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A few weeks ago, my son and I traveled to Athens (by way of New York City and Zurich). This was one of our “long distance dates” which we do in our family, where my wife and I take turns taking a trip 1 on 1 with each of our kids. We had been looking forward to this trip for quite some time
Booking our trip
The original tickets that we had booked were on Swiss, going JFK-ZRH-ATH-ZRH-JFK, with the ATH-ZRH leg on the return being on Aegean Airlines.
Because I believe that in most cases, using points as “points” points for economy travel is a fallacy, we booked it with Chase Ultimate Rewards at the cost of 1.25 cents per point, meaning we spent about 38,400 Ultimate Rewards points for a flight to Europe (*2). Yes, this isn’t the “best” use of Chase Ultimate Rewards, but I’m a big believer that the “best” redemptions are the ones that get you where you want to go, when you want to go.
Of course, because I’m an idiot, I once again forgot to book our positioning flights until about a week or so before the trip. I ended up booking our outbound CVG-LGA on Frontier, using a $50 travel credit that I had gotten for a schedule change. On the return I used 9000 Skymiles to go JFK-CVG. Because I get nervous about connecting flights on different airlines, I booked our flight to New York the day before we were planning on leaving to Zurich (and Athens). My son has never been to New York City so I figured we’d take a whirlwind tour while we were there.
Weather (aka blizzard) in New York City
If you’ve been following around with US East Coast weather this spring, New York City has been under a series of blizzards / nor’easters. Naturally, one of them showed up right when we were trying to leave.
On Tuesday night, we had no problems getting into LGA from Cincinnati, but as soon as we landed, we got a notification that our flight to Zurich on Wednesday had ALREADY been canceled
Likely because the weather on Wednesday caused Swiss to not send the ZRH-JFK flight, so there wouldn’t be a plane available for us to fly JFK-ZRH. Someone (Swiss? Chase?) had already rebooked us on an AA / BA combo of flights. If there were no problems with those flights, we’d actually leave about the same time and arrive into Athens at about the same time.
We spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning touring New York (in the snow). Tuesday night we went to Holey Cream which was the site of the previous week’s Mission Street Puzzle answer (we are team “For Jaha’s the man he can bring it”
Can you say ice cream donut sandwich!?
On Wednesday we stumbled around in the snow through Times Square, Gulliver’s Gate (full review coming soon) and since we had a City Pass from New York, we went up to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, even though it was in the middle of a blizzard. Visibility was…. poor 🙂
Arriving at JFK
We took the E Train and AirTrain over to JFK about 2:30pm to make our 6pm flight. Going through security and everything was no problem. I was constantly checking the JFK Airport twitter account as well as flight status through FlightAware and AA itself
We got to the airport and all indications were that we were going. Our plane was there
One downside was that with the weather, the Priority Pass machine was not working in Bobby Van’s Steakhouse – the new Terminal 8 JFK Priority Pass lounge, so we couldn’t get our $28 meals.
Still we boarded just about ontime though we did sit on the tarmac for about an hour or 90 minutes waiting to be de-iced. Every few minutes the pilot came on and said “Uhhh just kidding we’re going to be another 30 minutes” (repeated every 30 minutes for about 2 hours). Eventually he said that the crew was about to time out so they managed to skip ahead a bit and get de-iced. We took off and the rest of our flight was without issue
It could have been worse
Due to the delay taking off, we ended up missing our original connection from London to Athens, so we were rebooked later in the day. We ended up getting to Athens about 4 hours later than originally scheduled. I filed an EU261 claim though I would not be surprised if it goes nowhere.
With all the weather problems, getting to Athens only 4 hours late was a delay I could live with. Much better than when my flight from Boston to Dublin was COMPLETELY CANCELED (costing us an entire day)
And the best part? Instead of getting 5x the cost of the flight in miles on United, I got 100% of miles flown on Alaska, at least for the outbound!