Hi Travel Junkies,
I just got back from a trip to Buenos Aires with a couple of friends that featured copious amounts of sun, malbec, and Argentinian beef.
This was my first trip to South America and it helped me learn a few things about myself.
First, that I am able to completely sustain myself on a diet of beef and red wine. Which I suppose is close to being Paleo, right?
My view for ~50% of this trip
Second that sunshine is a top 3 factor in my overall happiness. Trading 35 degrees and rain for 84 and sunny was better for my mental health than any pharmaceutical drug or therapy method ever created.
Finally, I learned that the hedonic treadmill is a very real thing. I flew business class to Argentina and economy for the red-eye flight home. It’s been a while since I have flown on an international flight in economy and it was an adjustment to say the least.
And yes, I realize how pretentious that sounds. But I promised to always be honest with you and that is a real problem for anyone who has been fortunate enough (with points or otherwise) to get accustomed to premium class flights.
More on that in a future article perhaps. For now, back to the trip.
This trip was a surprise birthday present organized by my friend’s wife. When she asked if I wanted to join them on a trip to Argentina I said “yes” faster than a hungry dude at Fazoli’s could answer the server responsible for distributing the endless breadsticks.
My points/miles options were somewhat limited due to the fact that I was not the one planning the trip dates or itinerary. But I was able to make it work.
Here’s how I did it.
Columbus to Buenos Aires – Business Class for 110,000 American Airlines Miles and $5.60.
Be warned, this trip featured two award flights that were not saver level redemptions. The first being this Business Class redemption on American Airlines from Columbus to Buenos Aires for 110,000 miles and $5.60.
Yes, that is a lot of miles to pay for a one-way flight. Almost double what I paid to fly first class on AA to Europe a couple years ago.
Oh, and the Columbus > Miami leg was even in economy!
Most points/miles experts will roll their eyes at this redemption but I couldn’t care less. Here was my thinking:
- I have a ton of American Airlines miles at the moment thanks to recent bonuses from the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card, Barclays AAdvantage Aviator, and the business version of each of these cards.
- My tolerance for international overnight flights in economy is rapidly diminishing as I get deeper and deeper in to the world of points/miles. Particularly when I have the miles to book premium class tickets.
- This route has just one stop (somewhat rare when you live in Columbus) and is on the newer 777-300ER product from Miami to Buenos Aires.
- I got 10% of my miles back (10,000) for being a Barclays AAdvantage Aviator cardholder.
American Airlines Flagship Business Class – Image Courtesy of AA.com
So I ponied up and paid for an anytime award.
The silver lining is that AA only charged $5.60 in taxes and fees for the redemption, which I put on my Chase Sapphire Reserve for the complimentary trip delay insurance.
CasaSur Bellini Hotel – $155 per night
Choosing the hotel was not up to me so I booked through Hotels.com and paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve for the 3x points on travel.
CasaSur Bellini Hotel – Image Courtesy of CasaSurHotel.com
Note that this was booked before the recent announcement that Capital One Venture will earn 10x points on hotels.com bookings (which is effectively 20% off). I had also prepaid to get a lower rate + free breakfast so I didn’t have the option to cancel and rebook anyway.
The rate was only $155 a night anyway. Not bad, particularly for having a pool and being in the trendy Palermo neighborhood.
CasaSur Bellini Hotel – Standard Room
Speaking of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, my card number was compromised the day before I was set to fly to Argentina. So naturally Chase sent me a replacement card. Overnight. To my hotel in Argentina.
Chase sent a replacement card to me in Argentina overnight
I’m sure that shipping charge wasn’t cheap.
Buenos Aires to Columbus – Economy Class for 55,000 Delta Miles and $91.06
Business class availability for the flight home was pretty much non-existent so I had to put thoughts of lie flat seats and champagne aside and book an economy ticket home on Delta for 55,000 Delta Miles and $91.06 in taxes and fees. Thankfully it had just one stop in Atlanta en route to Columbus.
I can justify one standard business class award ticket on a trip but definitely not two. At least that’s what I told myself when I was booking the trip. After flying this route I am strongly considering a change to that policy.
Economy award space was also very limited so my choice was basically 55,000 Delta miles or pay cash, which was about $1,500 per ticket on the date of booking.
Once again, I charged the taxes and fees to my Chase Sapphire Reserve for the complimentary trip delay insurance and 3x points on travel.
Delta economy seat Buenos Aires > Columbus
The flight wasn’t exactly enjoyable but it went as scheduled and got me home. Perhaps some of my disdain was due to the fact that I was not excited to fly back to winter weather in Ohio.
I’ll leave it at that.
Overall I have to say Argentina was an absolute blast. The weather was perfect, Buenos Aires was incredibly modern and clean, and the food was like nothing I have ever had before.
And as an added bonus Buenos Aires is only 2 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, making the jet lag much more bearable. Why this isn’t more widely discussed in the US travel community is beyond me.
So add Buenos Aires to the top of your list of places to go, ideally somewhere near the top. I promise you won’t regret it.
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