"Cheapest" Redemptions for DC --> Seattle --> Vancouver --> DC

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by nonstopski, Oct 9, 2016.  |  Print Topic

  1. nonstopski

    nonstopski Silver Member

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    Hey guys,

    Looking to make a trip in January from Washington, DC to Seattle and then up to Vancouver/Whistler for some skiing. Then back to DC.

    I have a bunch of Chase Ultimate Rewards (around 75,000), About 25,000 Southwest miles, very little Citi or Amex points, and about 100,000 American Airlines miles.

    At first I was looking at multiple airlines to do this. Anything domestic probably on Southwest. Then the international travel on something else (AA, United, Air Canada via United, etc.)

    But maybe it would be less miles overall to do it all on United, if I can build such an itinerary.

    Any thoughts or sweet spots I should be considering for this redemption?
     
  2. eponymous_coward
    Original Member

    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    Search on aa.com. You'll see some American+Alaska options, probably. Use them. You're done.

    Alternately: search on united.com. You'll see some other options. Use those. You're done.

    Are you planning to actually stop over in Seattle? If so, using Southwest+other airline might make sense. If not... Southwest won't interline your luggage to a final destination on another airline. You'd also need three awards instead of two. I'm not sure why spending MORE points when the domestic segment can be included as part of your award makes any sense at all. :confused:

    Are you going to be renting skis? If not, those luggage costs need to come into the picture too...
     
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  3. Garp74

    Garp74 Gold Member

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    Eponymous has it. Only thing I'll add (as someone who commutes weekly between IAD and SEA for four years now) is that United saver inventory for SEA->IAD is most likely open on Mondays and Tuesday. Many of those flights are empty.
     
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  4. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Also consider mix & match if needed to complete the trip. None of the programs are going to give a "free" stopover in Seattle so may as well look at this as three one way trips and price each segment out most favorably.

    Sadly the cheaper short-haul o/w awards from UA and AA don't allow partner redemptions so no discount on the SEA-YVR segment. Though if you've got the time to spare doing that on Amtrak via Chase UR would likely be fewer points, though also less convenient.
     
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  5. swazzie

    swazzie Silver Member

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    For the short-haul, you can also transfer your UR to British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio and book SEA to/from YVR on Alaska for 7500 miles each way. I've done this twice this year. You'll have to call BA to do it, though. If you have enough MR points, you can transfer them with a 50% transfer bonus (200 MR to 300 Avios) although the bonus ends today (usually 250 MR to 200 Avios).
     
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  6. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    Seattle-Vancouver is something like a $40 train or bus ticket or a $150ish plane ticket most of the time. I would not redeem miles for it unless I was EXTREMELY cash-poor or miles/points rich, while pressed for time; it's pretty terrible value for points spend. It's not like some XXX-LGA/DCA $400 flight one way coach flight (with very low competition) you can get really good value for on Avios. AS/AC/DL all fly the route so the fares don't get too stupid.
     
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  7. swazzie

    swazzie Silver Member

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    Or time is of the essence :)
     
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  8. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    The bus or train up to Vancouver is about 4 hours. Schlepping to an airport, boarding ceremonies, flight, waiting for luggage, getting into Canada, schlepping out of the airport... it's hard to get that much under 2 hours. (Note that Global Entry is not as useful in speeding up entry into Canada as NEXUS is.)

    So you're basically trading somewhat over $100 (or 7500 Avios) for around two hours (assuming you find AS saver availability, this is not always a given for conveniently timed flights). If that's a tradeoff that's worth it, sure.
     
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  9. mikeschu
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    mikeschu Gold Member

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    I'm echoing most of the recommendations: look for flights to your primary destination and work out YVR-SEA without taking an airplane. It'll be much easier and cheaper to pay cash over the potential 7.5k BA miles or 12.5k UA/AA/AS miles. You won't lose a lot of time; train takes about 4 hours in good weather and the buses can be a little faster. Baggage is typically free with ground transportation, so you'll be ahead unless you get those benefits as being an elite airline member.

    One strong recommendation: If you're taking the train to/from YVR, pay for business class - especially if you're heading to YVR from SEA. The Vancouver train station is not very large, so they unload one or two cars at a time with the business cars first. Coach passengers can wait up to 45-60 minutes on the train before they disembark into clearing immigration.
     
  10. nonstopski

    nonstopski Silver Member

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    Thanks everyone. Strung something together with United + Southwest + Train + Bus. Thanks for your valuable input, particularly on business class on the train!
     
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  11. LexMcNulty

    LexMcNulty Member

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    thanks to all of you for your helpful suggestions. Have a great day.
     

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