For the past several years I’ve been participating in the SPG Amex Stars program, which has taken me to some pretty awesome places. Previously, I was able to attend the SPG Amex Card Member Event at the US Open, which was exclusively for cardmembers.
Sheraton club lounge access was a perk of the SPG Business Amex
For a long time one of the weak points of the card was that it had foreign transaction fees. Those have now finally been eliminated, making the SPG American Express a great card to use when traveling internationally.
As part of the Amex Stars program I was sent on an international trip for four nights so I could use the card without foreign transaction fees. I put a lot of thought into where to go, and after much consideration decided on Madrid. I’ve always been intrigued by the Westin Palace Madrid, which looks like a cool, quirky property. And in early November I figured the weather would still be quite nice. Also, Madrid isn’t that far from the US, so it wouldn’t be a ridiculous trip to take for just four nights.
The SPG Amex covered the cost of my roundtrip (economy) airfare and four nights at the Westin Palace Madrid. Then I used two systemwide upgrades on American to upgrade the roundtrip journey.
My itinerary was as follows:
10/29 AA118 Los Angeles to New York departing 7:00AM arriving 3:40PM
10/29 AA94 New York to Madrid departing 6:55PM arriving 7:15AM (+1 day)
11/03 IB3162 Madrid to London departing 8:20AM arriving 9:50AM
11/03 AA109 London to Los Angeles departing 11:35AM arriving 2:50PM
As far as the flights go, I intentionally planned it so I could fly American’s refurbished 767 from New York to Madrid, given that I haven’t yet reviewed that product yet.
Then for the return I booked on American’s 777-300ER via London, so I could have a flight direct to Los Angeles with Wi-Fi for the daytime flight, which is something I value.
While the return upgrade cleared about a week in advance, the outbound upgraded ended up being a real challenge, and cleared at the airport in New York.
Tiffany and her cousin joined me in Madrid, though they flew out separately (you can expect some reviews from them in the coming days, which will be added to the above trip report index). We all stayed at the Westin Palace Madrid, and had an amazing time drinking gin & tonics and eating churros (among other things).
Stay tuned, as I’ll be covering the flights and hotels, and Tiffany and her cousin will also be adding some installments about what we did on the ground in Madrid, as well as their extended trip.