Most of our trips let us have Big Travel with Small Money, but I call this our “honeymoon” because Emily Jablon and I got married over the last year and this was our first big trip by ourselves since then!
Emily Jablon has always wanted to visit Paris, so this was the perfect opportunity to revisit one of my favorite cities and take full advantage of my Chase Ultimate Rewards points and British Airways Travel Together voucher.
- British Airways First Class Lounge – Boston
- British Airways First Class – Boston to London
- British Airways Concorde Room – London
- Park Hyatt Vendôme Paris – Park Suite
- Around the Park Hyatt Vendôme Paris
- Park Hyatt Vendôme Paris
- Day 1 in Paris – George V, The Champs-Elysées, and the Arc de Triomphe
- Day 2 in Paris – Notre Dame & the Paris Opera
- Park Hyatt Vendôme Paris – Park Deluxe Room
- Day 3 in Paris – A Lazy Day & Dinner in the Eiffel Tower
- Day 4 in Paris – Versailles and Rue Cler
- Day 5 in Paris – Sainte-Chapelle, the Louvre, & Emily’s Favorite Evening
- Day 6 in Paris – Park Hyatt Paris Buffet & a Day of Shopping
- Day 7 in Paris – Emily’s Allergic Reaction and our Last Day in Paris
- American Airlines Admirals Club – Paris
- Hilton Heathrow London, Terminal 4
- British Airways Concorde Room
- British Airway First Class – London to Boston
- Air France Graf Lounge – Boston
- Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
I was very excited about this trip because I was visiting one of the most romantic cities in the world with the woman I love and staying in one of the finest hotels in Paris, the Park Hyatt Paris.
And, oh, the 2 British Airways First Class tickets sell for ~$12,000 each and 7 nights at the Park Hyatt in Paris have a retail value of $8,000. That’s a total retail cost of ~$32,000!
However, I paid $1,500 in taxes and fees for the 2 British Airways tickets and $440 in airfare for flights from Kansas City to Boston.
And that’s why I collect miles and points – to have unforgettable experiences which I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford!
|Retail Cost||Our Cash Cost||Miles and Points Required||Sources of Miles & Points|
|2 First Class return British Airways tickets from Boston to Paris||$12,000 each or $24,000 total||~$2,000||150,000 British Airways miles (before the introduction of Avios points)||- British Airways Travel Together Voucher
- British Airways Credit Card sign-up bonus and spending
- Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards
|2 free nights in a suite at the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris||~$1,400 a night or $2,800 total||Nil||2 free nights certificate||- Chase Hyatt Credit Card|
|5 free nights at the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris||~$1,000 a night or $5,000 total||Nil||110,000 Hyatt Points||- Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards|
|1 free night at the Hilton at Heathrow Airport - Terminal 4||$225||Nil||50,000 Hilton Points||- Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses|
|Total||$32,025||~$2,000||310,000 Miles & Points + 2 free nights certificate|
If I didn’t use the British Airways Travel Together voucher, but had used my United, US Air, or American Airlines miles I would have paid only about $300 in taxes and fees for the 2 First Class tickets. But if I had used my other miles, I couldn’t have used my British Airways Travel Together Voucher and would have paid 125,000 more miles (250,000 miles for both) for an additional First Class ticket
Using the British Airways Travel Together pass saved me 125,000 US Air, American Airlines, or United miles (since I could add Emily as my companion), but I had to pay 150,000 British Airways miles (before the new Avios was introduced) & ~$2,000 in taxes, fees, and additional airfare.
So perhaps it was a wash in the end.
Miles and points let you have unforgettable vacations – but it takes time to accumulate the miles and points needed. It may be frustrating when you can’t find award seats to your destination, so flexibility always helps. I could only find British Airways award seats from Philadelphia or Boston when I booked our tickets – which was not ideal because of the short flight time from the East Coast to London (~6 hours) and also because of the expensive airfare from Kansas City to the East Coast, but it worked out in the end.
British Airways First Class
We used our British Airways Travel Together voucher to book our flights to Paris. I earned a Travel Together voucher by “spending” $30,000 within a calendar year on my Chase British Airways card. The Travel Together voucher can be used on
either paid or award tickets, but is valid for only one use within 2 years of earning the voucher.
I searched for the flight from the US to Paris on BA.com. I tried to do this as soon as I knew our travel dates, which ended up being 10 months before our scheduled departure.
So I booked two first class seats from Boston to Paris via London and back online at BA.com, but paid the mileage requirement for only 1 of us (150,000 miles at the time). The taxes and fees cost ~$1,500 for both of us. I wasn’t happy paying these taxes and fees, but our First Class seats were still cheaper than paying the cash price for coach tickets.
One of the restrictions of the British Airways Travel Together ticket is that you have to fly on British Airways aircraft only. This meant that we had to pay for our own flights from Kansas City to Boston and back. Since we have a Southwest Companion Pass I tried to find flights on Southwest since I would only have to pay for 1 ticket using cash or points and Emily would fly for free.
But unfortunately, there were no non-stop flights on Southwest from Kansas City to Boston and the flights which were available were early in the morning, which would mean a full day away from work, which wouldn’t work out. So I bought two 1-way tickets from Kansas City to Boston on a non-stop Delta flight for ~$220 each. I also planned a long layover, in case something happened and we needed to take a later flight.
We flew from Boston to London where we had a 4 hour layover and then continued on to Paris. However there weren’t any business class seats available on the London to Paris segment when I booked, so we traveled in coach for the 1 hour flight.
On the way back, I preferred staying the night at the Hilton hotel in Terminal 4 at Heathrow airport since our flight from Boston left the next day at ~11:00 am. The regular room cost about $225, but I booked the hotel for 50,000 points on Hilton.com. This isn’t a spectacular use of Hilton points, but it did save me from paying $225 out-of-pocket.
Park Hyatt Vendome – Paris
Emily and I had a terrific time at the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris. The hotel attracts a lot of the rich and well-healed guests, but we weren’t made to feel uncomfortable for using points to book our room. The hotel has a lot of well-dressed guests, and also some not-so-well-dressed guests, but I didn’t notice a different between the way folks were treated at the hotel. The service was absolutely impeccable!
And even more impressive were the little touches – like hunting me down to give me an umbrella when I mentioned that we hadn’t got one in our room, or the housekeeping staff neatly tying the cords of my iPhone and laptop charger so that they wouldn’t tangle, not once but whenever they made our room. But the most impressive was the hotel’s response on our last day when Emily had an allergic reaction (fortunately minor). I can’t say enough nice things about the staff at the Park Hyatt Vendome!
Booking the Park Hyatt in Paris
We used 2 free nights from the Chase Hyatt credit card sign-up, and spent 110,000 Hyatt points (transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards points) to book another 5 nights. The hotel is a category 6 hotel and currently costs 22,000 Hyatt points per night in a standard room.
If I hadn’t had enough Hyatt or Ultimate Rewards points, Emily would have applied for another Chase Hyatt credit card for another 2 free nights or one of the many cards which offer Ultimate Rewards points. We would then make separate reservations, but call the hotel in advance to assign us the same room so that we didn’t move rooms when we arrived.
Since we were in Paris, this was the perfect time to stay at the Park Hyatt in Paris. The regular room rate is ~EUR 600 or ~$1,000 a night. We’d never be able to stay there at the regular rate, but we had lots of Ultimate Rewards points.
One of the benefits of attending Star Mega Do 3 last year was getting free Hyatt Diamond status. Hyatt Diamond members get free breakfast at Hyatt hotels, and we got an extremely tasty and filling breakfast at the Park Hyatt in Paris for 7 days. We also saved time by eating in the hotel, versus finding a café nearby. The breakfast alone should have otherwise cost ~500 Euro for the 7 days! But I doubt we’d ever pay 500 Euros for breakfast.
But don’t worry if you don’t have Hyatt Diamond status because there are a number of boulangeries and bakeries near the hotel where you can have cheap and delicious breakfasts. And part of the Paris experience is having a buttery and flaky chocolate croissant and a café in the morning.
Or you could redeem 145,000 Hyatt points for a 5 night Hyatt Passport Escape in a category 6 hotel which includes breakfast and 3 dinners. This is 35,000 points more than if you just booked only a room, but could be worth it for 5 breakfasts and 3 dinners at the Park Hyatt.
Since I was a Hyatt Diamond member, I also got the 2 free nights from the Chase Hyatt credit card in a suite. So I called the Hyatt reservation desk to book the 2 free nights for the first two days of our stay, and I booked the remaining 5 nights using Chase Ultimate Rewards points which I transferred to Hyatt. I was hoping that the hotel wouldn’t make us move from the suite to a regular room, especially since we were on our honeymoon!
7 Days in Paris
Spending 7 days in Paris may seem like a lot, and certainly isn’t Rapid Traveling, but Emily likes to spend time to fully explore a city and to be more relaxed. We also had to log on and catch up with work each day for at least 1 to 2 hours, so we couldn’t devote the entire day to seeing the sites. And there’s so much to do in Paris that even 7 days wasn’t enough to completely explore this wonderful city. So 7 days in Paris worked out perfectly for us!
We also had extra cash which we had saved on the airfare and hotel to spend on dining out, which is one of our favorite things to do! I also booked tickets in advance to the Paris Opera and to the ballet with the money we saved.