Yup. That’s right. Return trip to Palau in Micronesia, one way to Cancun, Mexico and a return trip in business class to San Cristobal, Equador. All in 2016.
All for less than $1500 combined to cover taxes, airport improvement and other air travel related fees.
Last year, I flew to Roatan, Honduras, business class. As well, I did a return trip to Edmonton in economy. The year before that I flew to Roatan and the year before that it was Grand Cayman. Both in economy.
How am I doing it? Airline points.
I accumulate some points from personal travel, but most are from charging on a credit card with rewards that can be taken on Star Alliance flights.
The trick is to use the points when you get enough for a trip. Banking them is a mug’s game, because the airlines routinely downgrading their value = more points needed to travel to destinations.
My Star Alliance-points piggy bank is pretty empty right now thanks to the trip to Equador to dive the Galapagos later this year. As well, my focus, right now, is on building points elsewhere.
I’m trying to accumulate enough rewards for my return trip from Cozumel (or Cancun) on Canada’s ‘low cost’ airline. That means the credit card for Star Alliance flights has been put away. Instead, I’m charging everything on a different credit card that will allow me to accumulate ‘dollars’ on the ‘low cost’ airline, dollars I can use to buy a cheaper plane ticket.
I collect Air Canada Aeroplan Miles, United and American Airline miles, and Westjet dollars. I’m also enrolled in the Air Asia frequent flyer program.
One downside to points flights. You often get the crummiest connections with the occasional long and overnight layover. This doesn’t bother me. Booking in business class means access free access to airline lounges in airports. As well, I’m happy to camp on an air mattress in an airport I deem to be safe, if necessary.
There are points advisors on the internet with lots of recommendations. Many of them, though, are for U.S. credit cards, with huge points rewards when enrolling. We in Canada can’t access those cards or the sign-up rewards. Our choices are more limited. But, it’s still possible to fly on points.
PS: A few days ago, United changed my points flight to Mexico – cancelled the flight I was on and rebooked me onto a flight that left Houston BEFORE I flew out of Vancouver. I had originally booked to fly to Cozumel. Now, the only way to make it work was to fly into Cancun. That’s fine. Been looking for a reason to dive cenotes (underwater caverns) near Playa Del Carmen. Now, I can do that (the photos will be amazing) on my way to Cozumel.