How will we get to New York? Oh, hello companion ticket!

Sharon and I just finished a very quick trip to NYC. We left on a Friday morning and returned late Sunday night. We don’t usually take such short trips but we had snagged impossible-to-get ticket for the Broadway show Hamilton. I’ll break the trip up into segments because I think each one is interesting on its own merits. The one in boldface is the one I’m focusing on today.

Now that we had tickets to see Hamilton, it was time for me to book our plane tickets to New York. I have a great deal of freedom in making airline choices to New York, as at least 6 different airlines fly there from Orlando. I also do not have any status with any airline so I don’t have to worry about upgrades, segments or mileage earning. Our only real requirement is that we will not fly an ULCC (Ultra Low Cost Carrier) such as Spirit or Allegiant (I’ll discuss that in another post sometime in the future).

I usually start searching using Google Flights, as this gives me a really quick look at what prices are available. Just be aware that Southwest Airlines does not list their prices anywhere but on Southwest.com.

Quick Tip: you can type in airport code NYC and Google Flights will search all 3 major airports. (LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark). If you aren’t renting a car (which is not necessary and very expensive if you are only going to stay in and around Manhattan), then you can even fly into one airport on one airline and home from a different airport/airline, depending on price. Unfortunately, the days of cheaper pricing for round trip tickets are long gone.

It is usually at this time when I’ll also do a quick search to see if there are there are any award tickets available to book with frequent flyer miles. Hint: It is possible to book a one way ticket from Orlando to New York for only 7,500 miles. I’ll cover this in a later post. 

Well, there was no award space available and tickets were more than I wanted to pay. In cases like this when I’m not in a rush to book tickets, I’ll just wait. Airfares go up and down all the time. Patience is a virtue. You can even use websites like Yapta or Hipmunk to track specific flights and notify you when the price drops.

Since I knew the most likely flights I’d book, I did a quick look every day or so. Then it happened – a flight to LaGuardia Airport on Delta showed up for $166 round trip. BINGO! That’s well under my acceptable price. IMPORTANT REMINDER: If you know you are taking a trip and see an airfare which is great for you, BOOK IT NOW! Prices can change in an instant. Feeling unsure? In most cases airlines will let you cancel within 24 hours with no penalty. Taking my own advice, I stopped what I was doing and booked the ticket.

Getting to the payment page, I saw there was a prompt for me to click on for coupons/vouchers. I didn’t remember having any but I clicked on it anyway. Delta then reminded me that I had a voucher for a free companion ticket from having the Platinum Delta SkyMiles American Express card. While this card does have a hefty $195 annual fee, I picked it up when I got a special offer for 75,000 Delta miles in the mail. I didn’t plan on keeping the card for much longer but why not use the Companion Ticket I had earned. Sharon’s ticket was suddenly free (I just had to pay the taxes which came to $28). The total we had to pay for both our plane tickets to New York was $194.

Step one of planning our trip was complete: we knew when and how we were going to get to New York City. Now for the next step: where were we going to stay?

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