Alaska Airlines economy flights, Club Carlson midscale hotel and Salt Lake City domestic tranquility

Today I will fly from San Francisco to Salt Lake City on a $49 one-way Alaska Airlines flight and check into a Club Carlson hotel for three nights to earn my first 30,000 bonus points. Actually, 40,000 bonus points since I registered for the Club Carlson promotion by January 12.

I’ll fly home mid-week for two days and next week I will repeat the trip.

Alaska Airlines economy flights, Club Carlson midscale hotel and Salt Lake City domestic tranquility is the kind of non-aspirational travel experience that does not require a year of savings or thousands of dollars in credit card manufactured spend. I planned and purchased these Salt Lake City trips in the past two weeks.

If all goes as planned, I will earn a free ticket on Alaska Airlines I can use to fly to Vancouver, Canada or Bozeman, Montana for a Yellowstone National park trip in March or April.

Loyalty Traveler – Alaska Airlines Ski the West Fly 2, Get 1 for tax only CA, OR, WA residents (Nov 6, 2014)

Loyalty Traveler – Alaska Airlines Fly 2, get 1 free deal for Bozeman and Yellowstone

Originally, I thought I would fly to Montana twice and check out Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks in winter. Then, the expense did not seem like that great a value considering all the low fares to Europe and Asia the past couple months.

There was an Alaska Airlines fare sale two weeks ago. I booked two round trip tickets to Salt Lake City for $98 each. I realized I could fly this month and knock out the Ski the West offer with two round trips for $196 and earn a free ticket. Next week is the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City and Park City.

Several times I have driven through Salt Lake City on road trips to and from Denver, Colorado. Never took any time to tour the city.

near SLC

Now I will have several days to hang out and visit museums and sites and maybe see a film and try some 3.2% beer. I’m sure I will have something to say about the Utah alcohol laws once I figure out the scene.

Club Carlson Booster

Club Carlson announced their 2015 Q1 promotion two days after I purchased my Salt Lake City tickets on Alaska Airlines. Earn 30,000 bonus points for a 3-night stay or 15,000 bonus points for a 2-night stay from January 12 – March 29, 2015.

Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson Jan 12 to March 29, 2015 stays earn 15K for 2 nights, 30K for 3 nights (Jan 5, 2015).

Then, Club Carlson offered a 3-day sale this week for 25% off hotel rates in January. I rebooked my Salt Lake City hotel stays to earn bonus points. Two 3-night stays in Salt Lake City will cost under $500 and earn about 87,000 points. Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson 3-day sale 25% off January stays.

2015 travel is reminiscent of the old days when I frequently traveled and earned miles and points as a rebate that offers future travel value equivalent or exceeding the cost of the trips to earn miles and points.

$196 spent for two Alaska Airlines round trip flights to Salt Lake City earns a free ticket to use by April 30 for travel to some place like Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Kalispell or Bozeman, Montana or Vancouver, British Columbia.

$500 spent on six hotel nights earns 87,000 Club Carlson points which is sufficient for four nights in London, where hotel rates are typically $250 per night or more. I am certain I will get more than $1,000 in redemption value for the points at Radisson Blu hotels in Europe.

One of the side benefits of traveling to Salt Lake City was the opportunity to schedule a Global Entry appointment at Salt Lake City Airport when the next available date at SFO was late March.

Who cares about Salt Lake City?

Based on past reader statistics, I will likely see a drop in readership as I immerse myself in the Salt Lake City experience. That really does not concern me if many readers don’t care to read about Salt Lake City. The flights and hotels are a big part of the travel experience, but there is probably not much insight to share on a 90-minute economy class flight or a midscale standard hotel room.

For me, the intense feelings of exploring my surroundings in some place new is the reason I enjoy travel and seek out travel opportunities like flying to Salt Lake City for a few days. I am sure I will be motivated to write articles about Salt Lake City, even if only for myself and a small subset of readers.

Discovery is my primary purpose for travel. Miles and points are simply my means to travel more frequently and affordably.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »


  1. *I* want to read about your experiences in Salt Lake City! I also am curious about which CC hotel you’re staying at – I have a work conference in SLC in March and was planning on staying 3 nights either at the Radisson downtown or the one in West Valley City. Let me know!

  2. I hate to tell you this, but January in SLC has the worst air quality due to a natural phenomenon called temperature inversion where pollution stays trapped in the valley.

  3. I went to SLC several years ago. I got a cheap flight from Tampa. I redeemed 20,000 IHG points for 4 nights on PointsBreak. I had earned the points on a 1-night – 10,000 bonus point package, plus promo codes. I had never been to Utah and I had heard good things about the city.

    It was definitely interesting – we enjoyed Antelope Island, drove out to Spiral Jetty (unfortunately submerged), went to Golden Spike, Thanksgiving Point (Monet Garden in the summer is amazing), drove to Sundance and Park City and drove to Bear Lake and Soda Springs in Idaho (an ok drive but only if you do not hane anything else to do). We did not get to go on any Pony Express Trail.

    In the city itself, make sure that you go up to the Library. Besides the interesting architecture, The view from the rooftop garden is great.

    Red Iguana is the famous mexican restaurant in Slat lake City – it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and was quite good when we went.

    Of course, we toured what we could of Temple Square. The only way that I can describe it is – interesting. It is definitely different from other religious centers and I will be I am curious to hear your reaction.

    the other thing that struck me was the lack of activity in the downtown area. I mean, we were there during the week, when there should have been lots of people working. The buildings were not empty, but there wasn’t that much traffic on the road, not a lot of people walking around and it just seemed strangely deserted. As I said, this was 3 years ago, so much could have changed since then.

    I am definitely looking forward to following your trip.

  4. I very much look forward to reading about your adventures in and insights into SLC. My husband and I have been trying to see America and we’ve accomplished our goal of “seeing the lower 48;” however, we still have more to see and we will continue our road trips around the country as often as we can! Salt Lake City might be next – who knows? I also have a similar strategy of maxing out available points/miles promos which then more than cover my next trip! I enjoy all types of travel – whether it be cruising through the Suez Canal, jetting off to explore Europe’s capital cities, or driving through the Sandhills of central Nebraska! It’s all good! So thanks for sharing with us!

  5. This is a great example of multi-tasking for travel; Going to a place one has not seen and banking miles/points that make a future trip much, much less expensive. I love big trips and love small trips as well! Excited to hear about Salt Lake- never been there and think it would be a fun weekend trip.

  6. Glad you are going. We know you love the southern part of Utah. It’s so incredibly beautiful. I’m going next week as well. Skiing or snowmobiling a little then heading north to Yellowstone for my first time in Winter. I absolutely love Utah and might see you there! I’ll try to take in one or two of the Sundance films, too. Please feel free to contact me and maybe we can meet up. I’ll be staying at the Hyatt Escala. UTAH ROCKS!!

  7. I love your “Americana” trip reports Ric, look forward to reading about SLC, i have always enjoyed it there. I especially like how your trips are leveraged with achievable air and hotel promotions that are not geared toward the unrealistic manufactured credit card spend and “free” elite benefits that your BA peers seem to thrive on.

  8. I did a 2 night CC stay last week and another coming up this week. This is all business, so nothing is out of pocket ($100 a night). I figure I’ll get 54,000 points for regular, promotional, and concierge bonus miles. Sweet!

  9. Welcome to SLC! Come with an open mind and you will have a great time. I came to SLC on vacation several years ago and fell in love with it so much, I quickly made it my home. SLC is more about the things to do than the places to see. Go take a skiing lesson, hike or snowshoe in the mountains above downtown (yes, even in winter), go ice skating, go ride down the luge/skeleton/bobsled track in Park City, go snow tubing on the way to Park City, see the ice castles and underground hot springs in Midway, or visit one of the 5 microbreweries downtown. Let me know if you’d like any tips!

  10. Lots of good beer in SLC, a whiskey distillery in Park City and a gin distillery in the vicinity. You should be fine.

  11. @Pointswithacrew – My vote is Radisson Downtown. Country Inn West Valley has some serious issues that I will detail tomorrow.

    @M – I was quite concerned about air quality after having driven through Salt Lake City in July 2013 during a bad air day. My research on the air quality led me to stories of the unhealthy air days in winter.

    Happy to say that the air quality yesterday and today and rated good. Yesterday was amazingly beautiful in the valley.

    @Katherine – I saw the library and there is a Maurice Sendak 50th anniversary of Where the Wild Things Are exhibit.
    My thought too was downtown had a serious lack of people for a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.

    Temple Square on a Sunday morning was interesting to see so many people in Sunday finest clothes. I posted several photos on Instagram. I will go back today or tomorrow to check out the genealogy resources.

  12. @Jeff – I picked up plenty of tips from the local papers on where to go and how to experience Sundance Festival on the cheap in SLC and Park City. I hope to be at Hyatt Escala too, but I am waiting until last minute to make a reservation since it is points nonrefundable once booked.

    @Justin – Wandering around SLC yesterday with a trip to the airport on TRAX, I met or overheard many people who were visiting Utah for snow activities. At the end of the day I felt like I had made a great day of Salt Lake City. I absolutely love TRAX light rail system.

    Unfortunately, I fell on some rocks while hiking a couple weeks ago in California. I did not sustain any cuts or bruises, however, while trying to keep from falling I twisted and re-injured an old ruptured disk injury. Not seriously sore now, but it means I am restricted to easy activity for the time being while my back heals.

    @Denise – The Beerhive on Main Street was a great place to watch the NFC Championship game while enjoying Utah microbrews. Uinta Brewery makes my “good beer” list. They have a large selection of Utah microbrews on draft and plenty more beers from around the USA and elsewhere in bottles.

  13. I love the “ice Bar” at the Beerhive. Squatters has pretty good beer as does Red Rocks. Epic has excellent beer but it’s not right downtown, and I only believe it can be bought “to go”.

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