To London on a whim

Being a career blogger has its perks.  One of my favorite perks is the ability to do my job anywhere.  This gives me the ability to tag along when my wife travels for work, which she often does.  Having oodles of miles at my disposal obviously helps a lot too.

This time, I wasn’t planning to join my wife on her business trip to London.  We had just been to London last month and I figured it would make sense to wait until she returns in the spring when the weather would be better.  As her trip got closer and closer, though, I started to regret the decision.  She would be staying at one of my favorite hotels in the world, the St. Pancras Renaissance London.  What a waste for her to enjoy that hotel without me.

View of the Eurostar from within the St Pancras Renaissance London

Yesterday, my wife’s flight to London was scheduled to leave at 6:25 pm.  So, yesterday morning I checked award prices for her flight.  Maybe if the price was right, I’d go along.

Not surprisingly, cash prices for the flight were insane.  My wife had upgraded to business class, so I’d have to pay a mere $10,256 to join her there.  Of course, I wasn’t planning to do anything like that.

Delta’s mileage award prices were equally insane.  150K round trip for economy or 560,000 miles for business class.  Nope. That’s not going to happen.

Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, wanted only 95,000 miles round-trip for the same exact business class flight.  Unfortunately, they also wanted $1,321 in taxes and fees.  Yikes.  Again, that’s not going to happen.

Air France offered the best solution (given that I don’t have Korean Air miles).  Air France wanted 127,000 miles and about $283 (most of which is the UK departure tax).  I decided to do it.  I checked first with our pet sitter.  Was she available?  Why yes, she was.  And I called to move an appointment that was scheduled for later in the week.  I was ready.

Booking the flight

After verifying that the award was available, I logged into my Citibank account and transferred 127,000 ThankYou Rewards points to my Air France Flying Blue account.  This only took a couple of minutes but it was long enough to cause a problem.  When I searched again on the Air France website, the outbound leg of the award was no longer available.  Yikes!

Since it was only about 8 hours before departure, I thought it was likely that the Air France website only shows flights further out.  In other words, the award was probably still available, just not through the website.  So I called to see if I could book it over the phone.  After an agonizing half hour wait, I finally got to speak to a real person.  And, within minutes he found the flight and booked it for me for the exact price that I had expected.

Away we go!

London is one of my favorite cities in the world.  And, thanks to the power transferable points, I’m on my way to visit again.  By the time you read this, I may be enjoying afternoon tea at the St. Pancras, or headed out to the theater to see a play…

St. Pancras Renaissance Chambers Club tea service

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Belinda
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Belinda

Yay you! Have fun:)

Good to know how to make last minute travel happen! I’ve never booked an international trip on such short notice, but I have abruptly left one a few days early:). I think I just paid a $300 airline fee and I believe I was on an award hotel stay so I just never checked out. I guess I was still earning toward Hilton lifetime diamond status or something.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

If u buy Ins from the Airline like United ,AA which is cheap will u get ur points back ??

Carl
Guest
Carl

Man… Is is that hard to use full and real words like insurance and you and your?

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

No not really that said can you answer my question or are you Carl just trying to play games ?
Cheers

Sam
Guest
Sam

@Greg- If you had Korean Miles available then how would that have helped without any saver awards available? Please let me know and thanks

Nick Reyes
Editor

The thing with Delta is that you never know what a “saver” award is by looking at Delta.com. You’ve got to check the partner sites — even though Delta is charging a bajillion points, you’ll often find availability for saver awards through its partners. Once Greg found the flights on Virgin Atlantic’s website, he knew they must have been available through Air France, Korean, and other Delta partners.

Ash
Guest
Ash

Nice to see your thought process. Thanks for the insight in exploring the different programs.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Glad u shared that but London is Big dollars even my Doctor complains . It’s good u have a useful way to spend it’s hard for a retired person to rack of the points besides flipping cards.I only can get like 60k a year by spending but that’s a flt to the EU in Good weather !!!!
Merry Xmas

Dave
Guest
Dave

Interestingly I don’t find London expensive at all compared to the States especially with the rate of exchange at the moment . Considering most restaurants have service charge included and stateside you have to tack on an additional 20% plus another hefty meals tax in most U.S. cities even eating out in London isn’t too bad

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Good 4 u I really don’t like the way they cook either that’s why I no longer go there .I prefer France I enjoy the food and the service better and never had a bad meal.
CHEERs

Jake
Guest
Jake

It sounds like you have your answer, travel less or get more cards. Good job.

Joey
Guest
Joey

You’re very very lucky!!!! I’ve tried to go to London or Paris on a whim last minute in the past and am normally successful 60% of the time (meaning there was award availability.) Being able to do this is one of the reasons I enjoy doing this hobby. Enjoy and have fun!

Ed. C
Guest
Ed. C

” I checked first with our pet sitter. Was she available?”

You mean you don’t disguise your pet as an ESA so you can take it everywhere you go?????

BeachMiles
Guest
BeachMiles

It’s tough getting a pet into Great Britain.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

My UK buddies son moved to AUS with his 2 dogs $7,000 total to get them in ..But he does make more then the UK PM makes . A different world they live in HaHa Good for Them..

CHEERS

Julian
Guest
Julian

And this is why I love our hobby.

bluecat
Guest
bluecat

+1

Ramzi
Guest
Ramzi

Livin the life! St Pancras is incredible. You using points or cash for it this time?

BeachMiles
Guest
BeachMiles

Using his wife’s expense account, better than points.

trackback

[…] savings don’t outweigh the flexibility of changing plans if someone gets sick, you want to jet off to London on 8hrs notice, […]

Loungeabuser
Guest
Loungeabuser

I’ve been doing this awhile but I’ve never considered all the options for DL partners. Thanks.

Spencer
Guest
Spencer

Awesome! Another trick of the hobby is the opposite of last minute. I’ve had success with transferring points (MRP / TY) to international partners and then booking on international alliance partners > 332 days in advance. Some airlines release saver award seat up to 363 days in advance. CX us a favorite with very reliable 5 seats in J on almost all flights. Once they hit the 330 day window and become available to US legacy carriers; boom gone!

stvr
Guest
stvr

How do you get around the “Delta doesn’t release award space to partners within 21 days of departure” rule? Is LHR an exclusion?