Three days into the New Year, I found myself lying in bed in the dead of night thinking of all that I wanted to accomplish in 2018 and how those things would manifest in my life---a common practice for me. In terms of living an effective life and leaving a legacy, I often think of the future and what that looks like 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road frequently asking myself, "What am I doing today, in this particular moment, that the me of tomorrow will thank me for?" Having returned from Asia two weeks prior with 2 months of "free time" before relocating to a new city and transitioning into my dream job, I decided that I wanted to once again take off to explore. Why not? My entrepreneurial endeavors could be managed remotely and I had no urgent engagements for the month of February. "I'm not required to be in the states and neither do I feel like being in the states, and so, I won't be in the states. February abroad, here I come!" I sprang from bed, fired up my laptop and began the search for my next choice destinations.
FOUR COUNTRIES. ONE MONTH. A $5.60 FLIGHT TO EUROPE.
At the time of this writing I reside in Dallas and have historically flown to NYC on "positioning flights" (flights that put you in a cheaper departure city) to then catch the flight to my European destination. It's not uncommon to see prices that are upwards $2,000 when searching for round-trip tickets from Dallas to Europe, and in knowing that, I always opt to spare myself the disappointment by searching for RT flights from NYC to Europe that are usually as low as $400. NYC wins! In remembering that I had flight miles to use coupled with not wanting to be bothered with the possibility of long layovers associated with flying into NYC, I logged into my AA Advantage account to figure out how far my accumulated miles could take me in the pursuit of my next adventure.
In looking at the "Redeem with miles" option on American Airlines, I saw that I could use 22,500 points to fly one-way from Dallas to several cities in Europe which would essentially make my flight free, or so I thought. I entered all pertinent information pertaining to my flight, selected “redeem with miles”, and proceeded to the checkout page only to be met with a $219.65 total that was to be paid by card. In the pursuit of the “Free” that I knew was available to me, the price staring back at me was an absolute “no” in my book, and so, I called the American Airlines Advantage desk to seek clarity concerning the listed price on their site. The agent graciously explained that the reflected price was the international tax that is imposed by the destination country and that it varies based on destination and further explained that it could be as high as $500 or as low as $5.00. Armed with that additional information, I decided to fly into Madrid, Spain for $5.60 and then proceed with traveling on to Portugal, the intended country, on a one-way flight for $17.00.
**For Additional Clarity: My one-way flight over was $5.60 but my flight back to the states on Norwegian Air was $153.00 without the usage of flight miles. I’ll be flying from Paris to JFK Airport in NYC, and then flying from JFK to DFW Airport in Dallas. Mixing and matching one-way flights is sometimes the BEST thing to do when it comes to ensuring cost-efficiency.
SIGN UP FOR FREE PROGRAMS! YOU REALLY SHOULD!
I avoid credit cards and creating unnecessary bills like the PLAGUE. At the time that I signed up for the American Advantage frequent flyer program three-ish years ago, I received 15,000 miles. No credit cards. (WIN!) No monthly payments. (DOUBLE WIN!) No obligation to spend a certain amount within a certain time frame, nothing. (TRIPLE WIN!) When I signed up, I had no idea that I would eventually go on to extensively travel and I am exceedingly grateful that I signed up when I did. It is my understanding that American Airlines offers various promotions and awards throughout the year, however, it would be in your interest to call AA Advantage directly at 1-800-882-8880 and make your own inquiries so that you can make informed decisions regarding what will best suit you. Even if they are not offering awards at the time you’re considering signing up, sign up anyway. You never know when you’ll fly with them, or how often. In the past 17 months, I have touched down to visit 21 countries and am soon to embark on travels, visits, and endeavors in four more. That is A LOT of flying that wasn’t in my plans three years ago at the time I joined the AA Advantage program.
In addition to signing up with AA Advantage, it would also best serve you to sign up with any airline that offers similar programs for the same reason--having your flight miles logged and being able to use them towards flights and other offerings.
I hope this has thoroughly answered questions regarding my $5.60 flight but if not, feel free to comment below or shoot me a message! If I don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll work to direct you to someone who does and we'll learn together! :)