The Paradox of Choice: Miles & Points Style

Introduction

I put a lot of time into planning how we will get from one place to the next as cheaply as possible (usually using miles and points). Sometimes I have everything planned out and something better comes along. Then it is simple: if I can undo what I have previously booked, I rebook the better option. However, sometimes I have everything planned out and another option comes along that seems just as good. Then I have no idea what I should do. The paradox of choice is when having more than one option actually makes you more unhappy with whatever you choose. This is happening to me regarding miles and points right now.

Background

Our last stop in Africa will be the island of Mauritius. We were originally planning on going to South America afterwards. United prices southern Africa to South America at 45,000 miles one way in business class (if flying direct). This is a great deal! The only airline that flies this route is South African Airways. I booked what I thought was the most amazing one way award ever: Mauritius (MRU) – Johannesburg (JNB) – Sao Paulo (GRU) – Buenos Aires (EZE) – Santiago (SCL). All of this for only 45,000 miles per person!

The best booking ever? (Map courtesy of gcmap.com)
The best booking ever? (Map courtesy of gcmap.com)

Mauritius to Johannesburg to Sao Paulo would be in South African Airways business class. Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires would be in Turkish Airlines business class. Buenos Aires to Santiago would be in Air Canada business class. We would get to try 3 different airlines business class (2 new for us). That’s absolutely insane for spending so few miles.

The Problem

The day I originally wanted to fly to Mauritius had its award availability disappear. I should have booked sooner; that was my mistake. Paying cash is pretty expensive on this route (~$400 per person for one way in economy), so I would like to use miles. We could go a week earlier, which would give us 12 nights instead of my planned 5 nights. I should be able muster up enough hotel points to get us those 7 additional nights, but I don’t know if I want to spend our points for more nights in Mauritius. We could also look at some budget options.

Another Choice

I noticed that Austrian Airlines flies to Mauritius from Vienna and vice versa. I found award availability so we could leave Mauritius earlier than I thought and get 2 business class seats on this route. Using the boomerang concept I could book this for only 35,000 United miles each. Austrian is a highly regarded airline and is considered by many to have the best food in the sky. This would allow us to stay a shorter amount of time in Mauritius. However, we are then in Europe and need to figure out how to get home from there. We would probably hop back to South East Asia, which we have been loving, and then head home from there. Getting home would cost way more miles than it would from South America. However, we have the miles to burn and I do not know the next time we will be able to take another trip. Plus we could try some more airlines in business and first class!

The Madness Ensues

This thought has been driving me absolutely insane. I know if the second option had never come up, I would be very happy with our original flight plans. For the past week or so I have been obsessing over the idea. I just don’t know what we should do. I know it’s silly; both options are fantastic. Right now I am leaning towards keeping our original plan and heading to South America, but who knows what will happen.

What do you think we should do? Have you ever been driven insane deciding on two flight reward options?

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