Well after discussing how to get organised during your planning and my top websites to use as tools, I thought it was only fair to tell you about my holiday plans this year and how I booked them.
For our main holiday this year, Mr Tramp and I are going to New York in December flying with British Airways from Newcastle to JFK and staying in a 4* Marriott property. With 7 nights of our total stay completely free thanks to loyalty points.
I am always checking flights and routes we are likely to travel so I have a pretty rough idea of how much flights usually cost so when I am beginning to plan my travels, I know if a good deal crops up. It means I never have to wait for sales, I can jump on a bargain when I see it. On average flights with BA, my carrier of choice range from £1100 to £1300 return for 2 people to JFK via London Heathrow. The airport codings are NCL – LHR – JFK for anyone that likes to play the 3 letter game.
I booked the flights in March for a bargainous sum of £900 which are at least £200 cheaper than usual. We could have flown from Manchester for a similar price with a US Airways but by the time we factored in diesel costs + parking + more importantly time, it wasn’t worth it so when this deal cropped up for Newcastle we snatched it up.
Because we had saved the money on the flight, I chose to reserve our seats on the LHR to JFK leg and return. I paid extra for this but we thought it was worth it as we are quite specific for our flight requirements so it’s no big deal. I am a British Airways Executive Club member with a household account so I will be collecting the miles from this trip on both of our flights. I checked the seats our via Seat Guru before I booked them. I didn’t pay to reserve the seats from NCL to LHR because it’s only a short flight and you can usually always guarantee to be seated together.
British Airways is my carrier of choice because it serves a vast majority of the destinations we are interested in, with Newcastle acting as a feeder airport for Heathrow. We use BA because we know it will be a guaranteed level of service and quality. We know there will be meals, drinks, entertainment and attentive service. Of course this is the same as most other airlines but we stick with BA to maximise our point building. Every few journeys, we rack up enough miles for a European city break for free. You can’t complain with free!
Like I mentioned in my last post, we also use BA because I can convert my Tesco points in to BA Avios miles and use their Gate 365 shopping portal to earn extra points from my online shopping!
As I am a proud points hoarder, the hotel is paid for by Marriott loyalty points. The hotel we chose would have cost us £1,400 for 7 nights. That is expensive! As a Marriott member we have the added luxury of an automatic room upgrade at check in and the benefit of hotel lounge access which provides a complimentary breakfast, cocktail hour, tea time nibbles and drinks. As most American hotels provide Room Only, anything that can be had for free for breakfast saves time and money as you don’t need to find anything.
At the airport itself, we will be enjoying the BA lounge in London Heathrow for the short time between our connecting flights, which means we will be able to have a little bit of peace and quiet, a coffee and a comfy seat before our 7hr flight over to New York. In Heathrow Terminal 5, there are no other paid-for lounges. If your air ticket does not include lounge access (Business Class upwards) then collecting air miles to get status is a great way to get access as a frequent economy flyer can move up the loyalty club ranks to reap the benefits.
So there you go, a little insight in to our main travel plans for this year. Mr T is also in the middle of planning our holidays next year – I am going to Morocco and then we are both going on another road trip through America….. that is going to take a whole load of planning!
If this post and the previous one has taught you anything about planning your own travels away, that is to join loyalty schemes. You never know what you will get free!
There is currently a British Airways fare sale on until July 8th – Hurry!