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It’s less than a week out from the big day and while we at TPG are confident everyone has made plans for their significant other, we wanted to present a few options for last-minute trips. Travel booked less than a week out can certainly put a damper on your finances, which makes your loyalty portfolio in these kinds of situations even more valuable. Let’s look at award flight and hotel options still available at the time of publishing for a last-minute Valentine’s award trip.

General Tips

When you’re looking for last-minute travel for two, there are a few things to keep in mind before even hitting the different airline websites to search for award seats:

  • Head to google.com/flights and look for good last-minute revenue fares. Compare the cost of using fixed-value points to transferring points to an airline program. And if you can use Ultimate Rewards earned from your Chase Sapphire Reserve card at 1.5 cents per point through the Chase travel portal, you could score a good redemption.
  • Don’t forget about your Companion Pass or companion fares. The Southwest Companion Pass really comes through in these situations (remember you can change your companion three times annually). There are also Delta companion certificates available through meeting spending thresholds with the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, and don’t forget about the companion fare from the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card.
  • Awardmapper.com is a great tool to use when you have a variety of hotel points and are looking for all the possibilities of a hotel award night in a given destination. The tool shows all hotels across all major loyalty programs possible for award nights, though you do still have to check availability on each program’s website.
  • You’ll notice Delta doesn’t show up on any of the flight results below. While Delta doesn’t charge a close-in ticketing fee like United does, as a general rule it also doesn’t offer any low-level SkyMiles seats within a couple weeks of departure.

Charleston, South Carolina

Image courtesy of Getty Images.
Image courtesy of Getty Images.

The best job I ever had was giving carriage tours in the “Holy City.” If you haven’t visited the South Carolina low country, you’re truly in for a treat. Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II history abounds along with beaches, nature reserves and an array of gastronomic experiences you can’t miss. The Charleston airport has just completed a multi-year renovation and continues to grow its nonstop route network.

Flights

Alaska, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and United all serve CHS nonstop from as far away Seattle (Alaska Airlines) and Denver (Frontier, Southwest). I looked for award flights for a long Valentine’s Day weekend and found the following award routes and prices with saver (or affordable) seats for two people:

Airline Depart From Dates
Miles/Points Required Round-Trip, Per Person in Economy
Alaska Seattle Feb 14-17 25,000
American Dallas/Ft. Worth Feb 16-18 25,000
Washington Reagan Feb 14-17 20,000
JetBlue Boston Feb 15-18 29,900
Southwest Baltimore Feb 16-18 28,234
Nashville Feb 16-18 24,502
Houston Hobby Feb 15-18 28,686
United Washington Dulles Feb 15-18 35,000
Houston Intercontinental Feb 15-18 25,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
Chicago O’Hare Feb 15-18 25,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)

Hotels

The Hyatt House Charleston Historic District still has Studio King award nights available for Thursday – Sunday next weekend at 12,000 points per night. Rooms are going for $316 per night before taxes, giving you over 2.5 cents per point in redemption value.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Charleston Historic District has King Bed Studio Suites for 44,000 Hilton Honors points per night from Feb 15-18:

Wyndham proves itself once again as a program not to be overlooked. For 15,000 points per night, enjoy a more authentic Charleston stay at the Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel one block from the historic Charleston Market:

Scottsdale/Sedona, Arizona

Last January, my wife and I took our family to Scottsdale followed a few days later by the drive up to Sedona, and it exceeded my expectations by far. The mountains, cliffs, desert and luxury hotel properties made for a great week away, and it’s somewhere my wife and I want to visit alone. Scottsdale, of course, is just a few minutes’ drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). Sedona is a two-hour drive to the north, or a 45-minute drive south of Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) which is currently only served by American Eagle from PHX — meaning I recommend just driving to Sedona from PHX.

Flights

Phoenix is an American Airlines hub and served by every major US domestic carrier and several international airlines. Remember to check revenue fares, especially if flying mid-week for Valentine’s Day. I found the following routes with saver (or affordable) availability for two people:

Airline Depart From Dates
Miles/Points Required Round-Trip, Per Person in Economy
American New York (JFK, ISP) Feb 14-17 25,000
Los Angeles (LAX, ONT) All dates 15,000
Frontier Atlanta Feb 13-17 $189 plus bag fees
Southwest Denver Feb 14-18 17,567
United Chicago Feb 14-17 25,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
Newark Feb 14-17 25,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
Washington Dulles Feb 14-17 25,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)

 

Hotels

Last year we stayed at the Hyatt Residence Club, Piñon Pointe, which has a heated pool, hot tub, club house and fire pit. Request a view overlooking Sedona and the breathtaking cliffs in the distance. Rooms are available for 15,000 points per night from February 13 to 16.

Hyatt Residence Club Piñon Pointe.
Hyatt Residence Club Piñon Pointe.

Kimpton: Amara Resort and Spa is located on Oak Creek and faces some of the best landscape scenery I’ve ever seen. The property is a tough to swallow 65,000 IHG points per night, but rooms will cost you over $400 per night in cash, and Kimpton loyalists have nothing but great things to say about the property. Award nights are available during the week, including Valentine’s Day night.

For fans of the Hyatt Andaz brand, the Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Spa has received rave reviews from all the people I know who have stayed, and it looks like a great romantic getaway. The great news is  that award nights are still available February 14 to 17 for 20,000 points per night.

If there is one property in the area I’d really like to visit, it’s The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale. The grounds and interiors look beyond elegant and would certainly make for a wonderful Valentine’s Day getaway. There are award nights available from February 13 to 17 for 25,000 Starpoints per night.

Pool, Hotel "The Phoenician", Scottsdale, Bundesstaat Arizona, Amerika, USA, Swimmingpool, Palmen, Reise, BB, DIG; P.-Nr.: 189/2011, 29.01.2011; (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images.

Paris

Domestic trips are great, but if you have AA miles to burn and a special someone to woo, let’s aim big. Assuming you can power through the jet lag, there are some great luxury options for a last-minute hop to the romance capital of the world. Check your passport expiration date and get your weekend bag ready:

Flights

Sunday-Wednesday and Saturday of next week have two saver business seats on American flight 44 from JFK to Paris for 57,500 AA miles and $5.60 each:

For the return, you can fly the Open Skies route from Paris Orly (ORY) to Newark operated by British Airways for 57,500 miles and an annoying, but palatable for business class, $367 in taxes and fees:

If you can skip the luxury, Star Alliance has plenty of economy options open for 60,000 miles per person round-trip connecting in Brussels or in Germany on your way back to New York:

Two adults leaving Houston next Friday could enjoy a long weekend in France, flying business round-trip for 120,000 miles and $200 each (which includes the $75 close-in ticketing fee some elites can avoid):

There are surprisingly plenty of options to get two of you to Paris next week across all the alliances, with Flying Blue also showing KLM and Air France flights, though the fuel surcharges in business typically make them unattractive options.

Hotels

While the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme is not available for award nights, the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile has award nights available every single night I checked for 15,000 points each:

On the SPG side of the house, the Westin Paris – Vendôme, W Paris – Opera and Hotel de NELL each have award nights available from February 12 to 20, leaving you plenty of options if you are a Starwood loyalist:

The InterContinental Paris le Grand also has wide open availability for 70,000 IHG points per night (a renovation notice is on the website, so make sure to call and see the scope of the work before booking):

Bottom Line

There was a noticeable increase in last-minute American Airlines availability compared to what I’ve come to expect. Almost any domestic destination I looked at for Valentine’s Day had two saver seats available, if my travel date was flexible by one day. Remember that United co-branded cardholders have access to additional award space (XN fare availability) — this also made a noticeable different when I researched using United miles for last-minute flights.

Remember to check last-minute revenue fares before heading to award miles and also to search hotel awards night by night to determine exactly which nights are open at a given property. Hopefully armed with your loyalty points and miles, you can have a great Valentine’s Day getaway and impress that special someone while protecting your wallet.

Featured by Aleksandar Nakic/Getty Images

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