When I visited London in January 2013 I was able to use some of my miles and a small amount of cash. I looked ahead to see what I would need to come over for the Steeler's game in September and once more for my birthday in January 2014. All three trips would require 30,000 miles and not more than $200 for a round-trip flight. Now that I am planning a trip the miles have gone to 60,000 RT with about $240. My two up-coming (almost) free flights with US Airways has been cut down to one. Dam.
Well, the September flight for the game is not going to happen for a few reasons so that leaves January. But I have found that the entire month of February 2014 is available for 17,500 miles each way. This is great as I can save a lot of miles if and when another month opens for the same amount. But there are restrictions Any day doing February will charge me 71,500 one-way but getting a flight on a particular day is the challenge. I have to fly into Heathrow as US Airways pulled out of Gatwick. I have a choice of traveling through Philadelphia which I do not want to do as it is too large and my connecting flight is "miles" from my point of touch-down. I prefer Charlotte. US Airways does not.
Most of the days I select to fly to or from Charlotte are sold out. In order to be in London for the Battersea Beer Festival I can only depart on the second of February and I have only two days that I can return without going past my available time off from work. Dam work. But I can still get in a nine day visit. Last January was sixteen days and I wanted to stay longer. Philadelphia gives me more flight options but I just hate navigating that airport. It's not real that bad but can be stressful if your lay-over is short due to the hike to the connecting flight. Been there, done that, good god never again.
It is nice to be able snag a very cheap flight on any day of the month but not very nice when the airline says we have no seat for you. I do understand that airlines have to set restrictions, after all I am not exactly chairman's preferred. The chairman doesn't even know who I am. But what is available to me is something that I can work with and I am excited to be able to be making plans to come back to the city that I love. It does help that I am very flexible with my schedule.
One other item that I am trying to factor into my planing is the return city I want to use to get back to Pittsburgh. I prefer Charlotte Airport and I can get a flight that will get my home airport at 6 PM. But I leave London at 10 AM. Getting to Heathrow may not be bad but not having been to Heathrow in 20 years I need to find my way like a newbie. The flight to Philly departs at noon, which takes a lot of stress off me. But the flight to Pittsburgh lands at 8 PM. That's 1:00 AM to my body and I still need to drive home. I find London to be calming an stress free but trying to get there and back is what I thing made me loose my hair.
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