Cleared for Takeoff: A business class honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast
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Cleared for Takeoff is a weekly series showing readers like you the best ways to book post-pandemic adventures using points and miles. If you’d like tips on booking your own trip using miles, please email us with your preferred itinerary and current mileage balance.
In this week’s episode of Cleared for Takeoff, TPG reader Bradley O’Neil asks us for help planning a honeymoon for him and his fiance. They’re hoping to fly to Italy’s beautiful Amalfi Coast next summer and explore everything the region has to offer. It’s safe to assume this includes great wine, food and views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Here’s what he has to say:
“My fiancé and I would like to honeymoon in Amalfi in the summer of 2022. We will be flying from the Washington, DC area. Business class is preferred, at least for the long flights. We can fly out of DCA, IAD, or BWI.”
Thankfully, Bradley is sitting on a stash of transferable points and airline miles that will help fuel this trip. Plus, his dates are flexible, which gives us time to plan around open award space and off-peak award pricing for hotels and flights. Let’s take an in-depth look at how Bradley can use these points for his upcoming honeymoon.
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Bradley has a solid stash of points to work with across Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Delta SkyMiles. This diversification will help us book his travel and gives us the flexibility to assess multiple airlines and hotel groups. That said, we hope he diversifies his points portfolio in the future. Ideally, we’d like to see him add American Express Membership Rewards and some hotel points into the mix. I’ll dive deeper into this as we move throughout the article.
Here’s his current point stash:
Airfare to the Amalfi Coast
Since Bradley only has limited transferable points available to him, we’re going to burn his Delta SkyMiles first.
We’ll plan for Bradley to burn his Delta SkyMiles for one leg of his trip so he can use his transferable points for hotel stays. With this in mind, I started searching for Delta SkyMiles award flights from Washington D.C. (IAD) to Naples (NAP), which is the closest airport to Amalfi with commercial flights. I wasn’t able to find any great award tickets to Naples, so I looked to Rome (FCO) since it’s only a three-hour drive away from the Amalfi Coast.
If you’ve ever redeemed Delta SkyMiles, you know its international business class award pricing isn’t the greatest. Thankfully, we were able to find business class flights on Air France next summer for 120,000 SkyMiles and $24 in taxes one-way per person. This is a solid deal for Delta SkyMiles and lets Bradley save his Capital One and Chase points for other parts of the trip. Plus, they can fly in Air France business class, which features great dining options, solid service and a lie-flat seat.
On the way back, we’ll plan to use Bradley’s Capital One miles. This time, I found plenty of business award space in June on TAP Portugal from Naples (NAP) to Washington-Dulles (IAD) via Lisbon (LIS). They can book this ticket for 63,000 Capital One miles per person transferred to Avianca LifeMiles.
Both of these redemptions are great deals, especially when compared to paying cash for a business class ticket. It also leaves Bradley with a stash of 95,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, 49,000 Capital One miles and 75,000 Delta SkyMiles for future redemption.
How to book this award with points
Booking the Delta portion of this itinerary is easy. Just head to the Delta website, log in and enter your search criteria at the top of the screen. Make sure to select the Shop with Miles option and select Delta One as your cabin in the Advanced Search drop-down menu.
The next screen will show you a week’s worth of award pricing on your desired route. You can click on the Price Calendar button to broaden your search to one month. Click on the date you’d like to book to view available flight options.
You can view all flight options at the center of the screen. Click on the price of the flight you’d like to book and follow the on-screen prompts to complete your booking.
Now let’s walk through the TAP Portugal ticket home. First, you’ll want to find award space before you transfer your Capital One miles to Avianca LifeMiles. You can do this by going to the LifeMiles website, logging in and navigating to the Flights page. Then, enter your itinerary at the center of the screen.
A calendar will appear at the center of the screen. Select the date you’d like to travel and view all available flight options at the center of the screen. If you see something you like, transfer your Capital One points to LifeMiles, select the flights you’d like to book and follow the on-screen prompts to book.
How to earn enough miles for this award
You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to both Avianca LifeMiles and Delta SkyMiles. Bradley may want to earn these points in the future to continue to diversify his points portfolio and open more options for future redemptions. If you have Amex points, you’ll want to book Air France flights with Flying Blue miles since they usually require fewer points.
Here’s a look at current Amex card offers:
- American Express® Green Card: 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 3x points on dining at restaurants, travel and transit (including flights, hotels, transit, taxis, tours, and ridesharing services), 1x points on all other purchases ($150 annual fee; see rates and fees).
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. Earn 4x points on dining at restaurants; 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x points); 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines; 1x points on all other purchases, ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees).
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership. Earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines with American Express Travel (earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5x on prepaid hotel bookings with American Express Travel Travel, and Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts; 1x on all other purchases, ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees).
The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Hotels in the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast doesn’t have many points hotels, but it isn’t impossible to use points to stay there. Bradley can transfer his Chase Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt to book nights in towns like Vettica Maggiore and Sant’Agnello on the Amalfi Coast.
I recommend he transfers 90,000 points (30,000 points per night) from Chase to Hyatt to book three nights at the Grand Hotel Cocumella in Sant’Agnello. This is a Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) property that frequently costs over $500 per night during the summer months.
This historic property is beautiful too. It’s located right on the coast and overlooks the Bay of Naples Rooms are elegantly designed and there is a huge patio where Bradley and his fiancee can eat dinner with an incredible view. It’s sure to make for a romantic stop on this couple’s honeymoon.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any great way to use the remainder of Bradley’s Capital One points to book hotels on the Amalfi Coast. Wyndham Rewards is a Capital One transfer partner, but the closest property is a Ramada in Naples. The couple will want to earn more World of Hyatt points to stay at other nearby SLH properties on the Amalfi coast — more on that shortly.
How to book Hyatt hotels with points
You can book Hyatt hotels by navigating to the Hyatt website, logging in to your World of Hyatt account and searching for your hotel of choice at the center of the screen.
All hotel options will appear at the center of the screen. Click the View Rates button underneath the property you’d like to book.
You can now select the type of room you’d like to book. If transferring points from Chase to Hyatt, now’s the time to transfer points and follow the on-screen prompts to book your ticket.
How to earn hotel points
Again, Bradley will want to earn World of Hyatt points to book other award nights on the Amalfi Coast. The easiest way to do this is to open a World of Hyatt Credit Card that earns 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spent in the first six months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point, on up to $15,000 spent.
If Bradley is a small business owner, he can also open an Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card to earn more Chase points that he can later transfer to Hyatt. This card earns 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Of course, Bradley needs to be under Chase’s 5/24 rule to qualify for a new Chase card. He may want to scout out other options on the Amalfi coast if he’s not compliant with this rule. For example, there is no shortage of great non-points hotels in the area. If going the non-points hotel route, he may want to apply for the Hotels.com® Rewards Visa® Credit Card, which earns two rewards nights worth $125 apiece after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
In this article, we showed reader Bradley O’Neil how to book a honeymoon to Italy’s Amalfi with points and miles. He has more than enough points to cover business class flights and three nights at an upscale hotel and can earn more points relatively easily.
Now it’s your turn. Have a destination in mind and need help figuring out your points strategy? Send us an email to be featured in the next installment of Cleared for Takeoff.
Feature photo by iacomino FRiMAGES/Shutterstock.com
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