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We headed to Disney last week. The trip was great, albeit rather exhausting in ways, and I am glad to be home. Seeing the kids faces light up the whole time was well worth all the money we shelled out. Which I shouldn’t even be complaining about as a we were walked in for free by a friend who works for Disney corporate the first day (so glad to have this connection). My mother-in-law covered all our tickets for the second. But between food and all the other costs of the trip, I can’t comprehend how the average family can afford to do Disney without years of planning and budgeting.

(SEE: I’m going to Disneyland….but I don’t even care)

(SEE6 Disneyland mistakes I made during our first trip)

(SEE: 9 Disneyland tips and tricks I learned from our three days in the park)

an airplane wing in the air

At least the flights were easy. And free. We could have driven the 12+ hours to Anaheim, but flying sounded a whole lot nicer. Alaska had a killer sale during Thanksgiving week which I instantly jumped on.

Final use out of the 50% back bonus

Booking through Amex Travel cost us a hair under 20,000 Membership Rewards points for the 5 of us. I was still on my first year of my Business Platinum card, and the 50% back bonus was still in effect. A solid 2.0 cents per point in value was fine by me.

I then used a $75 voucher to cover the bulk of my mother-in-law’s ticket. This was previously acquired from a credit card spending bonus which was one of the most lucrative I had ever seen: spend $250 on my personal Alaska Visa card and get a $75 Alaska voucher. Huge return.

Stacking another promotion

When I booked the flights, I made sure to sign all my kids up for MileagePlan. Alaska Airlines was running a promotion for California residents where new MileagePlan members could get 5,000 bonus miles if they signed up before the deadline and took one flight. This promotion aligned perfectly with our plans.

It did take some wrangling to get the new loyalty numbers into the reservation. Our kids have different last names than us, which has already caused us two flight booking issues. Costa Rican convention is to use the maternal and paternal last names, so our kids have my wife’s maiden name as a second last name.

Amex Travel apparently didn’t process this correctly (and made everything one long last name), so the MileagePlan names were different than the names on the tickets. Rather than change the tickets, the agent helpfully (and quickly) changed the kids names in the system to match.

Profiting from a mishap

With just those bonuses, we were basically exchanging the 20k MR for Alaska miles. Sure, they were spread out across 5 accounts, but we were still 20k miles richer.

But that wasn’t all. Our flight managed to be delayed by nearly 4 hours, which at first was a major bummer.  Later, I received a text stating that we would be receiving a discount code for future travel. Now we’re talking!

This turned out to be a $100 voucher for each of us. Sure, the delay was frustrating, but kudos to Alaska for being proactive. This voucher is in excess of the cash cost of our round-trip, so I’m more than happy. I’m already looking for ways to spend our newly-acquired $500 with Alaska.

Adding to that, our bags were late. Or something. I really don’t know what happened, just that we finally found them on a carousel in baggage claim. Our flight was never assigned a carousel, and then subsequently disappeared from the baggage claim screen.

a screen shot of a computer

A quick message to Alaska via Twitter, and my wife and I were each 2,500 miles richer, thanks to Alaska’s baggage guarantee.

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Overall, we had a pretty rough travel day, not getting home until midnight. But with all the other compensation we received, I am totally content with how things worked out. Alaska was proactive and responsive, and I will happily fly them again if they always treat customers this way.

At the end of the day, we were 19,200 Membership Rewards poorer, but 25,000 Alaska miles and $500 in vouchers richer. If only every trip could generate profit like this!

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