I leave for Barcelona on Thursday. This post has the purpose of introducing the trip and describing how I booked it, which was really easy, for once!
Casa Batillo from my last trip to Barcelona in 2012.
Back in January there was a fare war going on. A fare war is basically where one airline puts a route on sale, and then another airline matches it or reduces the price a little bit. In this case, the fare war was between Delta, American and United. How do you find a fare war? Scour Flyertalk all the time, and stay up to date with some decent deals from TFD. These fare sales happen pretty quickly, and are usually over by the end of the night. From observation, there appears to be one to Europe usually in February and October, but they can happen any time.
This fare sale was cheapest to Spain, so, that is where I decided to go. Now don’t get me wrong, these tickets are not cheap, but travel to Europe is not necessarily cheap in a cents per mile perspective. Also, when you compare prices for Thanksgiving Travel within the country it is crazy. For instance, a ticket to Boston for my exact dates was ~$420. Europe was in the ~$425 to ~$600’s. I would rather go to Spain than Boston for Thanksgiving, for a marginal price difference.
Looking at flexible dates, I decided to book the dates November 20th to the 28th. These were the cheapest dates to fly. I used my AMEX Blue Sky card that I needed to still meet my sign up bonus on.
I looked into doing other things while in Barcelona, like flying to the UK, Poland or Morocco, but decided it would be too rushed, and I will just go to those places on some other trip. (UK turned out to be for the summer, and Poland is Winter Break and Summer, Morocco, someday.). Also, last time I was in Barcelona was only for 2 days, so 8 days sounded like a nice immersion and restful time before finals.
My route ended up being a combination of AA and US flights. I chose AA because of the Delta mistake fare after Christmas. I credited all of my Delta mistake fares to Alaska Airlines, and would also do that with my AA flights. By the time I would fly this trip, I would be an MVP on Alaskan and would earn a 50% bonus for all miles flown. For instance, I would get 1500 miles for flying 1000 miles. That is valuable, in my opinion. My US operated flights would credit to AA.I will earn about 18.5k miles for this trip. The more you fly, the more you save…20k miles is a one way to Europe in low season, which includes Christmas.
After a schedule change, this is what I ended up with:
Outbound: DEN (Denver) – DFW (Dallas) – PHL (Philadelphia) – BCN (Barcelona)
Inbound: BCN – MIA (Miami) – DEN
Flight Routes, courtesy of GCMap.
In general, I like more connections if they are efficient instead of less because they usually warrant more miles. For this trip I have 5 hours in Miami, so I will try to go to the Admirals Club and see if I can fly standby through Dallas.
So this is it. Flights booked, in what might have been the least involved ticket I have ever purchased.
I don’t usually book places ~8 months out, but this was an exception. Per the Flyertalk Hotel deals forum, I found a sale for a hostel in Barcelona that was a mere €1,00 (~$1.25 US) per night with free cancellation, in case plans changed.
I will be staying at the Generator Hostel for the week while in Barcelona.
Now I do have to say, when I book a hostel, it is usually for (a) price, (b) location and (c) atmosphere. I don’t usually book the party hostels, but more the homey ones. This one looks a bit party ish, but we shall see for about €10,00 for the week!
This time I am hoping to get a better idea of Barcelona, and spend a solid 8 days there. I am hoping to see the FC Barcelona-Sevilla game, indulge in Gaudi, and consume mas amounts of Paella with my future Catalan wife (Paella only comes in servings of two). Also I want some actually good pictures from Barcelona, because all of mine blow. Any suggestions are always appreciated!
Palau de la Musica Catalana.