Sitges Trip Preview and Award Anatomy

In just a few days I’m heading off to Sitges, just outside of Barcelona, for a long weekend. In this post, I’ll give you an overview of the trip and how I booked it.

The genesis of this trip was actually my upcoming August-September trip to Manchester and Scotland.  I had hoped to use miles for it, but for months I couldn’t find a single AA flight using miles in either direction. And when I finally found a return, I realized with the UK Air Passenger Duty of over $200, in addition to other fees, it wasn’t a great use of miles – especially since I could fly a better routing (albeit in coach) on a revenue ticket on Delta and Virgin for only $450. So, I booked that.

But I have a ton of miles at this point, and you never want to have too many given how frequently they’re devalued without warning. So, with a trip booked for the end of the summer, I thought why not book a trip for the beginning of the summer.  I hadn’t been to Europe since my Labor Day 2017 trip to Hamburg and Lisbon, and I decided why not go back to Sitges for a long weekend. I had gone to Sitges, a beach town with a large gay community outside of Barcelona, in 2016 as part of a bigger Spain trip, and really enjoyed it. Unlike other gay beach destinations, its super-easy to get to- just a train or bus ride from the Barcelona airport.  And unlike Mykonos which is a lot prettier, it’s easier to get around while you’re there.  I hadn’t realized it might not be great beach weather in late May, and the town may not be hopping yet, but we’ll see.

Alright, flights first. I was booking back in October. On the outbound, I was able to get myself a seat in business class on Iberia from Boston to Madrid, and then Madrid to Boston. Getting a flight from DC to Boston – an hourly shuttle route – using AA miles proved difficult; so, at first, I had a 7-hour layover, which I adjusted to a coach flight later in the day this winter.  Since October, nothing on any of AA’s flights to MAD or BCN has come open in business.  (There was a mess involving a schedule change, which I detailed here, which then shifted back to the original schedule.)

For 57,500 miles and about $110 in fees (Iberia has a small fuel surcharge), I will fly from DC to Boston on American in coach, with a 2.5-hour layover there – hopefully spent in the British Airways lounge—then on Iberia in business on a just under 7-hour redeye.  I have a 90-minute layover in Madrid, then on Iberia in business to Barcelona, arriving at Barcelona at 9:15am.

A lot of stops, but 57,500 BA miles

Booking the return trip was harder. I couldn’t find anything that worked. Originally, I booked an Aer Lingus flight in business class from Dublin to Washington-Dulles using 60,000 Avios points I transferred to AerClub. But that flight leaves at 12:30pm, too early to connect from Barcelona.  A few days later, availability on the Dublin to JFK opened up, which is later in the day and thus allowed me to connect from Barcelona and not do an overnight in Dublin. (I’ll have like a four-hour layover in Dublin alas.) When I called Aerclub, the guy told me he was unable to change and reticket that, but that, while I was on the phone, I could transfer the miles back to British Airways and he would process that booking.  I paid the cancellation fee, and for some reason BCN-DUB-JFK came out to be only 56,500 Avios and about $120 using BA miles. I won’t land at JFK until 6:45pm at night – too late to fly out, so I used AA miles to book a flight on the shuttle out of LGA the next morning and back to DC.  (An insane use of miles, but given price and time options, and my surplus of AA miles, it made sense.)

56,500 BA Avios points and 7,500 AA miles return

It will be interesting to compare the flights, as they are not only two different transatlantic business class products I’ve never flown on (my 16th and 17th airline in TATL business class), but both Iberia and Aer Lingus are owned by IAG (along with BA and Vueling).

For hotels, I really liked the Avenida Sofia, where I stayed last time. It was nice and modern, had a small gym, beautiful rooftop bar and pool, and was a block from the beach.  That hotel must have changed owners and is now the Hotel MiM Sitges, and it was $200 a night – even booking six months in advance. I couldn’t justify that expense when other hotels with fine reviews were going for about $100 a night. And with an Orbitz coupon, I was able to get three nights at the well-reviewed, slightly less-conveniently located Hotel Galeon for about $275 for three nights.

Should be a nice little trip and stay tuned!

4 thoughts on “Sitges Trip Preview and Award Anatomy

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