When award charts and routing rules take you to new places

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Last October I planned a trip to Hong Kong because I always wanted to visit. I love city skylines and there is no match for Hong Kong. I took the non-stop to Chicago under the old British Airways partner award chart but because of their generous routing rules with stopovers, I also ended up in Kuala Lumpur…..and Singapore….and Thailand. None of these places were initially scoped into my Hong Kong planning but since the routing rules allowed it, heck why not, they made the itinerary! In retrospect, the combination of experiences I had at those tacked on locations far exceeded what I took away from my initial intended destination. That trip first alerted me to another (if free travel isn’t awesome enough?!) overlooked benefit of travel powered via points and miles.

Fast forward to this week. I stumbled across this website linked through a CNN article which ranks the World’s 50 best restaurants. I love food and I love lists so my attention was quickly drawn. I am familiar with a few of the New York and Chicago restaurants that top this list though I have never dined at any of them. I fully understand how people can pay 250+ dollars per person for a meal and I am often tempted though my frugalness ultimately squashes the urge. I surely can’t comfortably dine at any of the World’s 50 best restaurants.

I was reviewing this list and noticed there is a restaurant in Lima, Peru where I happen to be traversing through in a few short days as part of my South American adventure. The restaurant is named Astrid y Gaston and is the second highest ranked restaurant on this list in all of Central and South America. I decided to take a gander at their website expecting to find any restaurant in this company would be prix fixe only and north of 250 USD per person. To my surprise, I found a fairly priced menu with a wide range of options. Several entrees were somewhere around 30 USD.

Noticing the restaurant was less than 2 miles from the JW Marriott Lima where I will be staying, I contacted the concierge via email and they went to work. The concierge promptly responded to my request and I received confirmation that they were able to squeeze us in for dinner. This is actually going to happen.

In all honesty, Lima was initially planned as a layover stop on this trip. Similarly, I never thought in my life I would be dining at a restaurant on the list of the World’s 50 best restaurants. This simple dinner reinforces the concept of how the points and miles game often puts you in locations where you wouldn’t normally be because an award chart or routing rules allow it. I know this is just a dinner but it’s the concept that truly resonates with me. Have routing rules or an award chart ever taken you somewhere you never intended to go and helped you experience something new?

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

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  1. That is awesome. Reminds me of the time my husband and I had to “add on” Vienna to our European trip because we couldn’t fly out of Salzburg or Munich on our award ticket and the only other place close to fly out of was Vienna. About a month before our trip, we find out that one of our favorite artists is going to be in concert while we are there. So we got to see her in concert in Vienna and we thought it was just the coolest and most unexpected thing. Not to mention Vienna is now one of our favorite cities.

  2. Would you explain a bit about BA routing rules? I would love to do the same as I’m planning a trip to Hong Kong as well.

  3. There’s also Malabar at #62, fwiw.

    I discovered Michael Symon thanks to: 1) Continental’s last flight taking me to Cleveland, not somewhere I’d normally have thought to go; 2) after booking the trip, I watched Bourdain’s “No Reservations” episode about Cleveland and discovered Lola Bistro.

    I was able to make a reservation, so I had a great (and unexpected) meal.

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