September 2007
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Call me Chris Three-trips

T minus 95, 186 and 305!

Yes really.  I have my next three Las Vegas trips booked up, and it feels great.

Christmas and New Year 2007/08 I’ve known about for quite a while.  It won’t be long now.  Being there for Christmas day like last year, although this time it won’t be a Station Casinos buffet for Christmas dinner.  Sure, they had a turkey carving station, but otherwise it was exactly the same.

We’ve booked the Gold Coast for the entire stay, based on them only charging an excessive premium for one night, on New Year’s Eve itself.  Every other hotel I checked bumped up their rate for at least two nights, some of them three.  Total: $827 for 11 nights.  I could care less about staying off-Strip, but as Gold Coast is right next to our likely new home Palms, it’s actually a great choice.

Then just last week I dropped on a flight from Las Vegas to Manchester using BMI Diamond Club miles.  Seemed too good to be true: a direct flight in business class falling perfectly in the last week of Claire’s school holiday.  Instabooked – seats in row 1 baby!  All I needed was an outbound flight to go with it…

Thanks to the guys on flyertalk I’ve learned how to check what flights are available on other Star Alliance airlines using, obscurely, All Nippon Airways mileage club.  I’ve never been to China, and don’t have any plans in the foreseeable future, but they let me join up anyway.

The best option was an economy flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles and with connecting flights at both ends.  According to the forum dudes, who have some amazing advice to give if you can cope with the acronym overkill, it’s absolutely possible to fly MANLAXLAS with DC using any *A airline.  Oh no, I’m doing it now…

But the thought of three planes and a 20 hour journey wasn’t appealing.  It would be free but you still have to pay the tax (remember it’s about ten times as expensive to leave the UK as is it to come back) so those miles are still saved up for next time.  Instead it’ll be my first experience of MaxJet, who had a direct flight for £349+tax.  That’s their lowest rate, but all their seats are business class.

Only one minor drawback.  We’re flying out from Stansted and back into Manchester.  That’ll be a logistical nightmare and I can’t even bear to think about it yet.  We’ll cross that bridge – and think about where to stay – next year sometime.  All in all though, it’s a business class return flight for two people for under £900.  Can’t be bad.

Once those luxury jet-set floodgates opened though, there was no stopping me.  MaxJet was showing the £349 rate for the same Sunday we’ve flown out the past three summers and it was just a case of waiting until the return could be booked before the inevitable happened.  We’ve paid more than that for BMI premium economy in the summer, and almost as much for basic economy so this is an absolute bargain.

Booking for the return leg opened sometime yesterday, but according to the seating plan, someone else had already beaten us to it by the time I had made the booking at 8pm.  I can understand that the outbound flight would have already started to fill up as it’s been available for a few weeks already.  But it just shows what a popular destination Las Vegas has become in recent years that people are lining up waiting to book seats on a flight ten months away at the very first opportunity.

That’s us in 9A/9C.  I booked an exit row just because I could, for the extra leg room.  I’m sure it’s really not necessary with these super luxury seats though.  Time will tell.

EDIT: When I looked again today (Thursday) – and I’m glad I did, as they’d already lost one of my seat reservations – there are now 11 other passengers who booked on this flight (which is still over 300 days away) within 48 hours of it going on sale.  Blimey.