October 2006
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It’s booked, we’re going at Christmas!  Eight weeks tomorrow!

It looked doubtful for a while with horrendous flight prices but the triple miles offer made it just too juicy to resist.  A few years ago, we’d get a Christmas trip for two for about £600 all in.  This time it ended up at over double that, and that’s not even a direct flight on the way out.

The days of an utter bargain Las Vegas holiday are almost a distant memory, but there’s still value to be had now and again.  With the 3x miles promotion, silver member status, and the bonus miles for booking on a bmi Mastercard we’ll end up pocketing over 75,000 miles which is worth roughly 1.6 USA flights (45,000 each).  It’s very close to being a free holiday!

To put this into context, bmi just gave us both 4,000 bonus miles after complaining about a check-in fiasco on the way back in the summer.  Frankly I think it should take less than 12 complaints to earn a completely free flight!  The line was over two hours long, and we should have been able to jump it with the silver membership card.  One of the perks is "use any check-in desk", but the snooty clerk insisted her desk was for business class only – also turning away premium economy passengers, who had paid extra for a few inches of leg room, a different (they say better, I don’t really know why) meal, and not having to wait to check in.  There was not a single member of bmi staff at McCarran Airport, and on a Sunday it was too late to call Diamond Club to see if we really were being stiffed.  The triple miles offer is worth about five complaints on top of your regular miles. 

We’ll actually be there for Christmas Day, which is a first for us.  I have no idea what to expect, so I need to start trying to find out just what will be open.  I’ll post my findings here no doubt, and we can learn together…  The casinos won’t shut but places inside them may do, and I guess we’ll need reservations somewhere for Christmas dinner.  Maybe at the top of the Strat, if it’s open.  I’ll choose my festive hat carefully.  We have to move hotels on Christmas Eve too, after learning that some hotels do not allow Saturday check-in, even on what will surely be the quietest Saturday of the year.  So we have one night in The Fitz, the self-proclaimed "luckiest casino in Las Vegas", before moving (literally) across the road to Fremont.  Won’t even need to move the car, just grab the bags and walk under the world’s largest canopy made out of lightbulbs.

Although the schedule hasn’t been announced that far ahead yet, I’m hoping that arriving on the Saturday will give me up to four shots at a televised Ultimate Poker Challenge tournament at Binion’s, which takes place every Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Although on the first Saturday – the day we arrive – I’ll probably need more than one wierd shit energy drink to make it past level 1.  May not be a good idea…  Staying within very easy walking distance of Binion’s and at least three other downtown cardrooms (Plaza, Golden Nugget, Fitz – there may be more by December, and I haven’t even included the two tables at "the All New Historic El Cortez") will definitely be a plus.