First, let me say something. I woke up to message after message today of “cheap” “sale” airfares. Maybe I’m a little spoiled, but most of these airfares (perhaps with the exception of those to Ireland) weren’t particularly cheap, at least not those from the East Coast. Don’t get me wrong, they are good fares, but they are not whoop, whoop, whoop kind of fares. At least not to me.
Nonetheless, I still couldn’t resist. I did my usual googling around looking up the dates of various European spring marathons and checking to see if the airfare was particularly good for any of them. I rattled off Vienna, Madrid, Rome, and so on, skipping Barcelona and Paris because I’ve already run those. I was nevertheless drawn to this sale because I’ve been thinking of doing an American Airlines status challenge, as I’m surrendering my Platinum status at both Delta and United after this year (Surrender, Dorothy… ).
The idea came to me to go to Thessaloniki, Greece. Yes, there is a marathon there in April – the Alexander the Great Marathon – and I’ve always wanted to visit Thessaloniki (I’ve been to Greece more than 20 times, and consider myself Greek from another lifetime. Seriously). So, perfect, right? The airfare from New York, $780 – maybe a great deal but still pretty steep in my mind. But, here was an opportunity to go to Thessaloniki, run through some pretty awesome history, and earn some loyalty along the way. So, OK, I booked it.
I was getting excited throughout the day, but equally cautious. I was a little bummed to learn that the Hyatt Regency in Thessaloniki was actually quite far from the city because I’ve heard great reports on that hotel.
Then I phoned American Airlines to learn more about their challenge program. I pretty much knew that it entailed a payment and a given number of miles flown within a 90 day period. Much more than that, I did not know as I’ve mainly flown Delta over the last number of years.
The representative at the American Advantage desk was quite helpful. I was most dismayed and confused to learn that this fare would only count as 1/2 points not 1/1. It turns out the fare was considered extreme discount or something like that, and so, the 9,000 miles of this European trip would only count at 4,500 towards status qualification. Yes, of course the AA experts here already knew this, but I didn’t.
So, I’m back to square one. Do I keep this reservation or cancel it within the 24-hour window to cancel reservations for a full refund? Then again, it would be pretty awesome to visit Thessaloniki and run alongside Alexander the Great!
A penny for your thoughts?