and flight choices I want.

AA
Just a screenshot example, there are better connections and cities out there too.

 

So then we had to make a decision of Europe or Tahiti. Slept on it, and knew that we will be back to Europe several times over the next few years. Tahiti is only a once in every 10 years to a lifetime place to go. Tahiti here we come!

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