What to do with those free nights? London, perhaps?

While I realize I’m totally weak compared to some of you, I earned two free nights through Priority Club’s current promotion which have to be used this year. The added challenge of maximizing these free nights as a Royal Ambassador with InterContinental is that they don’t technically honor elite benefits on award stays. This can be frustrating, as I’ll be staying at the InterContinental Hong Kong in August, and the thing that makes the hotel spectacular are their harbor view rooms. Unfortunately they’re stingy when it comes to award benefits, so I’ve booked a revenue stay, although I would have loved to use my free nights there.

I’ve still never been to London, shockingly enough. Given that the InterContinental London honors Royal Ambassador benefits on award stays, it seems like a good candidate for a weekend trip in the fall. 

The challenge is figuring out how to get there. I haven’t flown an international revenue ticket on United in ages, since I typically do first class awards on premium carriers for my international travel. Given that London really isn’t that far I’ll probably just end up booking a cheap, non-upgradeable fare on United, or maybe I’ll book an upgradeable flight, but it just seems like such a waste. The other option is using ANA miles to fly Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class.

I’m in no position to book this  yet because I have to figure out my schedule, but it’s something I’m keeping in the back of my mind.

Filed Under: Priority Club
  1. Quick check of random weekend in October (dep. Fri 9th, return Mon 12th) = $722.80 a.i. TPA-LHR (S fare). Goes down to $574.70 with a trip north.

    Didn’t bother to optimize (times, routes, planes, etc.).

  2. Non-upgradeable? THE HORROR!!

    Trust me, I did a non-upgradeable mileage run on UA earlier this year, and the return flight was torture. Never again.

  3. Try routing through Chicago on the new 767s…perhaps?

    I have found that there are lots of oversells in Y in this economy, so you may be lucky, Lucky!

  4. The UA 767’s aren’t that bad (either in Y+ or dread the thought Y-). Autumn isn’t that bad in London providing the

    Just bring your own food if the Chicken Curry on the last IAD-LHR flight I had was any record of the degradation of the food standards (Updated 767’s on ORD/IAD>LHR routes).

    Besides… you really want to argue with the IAD staff about the two drink chits and international rules…. 😀

    And if you do make it over – shout me. I’m sure we could rustle up a Do.. or something…

    Just not the last two weeks of October as I’ll be experiencing UA at their best 😉

  5. You might actually have to try out the exit row for 7 or 8 hours like the regular folk – sounds painful. 😉

    Bring a book or two, an extra battery for your laptop, etc. Personally I get 6 hours of uninterrupted work done sitting there – no big deal.

  6. Can you do one-way VS awards on ANA? If so go for it one-way ex-LHR just to experience the LHR VS Clubhouse which is awesome! It’s a waste to do JFK-LHR as it’s such a short night flight.

    IC London is OK… as in they honour minibar, but double upgrade is from a tiny tiny tiny room to a tiny room. They do not give RAs Club Access.

    Coming back on topic, I’ve got four of these free nights to use… using two at the CP Times Square NYC which as an RA might seem crazy not to use the Barclay, but on this short trip location matters more than benefits. Not sure where to use my other two nights… perhaps IC Aphrodite Hills and get in a couple of rounds of golf… Decisions decisions….

  7. Too bad you can’t fly BD from ORD/LAS anymore. That would have been a nice use for your BMI upgrade certs.

  8. E+ is just fine to slum it out in on an ORD-LHR on the way over. That’s the way some of us get 1k. Wouldn’t this be your first TATL trip in paid economy Ben?

  9. Ben, can you wait till the new year when all fares will become upgreadable (for a fee of course). You should definitely visit London. One of the great cities of the world.

  10. @ FortFun — Didn’t realize going up north even worked anymore. Good to know, thanks! I’d probably use travel credits for an itin to London, so the flight up north would have to be on United.

    @ Gene — LMAO. C’mon now, it can’t be that bad, especially if I snag one of the “good” seats in coach. But yeah, it makes a weekend “getaway” a bit less relaxing or enjoyable than a seat up front.

    @ boifromtroi — Yeah, LHR flights seem to op-up pretty frequently, but I never count on luck!

    @ Kevincm — Shouldn’t I also bring my own ghetto IFE? 😀 I’ll definitely email you if I end up taking this trip. It’d be great to meet up again.

    @ Brian Desmond — A book?!? Like, one with hundreds of pages and small text? I doubt I’m capable….

    @ Lewis — Sadly no one way awards. Booo! Yeah, since the IC London is pretty stingy with upgrades to begin with, it seems like a good opportunity to stay at the hotel. I’ve always wanted to visit the IC Aphrodite Hills. Actually, I was going to go there last year instead of Malta, which in retrospect I should have done. Enjoy if you end up going.

    @ MatthewLAX — Ah, good point. Too bad. 🙁

    @ bmvaughn — Good point if I were booking now, but I’m sure all the fares will drop like crazy come September. This is going to be one helluva rough winter for the airlines!

    @ bschaff1 — Yes, my first in about five years. I have done ORD-HKG in coach, though, so I’m not *that* weak! 😀

    @ Despina — Unfortunately the free night has to be used by the end of the year. The co-pay on a lower fare would be $1,000 roundtrip next year, plus the fare and 60,000 miles, so I’m probably better off just paying $700ish for an upgradeable ticket and using SWU’s. I’d really like to visit London, although preferably before it gets too cold. I don’t like cold weather. Brrr!

  11. Excellent point about the weather Ben. In that case be sure to go by the end of September at the latest.

  12. @BMVaughn – The GVA idea, whilst good means a run on Swiss 😉 … actually. that’s a good thing. By September, the takeover of BMI should be done and dusted.

    @MatthewLAX – Tell me about it. I could avoid London. My costs going through LHR as opposed to MAN have increased significantly since the MAN routes died 🙁

    @lucky – Knowing what wonderful choice of IFE they have… I wouldn’t say no (unless UA were going 180 and introducing AVOD across the fleet. Certainly, they should had introduced more of the Panasonic X series units when they re-did F/C classes… probably down to cost (Hmm. I’m sounding like Runway Girl… but without the good looks). If the food was anything to go by on my June run, there defiantly has been more cutbacks.

    Weather – Just bring a fleece. It’ll be warmer than Chicago is any day of the week – saying that previous Septembers haven’t been that bad (although in the regions life isn’t that bad).

    The segment runner in me would do TPA-ORD-IAD-LHR… but that’s me counting every mile under 600 (BMI world: 600 minimum miles/segment) to re-qualification this year…

  13. And make sure to thank Gordon Brown for the extra taxes you will pay on any award ticket to the UK in a premium class of C or Y. You will pay a surcharge of $130 or greater carbon tax. If flying on a Y ticket upgraded to C, I do not think you have this surcharge, but I may be incorrect. Also, the Virgin clubhouse is spectacular, so get to the airport 5 hours early, and then get a massage, haircut, manicure, and enjoy all the other goodies in the lounge.

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