Too many miles, not enough time!

Can’t decide whether this is a good thing or bad thing. As usual, I’m sitting on about two million miles. I do my best to burn as many of them as I can (efficiently), but my mileage balance just won’t dip far below two million. The problem is that through the end of the year, I can’t take more than a four day trip, and that includes travel time. So for once, I’m actually looking for the most direct way to visit a destination. Shocking, right? That limits my options somewhat. But I’d really like to hit some new destinations. So, what’s on my list?

Dublin: Trying to get there on Continental, though their award availability sucks in BusinessFirst.

Shannon: I don’t know why, but ever since transiting there on British Airways Club World London City, I’ve really wanted to visit. Yet again, Continental doesn’t have very good availability.

Copenhagen or Stockholm: Two more cities I’ve wanted to visit for quite a while, but again, award availability on SAS is quite meager, especially for outbounds towards the end of the week and inbounds towards the beginning of the week.

Vienna: Haven’t been, but would really like to visit. Austrian flies to Washington Dulles and New York, but availability is awful up front. Onboard food looks amazing too.

Madrid: United has that new Aer Lingus agreement which I’d really like to try out, but availability is virtually non-existent. Iberia isn’t much better.

Helsinki: For all the blog readers that have told me to go to “HEL,” I figured I’d make your dreams come true. 😉

Amsterdam: Decent availability on United, but I’m just not going to pay the miles for the old first class suite. That would be painful.

Buenos Aires: I think I can actually make this work! I see availability one way in United first class on the 767 (which has a great hard product) and one way on Continental in BusinessFirst. But at the same time, Buenos Aires is a destination I’d like more time for and isn’t really one I’d like to visit alone. Not sure why…

So what do I do? Stay home and keep collecting the miles? Do a quick weekend in Buenos Aires? Obvious destinations with nonstop service from the US I’m missing?

Fortunately I have a German passport, so I don’t think I’d have to pay that nasty reciprocal entry fee of $130+.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. I will probably catch grief for this but we went to Buenos Aires in May and thought it was boring. We were booked there for 4 nights and actually left a day early. I don’t know where you’re departing from but Hong Kong is always a great place to visit and I want to go to Tokyo. Out the other places mentioned above, Vienna is awesome if you like art, historical sights, great food, etc…

  2. I second Vienna — lovely city (when the weather isn’t terrible). Also, österreichisches Deutsch is hilariously funny for German-speaking people.

  3. I’d say to keep trying and go someplace you want to be for a couple of days. Copehhagen and Amsterdam are two cities on my list. I agree with @Shari on Vienna.

  4. I absolutely fell in love with Budapest when there for 2 weeks last year.

    On my “soon, I hope” list is Milan.

    If you’ve never been to Venice, try to get there before it is below sea level.


  5. BUENOS AIRES! go for great steak! and don’t forget wine in Mendoza. it’s a cool place and will hardly cost you anything!

  6. Not a big fan of Milan, unless you’re there for the shopping along the Via Montenapoleone and the quadrilatero della moda; it’s probably the least beautiful major Italian city though incidentally the most livable one (as the economy is highly developed … by Italian standards).

  7. So if Buenos Aires is the “best” airline option you should go there. It’s quite a nice place and you actually don’t need weeks to discover the whole city. If Buenos Aires wan’t an option I would go for Vienna, but again you might spend more than if you go to BA.

  8. > Fortunately I have a German passport, so I don’t think I’d have to pay that nasty > reciprocal entry fee of $130+.

    Yes, but doesn’t that come with 2 years of mandatory military service?

  9. If, for some reason, you get bored with four days in BA, take the ferry over to Colonia, Uruguay. It’s only an hour — great day trip.

  10. You might want to consider Thailand; it’s really quite unique to the rest of Asia. SQ First or Bus. class would be impressive; flying down to Singapore, and then, up to BKK is most enjoyable on SQ. Their all bus. class flt. from LA to Sing. is most enjoyable.

  11. I think EZE is a great idea for a 3-4 day trip, so good thinking there. I don’t recall if you’ve been to PEK yet. Air China from JFK or ANA if you deal with the extra stop in NRT? What about Mexico City? I don’t think fares are ever low enough to do an MR so not sure if you’ve gone there. Sure, you won’t burn 120-145k miles, but it’s a fascinating place if you like museums and restaurants. If Madrid isn’t working out, how about Lisbon? Finally, how about SAA to Cape Town?

  12. I’d also go for EZE. VIE would be my second choice.

    Any availability on *A award to VIE. For example, UA/LH/LX to FRA/ZUR, then hop on LH/OS/LX to VIE?

    Doesn’t US still fly to Dublin and Shannon?

  13. Two million miles?! I’m going to have to read thru your older posts to figure how to accumulate them – that’s amazing .

  14. Although I have never been to EZE, doesn’t the flight schedule max your time on ground there because itsa redeye both ways? I assume on the return you can make it to where you need to be the next morning?

    Heard great things about EZE – go for it!!!

  15. What about using your SkyPesos for SNN or DUB?

    As for EZE, the J product on LAN is a full flat bed and tons of availability ex-MIA. The nice part about EZE is being able to go overnight both ways giving you a bit of flexibility.

    I always love visiting the city, was supposed to go over Labor Day but did LA instead…

  16. If you really have to convince yourself that you need to go away and aren’t actually really excited by any of the places, then why not sit on the miles? Granted, you’ve always been at 2M miles to this point, but maybe at some point a few years from now you won’t be.

  17. DUB or SNN using UA miles on EI. Award availability on EI is very good year round. Connect at ORD, BOS or JFK for 65K in Y or 115k in C. They are now the only carrier that operate a dual aisle flight between th US and Ireland. New seats in Y and C and on demand video even in coach make EI the best choice to Ireland.

  18. Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango, making it a romantic and cultural hotspot. I was there on my last vacations, during summer (December), and it was amazing, the weather, the people, the architecture, great food and wine, and of course, sultry tango shows. the food, everything was in place. I enjoy the city for 5 days,
    and after that I flew to El Calafate and Ushuaia to know the end of the world.

    Before I arrived to Buenos Aires, I book online (with a Tango Dinner Show, and I have to say that is an incredible way to begin to discover the passion of a city and its people. So if you have the opportunity to know this outstanding city, do it! 😉

  19. Many of the carriers you mention with no availability do tend to have availability closer in. Try 3 weeks out, 2 weeks out, 1 week out. SNN or DUB on CO shouldn’t be an issue this time of year…if you’re patient and can wait out the rev mgmt folks. Heck – even UA to SYD is available it you can wait til a day or two prior to departure.

    Have fun!

  20. I’d have to agree– make a charitable donation, of at least a few. Your “throwaway” weekend trip could mean something HUGE for a needy family. And for what it’s worth, from a recent article in Greater Good: “A 2008 study published in the journal Science found that people reported greater happiness when they spent money on others than when they spent it on themselves, even though they initially thought the opposite would be true. This finding is corroborated by neuroscience research showing that when we give to others, our brains light up in areas associated with pleasure and reward.”

    Not saying this to be a bummer or poop on the idea of a fun weekend jaunt… just pointing out that there are other ways to turn miles into happiness, and you certainly have the means to do so. 🙂

  21. I have a sort of obvious question. If you have so many miles why do you continue to fly so much? I thought you flew a lot on your parents’ dime so you can fund their first class trips. With 2 million in the bank you should be able to do that for some time…

  22. Thanks for all the suggestions, folks, I appreciate it!

    To those of you suggesting I donate miles to charity, sorry, but that’s something I’ll never, ever, ever do. I’m actually quite familiar with how that works from the airline’s perspective, and it’s an absolute waste of miles and rip off. For most airlines, all award tickets booked through it are billed at the “standard” level, so they’ll use 50,000 miles for a $150 domestic ticket. I spend a lot of money to earn miles, and it’s an investment. I’d be foolish to burn those miles at a lower rate than it costs me to earn them.

    That being said, I’m happy to make cash donations to various charities within my means. I just made a donation to the Captain Jason Dahl Fund last week, and will continue to donate to charities when I’m able to (after all, I’m a college student, don’t have the biggest charity budget in the world). But I’m also a numbers guy, and donating miles is a huge no-no.

    @ Fernando — Nope, I don’t fly on my parents’ dime. I pay for all my travel myself, and occasionally even gift them first class awards. Did so just last week, as my mom flew to Germany in Lufthansa first class. But unlike what a few trolls would like you to think, my travel is self funded.

  23. Lucky – have to agree with you regarding donating the miles – sort of a scam by the airlines. Its always better to make a cash donation to the charity of your choice.

  24. @Fernando – keep in mind at least some of Lucky’s flying is not just to earn miles, but to earn status, and that expires if you don’t keep it up.

    As for the donating-miles question, I agree with Lucky, the numbers just don’t add up. Only exception I can think of would be if you only have a few thousand miles on an airline you don’t fly on much, they’re about to expire and you just don’t have the opportunity to do something to earn more and reset the clock, and there’s no way to convert them to another program.

  25. You are a very lucky guy to have so many miles! I would take a few months off and travel the world if I were you! But if that is not in the cards for you then you can always gift a perfect stranger like me 60,000 miles so I can upgrade my ticket to thailand on continental 🙂 Just a thought anyways! It is for my honeymoon and at least you know that these donated miles were put to good use! I depart Dec. 13 2010…

  26. @Lauren: ROTFL! Congrats on your wedding. You should open up a CO checking account and CO credit card to get the miles you need.

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