One of the things I love about collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points is that it gives me the freedom to travel whenever and wherever I want. This is incredibly helpful
when I feel like getting away to visit a friend or go someplace special.
Last summer my favorite rock band, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, announced that they’d be touring Europe. The list of cities on the tour was impressive: London, Dublin, Paris, and many others. I had some vacation days coming so I logged on to my computer to see what type of award flights I could manage during the peak European vacation season. I saw some good options for both France and Italy so I decided to attend a concert in Paris and then continue on to Tuscany for an outdoor show in Lucca, Italy.
My husband and I had a pile of British Airways Avios miles—earned by way of Chases British Airways Visa Signature Card—so I found a New York to Paris route on partner airline, OpenSkies. We lucked out and were able to use our miles to book Biz Bed seats. I knew wed get some rest on the transatlantic flight.
OpenSkies flies Boeing 757-200 aircraft that are outfitted with economy, premium economy (called Premium Plus), and business (called Biz Bed). The 20 beds are 20 inches wide flat bed seats with 73 inches of pitch. Like other carriers, the airline gives out iPad tablets so travelers can watch movies, TV shows, or play games during the flight.
We spent the first few nights in Paris at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand using points from IHG Rewards Club (formerly Priority Club). Our out-of-pocket expenses included our meals, sightseeing (we had to visit the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum while in Paris), and concert tickets to the show at Le Grand Rex theater.
From Paris we headed on to Tuscany. British Airways availability was tight from Paris to Tuscany so we used some Delta SkyMiles to snag Air France award tickets from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Pisa International Airport.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were set to play Piazza Napoleone in the walled city of Lucca as part of the annual Summer Festival. This was sure to be a unique outdoor event in a picturesque location. (This years festival participants include Mark Knopfler, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Diana Krall, Leonard Cohen, The Killers, and many others.) In Lucca we booked our lodging at a local apartment called Casa Paolina. Our apartment had a balcony overlooking the piazza.
We spent a few days enjoying this quiet, picturesque village before heading back to New York City via Paris. We never would have made this trip without having all those miles and points in my virtual pocket.