May212016

O Halifax, Canada! AAdvantage elite challenge mileage run potential

Nova Scotia July 1994 was probably the most successful and enjoyable road trip Kelley and I ever had, with momentary exceptions, like Kelley getting her first bee sting ever while driving on mountain roads, at least 50 miles from the nearest town or hospital. Fortunately she was not allergic to the bee sting.

The trip was a family affair with mother-in-law paying for the gas and hotels. Mom-in-law had an injury that trip too, when her toe got an infection while we were camping in Cape Breton. Her toe was amputated a few months later. Kelley and I had lived in a tent all summer, while job searching as teachers in Maine. We were too flat broke to buy a gorgeous set of lobster crackers in Canada for our meals in Nova Scotia. We were not too broke to buy lobster for our meals and crack the shells with a tent peg mallet. Lobsters were quite inexpensive in Canada in July, but hard to find hot ones there like they offer everywhere in Maine. Most rural stores kept cooked lobsters in the frig.

This is Saturday and I am looking for summer mileage run destinations to meet Kelley’s AAdvantage fast-track elite challenge offer. She needs 6,222 EQM in American Airlines flights by September 9.

Google Maps shows Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces of Canada are relatively low fare destinations from the San Francisco Bay Area for flights this summer. Many summer dates are priced at $160 to $250 each way, comparable and even less than many Air Canada fares on the same dates.

Northeast USA vs. Atlantic Canada for vacation on a budget

New York, Boston, New Hampshire and Vermont have lower fares from American to several airports and Toronto or Montreal are lower priced than Quebec City, Halifax and St. John’s, Newfoundland, but two reasons those places are out of my consideration.

SFO-YHZ Google Flights Canada Map $195 June 14

Google Flights One Way Fares Tuesday June 14

  • $176 SFO – YOW Ottawa SFO-PHL-YOW = 2,898 EQM
  • $180 SFO – YQB Quebec City SFO-PHL-YQB = 3,037 EQM
  • $195 SFO – YHX Halifax SFO-PHL-YHZ = 3,213 EQM
  • $196 SFO – YUL Montreal  SFO-CLT-YUL = 3,099 EQM
  • $196 SFO – YYZ Toronto SFO-CLT-YYZ = 2,884 EQM
  • $241 SFO – YYT St. John’ Newfoundland (Wed June 15) = 3,605 EQM

Firstly, I can’t find routings to get 6,222 EQM on one low fare ticket from SFO/SJC/OAK/MRY airports in San Francisco Bay Area to Toronto or Montreal. Even Quebec City needs a routing through Phoenix or Charlotte, something besides SFO-PHL-YQB to make 6,222 EQM.

The best deal I see is San Francisco to Halifax, Nova Scotia at $195 each way or San Francisco to St. John’s Newfoundland for $250 each way. Newfoundland has long been on my travel bucket list, ever since reading several Farley Mowat books in 1981. I think Newfoundland is a bit too rural for Kelley’s tastes and there are far more hotel options in Halifax. I even found a potential Best Rate Guarantee for a free night with Choice Hotels that I am 99% confident would be approved.

American Airlines  San Francisco SFO – Philadelphia PHL – Halifax, Nova Scotia YHZ

$200.20 one way  Monday June 13

SFO-YHX Halifax $200ow AA June 13

SFO-PHL-YHZ = 3,213 flight miles.

This schedule either sucks or has great potential.  I see sight-seeing potential with 14 hours in Philadelphia from 6am to 8pm all day after a red-eye.

The return trip YHZ-PHL-SFO is $199.57 USD after currency conversion.

American Airlines  Halifax, Nova Scotia YHZ – Philadelphia PHL – San Francisco SFO

$199.57 USD ($261.66 CAD)  Sunday June 19, 2016

YHZ-SFO $262CAD ow AA June 19

$400 round trip earns 6,426 EQM, and along with SFO-LHR-ARN flights in July, meets Kelley’s fast-track AAdvantage Platinum challenge goal of 12,500 EQM by September 9.

We have always had fun on our Canada trips, once we clear the overbearingly rude encounters with Canadian immigration. I inevitably get pulled out for secondary screening in Canada. That has been the case since 1981. I wonder if I am in their computer system from a police response when a fight broke out in the bar on the Canadian cross-country train trip I made that summer? I was not involved in the fight, but I did get banned from the bar. Did not matter much to me. The friendly  biker, friendly to me and the woman we were playing cards with and paying for our drinks, punched out a drunk making suggestive lewd comments about the woman at our table. Canadian police arrested the biker at the next train stop. That is the only reason I recall for why I am hassled at Canadian airports.

When I travel through a Canadian airport and get hassled, I tell myself I am not going back to Canada. Still, I like our friendly neighbors, immigrations officials excluded, and it might be time again to give Canada some more U.S. tourist dollars this summer.

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.

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