Caline and I recently sat down with Erin from UpgradedPoints.com to talk about some of our favorite miles and point redemptions. You don’t have to twist our arm too hard to get us to talk about points, so we had a good time reliving our trip to London!
If you want the full details about our amazing 5-star trip (on a 1-star budget) to London, check out these links:
For a quicker summary, just read on in the words of Erin…
Rio to London
Chris from FlyFamilyFly is a consultant by day with a serious knack for points earning!
Though Chris and his family currently live in Brazil, they’re constantly traveling to see friends family in the U.S. and abroad. That’s why they started FlyFamilyFly: to share how their family travels the world on points and teach other families it’s possible to do the same!
Chris joins the Real Redemptions series to tell us about a fantastic trip to London. He and his wife Caline were able to travel with their daughter Emily for 2 weeks, fly business class, stay in 5-star hotels, and enjoy the British Summer…all thanks to points and miles.
Earning for this trip was no small feat, and Chris claims it was one of the more creative points trips they’ve taken. Since they had over a year to plan their trip (they were headed over for a friend’s wedding), they had plenty of options when it came to hotels. However, they were certainly looking for best bang for their buck!
Chris and Caline decided early on that using their Chase annual free night at the $500+ per night InterContinental Park Lane was an obvious great value. Since swapping hotels with a toddler in tow is not their idea of fun, they started focusing on beefing up their IHG point balance so they could extend their stay there.
They used some “mattress runs” (the hotel equivalent of a mileage run where a traveler is flying just to earn points/miles) to earn 2 free nights anywhere after staying 4 nights at any IHG property. Naturally, they found 4 of the cheapest properties around, then cashed in their free nights at one of the most expensive properties in the IHG portfolio—the InterContinental Park Lane.
Chris says that the lucky timing of IHG’s Priceless Surprises sweepstakes promotion was also a big help. It involved writing nearly 100 postcards by hand (that left them with hand cramps night after night!), but was ultimately very worthwhile. He and Caline won enough points for an additional 2 nights for just the cost of stamps and stationery.
Without much extra spending, they ended up with a total of 3 free nights and over 200,000 points. Chris does point out that since they earned these nights/points sporadically over quite some time, they booked the room rates as they came available. At check-in time they had about 5 separate reservations for 7 nights; he says the front desk staff had quite the chuckle!
For their second week in London, they paid for the remaining nights at the Waldorf Hilton with Hilton points they’d been hoarding from various credit card sign-up bonuses.
Now for the flights. Chris, Caline, and Emily flew American Airlines’ new 777 from Rio to JFK and then on to London. Chris says that there is a direct flight from Rio to London, but it was much more expensive and on British Airways.
They were fortunate enough to apply American’s System Wide Upgrades to their flights. This allowed the family of 3 to buy economy seats but get upgraded to business class on all connections, round-trip! At 16 hours each way, it was really nice to have lie-flat beds for everyone.
Hint: Learn how to also book American Airlines business class by using this guide!
This redemption was pretty incredible for a number of reasons, including the 5-star hotel and the business class flights. But topping everything off was the chance to explore a new city with his family!
Chris also says this was one of those rare trips where nothing went wrong. Their toddler was amazing for all the flights, hotels, and wedding activities. They had great weather, stayed under budget, and really got to know London as a city.
Of course, Chris is always planning another trip on points. It looks like the next one will be a trip home to Boston to see family. Chris is trying to book with Alaska Miles this time since they’re still using American’s old award chart.
This means the family can fly from Rio to Boston in economy for only 20,000 miles per person each way. If possible, they’d love to spend a couple days in New York City and redeem their Hyatt free nights at the Park Hyatt, which is one of their favorite hotels in the world.
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