Our family kind of lives moment to moment. It is hard for us to make long-range plans because we never know what might come up.
Spontanaity has its advantages, though. Sometimes, when you see an opportunity you can to jump on it.
Other times, it can be frustrating because tickets sell out, you can’t get reservations, and you miss out.
We have been saving miles and points for a trip to Japan for several years. Between my husband and myself, and a few strategic credit card applications, we had 300,000 frequent flier miles, enough for two roundtrip business class tickets to Japan.
OMG, My Husband Retired!
My husband retired last fall. I wasn’t really expecting it.
What does “retired” means these days, anyway? I mean, he stopped going to work every day. But, what’s next?
What’s more, our daughter graduated from high school in June. We suddenly have more flexibility than during all those years when we were tied to the school calendar.
So I did exactly what you might expect. I planned a trip. To Japan.
All Dressed Up With 300,000 Points and Nowhere To Go
I am totally conflicted about miles and points.
Sometimes I think they’re a total scam. It seems there is never availability for where you want to go, when you want to go. Or, the only flights available on frequent flier miles follow ridiculous routings.
Both United Airlines and All Nippon Airlines (ANA) fly nonstop from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Tokyo (NRT). You can use United Mileage Plus miles for either airline. It’s a code share thing. Both airlines offer lie-flat seats in business class on this route. But I couldn’t seem to find saver seat availability.
Then, miraculously, I found seats in both directions for travel during peak cherry blossom season! The routing would require an extra 15,000 frequent flier miles apiece.
Suddenly miles and points seem like magic! We’ll be traveling to Japan on United in business class, and returning via ANA in first class! The tickets are costing us 165,000 miles and $37 apiece.
That’s unbelievable! $37 to fly roundtrip to Tokyo in lie flat business class and first class. It kind of renews my faith in this hobby.
This will be our first trip to Asia. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a few things I learned from booking this trip, as well as some deals I’ve run across along the way. I am beyond excited!
If you have any tips on travel in Japan, I’d love if you could share in the comments!
One of the costs of travel that is hard to offset with credit card points or miles is airport parking. Even my Barclaycard Arrival credit card, which allows redemptions for most categories of travel expenses, does not routinely cover airport parking.
At Dulles International Airport (IAD) near my home, daily parking fees range from $10 a day in the remote economy lots to $25 – $35 per day for valet parking right in front of the terminal. The intermediate option in terms of price and convenience is garage parking at $17 per day.
Park Four Days, Get One Day Free
The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) at IAD is running a summer special through July 13, 2014 for the garage parking: park for four consecutive days, get one day free. You must apply for a special coupon code online, and present your coupon and parking ticket to the cashier upon exiting, Even with the special, you’ll make out better with economy parking; but if you’re pressed for time or facing afternoon thundershowers, it may be worth considering.
There are over 8,000 garage parking spaces, and more than 12,000 spots in the economy lots at IAD. I always opt for the economy parking, and usually wait less than five minutes for a shuttle bus.
Dulles FlexPark: Monthly Parking for Frequent Flyers
Another special offer from MWAA is for unlimited parking for one monthly payment.
Dulles FlexPark offers several options, ranging from reserved parking in a premium spot to general garage parking.
The cheapest option — at $275 per month — is for unlimited parking in any unreserved space in the garage.
Frequent travelers, or those working at the airport, may save as much as 47 percent off the posted rates (depending on level of program and number of days parked).
See the complete program description and access the online application here.
Express Bus Service from Metro Silver Line Starts July 26
The Metro Silver Line is opening July 26, 2014, and you can bet I’ll be there for the ribbon cutting!
When the Silver Line opens, the Wiehle Avenue station in Reston will be the closest Metro station to IAD.
Silver Line Express buses will carry travelers to Dulles airport for a fare of $5.00 each way. Express buses will run every 15 minutes during weekday peak hours, and every 2o minutes at other times. The new buses will be specially configured with spacious luggage racks.