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Plane flights to WorldCon

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Most important thing here: if you're traveling to WorldCon from North America and you haven't yet bought tickets, best to do so ASAP. Apparently a whole lot of people are going to Europe this summer.

Though it may just be frequent-flyer programs that are low on availability; maybe buying regular plane tickets isn't a problem. Not sure.

The rest of this entry goes into more detail than you probably care about. Feel free to skip.

It occurred to me back in April that I had almost enough frequent-flyer miles on United to get a free ticket to Glasgow. I think at the time plane fare to Glasgow (on the airlines I was looking at, anyway) was somewhere around $1000, so a free ticket seemed like a good idea.

Fortunately, my travel to WisCon and Swarthmore and North Carolina looked like it would be just about enough to get me to the necessary 50,000 frequent-flyer miles. Unfortunately, I had to wait until I actually had the full 50K miles before I could redeem them.

I also found out I could get something like 20K miles by signing up for a United credit card and using it. (I have no intention of keeping the card longterm, as it charges an annual fee, but the annual fee was a very reasonable price to pay for 20K miles.) So I did that too, but it takes 6 to 8 weeks to credit your account after your first purchase, so my timing was bad on that as well. (There was a brief moment when I thought I could put the entire purchase price of my Prius on the credit card and get miles for that; sadly, the Toyota dealer wouldn't let me do that.)

So I went on that trip, and came home, and looked at my frequent-flyer account, and found out I was just about 700 miles short. So I bought more miles, but that also took a few days to credit the account.

The upshot of all that is that Monday turned out to be the earliest I could book a ticket by redeeming my frequent-flyer miles. And I didn't get around to actually doing it 'til just now. At which point I learned that there are no frequent-flyer tickets available (at my award level) for flights between San Francisco and Glasgow the weekend of August 4 to August 8.

The nice woman on the phone found me flights leaving on August 3 and returning on August 10. And it would be nice to be there at the beginning of the con, and have a couple days of being in Scotland afterward. I like what I've seen of Scotland (which is to say Edinburgh), and I could happily just sit in a park or a pub and listen to the accents for a couple of days.

On the other hand, my vacation time at work is already totally bottomed out (as in, it's as far negative as they'll allow it to go), which means I would have to take several days off without pay. Which would be fine if I didn't have a new car to pay for.

Factoring in the days off without pay and the extra costs for extra nights in hotel and such, I'm not sure the frequent-flyer thing is worth it; it might make more sense for me to just buy a full-fare ticket. Though prices have gone up; according to Orbitz, the cheapest available flights leaving on the 4th and returning on the 8th are around $1200. And those cheapest flights would have me arriving on the 5th and leaving very early on the 8th, so it would mean I'd really only have two or two and a half days at the con.

. . . I guess I should think about it this way: leaving on the 3rd and returning on the 10th would mean taking only three extra days off work (beyond my original 4th-to-8th plan), and would involve only two extra nights in a hotel (because I wouldn't arrive until the 4th; it's a long travel day, two stops in each direction). Which is all still pretty expensive, but not as much more expensive than the original plan as I was thinking a minute ago. And I suppose I could theoretically work remotely for a day or two. Have laptop, will travel.

Anyway. I had her hold the tickets for me; I have three days to decide. All suggestions welcome.

(After I wrote all that, I discovered that I have a whole bunch of frequent-flyer miles on Alaska, more than enough to get a free ticket to Europe. I wish I had realized that two months ago. Sadly, at this point they too are basically all out of tickets for frequent-flyer award travel for this summer. The guy on the phone offered to get me tickets leaving on August 17th, but somehow I think showing up for WorldCon two weeks late would be considered impolite.)

2 Comments

I wasn't able to get FF tickets to Glasgow either, and I was looking months ago.

Consider SF to London, and making your own way to Glasgow from there (there are several options and some of them are fairly cheap).


The London suggestion is good, but it depends how much your time is worth. Flights are faster than train, but you can't schedule the transfer on the way there too tightly because you don't know how long passport control will take. And after a very long flight, do you really want to add a half day of travel?

If you have extra time in Glasgow, and you want to sightsee a bit, buses into the countryside get you out of the city very quickly. And the bus to Edinburgh only takes about an hour, if I remember right. The first time I went to Edinburgh, I flew to Glasgow and took the bus across, and it was extremely easy. Lots of great day trips in that area on public transportation.