Ideas on How to Make my 2014 Trip to London/Dublin/Glascow More "Interesting"

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by knick1959, Mar 20, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    140
    Not sure where to post this, or how it might be accepted, but here goes ... I'm trying to angle my miles to the best use, and Europe is all-but new to me, so I'll ask here. I've scheduled many trips within the US including Hawaii (and American Samoa, St. Thomas/John, etc.) and am looking to branch out.

    The wife and I want to visit London in May of 2014. This is the primary destination. However, I'd like to take advantage of being "in the area" and visit Dublin and see part of Scotland, too. All in 2 weeks, if possible. This means flying to Scotland, if we do go there, instead of taking the ~7 hour drive from London.

    Home airport is CLE, CAK is very practical too, but I'd be happy to get ourselves to JFK, Boston or any other gateway city as a separate plan.

    Originally thought about a stop over in Iceland, but time is tight and Iceland Air seems a little expensive with us having none of their miles.

    We have miles to burn, but not boat loads. With all 2013 trips planned and "paid for", we have (combined) UR points (~200k), United (60k), US Air (110k), AA (60k) and some other riff-raff (Alaska). Unfortunately, each of these is split unevenly across 2 people. Oh, yeah, have 50k BA and should easily have 100k in a few months. We're not opposed to buying strategic segments, tho. Coach travel will work; first is nice, but we're not drowning in miles or money.

    We typically travel Sat->Sat, although we've been padding a day front and back as of late for longer trips. My wife hates redeyes and other inconvenient flights, but I can get her on them if there's no other practical option.

    Sorry, perhaps too much background. We're looking to use miles where it makes sense, pay when it doesn't. Hotels are a question we'll tackle once we have a plan. Cities are flexible except for London. In the back of my head I remember a scheme that considers home a "stop-over" and gets us a "free" one-way later (we always go to MCO or RSW in Jan, not sure what fall's trip will be). I'll have to find that blog post I saved on this topic.

    Ideas on what airlines to research? Strategies on which order to visit these cities? Places I might be missing? I'm not looking for someone to do all my work; I LOVE doing travel research. However, as I've said, Europe is very new to us, so I have no experience here. Not even sure which airlines to shop!

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions. Did I leave out any pertinent info?
     
  2. Jimgotkp
    Original Member

    Jimgotkp Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,834
    Likes Received:
    80,011
    Status Points:
    16,495
    Being based in CLE and wanting to go to Europe = Fly Star Alliance carriers so use your US Air miles on a Business Class award (100K) and 100K United which you can transfer from Chase.

    However, due to the merger between AA/US, no one knows when the current award chart for US will change.

    Also, IMO AS miles are quite valuable...
     
  3. slotownmomma
    Original Member

    slotownmomma Silver Member

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    81
    Status Points:
    325
    Hello there! I am going to all of these places in April of this year! If you want to email me directly I'd be happy to discuss my trip after I return and my thoughts and share my miles/points budget as well. We are flying free with miles and staying free with hotel points for the entire month. I'm beyond excited! Can't wait! Planned several international trips. Would be happy to help!
     
  4. tom911
    Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,005
    Likes Received:
    3,183
    Status Points:
    2,070
    If you can finish the trip by May 15, AA offers an off-peak 40K award in economy, probably the best value in their program. You can fly into the U.K. with that and home from Dublin ("open jaw" ticket). I'll be over myself next month on a London-Helsinki-Dublin trip. I try to get over to Ireland every year. I avoid significant UK departure and business class taxes (upgraded) by coming home from Dublin.

    I flew into London last summer and used a 4 day rail pass to get up to Edinburgh, over to Glasgow, and then back down to London from Edinburgh. That's probably not practical in your case as you'd only have the one long 4.5 hour segment, but if you can buy individual train tickets a few months out you should be able to purchase a one-way ticket from London up to Glasgow for as low as 21 pounds ($32) one way, though you might pay double that for more convenient travel times (say 10am versus 6am). There is a special Scottish rail pass if you intend to travel within Scotland for any length of time. The trip from Glasgow up to the Kyle of Lochalsh and the Isle of Skye is pretty scenic.

    As for Glasgow to Dublin, have you considered rail/ferry into Belfast? You can buy a combined ticket to cover travel from Glasgow to the ferry port at Stranraer, and then ferry right to Belfast. That would give you the opportunity to visit the Titanic Musem (my photos HERE), and after that it's an easy 3 hour train or bus ride down into Dublin. How much time are you budgeting for Ireland? Might be able to get out to Galway or Killarney by rail if you have the time. I always enjoy it more out west there. I recall that the rail line to Stranraer was having some repairs done last year and a bus link had replaced part of the route, and that would be something you'd want to check when looking at schedules and fares.

    Let me know if I can help at all.
     
  5. TravelBear

    TravelBear Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,038
    Likes Received:
    2,757
    Status Points:
    1,445
    If I am correct you could be looking easily at Oneworld awards based on UR points(to BA), AA (with added USair possibly) and BA. While I can't give you much info on England and Ireland, I can say if you went to Iceland you would want 5-6 days at least. When I went to Iceland last year, we flew Delta out of NYC (forget which airport). Schedules in/out of Iceland are not necessarily on a daily basis either.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  6. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    140
    Thanks for the reply. One minor issue is that I don't actually have 100k US Air miles in 1 account. However, there is enough time to remedy that (MY account has 72k or some-such ... if needed, I could get to 100k without much effort). I will certainly research this angle, thanks again.

    I also didn't mean to dismiss the AS miles completely. It just doesn't seem they are pertinent for this particular trip; their usefulness is better ORD and west ... and I'll certainly find them valuable when we head that direction again.
     
  7. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    140
    You know I am going to take you up on this offer. Thanks!
     
  8. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    140
    I am thrilled to be getting all of this great feedback. Thanks to all!

    We have no fixed dates yet for this trip, so if there is an advantage to early May, we can work towards this. While weather is a concern, May is the target month, so the diff between early and late May isn't going to be dramatic.

    You brought up taxes OUT of London. Is this the big hit? Is it ok to fly INTO London, or is this costly as compared to somewhere else?

    All of the train and ferry suggestions are appreciated. While I don't want to invest too many hours in getting from point-to-point, if there is value in the ground transportation (like a scenic train or even a drive), that would make it "worth it". I will study and certainly follow up with more detailed questions. Thanks again for the reply!
     
  9. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    140
    From TONS of reading, I've assumed BA is not the way I should choose to actually get to Europe ... which seems awfully odd, but the fuel surcharges look very unappealing to me! I've figured BA miles might be used to city hop within Europe ... but not to get there (or back). We'll see. Thanks.

    Oh, on Iceland. I really want to go there ... it just might have to be a follow-up trip. Especially if I need 5-6 days. I was thinking 2-3 ... but with 3 European cities on the agenda, Iceland has to be the first to go. Still planning, so who knows.
     
  10. TravelBear

    TravelBear Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,038
    Likes Received:
    2,757
    Status Points:
    1,445
    Not saying you should use BA , use your points on a OneWorld partner. Remember those points are flexible within an alliance.
     
  11. tom911
    Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,005
    Likes Received:
    3,183
    Status Points:
    2,070
    Flying into the UK isn't an issue. If you depart from the UK, you'll pay about $100 more in taxes than you would for an Ireland departure. If you depart the UK in business class, you'll also pay another $100 in taxes.
     
  12. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    140
    Ah, I get it now. So if I end up with 125k BA points (and with the required spend, I should have that many), I can use those to book on another OneWorld partner w/no fuel surcharges. Perfect, I'll look into this angle. Thanks again.
     
  13. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    140
    One more thing I forgot. Within a month I should have 75k+ MR points from AMEX.
     
  14. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    140
    Thanks for all posts to-date. It may be too late to resurrect this thread, but I'm going to ask a few more specific questions.

    I have found prototype flights that will work on United using UR points - 50k in business each way. I say "prototype" because, with my trip being set for May 2014, I can't see flights that far away. Yet. But it looks like the flights I see for earlier in 2014 will be nearly ideal, and seem to be "common". I won't hold my breath, but these are the transatlantic flights I will look for in a couple of months.

    Let's just use the one going TO Europe as an example. I've basically found a flight from Toronto that gets me there nicely. If I ask to leave from CLE and get to LHR, the flight times are terrible. Say this is for a Saturday morning start. I can get myself to Toronto the night before easy enough; it's a 59 minute flight, and if I had to pay miles, an additional 10k. Not bad, but can I call this a stopover?

    If I try and schedule a multi-city trip, even one way, via the United site, I get an error page. I can see the individual prototype flights ok ... Friday night and Saturday morning, but I can't combine them in an award search. Am I doing something against United rules with the overnight via award? I'd be happy, when the REAL flights are available, to call to book, but I'd like to know if my logic is right before I do.

    I may need to try the same thing on the way back, but I did find a prototype that gets us back with a not-too-horrible layover, all in the same day, and without going into red-eye land.

    What do you think? Should I be able to fly to Toronto, overnight, then fly to London on a single one-way reward ticket?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  15. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    You should be able to do CLE - YYZ - (under 24hr Layover) - LHR - [FRA/ZRH/ARN] - DUB - CLE for 120,000 Miles and $284.60 in Economy for 2 ppl.

    You could book it via UA (Make sure you arent changing destinations/origins) and then call in to change the connectors.

    Example: CLE - IAD - LHR; LHR - FRA - DUB; DUB - EWR - CLE. Call in after it's booked to change CLE - IAD - LHR to CLE - YYZ - LHR.
     
  16. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    140
    Ah, I'll explore the change connection idea, thanks.

    So, a "layover" has to be less that 24 hours. My desired setup has me in Toronto for 12-14 hours. Fine. However, for a long layover, can I leave the airport? Do I collect bags and take them with me, or just carry ons and leave the suitcases with the airline? I certainly don't want to sit IN the airport for 12 hours!

    Thanks again.
     
  17. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    Not sure what the cutoff is for the airlines that they'll move the bags for you, but you could always rent a locker or something

    Oh yeah you can leave if you want :)
     

Share This Page