It looks like I will be heading down to Medellin with 4 bags. Two checked and two carry-ons. Or more accurately, one carry-on and one personal item. I’m trying to bring down as much as possible because it’ll probably be November or December before I get back to Houston to bring more stuff down to Colombia and hopefully we will have settled on a place by then.
The largest bag is officially packed and probably weighs the max allowed at 75 pounds. I used space saver vacuum bags to condense most of my clothes. It worked great and I got a ton of clothes in a bag that already fit a ton of clothes. My 1K status with United Airlines allows me 3 free bags at 70 pounds each (If you’re interested in the benefits of Mileage Plus statuses and what it takes to get them, The Points Guy has a great post about it). I settled on two carry-ons because I have 2 tablets (iPad and drawing), 2 laptops (personal and work), and other electronics that I wouldn’t feel comfortable packing in a checked bag. Gary took my advice on the space saver bags and ordered some for himself too. The below picture has 4 pairs of jeans, 8 button down short sleeve shirts, 6 pairs of shorts, 10 t-shirts, 8 pairs of socks and 8 pairs of underwear so far. The only space it takes up is the top middle space with lots of room left. My worry about wanting to get all that I didn’t store down to Medellin is no longer an issue.
Gary and I have been watching the price of flights. Our original plan was to use my miles to buy a business class one way ticket from Houston to Medellin (75,000 miles) and then buy a second ticket and split the cost. I have been told by United Operators in the past that fares usually come down around 50 days from the date you want to leave or after. The cheapest business class ticket was $800.00 and it had two layovers. One layover can’t be helped since there are no direct flights to Medellin, and 2 wouldn’t have been that big a deal since we had company and traveled well together. And in the end, $400.00 per person to fly business class is not that bad a deal, but cheaper is always better. I only travel business class with work, so coach was not an option on a long flight. (yeah I’m spoiled)
At 48 days from leave date, I checked flights again and the cheapest flight I could find was still $800.00. For some reason, I decided to do a search for award flights only and tickets for Business Saver Awards come up and they were only 35,000 miles per ticket. I wasn’t sure what the difference was, so I decided to book them and then figure out what they were. Airlines allow you to cancel tickets within 24 hours of booking them without penalty and the tickets were limited so I bought first and asked questions later.
After booking the fare with 70,000 miles and a cost of $41.20 total, I called the 1K United desk (yes, we have our own phone number and I have never been on hold for more than 15 seconds) to find out what these tickets were and if they were actually business class tickets. I was told that since I was a MileagePlus Premier and Chase Card member, some tickets were put aside at a lower rate on certain flights. They usually were on partner airlines (in this case Avianca), but they were full business class seats in the business class section with business class benefits at a discounted rate. What a great deal and since I used all my miles for the tickets, I’ll probably have Gary pay the full $41.20 for the fees and taxes on the tickets.