Welcome to the fifth installment of a yearlong collection the place Tarah Chieffi, TPG’s household journey reporter, shares her expertise utilizing numerous factors, advantages, credit and entry from her first premium rewards bank card, The Platinum Card® from American Specific.
With three youngsters, a lot of the “getaways” I take with my husband are fast weekend journeys or in a single day escapes. We did handle one weeklong trip to Italy once I was pregnant with our second youngster, however since we have added a 3rd child to the combo, prolonged kid-free getaways have turn into even fewer and additional between.
I am comfortable to report that we simply returned from our second such journey — a six-day European journey via Germany and Belgium. As a result of we do not get to take journeys like this fairly often, I’ve spent months planning lodges, transportation and actions to assist us squeeze in as many sights and cities as potential.
To additional make the most of this uncommon stretch of kid-free time, I needed to verify we flew in consolation and sophistication, enterprise class to be precise. As I outlined in an earlier story on this collection, I transferred Amex Membership Rewards factors I earned with The Platinum Card® from American Specific to Flying Blue miles throughout a particular provide interval that earned us 1.25 miles for each level. I used these factors to order enterprise class seats to and from Europe and saved greater than $11,000 over the worth of reserving the identical flights utilizing money.
This is how I did it, what I beloved and what I realized alongside the best way.
Reserving a enterprise class flight utilizing Amex Membership Rewards factors
After some preliminary looking out, I discovered one of the simplest ways to make use of the American Specific Membership Rewards factors I had earned via my sign-up bonus (100,000 factors) and month-to-month spending was to transform my factors into miles by transferring them to my Flying Blue account. Flying Blue is the loyalty program for Air France and KLM. Each airways have dynamic pricing on award tickets and it is surprisingly simple to seek out offers on enterprise class flights, particularly in case your dates are versatile.
Associated: The most cost effective enterprise class awards throughout all three alliances
I held onto my Membership Rewards factors till Amex was working a promotion on transfers to FlyingBlue. I used to be in a position to convert 269,999 Membership Rewards factors into 336,250 FlyingBlue Miles, sufficient to e book enterprise class flights for my husband and myself between New York’s John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport (JFK) and Munich Worldwide Airport (MUC) through KLM Royal Dutch Airways and between Brussels Gare du Midi (ZYR) and JFK through Air France for the return journey.
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Had we paid money, we might have spent over $16,000 for those self same flights. Because it was, I redeemed 168,000 miles (return journey, per particular person — or 336,000 complete) and our money outlay was slightly below $1,000 for taxes, charges and gasoline surcharges. I am positive some factors and miles consultants on the market are wincing at that quantity, however in my protection, I instructed you up entrance that I’m a beginner.
Airport perks of flying enterprise class
The perks of flying enterprise class, I realized, go far past comfortable seats and multi-course inflight meals. Once we arrived at JFK, we have been in a position to make the most of the Sky Precedence lane for an expedited check-in expertise.
Earlier than leaving JFK, we have been granted complimentary entry to the Delta Sky Membership lounge as a result of we have been flying on a SkyTeam associate flight in enterprise class. We grabbed some pre-flight drinks, a number of snacks and charged our gadgets earlier than it was time for takeoff. Our gate was only some minutes from the lounge and we have been one of many first to board our flight.
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Breakfast within the KLM Crown Lounge. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY
We had a brief layover at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport (AMS), which we spent in KLM’s flagship Crown Lounge. After an in a single day flight, it was good to have a spot to brush my enamel and seize a fast meal earlier than finishing our journey to Munich. The true spotlight, although, was the intelligent, quirky design of the lounge. My favourite options have been the wall of Delft tiles that whimsically depicted scenes from the inflight security video, and the glass-walled shows of KLM’s signature Delft blue miniature homes.
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TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY
For the journey house, we had the chance to check out the Air France lounge in Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2E, Corridor L. It was the nicest (and quietest) of all of the airport lounges we visited throughout our journey, but it surely lacked the playful character I beloved in regards to the KLM lounge. What it lacked in that regard, it made up for with specialty cocktails and a powerful collection of meals and drinks.
Regardless of the placement, ready in your flight in an airport lounge is way most popular to ready on the gate and I used to be thrilled to have that profit included with our flights.
My first in-flight enterprise class expertise
Airport lounges are good and all, however the level of reserving this flight was to board a airplane and get to Germany. After settling into our seats on our KLM flight from New York to Munich, we have been greeted with a welcome glass of champagne, an amenity package with toiletries to clean up throughout our flight and a menu with numerous dinner decisions.
Since I had by no means flown enterprise class, I spent the primary 10 or quarter-hour after boarding pushing each button and opening each compartment to see the way it all labored. When my play time was over, Kevin and I watched “Prime Gun” collectively whereas we ate our meal.
After dinner, I used to be tempted to remain awake and proceed having fun with the perks of being in enterprise class, however one of many actual advantages is having a snug lie-flat seat, a pillow and blanket and a watch masks so that you stand a preventing probability of getting a very good evening’s sleep. Due to the six-hour time distinction, it could be about 7 a.m. after we landed in Amsterdam, so I made the smart move and obtained some shut-eye.
I slept straight via the breakfast service and once I awoke, the present I had been so excited for was ready for me on my tray desk — a gin-filled Delftware miniature home. The airline has been gifting these to passengers in long-haul business-class cabins because the Fifties and I would been wanting ahead to including one to my assortment of journey trinkets. KLM has produced greater than 100 variations of those miniature homes. The one I acquired was designed to seem like a 1915 constructing that after served as KLM’s fundamental workplace.
Our flight house on Air France was an identical expertise, although this time round I felt I knew the ropes a bit higher. I used to be extra conversant in the seats and what to anticipate between takeoff and landing. And though it could be 9 p.m. in New York after we landed, my physique thought it could be 3 a.m., so I took a brief nap after the dinner service and the compulsory glass (or two) of welcome champagne.
I would be mendacity if I did not admit it will likely be powerful to take a long-haul flight in a normal financial system seat going ahead (particularly an in a single day flight). The consolation, perks and world-class service of touring enterprise class are arduous to beat, particularly when it’s paid for with factors and miles I earned via on a regular basis spending.
Associated: 11 suggestions for surviving a long-haul flight in financial system
That being mentioned, I do not plan on utilizing my factors and miles solely for fancy enterprise class flights. For shorter flights (worldwide or home), I am going to prudently use my factors and miles right here and there for an off-peak financial system ticket, however I am going to save the vast majority of my factors for splurges just like the one I simply skilled.
Sooner or later, I most likely will work more durable to seek out an airline that does not go on hefty gasoline surcharges so I can actually really feel like I obtained the flight “without cost.” I do not remorse reserving the flights we did, although, as a result of they labored for our dates and locations and I perceive that maximizing factors and miles is a studying course of.
No one is an professional at something after they begin and it is just by beginning – and embracing your standing as a beginner – that may you find out how this factors and miles sport works and finally turn into an professional who enjoys welcome glasses of champagne every time they select.