Fly Me To... Any Place Within One Contiguous Landmass, Unfotunately
February 10, 2012 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Travel mavens: need tips/pointers/insider info on how to get the most out of two free (but somewhat restricted) airline tickets.

I won a raffle for two free airline tickets at my company's holiday party. Woo hoo! However, the tickets came in the form of "reward flight vouchers" from our corporate frequent-flier program (with American Airlines, I believe). They're redeemable for any round-trip flight, at any time... within the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico. I checked with our corporate travel department and AA and learned the following: 1. I cannot sell/transfer the vouchers to anyone else, 2. I cannot sell the vouchers back to the company, and 3. I cannot kick in my own money to "upgrade" the vouchers in any way.

... which is a (very, very minor) bummer, because I'd love to travel abroad. What I want to know: are there any loopholes/secrets that I'm unaware of which will enable me to utilize these vouchers to travel abroad? I'm thinking of things like "it's astonishingly cheap to fly to Europe from De Smet, South Dakota for some obscure reason", or "there's actually a cute little ferry from Nova Scotia to England!" Neither of which are TRUE, of course, but you get the gist. I'm certainly willing to kick in some of my own coin. And if there are no super-secret travel hacks I can use, I'd like to know how to make the best use of my tickets. Important note: I don't really care when/where/how I travel, so long as either the journey or destination is interesting.
posted by julthumbscrew to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, in case this helps: I'm in Philadelphia, but I'm certainly willing and able to drive/bus/train to anywhere along the eastern seaboard.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:37 AM on February 10, 2012

How far south do they fly into Mexico? I would get as far south as you can and then hit up Belize and Guatemala. Also, a friend went to Mexico City and raved about it.
posted by soelo at 9:56 AM on February 10, 2012

I would note that parts of Canada and Mexico are quite foreign feeling. Québec, par exemple is almost all native French speakers. Or anywhere outside the resort areas of México. Those flights tend to be pretty pricey. With the voucher you should be able to fly directly to a regional airport, which usually costs more, instead of driving long distances in a foreign country from a hub airport.

Heck, even the resort areas around Cozumel or Cancún are pretty spectacular. Coral reefs, cenotes (giant sinkholes with interior caves), Mayan ruins, lots of fish in the restaurants. It all feels very Caribbean. From Cancún you could take a bus into Belize, or even Guatemala if you really want to get off the beaten path. Flights into Belize are usually much more expensive that México, but a nice touring bus will get you there from Cancún for $50 each way. It takes 8 hours, though.

The other thing is to check out the American Airlines route map and see if anything strikes your fancy.
posted by wnissen at 9:58 AM on February 10, 2012

Best answer: LA and NYC are jumping off points for much foreign travel. Were I in your shoes I would use the tickets to get myself to somewhere across the Pacific from LAX. Say Melbourne Australia or maybe New Zealand.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:15 AM on February 10, 2012

Best answer: Use to find the absolute cheapest deal to Europe or Central/South America, then use your voucher to fly from Philadelphia to there.

Use the voucher to fly to the West Coast in order to take advantage of cheaper flights to Asia, Australia, and the Pacific.

Use the voucher to fly to Canada, then book a ticket for Cuba!

Use the voucher to fly to Mexico City (or any other major airline hub that's further south and still useful for your voucher), then take advantage of cheaper flights to Chile or Argentina. Or puddle-jump to somewhere else in Latin America or the Caribbean that would otherwise be an expensive flight from Philadelphia.

Or, shit, use it to fly to Montreal and feel way more luxurious than the 12 hour drive it would usually be.
posted by Sara C. at 10:58 AM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ugh, in the first idea up there, I meant that you'd use your voucher to fly from Philly to whatever city you found the deal in. Like if it were Miami or Atlanta or Houston or something. I know, for example, that Aer Lingus often has stupid cheap deals from Boston to Dublin. Sure, you could take the bus up to Boston from Philly, but that's what, a 6 hour drive?
posted by Sara C. at 11:00 AM on February 10, 2012

Flights to Paris from Montreal seem to be cheaper than from anywhere else. I recently booked one in March for $520 CAD. A flight for the same dates from NYC is $790. Might be an interesting option if you're interested in Paris.
posted by CristinaT at 11:03 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

We had this and we went to Seattle from Florida, pretty much the farthest we could go and what would have been an expensive (read: unlikely to happen) flight otherwise. You could do the same and hop the border into Canada, or just enjoy the Asian markets/superstores/culture (not to mention the Seattle-ite culture, which deserves it's own kudos) in Seattle and spend your money on cool stuff/fun while in town.

Anyway, while there ee got engaged. It was great. The end.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:08 AM on February 10, 2012

American has a couple of daily flights to Miami (nonstop). Depending on what time of year you wnat to go, you could book a reasonable trip from Miami to the islands if that is your thing?
I enjoy seeing historical New World stuff almost as much as I like going to Europe.
*this travel tip does not endorse colonialism
posted by pointystick at 11:27 AM on February 10, 2012

Response by poster: Skyscanner is EXACTLY what I need - basically "tell me where I can go FROM anywhere in the U.S. TO anywhere in the world AT any time, for the cheapest price" - thanks!
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:30 PM on February 10, 2012

So I was just playing with skyscanner, because I like thinking about stuff like "if you could go anywhere, at any time, for as cheap as possible, where would it be?" And I discovered this insane deal to fly from Dallas to the UK for $280 round trip. It looks like a last minute thing. If you're able to use these vouchers at short notice, and you play your cards right, it looks like you could get some pretty good deals.
posted by Sara C. at 2:58 PM on February 10, 2012

Let me warn you to be very careful about stringing together two tickets, especially on different airlines. If you have too tight a connection between your Airline A flight and Airline B flight, and then a delay causes you to miss your Airline B flight, you may be SOL. Give yourself plenty of time for the transfer if you decide to use your vouchers for PHL to wherever and then buy yourself cheap tickets to your real destination.
posted by ktkt at 11:20 PM on February 10, 2012

« Older tell me about billboards!   |   I'm killing my daughter's love of math. Stop me... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.