Think Outside the (United Airlines) Box
Traveling during the Holidays sucks. But it sucks even more so when you’re almost forced to fly United Airlines. Here’s how thinking unconventionally can help out.
Like every year, our family’s Thanksmas party approached faster than I would have liked. Jon had already made his own travel plans as he was tied up with work in the area. That meant having to fly to Grand Rapids, Michigan from Seattle on my own.
This always poses an eek factor for me because A) I really loathe United and B) I hold no top tier elite status with either United or Delta, which would be the easy options. That’s just not palatable for me, especially since I like to fly the ever increasingly cost prohibitive first class cabins.
A simple search yielded approximately $755 for either SEA-ORD-GRR on United and SEA-DTW-GRR on Delta for $748, both are approximately a 7 hour flight in total.
The prospect of paying out the ears for a domestic United flight causes me to throw up a little bit in my mouth. I have no issues flying Delta, but I don’t look at Delta domestic service as aspirational in any way and I have no want or need to accrue Skymiles.
Coincidentally, months ago I had booked a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong in the middle of summer which I had to cancel because of conflicting schedules. So that got me thinking…
Thinking Outside the Box (or Crazy, Crazy Routing)
What if I were to change my Mileage Plan redemption on Cathay Pacific from Seattle to Hong Kong to a Vancouver to New York flight instead? That would both save me a phone booking fee and I would still get to try Cathay.
Yes. That look you have right now is the same one Jon gave me as I was musing about this out loud. Alaska offers 25,000 mile redemptions for Business Class Cathay Pacific flights from Canada to the US on their Fifth Freedom route. This, for me, is an incredible use of my miles albeit a rather unconventional one.
Of course I don’t live in Vancouver, and I’m certainly not going to New York. But that’s easily taken care of by adding on an Alaska to Vancouver leg to my Cathay award and buying an $80 Delta ticket to Grand Rapids. This does turn a 7 hour trip into a 19 hour trip. But at the same time, it turns a $730 dollar trip into a $120 one once you factor in my Uber from JFK to LGA (don’t worry, I got Uber gift cards at 15% off).
Yes, I am leaving the country to fly to the Midwest.
Yes, I now have two connections instead of one.
- I will be flying Cathay Pacific lie-flat Business Class Seat even if just for a few hours. I haven’t flown them yet so this would be a great chance.
- I will be visiting Cathay Pacific’s Vancouver Lounge and enjoying their Signature Noodle Bar.
- I will NOT be flying United.
- I will NOT be paying $730.