Date: June 30, 2012
Airline(s): Delta, CommutAir
Seat(s): 9D, 8C
Ticket Price: 29,100 AMEX Miles
Connecticut to New York City
After witnessing my nephew being born I took the Metro North commuter train from Stamford, Connecticut to New York City which takes 45-minutes and costs $9.75 one-way off-peak and $13 peak.
TIP: Be sure to buy your ticket in the station or at one of the kiosks because doing it on the train will be an extra $6.
New York City to LGA
I spent the night in New York on the Upper East Side and the following morning I had a 7:20am flight out of LaGuardia Airport (LGA). Usually, I would take the subway to 125th Street and then the M60 Bus which takes about 45-minutes and costs only $2.25 (you get a free bus/subway transfer). But since it was so early I took a taxi for $31 (including toll and tip) and it only took 15-minutes.
Delta’s LGA Terminal
I was pleasantly surprised by Delta’s terminal – they really spruced it up and they have a nice mix of shops and places to eat. On top of that everyone was really friendly – including the TSA. Maybe it was because it was a summer Saturday?
AMEX Card to Get in Airline Club Lounges
I had a few minutes to kill and I remembered I just got an American Express Platinum card – even though it has a hefty $450 a year fee it’s a great deal for frequent fliers. First of all, it gets me into more than 600 airport lounges worldwide – including Delta’s and American’s. A membership alone to each one of those would cost that much.
The card also gives me a $200 airline fee credit towards incidental fees such as checked bags, in-flight drinks, and change fees (I will use it for the latter since I don’t check bags or drink booze). I also love the fact there’s no international transaction fees and when staying at some luxury hotels it can get me a room upgrade, free breakfast and a guaranteed 4 PM late check-out.
As an added bonus for those who don’t yet have Global Entry (not sure what you are waiting for since it’s the best thing to happen to international travel – see my post), the Platinum card will reimburse you for your Global Entry enrollment fee which is $100.
Apply now: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Delta Sky Club
I went to Delta’s Sky Club, showed the receptionist my AMEX Platinum card, ticket and ID and I was in. They offered free Wi-Fi, computers, food (mostly snacks like bagels, muffins, yogurt, trail mix, fruit and oatmeal), drinks (including alcohol), comfortable seats and clean bathrooms.
Delta’s Over Priced Miles
I then hopped on a 1-hour and 20-minute flight to Detroit (one of my favorite airports in America) and then a 28-minute flight to Erie, Pennsylvania so I could visit my dad and family. Since I didn’t know when my nephew Theiss was going to be born I waited to buy my one-way ticket which is a big no-no if you want to save money. I thought I would use my miles but Delta’s are seriously an absolute joke to cash in. Delta doesn’t give half price for one-way tickets like most of their competitors and I think they stopped offering domestic tickets for 25,000 miles. Every time I look to use them it’s 40,000 miles for a roundtrip or one-way. It’s a joke, right? I could’ve used United miles on them or their Star Alliance partner US Airways but I didn’t feel like flying a small prop plane in the middle of the day since I knew there would be delays with the high temps.
I ended up using 29,100 American Express Membership Rewards. What’s nice about them is there are no blackout dates and you still earn miles for your tickets. To use your AMEX points you can log on to their website, call their 800 number or have your travel agent book the tickets. Since I was in a hurry I just called my travel agent (John Dekker 1-714-894-4774) and had him book it for me. He charges $35 per transaction so book all your travel in one shot.
If you aren’t familiar with American Express Membership Rewards they charge 100 points to every $1 and because my last minute ticket cost $291 it was 29,100 points.
Full Disclosure: American Express gave me 250,000 (equivalent to $2,500) this summer to fly my dad to Europe but since he declined my offer I’m now using them to visit him and some other trips (you will just have to wait to find out). FYI: Not all American Express cards have a yearly fee. I chose the Platinum card because of all the benefits but the American Express Blue Card has no annual fee and receives Membership Rewards.
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