Points and miles kept me from getting trapped in Central America
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Before the world went crazy a few weeks ago, I ventured out on a trip with my mom to Nicaragua to review Calala Island, the private island resort bookable with World of Hyatt points. While my stay went smoothly, the same cannot be said of my journey home. Why? Because although it had been perfectly simple to fly into Managua Airport, by the time we tried to leave, governments around the world had begun closing their borders entirely.
This meant that on the day we were scheduled to leave, we arrived at the airport and were told at the check-in counter that our flight had just been canceled. When we asked for help, the desk agent shrugged, threw up his arms, and then said, “Stay in Nicaragua?”
Then he walked away.
I consider myself a fairly savvy traveler, but my mom hasn’t spent the last few years slinging on a backpack and jaunting off on error fares. Needless to say, when she realized we were trapped in Managua without a flight out, she became a little worried.
I became a little worried too, as I realized flight after flight had been canceled. Managua isn’t a major airport, and most of its flights connect through other Central American countries. Since those were no longer an option, I was forced to look for direct routings into the US. According to Flights From, there are four options from which to choose: Houston, Atlanta, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. None of these were ideal since our final destination was Los Angeles, but getting back into the country was a priority.
Unfortunately for us, United had canceled its Houston routing, Delta had ended its Atlanta flights and Spirit had entirely sold out its flight to Fort Lauderdale. Our final option was a 6 a.m. flight the next day to Miami on American, but a quick search showed me that a one-way ticket routing via Miami to Los Angeles was pricing at about $1,500 per person.
Could we have paid that? I suppose, though it would have been burdensome, to say the least. Instead, I had my mom log on to her American Airlines account, where she just so happened to have 60,000 AAdvantage miles sitting around.
Now, the below flight isn’t the one we took. By the time we needed to book, our only option was to route from Managua to Miami to Atlanta to Los Angeles — but it still cost us just 20,000 miles each to fly in first the whole way home.
That’s a great deal no matter how you look at it, but coming at a time when the world was shutting down, these points were nearly priceless. Since we were staying an extra night, I headed over to my Hilton app to check out what hotels were available. Fortunately for us, there was a decent Hilton hotel available for 29,000 points per night, which I quickly booked.
I then argued with a cabdriver for ten minutes about cab fare, threw my luggage into his taxi and headed to the hotel for a short sleep before departing early the next morning.
We talk all the time about how points and miles can help you achieve fabulous trips around the world, but sometimes those same points can save you in times of strain. With nearly nonexistent options for exiting the country and COVID-19 forcing change around the world, time was of the essence in returning.
As for now, I’m home safely, waiting like all the rest of you for the time when it’s ok to hop back on a plane and enjoy some more of that sweet, sweet jet lag.
Feature photo courtesy of American Airlines.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees