Well friends, it’s here, my latest trip report!  Come along as I traverse Europe and make a quick stopover in the Middle East on my way home.

Man that’s a weird subject heading isn’t it?  Anyway, the onus for this trip was simple: I needed to use 2 nights at any Hyatt in the world, and I needed to do it by the end of June.  Now, I can hear you saying “Andy, that doesn’t mean you have to go to Europe and the Middle East just to stay at a hotel.”  If that’s you, then welcome to my blog!  I’ve taken trips for far more random of a reason than hotel nights, check out my Trip Reports for those stories.

My target for the Hyatt nights was the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris.  It’s one of the nicest Hyatt properties in the world, definitely an “aspirational” stay.  I had the nights, I could get the flights, all I needed to do was find the right dates.  I always try to take advantage of federal bank holidays, as my office is closed, which means I get a free day without having to use PTO!  The U.S. Memorial Day holiday was quickly approaching, so that weekend in May became my target.  I eventually figured out the dates that would work at the Park Hyatt, secured those dates, then started looking at flights.  I didn’t just want to go to Paris.  You guys know me by now, I want it to be epic.  Or at least something that I could convince myself was epic.

I had some friends who were beginning a two week trip to Italy and were leaving the same day as I was.  I asked where they were heading first and they said Venice.  Venice huh?  Not bad, do you guys mind a third wheel for a day?  No?  Excellent, Venice it is.  The nights at the Park Hyatt were a Tuesday and Wednesday night.  I didn’t just want to fly back to the States on Thursday, so I decided to go to Dubai on my way home, since I had never been there before and I had read a post by Ben over at One Mile at a Time about the rates in Dubai and Abu Dhabi being almost comically cheap due to: 1) them being in a desert and 2) it being summer.  Easy enough right?  Exactly.  Yeah yeah it sounds exhausting, but that’s ok, I’d rest on the long flight back from Abu Dhabi 🙂

So, how would it shake out?  Let’s take a look.

a map of the world with red lines

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz

Along the way, I’ll be flying the following:

  • American Airlines in domestic Coach
  • US Airways in long-haul Coach
  • Air France in short-haul Coach
  • Lufthansa in short-haul Coach
  • Lufthansa in long-haul Coach
  • Etihad in Diamond First Class
  • American Airlines in domestic First Class

How did the points shake out?
I ended up using an assortment of points for this trip.  My total out of pocket was only the fees for the tickets, which totaled less than $300.

First, I used AAdvantage miles to book my one-way to Venice.  There were a lot of extenuating circumstances, but after a fantastic and wonderful AA supervisor helped save my trip (the details of said circumstances are kind of hard to explain and really boring), it was 30,000 miles to go DFW-PHL-VCE.  Done.

Ok, up next, how to get to Paris.  Most of my miles are with American Airlines, but I hold a few American Express cards that give me AMEX Membership Reward points.  Wouldn’t you know it, those Membership Reward points transfer over to Air France’s Flying Blue program.  So, I used 12,500 Flying Blue points to book a nonstop from VCE-CDG.

I had a choice to make in deciding how to get from Paris-Dubai.  I could either take a nonstop on Air France and use more Membership Reward points, but I ultimately decided that (and I’m not kidding) it’d make a better blog post to demonstrate the value of keeping points in many different programs.  I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card that gives me Ultimate Reward points, which transfer into United miles.  United is a Star Alliance partner of Lufthansa, so I used 25,000 United miles to book a trip from CDG-FRA and FRA-DXB.  I had never flown Lufthansa in coach before (which sounds incredibly snooty), so I figured I needed to try it.

Now, getting home.  Etihad and American Airlines offer reciprocal award redemptions, even though Etihad isn’t part of the Oneworld alliance.  Etihad’s Diamond First Class cabin is one of the aspirational commercial flights out of their Abu Dhabi hub, so I decided to do it.  90,000 AAdvantage miles later, I had a one-way trip home from Abu Dhabi to Washington Dulles, then onward to DFW the next morning in American domestic First.

The retail value of these tickets was about $12,000, so I feel like I got good value for my money, especially booking it as late as I did.


Come Along
What follows is a fantastic trip full of friends, food, some more food, tennis, food, sweating, and Texas Chicken (food).  I hope you’ll join me for the journey!

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