Instead of booking an American Airlines $650 ticket yesterday to Portugal or Spain, I was writing up the deal for Loyalty Traveler blog, while at the same time planning my trip to fly into Spain or Portugal and fly back to California from Oslo, Norway on American Airlines in July. This was not a ten week itinerary in Europe. Flights from Lisbon or Madrid to Oslo are as low as $60 one way. Travel from Oslo, Norway is as low as $155 one-way to California LAX and OAK on Norwegian Airlines.
Airfare for travel within Spain and Portugal is as low as $10 to $35 one way between many airports. There were plenty of possibilities for great travel itineraries with a choice of dozens of cities in several European countries.
Good travel planning takes time.
I delayed and missed the flight.
By the time I had sufficiently planned an itinerary to know that a ticket purchase would not be an expensive mistake, the deal was gone.
I don’t fret about this missed ticket opportunity. Too many wasted dollars in the past by rushing ticket purchase decisions when there was a huge fare drop have taught me the lesson that another travel deal will always come along.
Maintaining level emotions in the face of something that looks like a real bargain can be challenging, yet rewarding when you stop and consider the details of what the rest of the trip will cost for those travel dates booked on a nonrefundable airline ticket.
Is the airfare deal still a great deal after the total cost of travel is calculated is the real measure of a travel bargain?
Often this turns out not to be the case with real mistake fares where an airline ticket might be hundreds or even thousands of dollars lower than the normal price. LAX to Spain for $625 is not a mistake fare, just a below average fare. The value to me of this fare was the possibility of returning from Spain or Portugal in July for the same low price.
Delayed and missed the flight
Here is some of the article I was writing yesterday when I learned the $625 fares LAX-MAD to Madrid on American Airlines were no longer available. I decided to post this anyway since it illustrates one of my main travel tips for European vacations:
Fly anywhere in Europe where there is a low fare and know that you can get to just about any other place in Europe for around $100 or less. More remote places might be $200 round trip.
Figuring out a three or four country itinerary over three weeks of travel in May and July, with Portugal and Spain, Norway and Sweden in the mix took a few hours for me to plan yesterday.
Dates are critical to align flights and good hotel rates. Find yourself in a city on one day and the hotel rate might be $60 and arrive the next day and hotel average rate is $160.
That is another one of the mistakes I have made on stopovers and overnight layovers when I did not check hotel rates carefully before booking flight dates.
Marriott Rewards MegaBonus is great promotion for AC Hotels in Spain
AC Hotels are a Spain-based hotel chain acquired by Marriott. There are 61 AC Hotels in Spain and one hotel in Porto, Portugal. There were AC Hotels in Madrid with room rates under $50 per night.
Marriott Rewards two stays earn one free night seemed like a great opportunity in Spain.
Loyalty Traveler – Marriott Rewards MegaBonus free night after two stays Feb 1-May 15 (one free night certificate per member limit).
AC Hotels by Marriott are prevalent in Spain.
My plan was arrive in Spain (cheaper) or maybe fly to Portugal sometime in May, visit a couple of cities during the week, then fly to Stockholm or Oslo in Scandinavia for a cheap Norwegian Air flight home to California in May.
After working out enough details, I went to book the ticket on the American Airlines website about eight hours after originally writing about the deal. AA lowest fares had jumped to over $1,000 round trip to Spain.
I delayed and missed the flight.
Here is the post I was working on yesterday showing some possibilities.
Earlier today I posted about low American Airlines tickets from Los Angeles LAX to Spain and Portugal around $630 to $700 for departures in April and May 2016. Similarly priced, and even lower priced American Airlines fares are available LAX to Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm.
The deal described in this post is the opportunity to combine the destinations of Spain/Portugal and Denmark/Norway/Sweden for a similar ticket price with an American Airlines open-jaw ticket.
You have a choice of flying to a large selection of airports on the Iberian Peninsula of Spain and Portugal or several Scandinavia airports like Bergen and Oslo, Norway; Stockholm or Gothenburg, Sweden; Copenhagen or Billund, Denmark. These are American Airlines tickets, flying AA-operated flights or AA codeshares for earning 100% AAdvantage credit for frequent flyer miles.
Low cost flights can transport you across Spain or Portugal for $10 to $50 one-way. Scandinavia has similar low fares for travel between Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Best of all are the low cost tickets to fly between Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm to airports in Spain and Portugal.
Los Angeles LAX – Oporto OPO – Lisbon LIS – Madrid MAD
Lisbon LIS – Oslo OSL – Los Angeles LAX
Ticket 1: American Airlines Open-Jaw ticket
- May 7, 2016: Los Angeles LAX – Porto Portugal OPO
- July 24, 2016: Oslo Norway OSL – Los Angeles LAX
Ticket # 2: RyanAir Porto, Portugal OPO – Lisbon LIS
10 EUR or $11.20 Wednesday May 11
RyanAir 9.99 EUR Porto OPO-LIS Lisbon one-way fare is available most dates in April and May 2016.
Lisbon has two Holiday Inn Express and two Holiday Inn Hotels with room rates from $60 to $90 per night.
A quick check showed lower rates available on OTA sites like Travelocity. Not sure if this would be a best rate guarantee opportunity for a free night?
Lately I have run into the rejection of my best rate guarantee claims due to the lower price in US Dollars and the hotel’s price in Euro. The rates are definitely lower through OTA sites, but the hotel chain gets around the BRG due to the lower rate being priced in USD and not EUR.
There are two InterContinental Hotels in Lisbon with rates in the 200 EUR range. Starwood has two Sheraton Hotels in the area with rates as low as $135 per night. There is Radisson Blu Lisbon at $100 and a low priced Marriott and Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel around $100 to $140 per night.
Ticket #3: Lisbon, Portugal LIS – Oslo, Norway OSL
96.60 EUR Norwegian Air Saturday May 14
Ticket #4: Oslo, Norway OSL – Los Angeles LAX
$201 Norwegian Air ($201 USD is exchange rate purchase price for 1699 NOK through Norwegian Air Norway site. The price is $253 USD on US site.
Google Flights takes you to Norwegian Airlines Norway site when booking tickets departing from Norway for ticekt price 1,699 NOK = $201 USD, whereas the Norwegian US site charges $253.90, a whopping 26% more for the same flight.
USA-Europe Airline Ticket Open Jaw Possibilities
The American Airlines ticket available yesterday allowed open-jaw travel from California to Spain or Scandinavia with return from the other region of Europe for the same low price as a round trip ticket to either Scandinavia or Spain/Portugal. This ticket offered great open-jaw possibilities, if you desired several weeks traveling across Europe.
I would not recommend this kind of open jaw travel if spending less than ten days in Europe. My exceptional circumstances for staying only one week in May were the ticket I already have for a flight to Stockholm in July. Currently I still do not have ticketed flights for Kelley and I back to California this summer.
Flights from Europe to the USA are very expensive in late July and early August. The LAX-Spain/Portugal with return from Scandinavia in summer was a cost saving strategy for me, allowing me to travel to Spain and Portugal for one week in May, fly back to California on Norwegian and get back to California from Scandinavia again in peak summer season for only around $900 in airfare all-in.
American Airlines Ticket #1 in this post shown as a $735 open-jaw itinerary would have been about $100 less, around $625 to $650, if travel were all planned for April to June. Pushing the return to July raised the American Airlines ticket I wanted to $735.
Now that I have spent a bit of time studying Portugal and Spain destinations, I am more enthusiastic about finding another good airfare deal to the Iberian Peninsula.
As far as my return from Scandinavia in July, the American Airlines deal still works for round trip travel to Stockholm or Oslo in May and return in July for under $700 round trip. If I can find corresponding low fare dates, I can still fly round trip from Norway or Sweden to Portugal or Spain.