Note: This trip report is from a trip I took in February. As a result I won’t make it as detailed as my usual reports and will have fewer installments, highlighting only the transatlantic flights, hotel, and destination.
The biggest thing on my mind as a new year begins isn’t making some lofty resolution I won’t be able to keep, but rather planning for elite requalification for the year. Most elite calendars reset on January 1, and while last year I was comfortably requalified with all my major programs by the third quarter, I was already starting to plan for 2012.
Since I had requalified for American Executive Platinum status I had earned eight systemwide upgrades, each of which can be used to confirm a one-way upgrade to business class. While I’m generally frustrated by American’s route network (or lack thereof), I had never visited Spain before, so decided on a trip there in February. Actually, two trips – one to Barcelona and one to Malaga – a couple of weeks apart. My friend (who’s also a travel agent) is an American Executive Platinum member as well, so joined me on the quick trips.
Booking international travel a few months out is a double-edged sword, especially when traveling in the off-season. On one hand fares usually aren’t as cheap as they’re going to get, but on the other hand it usually means there’s still confirmable upgrade space available. I’d rather pay an extra $100 or so for the peace of mind of locking in upgrades, which we were able to do. In the end we paid about $700 for the roundtrip ticket. Due to my friend’s schedule the first trip actually originated in Los Angeles, so I booked a separate ticket to there.
From there, the itinerary looked as follows:
02/04 AA1804, Los Angeles to Miami, 11:45PM-7:35AM (+1 day)
02/05 AA1510, Miami to New York, 11:35AM-2:30PM
02/05 AA0066, New York to Barcelona, 5:30PM-7:10AM (+1 day)
02/09 AA0067, Barcelona to New York, 10:15AM-1:20PM
02/09 AA1603, New York to Dallas, 3:55PM-7:05PM
02/09 AA0582, Dallas to Tampa, 9:00PM-12:10AM (+1 day)
For hotels we booked Le Meridien Barcelona. While the W looked quite a bit nicer, Le Meridien has a much better location for walking around the city, so rather than hotel hop we stayed there the whole time. We used cash and points for our stay, making it 4,800 points plus $90USD per night.
However, to get a bit more out of our stay, we alternated nights. We’re both Starwood Platinum members, and Starwood recently started counting award stays towards elite qualification. Therefore I booked the first night, my friend booked the second night, and I booked the third night. Instead of one stay credit and a single 500-point welcome amenity we instead received three stay credits and 1,500 points in welcome amenities.