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Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:15 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Tony's formula makes sense in theory but is applicable mainly to him as he lives in a different world than me on a variety of levels (FF war chest, free time, disposable income, based on the west coast rather than the northeast). As mentioned in other FF threads, over 17 years as a destination skier, my personal tipping point for paying cash vs. FF awards for roundtrip flights to Europe is when they're less than $700 and domestically when they're less than $350.


Being retired makes a lot of travel equations work much better for Tony I'm sure. I've already burned 25K miles to book to Vancouver in early March for my annual guys trip. Was it a 'good deal'? Well, there are flights for a bit under $400... but I'd have to wake up at 3am in Whistler to make the flight home at that price. Not going to happen. So the miles were used on a much better timed but much more expensive flight cost well over $500. So def worth it to me to burn some of my FF miles on that one...

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:24 pm

If I had known about the 26K offer, there's no question I would have used it as it was in the 2 cents/mile range. There's a small counterargument in favor of paying for that kind of ticket because I get over 10K Medallion Qualification miles (still based upon real miles traveled), which help keep me in Gold Status with free bags and other perks.

I don't dispute James' general premise. I'd stick rather firmly to the 2 cents/mile objective for a ticket under $700 but relax it down to 1.5 cents per mile for an expensive ticket.

Historically I wanted to maintain a large stockpile of miles so I would be able to use them for a real bonanza like Micronesia. And now I'm cashing these awards for two people not just one. We used miles for Japan 2016 and both Euro trips in 2018. That's a total of 320,000 miles.

Nonetheless with the premium credit card usage I still have a healthy Delta balance and an adequate United balance. I'm also going to be less stingy about using those miles going forward because there are times when you're not allowed to use mileage at all. This has been particularly frustrating for next July's trip to the South Pacific. The only flight where we could use miles was an internal flight in Australia where we saved ~$500 by cashing 20K, ironically from my meager American balance. 4 of the expensive international flights do not allow award travel, even with some retirement date flexibility, and we have not yet booked our final leg coming home.

Last July we paid a bit more for a one way direct flight to D.C in order to get there in time for the fireworks on the Mall, a close analogy to EMSC's Whistler situation. I forgot to check whether I could have used miles for that flight.

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Tue Dec 25, 2018 2:03 pm

I use The Points Guy valuations when trying to decide 'pay' vs. 'redeem' miles. I don't agree with all of them - but they are generally OK.

https://thepointsguy.com/guide/monthly-valuations/

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:07 pm

Real world valuations for potential use can be all over the map, but def a good idea to have a number in mind for valuation of miles/points.

Also, Now that you've saved big$$ and used FF miles, don't forget to skimp on the bag fees as well:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Denver/comments/a9zjjc/gotta_do_what_you_gotta_do_to_avoid_those_bag_fees/?ref_source=embed&ref=share

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Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:05 am

The boot bag going free with skis is a great thing. I'm thankful that airlines these days don't enforce the "two pieces combined must be under 50 lbs" detail. Not easy to do on week-long destination trips, especially when bringing two pairs of skis.

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:17 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:The boot bag going free with skis is a great thing.

Wasn't James one of those who admonished me for checking my boots flying from France to Utah in 2008, and subsequently having to ski 3 days at Snowbird in rentals? I've learned my lesson and since used the boot bag backpack as a carry-on when flying to ski resorts.

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:03 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Wasn't James one of those who admonished me for checking my boots flying from France to Utah in 2008, and subsequently having to ski 3 days at Snowbird in rentals?

In the 10+ years of anecdotal experience since then, I'd amend that ^^ comment (assuming I said it) because I usually fly nonstop to the Alps, in which case there's virtually no concern about checking in boots. Conventional wisdom would also say that if you're changing planes on the same airline, you're less likely to have problems -- for example, when I flew last winter from Newark to Nice through Zurich. Even though I only had a 52-minute layover, I wasn't concerned about baggage being delayed because the entire itinerary was on Swiss Air and Zurich is a comparatively well-run airport.

The 2008 comment was probably referring to checking in boots on the way to a ski destination after changing airlines (even if they're alliance partners) at notoriously troublesome LHR or CDG. I would advise the same thing in reverse to Europeans flying to the western U.S. through JFK.

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:34 pm

I'll just point out that last January returning home our ski bags went AWOL, not getting on the GVA-AMS flight, our initial leg!

In general I'd agree the odds are better on nonstop flights. However, virtually none of my ski flights seem to be nonstops, just occasionally Vancouver or Calgary. Since I retired, I've always driven to Utah and 3 out of 4x to Colorado.

I also have a vague impression that with tight schedules and full flights, ski bags might be less likely than regular luggage to make a connection.

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:32 am

Tony Crocker wrote:In general I'd agree the odds are better on nonstop flights. However, virtually none of my ski flights seem to be nonstops.

In 17 years with usually three destination trips per season, I've only once had ski luggage not arrive with me and luckily that was on the flight home (from Jackson Hole) where it didn't matter. It's certainly helped that 90+% of my flights are nonstops, but could be just dumb luck.

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:12 am

I consider my abysmal record on Alps trips to be an aberration. Maybe it's Europe overall because Alitalia lost my luggage for a day on a nonstop flight from JFK to Rome in 2004. Fortunately it wasn't two days because that's when I was getting on a cruise ship.

I've averaged one flight a year to Canada since 1997 and had two delayed baggage incidents. I have had no luggage incidents on 6 trips to Asia (2 with skis), 6 to the South Pacific (2 with skis), 2 to Africa and 5 to South America (3 with skis).

I keep my fingers crossed on the latter, because Argentina has a bad reputation. Eclipse chaser Xavier Jubier had a very unpleasant incident with Aerolineas of delayed and then damaged luggage on his recent trip to scout the 2019 and 2020 eclipse paths. We did have one glitch with Aerolineas in 2011. They rescheduled our last internal flight so that we would miss our international flight home. Fortunately we caught this in time to complain and get alternative flights arranged.

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:13 pm

I have been lucky with luggage/skis on European ski trips (5) - no delays/losses. The trips have been either on United/American from SFO to either Frankfurt onto Geneva, Newark onto Geneva, London onto Geneva.

West Coast/Canada I have never had any issues with destinations like Vancouver, Calgary, Anchorage, Jackson, Spokane, Montrose, Aspen, Kalispell, etc. United has even put my luggage on earlier connecting flights home to SFO - so I have filed missing luggage reports only to find my bag came in an hour before me. (This record would not stand if I brought skis to Telluride. United purposefully delays skis on full / small prop plane flights from Denver to TEX/MTJ (or any small ski destination) due to weight restrictions.)

My only ski bag loss has been on Southwest - flying to Albany to meet friends local to Lake Placid/Whiteface. They sent my bag to Providence for 2.5 days. However, I was able to rent some demo carving skis - and purchase about $500 in gear. I still had a most everything in a boot bag roller that I always carry on. Southwest reimbursed $700 and gave me about $250 in flight delay coupons - after carefully documenting all the calls/emails/receipts.

Re: 26k Delta RTs - Zürich Winter - all USA

Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:33 pm

Liz is getting used to this. When a ski bag gets delayed, she says, "Let's go shopping!" We have had no problem getting reimbursed.
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