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ATL >LHR October 2015
I wanted to get an opinion on the best use of my miles for an upcoming trip to London. I currently have 60,800 Delta miles accumulated through an AmEx Gold and subsequent Platinum upgrade bonuses, plus using the card (responsibly) for all my monthly expenses to maximize earnings.
First, the particulars of the trip: it’s a group trip for a sporting event and I am flying separately from the rest of the group (I’m in ATL, everyone else is in NY). I’m paying for the package less the airfare, so my portion would includes LHR airport transfers, hotel, event ticket, and tailgating for the event. I did the math and it’s a pretty solid value.
There are a couple of limitations on my flights: I don’t want to miss a full day of work on the day of departure, Wed 10/21, so outbound flight would have to leave 5 or later (can duck out a little early if need be). Also, since the LHR transfers into the city are included in my package, I was trying to schedule flights that would arrive and depart at similar times as the rest of the group so I can take advantage of the bus chartered transfers I’ve already paid for. (However, I’m thinking that I should worry less about this since taking the tube into the city is not a big deal for me, I’m an experienced traveler and very familiar with LHR and the tube.)
I’ve narrowed down to essentially these options, but am open to other suggestions:
A. Bite the bullet and book with cash, saving my miles. It’s about $1500 on Delta Economy. Not a financial hardship or a deal breaker, but oh man, when the hell did economy flights to Europe get so damn expensive? Am I just getting old or something? I can get the right flights to put me at LHR at times where I can take advantage of those already-booked bus transfers.
B. Use 60,000 Delta miles and $200 cash to book the same flight as above. Maybe I’m a miles hoarder but I hate knocking back down to zero!
C. Spoiled brat option. About $150 will get me up to 62,500 miles, which is enough to go Business class over (and like $6 in fees for that ticket). Unfortunately one way LHR>ATL are about $1500 (wtf?)…however, round trip British Airways (I have about 13,000 Avios already which are my only other miles, so I do like to accumulate more on BA if possible) originating in LHR is about $750, so I could book that and just never use the return. For this option, I’ve heard arguments that it’s silly to do Business when you’re just going to be sleeping–better to save that option for the 8.5 hrs of being awake and a sardine, since if you’re overnight in Economy you can just pop a pill and zonk. But the counterargument is solid too: better to sleep flat and not miss a night of rest; if you’re going to be awake anyway on the way back, just distract yourself with wine and movies (is it a standard BA thing to fork over two mini-booze bottles at once, or did I just always get nice FA’s?).
Which do you guys think is the best use of my miles? I’m pretty torn: hate spending money but hate spending miles too…I’ve flown to Europe both Delta business and Delta Economy, and oh man is it hard to go back once you’ve had a taste of the good life!
I totally get what you mean by “it’s hard to go back” but that flight is blocked at just over 8 hours. Unless you plan to skip the meals (and maybe you do) you’re barely going to have time to lie down before it’s time to get up.
Since time is not your friend, I think I’d set an alert on yapta.com to notify me when the price went down and just buy an economy ticket. That way you ensure you get the flights you want so you can meet your party.
I’m not sure what your travel aspirations are for future trips or your current travel patterns. I’m a casual traveler and am very careful about how I spend my miles and don’t do a whole lot of card churning, so a trip to London is “short” to me since I travel to ME and Australasia more than I would Europe. I’d just buy economy, maybe get Economy+ and earn some more miles for this trip. I save the miles for the 12-15 hour trips with layovers where I’ll be desperate for lounge access to rest, shower or work. I actually think that there are some biz class fare specials via Delta to Europe and UK this summer for around $2000. Definitely take a look.
Thank you so much guys! I think you’re right, it’s not the best use of my hard-earned miles. I’m hoping to travel a lot more in 2016 and longer haul to Asia etc are definitely on my wish list. It’s just too bad that all the good specials seem to be out of NY/the northeast or are in summer. Flexibility is definitely the key to getting good deals and using miles etc the right way, but unfortunately there are a lot of fixed parameters for this trip so using money is best.
Safe travels everyone!