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Yesterday I wrote about the Four Easiest Places to Go with Miles.

Colombia was part of one of the regions that has plentiful award space, and it is on my radar at the moment as I book myself a two week trip there next month.

The problem is that award space is so good that I have way too many options. I haven’t been able to book the outbound yet because there are ways to book it for 15,000 to 17,500 miles one way with all three alliances. I can even throw in free one ways.

I’m suffering paralysis by analysis. Take a look at my options and thought process to improve your own award booking.

  • What is the award space to Colombia?
  • What miles can I use to book that space?
  • What are my free one way options?

Trip Plan

I’ve got to be in Palm Springs, CA one weekend and Tucson, AZ three weekends later. I think I’ll spend 2.5 weeks in Colombia in the interim, one of the last South American countries I haven’t visited, and one that’s been at the top of my list for about three years.

I’ve picked Bogota for the whole trip, so I can get an apartment on airbnb and really get a feel for the city. (Yes, I’m bummed not to see Medellin, Cali, Cartagena, and other places, but there are always future trips.)

I am going to fly economy because the flights will be short, and there are no beds that fly from the United States to Colombia, just domestic First Class style seats.

I’ll fly out of LAX, which is two hours from Palm Springs, because I’ll have a ride there, and I’ll have a lot more options and award space out of LAX than out of Palm Springs (PSP) or Ontario (ONT.)

Options

Star Alliance

I searched united.com, which shows all the Star Alliance partners that fly to Colombia. There should be options on:

  • United (via Houston)
  • Copa (via Panama City)
  • TACA (via San Salvador, El Salvador)

On my date, there’s an itinerary on TACA.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.08.02 AMI like that the total travel time is 8hr25min. I like that I can sleep in before the flight.

I don’t like landing at 12:30 AM.

I’m ambivalent about the 30 minute connection. On the one hand, I like not wasting time, so I am usually very aggressive with connection times. On the other hand, if I miss it, I’ll have to spend the night in El Salvador because it is the last flight of the night.

On my date, there’s also an itinerary on United.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.08.12 AM

I do not like the redeye to Bogota. It is too short, and uncomfortable in economy, to sleep, and I don’t want to land before 5 AM.

oneworld

I searched aa.com. American Airlines has an itinerary on my day.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.07.47 AM

I don’t like that it’s 11hr25min, but I know that can use the three hours at DFW well in the American Airlines lounge. I have access with my Citi AAdvantage Executive card. I do like that it lands at a more reasonable hour than the Star Alliance itineraries, but I wish it landed a little earlier.

SkyTeam

I searched airfrance.us because it shows Delta and AeroMexico award space. I found two interesting itineraries on AeroMexico.

The first one is the shorter itinerary.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.07.35 AM

I don’t like the four hours in Mexico City’s airport, but at least I’d get to Bogota in the middle of the day and avoid a hotel night in Los Angeles the day before the trip.

The second itinerary would be to spend 13 hours in Mexico City, leaving the airport. I’ve never been to Mexico City, so that might be fun.

What If I Wait

I took a look at United’s flights this week because I know United opens a lot of award space near departure, so I want to know what I’d have available if I wait.

There are three other options if I wait that look pretty good. I would like United’s non-redeye to Bogota.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.09.52 AM

And I wouldn’t mind this TACA and LACSA itineraries that get in at a reasonable hour.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.10.21 AM

Which Miles to Use = Which Miles to Keep

It comes down to two questions for me.

  • What time do I want to depart and arrive?
  • What miles do I want to use? Or restated: which miles do I want to save for other trips?

I can book any Star Alliance itinerary with 20,000 United miles, 30,000 Lufthansa miles (thanks for the correction, Tom), or 30,000 Singapore miles.

I can book the American Airlines itinerary with 15,000 American Airlines miles or 22,500 Avios.

I can book the AeroMexico itinerary with 17,500 Flying Blue miles.

I’ve eliminated using United miles, Lufthansa miles, Singapore miles, and Avios. They’re too valuable when there are cheaper options.

That leaves using American miles or Flying Blue miles–and the American Airlines and Flying Blue itineraries.

Free One Ways

If I booked a roundtrip United or Singapore award, I could add a free one way.

Your Take

What itinerary would you choose? Too many options!

And what should I do in Colombia?




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