Checking in and Anatomy of a Trip/Rio Preview

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Hello! It’s me, Adam. I am woefully behind on trip reports, but, in case you missed it, it turns out Washington is a dumpster fire and my day job entails attempts to put out small pieces of that fire. I also had the Jewish holidays and a work trip out to Portland, Oregon, so it’s a lot. Hopefully, in the next few days I will get up my trip report from July in Venice, and then churn out at least a few posts on my Labor Day trip to Paris and Luxembourg, even if they are brief.

My next four months…

That trip was about two months ago, and I’ve had a lull in personal travel in the interim. But I’m about to start up an intense travel period again, with four big trips in four months, covering over 37,000 miles in flights. I mentioned two of those trips in a prior post: to Belfast and Dublin around New Year’s, and Japan in February-March. I’ve also added my annual January trip to Puerto Vallarta, and a trip next week to Rio de Janeiro. I’ll explain how that Rio trip came about in this post.

I knew I had a super intense October and early-November at work, so in late-August I was looking to do a long weekend or other trip once it was over to just get away for a few days. I was on track to requalify as a Delta Silver Medallion with mileage, and could probably get the MQD spend waiver through my Skymiles Amex, so wasn’t tied to Skyteam/Delta-partners, but rollover MQMs are always nice. I was looking into some spots in Italy and Southern France that looked interesting for late fall, but nothing was really grabbing me.

Then, right before I left for Paris and Luxembourg, Delta announced a promotion where you could redeem Skymiles for 2 cents per mile on a Delta Vacations package — which is double their usual value. Now, while many of my miles can be used for more than 2 cents per value, this was appealing for several reasons. One, Delta Skymiles are actually quite difficult to redeem for high value these days. Two, when redeeming for Delta Vacations, you actually end up earning not only RDMs for the flights, but also MQMs and MQDs. So I priced some options, and there were some really good ones for Rio.

I could have gotten a very cheap hotel for three nights and the flights from DCA for about $1000, or 50,000 Skymiles. But I decided to go with a more expensive package, staying at the Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana, for a few reasons. One, there was a special $50 coupon for Medallion members that only applied to packages over $1250, so the $1275 package would drop down to $1225. Second, the Hilton has its own pool and gym, which was appealing to me on a relax and unwind trip. Third, the booking actually was a special promo rate that includes a $50 food and beverage credit, early check-in and late check-out, and an upgrade.  Early check-in and late check-out are super valuable in this case, as I’ll be landing in Rio around 7am and leaving at 10pm. And although it remains to be seen which, if any, of my Hilton Honors Diamond benefits I’ll be getting, the other stuff is certainly worth something.  Finally, the Hilton is a “Bronze Preferred Pick” for Delta Vacations, which meant I’d get an extra 1,500 Skymiles for staying there. Not a ton, but still.

In the end, I spent 50,000 Skymiles and about $200. If I did the math correctly and everything credits as expected, I’ll get about $650 MQDs, about 6000 redeemable Skymiles, and over 10,000 MQMs. Rooms at the Hilton are going for $300/nt during my stay, so this seems to be a pretty good deal.

While I’ve been to Rio twice before, both were short trips, so there’s a lot I didn’t get to see. On one, it rained a lot, and on the other, it rained and I worked a lot. So, let’s hope for some nice sunshine and time for me on the beach in my speedo in Ipanema, ok? (I also want to check out some of the downtown Rio sights I haven’t gotten to in the past.)

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