We received the news last week that David’s grandfather passed away. It was not unexpected, but still saddening and of course, we are heartbroken to be so far away from family.
David and I have been accruing airline miles for quite some time and we have never booked using miles…until now. We have the United credit card, so our credit card spending earns us miles which we’ve been stockpiling. Plus, I inherited miles from my dad, an avid traveler (did you know you can inherit miles?). I’ve read tons of articles and blog posts by savvier travelers than I trying to figure out when is best to use miles. The general consensus seems to be when the cost of the flight in cash is greater than the value of the miles you would use (which it hardly ever is) or when you are low on liquid cash (like most cruisers) and looking to book a really expensive flight.
David and I had previously discussed our expectations for traveling back home. It’s a good conversation to have in advance – how far are we willing to go, how much are we willing to spend, and for whom do we fly back? We flew back from Starry Horizons 3 times for weddings – from Florida, Maine and Tahiti. Our visit back home over the holidays recently was the first time we’ve come back just to visit and our longest visit back home at 30 days.
There are lots of reasons to argue against flying back for a funeral – they are usually last minutes flights, we were just in the states, the cheapest flights have almost 30 hours of travel time each way, and it’s close to $4,000 for a round trip ticket from New Zealand….you almost can’t get any further away.
Booking last minute flights when you’ve already spent quite a bit of money this year on travel is the perfect time to use miles. We are able to fly United to Seattle with one stop in SFO, with only about 17 hours of air travel time each way. Since all of David’s family is flying in, we have a place to stay and transport covered. For that matter, any trip home can be pretty cheap if you have people to stay with, cars to use, and a kitchen in which to cook.
We are glad to have prepared in advance for this type of scenario, and it’s a good thing we are in New Zealand right now. Coordinating this from a remote island or while out at sea for weeks would be very challenging.
This brings us back to the dock again in the Whangarei Town Basin, where we will leave Starry Horizons for five days while we fly back. We are mourning Jack’s passing, but are glad to be able to fly back and celebrate his life with our family.