Summer Tier Points – To San Francisco with American Airlines, British Airways, Aer Lingus and Ryanair (with lots of Business Class Travel)
In this… epic.
- When will I learn to jump on a fare?
- Wednesday Afternoon.. off to the airport
- EI273 Birmingham to Dublin Airport
- Into Dublin for some Donuts. And Pokemon
- The Travelodge in Swords, Dublin Airport
- Pre-Clearance fun at Dublin airport, 51st and Green Lounge
- AA291 Dublin to New York JFK – Business Class
- A Manhattan Char Siu Adventure
- Back in the Secure Area, Flagship Lounge and AAdmirals Club
- AA2652 New York JFK to San Francisco International – Transcontinental Business Class
- The Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
- Do the BART into San Francisco, The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, San Francisco
- Sausalito: Which ferry to take?
- Halfway across the Golden Gate Bridge
- Fooding around San Francisco
- The Crowne Plaza, San Francisco Airport
- Early start at San Francisco airport
- AA164 San Francisco International to New York JFK – Transcontinental Business Class
- The joy of terminal swaps, BA Pre-departure dining
- BA174 New York JFK to London Heathrow – Club World (Business Class)
- An Early Morning Change at Heathrow
- BA828 London Heathrow T5 to Dublin Airport – Club Europe
- Doughnuts and coffee shops – Exploring Dublin
- Once more with feeling at Dublin Airport
- FR666 Dublin Airport to Birmingham Airport
- 600 TP: Done
Editors Note: Welcome to the fun that is a summer trip report! As you can expect by now, trip reports are very much a long-form writing exercise as opposed to short, quick and simple things. More often than not, these are stories to amuse, as well as inform the passenger experience. And yes. I live up to the blog name, as I fly Economy Class… and Beyond.
The usual grammar rules apply for those who are easily offended and will reach for the keyboard at the first some of something spelt wrong or not grammatically correct.
When will I learn to jump on a fare?
With my eye on re-qualification for British Airways Silver for 2019/2020, summer is fast turning into the time for me to get off my backside, and into the air to explore. As well as yield as many tier points as I can muster at the lowest cost.
For me, BA Silver isn’t so much about the lounges, but when I’m hefting stuff across the pond, it helps a lot – rather than paying out for luggage fees. The lounge access and free seating assignment is just a bonus.
So first up was a delight of a fare – Bucharest to Phoenix. Which, if you had 10 minutes, you found that was routeable via practically anywhere with minimal cost (for example, I could route it OTP-LHR-HEL-JFK-LAX-PHX and return without too much effort), which was pricing up near £1500. A bit high, but very rich to yield Tier Points.
Alas, my mind was focused on my day job as oppose to Tier Point runs. By the time I had a spare hour to book the fare – it had shot up to over £2100.
Whilst reasonable value – it was too rich for my taste at that point.
So with the Bucharest fare out of touch, I needed a new solution.
With Qatar Airways business class fare deals rarer than hen’s teeth, I decided that a trip to America would do the trick. Combined with a quick think, Dublin showed promise.
And normally, business class fares are reasonable out of Dublin. A lot of playing with ITA Matrix shows some good options coming up – all publicly available on the American Airlines fare engine.
I then started getting creative. And when I get creative… its where things can go horribly wrong or horribly right.
The first fare was a basic DUB-JFK-SFO-CLT-DUB. Boring, but an easy. 560 Tier Points in the bag. I then fiddled with the fare. The next option was a tasty DUB-JFK-LAX-SFO, SFO-LAX-PHL-DUB. Very tasty at 680 Tier Points, but alas, inventory dried up, with I bucket inventory being replaced by D bucket quickly.
More fiddling, and I hit upon a doozey of a route, that added different carriers into the route. The breakdown would be:
- DUB-JFK – American Airlines Boeing 757-200
- JFK-SFO – American Airlines Trans-con A321
- SFO-JFK – American Airlines Trans-con A321
- JFK-LHR – British Airways Boeing 747-400
- LHR-DUB – British Airways Airbus A320
All in all – a tasty 600 Tier Points – or what is bang on Silver Qualification requirements. For £1421. Not the best fare the world (considering I could had got 960TP from the Budapest fare), but infinitely more easy to position back and forth from, and I’d be going to the actual destination – rather than roasting in Phoenix.
The next part of the battle would be to position in, and position back. Positioning in would be simple, with both Ryanair and Aer Lingus offering similar pricing to Dublin (Ryanair wanted £16+£6 2 boarding bags, and £3 for a luggage assignment. Aer Lingus basic fare was £24.99, with pretty much a clear pass at seating at check-in, and two bags anyway).
The way back would be more fun. Namely, as I tend to bring more items back with me than I do when I go somewhere. And the joy of work got in the way, meaning the fare I wanted was long gone – meaning the only way back to Birmingham that wasn’t going to burn a massive hole in the pocket was going to be with a carrier of last resort.
And that carrier… is Ryanair. This is double my quota of Ryanair flights in a year people…
So, onto hotels. As I’m staying in a weekend, this seems like the perfect chance to burn my Intercontinental 2-4-1 voucher. The choice is simple at this point – the IC on the Nob hill or the IC South of the Market.
Whilst the Intercontinental SOMA has good transit connections, there’s something just elegant about the IC Mark Hopkins on Nob hill.
For the first night – I needed a crash pad. Sadly, prices weren’t great. This is where using points comes into play – with me using 12,000 points for a nights stay vs $260+ a night , I decided something near the airport – and the Hyatt Regency seems a good match for this – mainly as there’s a shuttle bus to the airport,
As I have an early flight on Monday morning, again – I needed a crash pad. The Crowne Plaza SFO is normally reasonable for this – even if it’s a little unloved. Who knows – it might have improved from last time I was there. At £102 for a night – expensive, but not that bad.
Finally, I needed a place to stay in Dublin. And Irish wallets were smiling, with hotel prices going through the roof – for €79 for a student residence, €180 for a Crowne Plaza.
In the end, I went for my old standby of the Travelodge Swords… at a staggering €100.
Demand pricing at work.
So the final map for this adventure.
This of course is a business class trip. And we all know what that means don’t we.
Will there be chaos this trip? Let’s find out shall we…
Next: Wednesday Afternoon
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