If you don’t follow baseball, here’s the news: the Blue Jays are back. Ownership found some extra loonies and, at the trading deadline, splashed cash on two, capital “S” superstars, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price and turned the AL East upside-down by going on a prompt, ten-game winning streak. Still in first place, today, the trade was just the boost the team needed to play up to their run differential. So, the Jays are hot, Skydome is selling out and there’s a gigantic buzz around the team for the first time since they won back-to-back World Series in 1992 and 1993.
I didn’t have a clue about what to do during Labor Day weekend, so when my friend told me the Orioles were playing the Jays in Toronto over Labor Day, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to, once again, use miles to make a vacation extremely affordable. With my dad – the real Orioles fan – coming up from Charlottesville, the trip had three moving parts:
- Roundtrip for my dad from Charlottesville to New York.
- Roundtrip for both of us from New York to Toronto.
- Saturday night hotel in Toronto.
Here’s how we solved each problem:
- Flight 1 – For the CHO-LGA flight, we checked flight availability on the British Airways website. BA doesn’t fly from Charlottesville to New York, but their oneworld partner American Airlines does. Happily, there was award space on the before-Labor Day Friday flight, as well as the Tuesday after-Labor Day flight. Needing 4,500 Avios per leg, my dad transferred 9,000 Avios from his Chase Ultimate Rewards account to his BA Executive Club account and booked the flights. According to Kayak, he saved $658:
- Flight 2 – For the LGA-YYZ flight, I again used the BA website, but found only business-class flights. This doubled the cost of the needed Avios to 18k; still a bargain. Already having 6,000 Avios, I transferred 12,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to my Executive Club account and booked two business-class tickets. According to Kayak, we saved $1273:
- Hotel – Toronto’s the fifth largest metropolitan area in North America, so there are tons of award options for free hotel nights. However, one of my travel goals is to stay at every Park Hyatt in the world and, luckily, there’s one in Toronto. It’s also a Category 4 Hyatt, meaning it’s only 15,000 Hyatt points per night versus the Category 7 Park Hyatt Tokyo or Zurich hotels, which cost 30,000 points per night. My dad transferred the necessary points from his Chase Ultimate Rewards account to his Hyatt Gold Passport account and booked a “Park King’ room. He immediately emailed the hotel asking for a one-category room upgrade, as befitting his Hyatt Platinum status, and the hotel acquiesced, booking us into a “Park Double Deluxe” room, as two beds are better than one. According to the Hyatt website, we saved $550:
Taking out the taxes, fees and international duties on the flight tickets of $100 ($90 for the flights back from Toronto and $10 for the CHO-LGA legs), my Dad and I are left with $2400 in vacation savings.
A $2,500 weekend for 4% of the real cost and booked only two weeks before the actual trip? Incredible. All that’s left is to catch a foul ball and get a picture with Drizzy. Or maybe Joe Carter.