Category Archives: Paris

An Update on Life and Paris – In That Order

I’ve been busy, and as a result, I have been a very bad blogger. I wish I could say I’ve been off living an exotic life, climbing mountains and whatnot, but sadly, the simple act of going about my life has consumed my days: Work, boyfriend, friends, gym, sleep, etc. Even the mundaneness of life can be exhausting sometimes. I find myself asking a lot: “When’s nap time?”

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have exciting news to share with you. Lots of new developments in the life of Nam. For starters, I will be changing jobs in January. I try to keep the day job separate from blog life, but I’m hoping the greater flexibility of the new job will translate into a happier, less tired version of me with the ability to take more trips and see more new places.

Now on to the really important stuff, i.e. Paris. The City of Lights. We leave for Paris in a week and two days and I have barely posted anything about our plans. I booked our hotel weeks ago, and I’m very excited about it.

I emptied out the 165,000 Priority Club points I’ve been sitting on to put us in the heart of Paris at the Intercontinental Le Grand. Our two biggest priorities were, in order of importance:

1) Location

2) Nice but not exorbitantly expensive

The Intercontinental Le Grand is located just north of the Place Vendom near the Opera metro stop. We prefer walking to public transportation so this puts in a decent location to trek to most of Paris’ main attractions.

The hotel is Nice – capital ‘N’ nice. Standard rooms for the week of Christmas go for $370 to $550, but since I’m using a combination of points and free night vouchers, this wasn’t an issue. The architecture and decor is very ornate, or as some reviews describe it — very Paris. According to the reviews on Flyertalk the rooms are small, but that’s the case for most affordable (and some unaffordable) European hotels. Take a look at some of the pictures. Of course, I will post my own once I get to Paris.

Oh. My. God. I’m going to Paris!

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I still can’t believe I managed to pull this off. I knew I wanted to book two business class tickets for myself and The Boyfriend over the Christmas – New Years week. I had been looking at Spain, Eastern Europe and France, but by the time I had accumulated close to enough miles, availability was scant. So Spain was out.

I also had to juggle two different frequent flyer accounts. I wanted to book one ticket from my U.S. Airways account and one ticket from my United account. I needed 100,000 miles in each account, and I had to make sure The Boyfriend and I ended up on the same Star Alliance flight. Plus, there was the slight problem that I was waiting on 50,000 miles to post to my United account from my latest MileagePlus Explorer card.

Here’s is the detailed step-by-step process.

Step #1: I had 86,000 miles in my U.S. Airways account and The Boyfriend had 2,000. Luckily, U.S. Airways was running a 100% sharing promotion bonus. I transferred 5,000 miles to The Boyfriend, giving him 12,000 miles which I transferred back to myself for a grand total of 24,000 miles. That was more than enough points. I had to pay a fee for all the sharing, but it was worth it as you will soon see.

Step #2: I kept track of all our flight options with a detailed chart that should impress even the most organized travel planner.

Flight options

Step #3: Last Friday, I call U.S. Airways (you can’t book partner award flights on their website) and asked about flights to Paris. The agent told me she had nothing, even though I was staring at a ton of award availability on United’s website. So I hung up.

Step #4: I called back an hour later and got another agent who found a couple of flight options to Paris. We couldn’t find anything for the return flight so I booked a return flight from Frankfurt (a 3.5 hour train trip from Paris) and put the business class ticket on hold. U.S. Airways allows you to put award tickets on hold for three days.

Step #5: At the same time, I put the same flights on hold through United’s website. Since I did not yet have enough miles to book the flight, United allowed me to hold the award. I then called United and asked them to extend my hold from one day to three days. They agreed. Score!

Step #6: On Sunday, I called Chase and asked them when my 50,000 bonus miles would post. They said soon. Hmmm. Not so helpful.

Step #7: Feeling reasonably confident that my United points would indeed post “soon,” I called U.S. Airways back Sunday night. Correction: I called U.S. Airways about six times trying to find a better flight to Paris with a shorter stopover (which I found) and a return flight from Brussels. Brussels is only an hour from Paris by train and a city we both want to see. Finally, finally I found an agent who found the flights I wanted and I booked them.

Step #8: At the same time, I put a hold on these new flights on United’s website.

Step #9: I then transferred 20,000 points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred account to my United account and booked the flight to Paris for myself on United’s site. Unlike U.S. Airways, United allows you to book one-way award tickets. At that point I had 786 miles left in my United account.

Step #10: I called United and asked them to extend the hold on my new return flight from Brussels, which they did. Score again!

Step #11: Over the next three days, I checked Award Wallet every half an hour to see if my 50,000 United miles had posted. They had not.

Step #12: Panic time.

Step #13: I put a hold on another return flight from Brussels in case the miles didn’t post by the time the first hold expired.

Step #14: I checked Award Wallet again.

Step #15: I jumped up and down and rejoiced. My miles posted Wednesday night. Huzzah!

Step #16: I booked the return flight from Brussels and canceled all the other held reservations.

And that is how I booked two business class seats to Paris for less than $400 – which included taxes and fees on the award flights and the cost of acquiring the extra U.S. Airway miles. Totally worth it.

Eiffel Tower, here we come!

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