A couple of months ago I wrote a post explaining why I was doing a turn around trip to Asuncion, Paraguay and why I would only be on the ground for a little over an hour. Well things got a little hectic here after taking that trip, so it took awhile for me to settle in to tell you about it. With that said, I learned a few things!
Firstly, let me give you a quick reminder of the trip’s itinerary. I booked a ticket from Los Angeles to Miami to Asuncion and back (LAX-MIA-ASU). On the outbound, I had a five hour layover in Miami and on the return I stopped for around 20 hours in Miami to visit a friend. The total cost of the trip was $417 (Paid for completely with credits on my Barclay Arrival card) and the distance of 12,360 miles got me over the threshold I needed to earn Platinum status.
If you are wondering how I got to/from Los Angeles, then that is a good question. For the return, there was availability for me to book the flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (LAX-LAS) with Avios points. British Airways Avios are distance based meaning that for shorter flights they are a good value. Booking the flight from LAX-LAS would have cost 12,500 American Airlines miles, but it only cost 4,500 Avios. Since British Airways and American Airlines are partners, I was on the same flights for 8,000 less miles. A win in my book.
Unfortunately I was not able to get such a deal for the trip out to LAX. Since my flight to Miami left early in the morning, it was impossible to find a flight that would get me to Los Angeles early enough. This either meant that I needed to fly out the day before and get a hotel or find another option. Since there were no award options for the flight from LAS-LAX, it meant that I would have to buy a ticket. The cheapest ticket available was $81 and then I either needed to pay for a hotel or use points. In the end, I made a decision that just about killed me. Much like how we started our European backpacking trip this past January, I took the Megabus for $17 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. It left just after midnight and after a quick transfer arrived at the airport at 6am. The ride was miserable as I had to sit next to someone and did not sleep during the entire trip.
After the night from hell, everything went mostly fine. I was able to use my day pass to enjoy the Admiral’s Clubs in both Los Angeles and Miami before my flights. None of the flights were too full and I was able to get seats with extra legroom on every leg of the journey. There was some concern that officials in Asuncion would make me go through immigration (and pay the $140 Visa fee), but this wasn’t the case. In fact, two other people were doing the exact same turn around and we were all able to go through a brief security check together.
The only hiccup of the entire trip was on our return flight. For some reason the ground crew in Asuncion failed to service the bathrooms. Several hours into the flight, all of the lavatories were out of service. At that point the captain came on the PA and stated that we would have to land in Aruba to get the issue fixed. In the end we sat at the gate in Aruba for 90 minutes while the plane was serviced. During this time we were not allowed to deplane, but the crew was friendly and allowed us to stretch and walk around. It was an inconvenience, but they handled it about as well as possible.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing my friend Karl in Miami. Even though I arrived much later than expected because of the delay, we did manage to get some dinner and catch up for a few hours. The thing that impressed me about American Airlines was that within a few hours of landing, I had an email apologizing for the problems with the plane and offering me 5,000 miles for the delay. When I responded to compliment the crew on how they handled the situation, the agent must have thought I was complaining, because he offered me another 5,000 miles.
To sum it all up, for $417 (paid through a credit card bonus), I received just over 25,000 redeemable miles plus Platinum status for 17 months. The 25,000 miles are enough for a roundtrip in the United States which could easily cost more than the ticket to Paraguay cost. While I ended up spending six hours on a bus and 27 hours on airplanes within two days, the whole ordeal was worth it. Sure I value the Platinum status and miles that I earned, but the real reason the trip was a success, was that it was an adventure for me. Something that I had never done before. Whenever I can try something new, it is a win. Now it is time for me to fly some more in order to enjoy the benefits of my new elite status!