Just about all my trips have burning or earning points objectives with my hotel stays and flights. 19 hotel nights in Poland were focused burning IHG points at great redemption value and using my Accor Hotels points to book a suite at Hotel Rezydent Sopot, summer hot spot of the Polish Riviera (as described in the recently released Netflix Polish TV series Glitter). The beach was a bit cool in the 20s and 30s of late November.
Flights component of our trip was all Star Alliance flights for the objective of advancing our progress to maintain Aegean Miles+Bonus elite status. I have Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite status and Kelley is currently Silver elite on track to become Gold elite in May 2023. Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite provides benefits like airport lounge access at Star Alliance lounges, including United Club lounges in USA. Free checked bag on Basic Economy tickets and Priority Boarding are other useful benefits.
Star Alliance Gold Elites Get No Seat Preferential Treatment with United Airlines
Unfortunately, preferential seats are excluded for elite members flying United Basic Economy tickets. United Airlines charges $150 more for an Economy Class round trip ticket to Europe. The only additional benefit that $150 upgrade provides for me as a Star Alliance Gold elite is the opportunity to pre-select a seat for the flight.
When purchasing a Basic Economy ticket, you won’t receive a complimentary seat assignment but you may be able to purchase advance seat assignments during booking and up until check-in opens. Economy Plus seats may be purchased at check-in. If you don’t purchase an advance seat assignment, your seat will be automatically assigned to you prior to boarding and you won’t be able to change your seat once it’s been assigned.https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/help/faq/basic-economy.html
Paid seats were priced at $32 for window or $39 for aisle on our United transatlantic flights to/from Germany. $64 ot $78 is a significant savings on the $150 United fare difference between Basic Economy and Economy for our typical ticket purchases. Simply paying for seats after booking Basic Economy tickets to Europe is about 40% to 60% less.
I have found United to be worse than European airlines in placing us in some of the worst seats for flights. I paid $32 to put Kelley in a window seat when we were given the two middle seats in the middle section for the 11-hour SFO-MUC flight. The real issue was both outbound and inbound United flights had only 5 to 10 seats actually available at those minimum prices for our flights.
I planned our Poland trip to coincide with FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar matches and Christmas Markets. Being on Central European Time, only two hours difference from Qatar time, meant daytime game watching at our hotel or a pub with the last match of the day generally starting at 8:00 pm.
Scored IHG lounge access 2023 and another suite upgrade after 40 nights in 2022
My primary loyalty program objectives this trip were staying 17 more nights with IHG hotels to reach the IHG One Rewards 40 nights Milestone threshold and earning Aegean Miles+Bonus Elite Tier Miles from United Airlines Basic Economy transatlantic flights between SFO and Germany.
IHG Milestone Rewards peak at 40 nights in a calendar year with my choice of two benefits including one year of lounge access (mostly useful for InterContinental Hotels) and one confirmable suite upgrade for up to 5 nights on a paid IHG hotel stay. My IHG One Rewards objective was achieved with 4 IHG hotel stays for eight nights in Gdansk and ten nights in Krakow, Poland to reach 41 nights at IHG hotels this year.
On Track for Star Alliance Gold elite renewal to Sep 2024
Our $526 United round trip tickets to Gdansk, Poland were reduced by $150 each by applying United Airlines travel certificates we received for a 10 hour SFO-Munich flight delay April 2022. That delay resulted in an overnight at a Munich Airport hotel and a missed night in Venice of our six-night hotel stay.
$376 round trip SFO to Gdansk earned 2,932 Tier Miles for SFO-Munich and 2,843 Tier miles for Frankfurt-SFO for United Economy K class fares, which earn 50% flight miles as elite miles with Aegean Miles+Bonus. Lufthansa K class basic economy flights between Germany and Poland earn zero tier miles with Aegean Miles+Bonus.
We also flew LOT Polish Airlines Economy V class round trip between Gdansk and Krakow for $92, earning 25% flight miles, for an additional 166 Aegean Tier Miles. We had time to hang out in airport lounges in Gdansk and Krakow, while the delightful gem was LOT Polish Polonia lounge at Warsaw Airport with delicious lunch dining including salmon, pork and duck entrées, salads, and beer with World Cup 2022 on big screen. We spent about six hours all together in these three Poland airport lounges on our $92 GDN-WAW-KRK-WAW-GDN round trip tickets.
All in all, our Star Alliance flight itinerary SFO-MUC-GDN-WAW-KRK-WAW-GDN-FRA-SFO earned 5,941 Tier Miles. Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite requalification requires 12,000 Tier Miles + 4 flight segments on Aegean or Olympic Airlines or 24,000 Tier Miles with Star Alliance airlines. We have United Airlines tickets for Oslo, Norway in April and visiting Greece during that trip will be our opportunity to fly four Aegean/Olympic flight segments to maintain Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite into 2024.
By IHG Numbers
I redeemed 118,750 IHG points for 13 nights at Holiday Inn Gdansk (8 nights for 62,000 points), Holiday Inn Krakow (4 nights for 44,000 points) and Hotel Indigo Krakow (1 night for 12,750 points). Five more nights at Hotel Indigo Krakow in the same 3rd floor corner room as our award night cost 3,148 PLN = $708 USD on a package rate earning 5,000 bonus points per night. An extra 39 PLN = $8.70 for 5,000 IHG bonus points per night bought 25,000 points at a discount rate of $1.75 per 1,000 points.
$709 in spend at Hotel Indigo Krakow earned 56,222 points including 10,000 bonus points from IHG’s stay 4 nights promotion through December 31, 2022. Hotel Indigo payment with IHG credit card and instant Diamond elite status from the October 2022 promotion earned 21,222 hotel spend points, 25,000 purchased points and 10,000 promotional points. I also picked up 5,000 bonus points for 30 nights Milestone Reward selection.
I consider the 61,222 points earned from this Poland trip effectively reducing my $709 Hotel Indigo spend by $306. I plan to buy 200,000 IHG points during the current 100% bonus points promotion running through December 29, 2022. My IHG points have been depleted with 13 nights already booked for February. In all cases the $5 per 1,000 points rate I typically pay for IHG points get more than $8 in redemption value for my IHG stays.
Most of the points in my IHG account were purchased in 2022 for $5.00 per 1,000 points. My redemption value earned for 118,750 points ($593.75) redeemed this trip exceeded $1,500 compared to Best Flexible Rates for room types and benefits received during these IHG hotel stays.
IHG 18 Nights in Poland
- $595 price to buy 119,000 IHG points redeemed for 13 hotel nights
- + $716 hotel spend for 5 hotel nights and 2 beers
- – 61,222 points earned with Poland IHG hotel stays
- I value 61,222 IHG points at $306.11.
- = $1,311 – $306 = $1,005 net spend for 18 hotel nights.
- = $55.83 per night for 18 nights at IHG hotels in Poland with breakfast at Holiday Inn and Hotel Indigo.
We received room category upgrades and complimentary breakfast as an IHG Diamond elite member check-in amenity choice for each day of our 18 nights at Holiday Inn Gdansk, Holiday Inn Krakow and Hotel Indigo Krakow IHG hotels in Poland.
14 days before my stay I called to apply the confirmed suite upgrade to my Hotel Indigo Krakow reservation only to be told that my suite upgrade could not be used due to having booked the 5,000 bonus points per night rate. The suite upgrade certificate was not valid on a hotel package rate.
NET COST 18 IHG NIGHTS = $55.83 per night in Poland
Holiday Inn Gdansk 30,000 points ($150) for 4 nights using Chase IHG Mastercard 4th night free discount rate.
Hotel Indigo Krakow 12,750 points ($63.75 value) for 1 night.
Hotel Indigo Krakow 3,148 PLN = $708.00 USD for 5 nights. Stay earned 55,534 points ($277.67 value). I made a points reservation in July 2022 for these same 5 nights for 72,000 points ($360 value) that I canceled when it looked like I could pay $630 for these 5 nights and earn 55,000 points. The US dollar weakened against Polish currency over the past two months after hitting a multiple year high in September 2022 and the final room rate increased from $630 to $708 USD by the time of our stay.
Holiday Inn Krakow 44,000 points ($220 value) for 4 nights using Chase IHG Mastercard 4th night free discount rate. More room space and more varied breakfast items made this stay preferable to Hotel Indigo Krakow.
Holiday Inn Gdansk 32,000 points ($160) for 4 nights using Chase IHG Mastercard 4th night free discount rate. Our room on the first stay was Floor 1 and second stay we were in same relative location of hotel for the view, but higher up on the top guest room Floor 6 with the Gdansk Marina view. .
I’ll write much more about our trip to Poland with detailed reviews of the IHG hotels in Gdansk and Krakow, along with information and observations about Christmas markets, transportation, museums and city happenings, shopping, pubs and restaurants in other articles this month and January 2023.