Introduction: USA, September 2019

Introduction

In early 2019, I was browsing online and stumbled across some reasonable fares from Geneva to The USA on a combination of OneWorld carriers. For a little under £200 I was able to secure Geneva – New York JFK via Madrid on Iberia and returning on Finnair with a six hour stop in Helsinki.

What initially started out as a few days in New York with a side trip to Miami became something a lot more elaborate over the following months – to the point where I’d be in a different city every night.

By number of flights, this would be my biggest trip to date although coming in at 10 days, it wouldn’t be my longest. The trip was more or less a 50/50 split between flying in the USA and Europe.

The written parts of the trip should hopefully be done reasonably quickly, with the videos being uploaded to YouTube starting over the next couple of weeks.


The written sections of this trip will consist of:


Booking the flights

The booking process was pretty straight forward. The initial Geneva-New York was booked through Opodo, as they had the deal. I don’t recall using them before, but I didn’t have any issues – or any spam afterwards either, which is something that I find happens more often than not when using OTA’s.

Getting to Geneva

Getting to Geneva wouldn’t be an issue. I could use some Avios, although in the past I’ve found that flights between London and the Swiss city reasonably cheap anyway. And indeed, on this occasion both British Airways and Swiss had one way flights at around the £30-£40 mark.

When looking at things a little closer, I found that TAP were offering flights via Lisbon at around the £50 mark, and as an added bonus the London-Lisbon sector was operated by the Airbus A330-200. So that was that decision made. The minor downside being the 6 hour layover in Lisbon, but I could always head into town or catch up with writing the trip report for this site in the lounge…

A trio of American Airlines Flights

Next up was a few American Airlines flights – all booked with British Airways Avios, plus a very reasonable £4 in taxes. Initially, the New York LaGuardia to Miami flight was due to be operated by the airlines’ 737-MAX8 aircraft, although for obvious reasons this was swapped to a 737-800 around 6 weeks prior to departure.

Next up was the Miami-Dallas sector. This was something I hadn’t planned on at all until I saw that the airline was operating a Boeing 777 on the route. Although this was another type that didn’t stick. I eventually ended up on a far less exciting Airbus A321. Once more, this flight was booked with Avios and £4 in taxes. Gotta love the low air taxes in the USA!

After this, I had fully intended on heading back to New York. That was until I spotted that American Airlines were using a 787 on the route between Dallas and Chicago. Well, I guess I could head up to Chicago for a night… Again, more Avios and £4 in taxes later and I was booked.

JetBlue or Delta?

During my trip to the USA last year, I was torn between flying JetBlue and Delta between the LA area and the San Francisco area. On that occasion, JetBlue won out. I was highly impressed with them and they were an option on this occasion too. However, I couldn’t help but think that I really wanted to give Delta a shot so this time, I opted for them. As I have no useable miles with SkyTeam, it was a cash fare. Around £200 later, I was booked on a Delta 717 between Chicago O’Hare and Detroit, following up a couple of hours later on one of their newly delivered Airbus A220’s from Detroit back to Newark. Mad to think this was the most expensive ticket on this itinerary!

Returning to Europe from The USA was covered with the initial ticket I booked through Opodo.

Flying in Europe

Following on from this, I realised that I would be arriving back into Europe on a Wednesday. Where as I wouldn’t be due back to work until the Monday. In my mind, I didn’t want to sit at home all this time, so I studied other places within Europe I could go.

Starting with Geneva, I looked at pretty much the cheapest destinations I could fly to from there. Vienna came up as the most appealing option at a little over £50, on a combination of Swiss on yet another A220 to Zurich and then onwards with Austrian on a rather standard A320.

The same method was applied when looking to head onwards from Vienna. Berlin was the winner here. The initial flight was again with Austrian between Vienna and Frankfurt, which was a slight oversight on my part. I had totally forgotten I’d booked with Austrian on the previous sector, meaning I’d now have consecutive flights with them. No matter, they’re not an airline I’ve flown a great deal anyway. The onward flight from Frankfurt to Berlin was with Lufthansa. Booking was made through Lufthansa for around £60.

Time to head home

By this point, it was time to head back to London. Due to the wonderful way air fares work, it was cheaper to fly from Berlin to Dublin via Amsterdam and then pick up a cheap Aer Lingus flight back to Heathrow. So that’s what I did. The KLM fare was £102 and the Aer Lingus flight came in at £39.

Hotels

With the flights sorted, next up came the hotels. I won’t go into too much detail about those. I chose to mostly stick to IHG properties as that’s where my highest status is. As hotel prices in the USA have seemingly been going up and up over the last few years, I relied on points to pay for a lot of them. And the rest relied on a perfectly timed IHG sale over the summer. There are a couple of notable exceptions however – either due to price, location or the simple fact there wasn’t a suitable IHG property available at the time I was staying. 

Stay tuned over the coming days to see what I got up to on this trip!

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