Yosemite Part 1: Planning

It was Thursday morning and I felt like going somewhere for the weekend. I asked Brittany if she would be interested and of course she was!

I have the Citi AA Platinum Select Credit Card. A unique feature of the card is that it gives you access to Reduced Mileage Awards. With these awards, you can travel to any of the destinations on the list for 17,500 miles roundtrip as long as there is a MilesAAver award available. That is a 7,500 mile discount! I found two available roundtrip Awards  to Fresno, CA. We would depart Friday after work and have a redeye back to Madison, WI to get back to work Monday morning.

Citi-Platinum-Select-AAdvantage-World-MasterCard

Outgoing: MSN-DFW-FAT

Return: FAT-LAX-ORD-MSN

The catch here is that Fresno, CA was not on the list of destinations. However, Madison, WI was on this list. I read various reports of people who were still able to book an award like this at the reduced rate. I called 1-800-882-8880 and was connected to a friendly agent.

At first she was not able to find the return flight. After I gave her all of the segments, she was able to pull up the award. She noted that it seemed like only the return segment was eligible for the mileage discount. I said that I thought the discounts applied in either direction. She then left for about 5 minutes to go speak with her supervisor. When she returned, she said she would manually override to give me the discount because she confirmed with her supervisor that the language does say “to or from.” I have not found any such language, but I was not going to complain!

She said that there was a phone booking fee (now waived for these awards so you no longer need to worry about this) and a close-in booking fee (because my trip was within 21 days). I was determined to go, so I said that it was fine. There are probably some smarter uses of miles, but I really wanted to escape for the weekend. I paid with my new American Express Platinum card and eventually had all of the fees reimbursed for the award. I did this with the $200 airline credit the Platinum Card provides. Our tickets were purchased!

American-Express-Platinum

Bonus: Another benefit of the Citi AA Platinum Select credit card is that 10% of your miles are reimbursed (up to 10,000 miles a year). I quickly saw 3,500 miles deposited back in my AA account. In the end, the two roundtrip tickets only costed me 31,500 miles!

The next piece was deciding where we were going to stay. Since we would be getting into Fresno late, we decided it would be best to just stay at a hotel room in Fresno Friday night and then drive to Yosemite early in the morning. I found a Hilton property for 8,000 points and $44.43. I decided to go for it as I had some Hilton points from my American Express Hilton Card signup bonus. The next night I managed to snag the last campsite within Yosemite for $20! This was some amazing luck and I can’t believe I was able to book this 3 days in advance.

Total Cost: 31,500 AA Miles, 8,000 Hilton Points, and $44.43.

Stay tuned for part 2!

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