Some of you may remember my failed attempt to use Avios in order to join my in-laws on their trip to St. John. In retrospect, things worked out for the best because we really didn’t need the extra trip expense anyway. My in-laws enjoyed their vacation, though my mother-in-law was sick for few days. Speaking of, did you know that a doctor visits St. John island only on certain days of the week? And there is no local hospital. Something to think about if you are planning to take young kids or elderly parents.
Of course, St. John is a beautiful island, and one of my favorite places in the world to visit. My husband and I spent a day there while sailing on Eastern Caribbean cruise 16 years ago. We’ve been talking about going back ever since. And doesn’t my in-laws’ rental look like a dreamy spot for a relaxing vacation?
I can totally picture myself sipping red wine on the lounge chair, after taking a dip in the heated pool…
Can you tell that I’m a little sad that my family wasn’t able to join them? Anyway, the post isn’t about that. When we were booking flights, I tried to convince my sister-in-law to use Spirit miles. After all, they were flying during the time period eligible for 5,000 mile roundtrip pricing from Fort Lauderdale. What a deal!
Well, she didn’t feel the same way I did. She has heard plenty of horror stories about Spirit canceling flights and stranding passengers. I seriously rolled my eyes at her when she said that. After all, how many people fly Spirit every day with no problems whatsoever? But it’s only the complainers (who are admittedly often justified in their wrath) that you hear from.
It didn’t make any difference, so I ended up burning Avios (15,000 miles roundtrip X 3 from Miami). Some battles are just not worth fighting. Well… Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you know where this is going.
Poop hits the fan in FLL airport
My in-laws ended up flying during the time when Spirit pilots decided to go on strike. Remember the scenes of fighting passengers in FLL airport? My in-laws would be there that day to witness the riot if I ended up booking tickets on Spirit. And they would be going nowhere for some time. Instead, they were safely on their way to St. Thomas, courtesy of American Airlines.
My sister-in-law was totally vindicated and called me as soon as she could to ask me if I saw the craziness on the news. Yes I saw it, I write in an industry (loosely) related to aviation. Just because I don’t usually comment on this stuff in my blog, doesn’t mean I live in a parallel reality where nothing bad ever happens. And honestly, what’s the point of me telling readers about it while the incident is unfolding? If you are there, you already know it. If you are planning on flying in a near future, you will be notified soon, I guarantee it.
I seriously had to eat my words, and my sister-in-law will never let me live this one down. And I guess I deserve it. The truth is, while chances of things like that happening on your trip are relatively low, they are not zero.
I’m never, ever flying Spirit!!!
So, what am I going to do about our upcoming Spirit flights to Newark in October, you may ask? Absolutely nothing. The trip is still on and I don’t plan to part with my precious Rapid Rewards points. I’m a logical person, and logic tells me that the chances of something like this happening during our three-day trip are fairly small. Hopefully, whatever issues Spirit has with its pilots will be worked out by October. It would be a total PR nightmare, no, PR Armageddon to let this sort of thing unfold again during the same year.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a back-up plan. Well, fortunately, we are not flying during a major holiday. Also, unlike Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas, Orlando-Newark route has plenty of competiton. There is United, of course, Southwest and Jet Blue. There are also many options in surrounding NYC airports.
If poop hits the fan, I’ll simply burn either Rapid Rewards, Avianca stash (on United) or Avios for JFK airport. One of those options should come through, I hope. I may also look into travel insurance. Unfortunately, when you book Spirit award tickets, you have to use your Spirit co-branded credit card to pay taxes. And it doesn’t offer any sort of travel protection.
Here is the cheapest rate for three days, for six people, and quoted benefit is per person:
We would be using Trip Interruption benefit to book our tickets to/from Newark, so this amount should cover the expense. If we end up staying an extra night, we’ll use Travel Delay protection. I’m still not sure if I should cough up the cash or just wing it. Thoughts?
But either way, even if I end up buying insurance, it will be a lot cheaper than burning 70K Rapid Rewards points on six tickets. Those points can be redeemed on $700 Walmart gift card (via co-branded Southwest credit card), which is almost as good as cash to me. I’d rather pay $112 to save $700. Like I said, I’m a logical gal. Well, most of the time.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, my sister-in-law is not coming with us.
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.