Countdown to London

“As a foreigner in London, I like that there are so many other foreigners.”
David Sedaris

How lucky are AAC CPA and I?

For the 3rd time this year, we’re on our way to London. This trip came about thanks to a blog entry by The Points Guy a few months ago giving us the skivvy that fares were being slashed to Europe over the holidays. If you happened to be an AARP member (reminder: you don’t need to be 50 to join AARP, just sayin’) and, for instance, went through the AARP website to a dedicated British Airways link, you automatically got a $400 per person discount. Added to that, we cashed in some Avios miles to save even more money.

How could we not go?

TRAVEL TIP: The Points Guy

In the event, we’re leaving early Sunday morning, will arrive early evening local time, Heathrow Express our way into central London and be at the Shangri-La at the Shard in time for a late supper with our friends A & K, who will have arrived the day before. As I said, how lucky are we?

We also got lucky with a special promotion through the AmEx FHR program. Although we’d already booked a return visit to the Shangri-La, it turns out that, thanks to AmEx, you can pay for 2 nights and get the 3rd for free. Our awesome AmEx travel agent, Veronica, was happy to rebook the reservation so that we could take advantage of this offer. The only fly in the ointment is that we’re planning to be in London for 6 nights, and the hotel refused to let us use the promotion twice on this visit. Other hotels do it all the time but not the Shangri-La. Good thing it’s a really nice hotel or we’d be very miffed. (Well, maybe we are, just a wee bit.)

Shangri-LaTime for a return visit to the Shangri-La

TRAVEL TIP: AmEx FHR Program

TRAVEL TIP: Once you’ve booked your hotel reservation(s), go back every so often either to the hotel’s website or the AmEx FHR website and check for better deals. I’d say that there’s an excellent chance that you’ll find a lower rate or, even, a promotion like the one we’re taking advantage of next week. If you have the forbearance (and the time, of course), you may end up saving significantly on your hotel bill.

“In London they don’t like you if you’re still alive.”
Harvey Fierstein

Before we pulled the trigger on the airfare deal, I checked to see if we could score tickets to, arguably, the biggest theatre deal in London this fall: the revival of Funny Girl at the Menier Chocolate Factory. At the time, I went to the theatre’s website to check on availability and found that tickets didn’t go on sale to the general public until the following day. Call it my cultural sixth sense, but I decided that I had to get tickets right then so, for a modest donation to the Chocolate Factory, I was able to select prime seats (well, in a 188-seat theatre, I guess that ALL seats are prime), for a little more than tuppence. Having taken care of that task, we went ahead and booked the air tickets. Thank you, AARP; thank you, British Airways; thank you, Avios miles. (And thank you, Chocolate Factory!)

And, wouldn’t you know, when general public seating opened the following day, the entire engagement sold out within 2 hours!! The Chocolate Factory had never seen anything like it. Ever!!

So even if you can’t obtain tickets at the Chocolate Factory to see the show, don’t despair – before it even started previews, a transfer to the West End was announced! And, if you’ve never been to the Chocolate Factory, you really should pay a call. It’s a great space and some amazing productions have started there.

Chocolate Factory

CULTURE TIP: Menier Chocolate Factory

CULTURE TIP: Funny Girl at the Savoy

“London is too full of fogs and serious people. Whether the fogs produce the serious people, or whether the serious people produce the fogs, I don’t know.”
Oscar Wilde

As usual with our visits to London – I believe that this will be our 14th time there – we tend to book up heavily on the cultural side of things. This visit is no exception: 3 shows on the West End, the aforementioned FG at the Chocolate Factory, our first ever Panto (Cinderella at the Hammersmith), and another venue new to us: a Candlelight Christmas Eve Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. (AAC CPA has promised not to scream at the climactic part of the concert a la Doris Day in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much.)

Doris Day
Doris Day or AAC CPA? You be the judge.

Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall

“London is a roost for every bird.”
Benjamin Disraeli

In between all the culture, there’s the eating. We’ve booked some fun meals at some of our old haunts, and I’ll be reporting on them as merrily we roll along. We’ve also been invited to join A & K for a holiday dinner with A’s family, as they reside in Merry Olde. We’re very flattered to be part of their family for that special evening.

The other fun thing is that, on Christmas Night in London, the very final episode of Downton Abbey will be telecast and we’ll be there to see it. (Don’t tell anyone, but we’ve already seen the final season and it’s GOOD! Shhhhhhhh!) We’re a bit sorry to see the series go, but it seems to be ending on a high note.

Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham
What would Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham say?

I’ll try to post a couple of entries while we’re across the pond to let you know how it’s going.

In the meantime, I hope that all of you are enjoying a happy and healthy holiday season.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

STOP THE PRESSES! AMAZING PROMOTIONS ON AMERICAN AIR AND BRITISH AIR

Greetings and Salutations! How is everyone today?

I just had to wake up at 6:00 AM today to tell you about another of my travel obsessions. Do you love to maximize your airline miles? Do you want to know about great deals and promotions that may save you beaucoup bucks? Does the prospect of finding deals that will place you in the front of the cabin make you tingle all over?

If so, you MUST check out The Points Guy. Their byline is “Maximize Your Travel”. I found them over the summer and I’ve been a faithful follower ever since and I’m not even kidding. I just have to say that they are amazing and you should drop everything and check them out right now.

TRAVEL TIP: The Points Guy

But I know we’re all very busy people so, to save your valuable time, I want to share with you two of their recent posts that may be of interest:

Their first tasty tidbit was posted just yesterday, and it seems the American Airlines is deeply discounting first class fares on its transcontinental service between from JFK to LAX or SFO (or versa vice, of course). When I say “deeply”, I’m talking about R/T fares as low as $1,198. May I just say that’s CRAZY???

You may already know that American introduced new equipment in 2014 that’s used on all nonstop transcon flights on these routes, the A321T. It’s a cute aircraft and AAC CPA and I have flown it several times, both in business and in 1st class. In fact, here’s AAC CPA settling in on a recent flight to the right coast:

Version 2

And here’s a better look at that 1st class seat:

AA 1st Class Seat

Nice, huh?

Says The Points Guy:

“All of these flights are eligible for AA’s lucrative bonus miles promo for premium-cabin travel, earning you up to 24,000 bonus miles on a round-trip. Additionally, as these are P fares, you’ll earn 2 EQPs per mile flown. Note that the cheapest fares to LAX are only available for Saturday-Saturday travel.” These fares are currently available from October through February.”

BTW, as of now, flights between JFK and SFO are running about $100 more.

So, if you feel like a flying to or from the coast and want to get an amazing deal from which you can travel in style, check out the link:

TRAVEL TIP: American Air First Class Promotion

The Points Guy also gave me a heads up on another fab promo regarding steeply discounted fares to Europe over the upcoming holidays. In fact, it’s THEIR fault that AAC CPA and I are returning to London during Christmas week. Darn them.

While several airlines offer these discounted fares, the best deal is actually a cross-promotion between British Air and AARP (and, no, you apparently don’t need to be – gulp – 50 to become an AARP member, in case you were wondering).

The Points Guy advises that:

“You’ll get the deepest discount on flights operated by British Airways or OpenSkies, since you can apply an additional 10% off coupon when you pay with a Visa card. Note that flights are also available on American Airlines, though the additional 10% discount won’t apply. First class is discounted as well — New York to London will run you $2,967 round-trip, for example.”

This promotion is available for departures either during Thanksgiving week or the latter half of December.

BA
Let’s fly to Europe for the holidays!!

In our case – and, yes, we are proud and out AARP members – I went right to the BA/AARP Cross Promotion link below and started playing with dates and flights. Just for fun, I priced business class flights over and 1st class flights on the return. In addition to the $400 per person AARP discount for booking the flights, we also had a lotta Avios miles (from British Airways) and, in exchange for chunk of them, we got a further $1,200 discount. The bottom line for the two of us was just about $4,000 for everything. Not bad, right?

And the cherry on the cake is that we’ll be in London for Christmas. How much fun is that?

TRAVEL TIP: British Air/AARP Holiday Promotion 

or, to get you directly to the AARP webpage to book your BA flights:

TRAVEL TIP: BA/AARP Cross Promotion

LESSON FOR TODAY: If you fly and have accrued miles or are looking for a great deal, The Points Guy is your man.