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In November I decided it was too long ago, that I have been on an international flight. 2005 was the first year I have flown fewer miles than the year before. Having friends who fly for a long weekend to Europe from the States or from Europe to Singapore, it was unsatisfactory for me being with no holiday longer than three days for more than a year. My only planned international trip in 2005 had to be cancelled due to a software implementation at work. Since the changes in the earning schemes of the most airlines giving you only half miles for discounted tickets, I (and as I presume the most frequent travellers) began to look for cheap fares giving you full miles and allow you some transfers. As I had only 8 days for vacation I choose the East Coast of the USA as destination. Cities like Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia came in my mind. So I began looking for good fares and hotel rates in these cities. I learned New York has really low hotel rates in January, but temperature could be very low, too. Been in New York in 2004 I decided to plan a combination of New York and Chicago. New York because I want to visit the reopened Museum of Modern Art and Chicago because I am interested in architecture.

I asked Meilensammler (Destination Touristik) about fares and a combination of both cities. US Airways had good fares in V (which still earns 100 %) and United Airlines offered good fares from New York to Chicago. My goal was to earn as many segments as possible and so my itinerary came out as Düsseldorf – Frankfurt – Philadelphia – New York (La Guardia) – Philadelphia – Munich – Düsseldorf. The trip to Chicago was booked on a separate ticket New York (La Guardia) – Philadelphia – Washington (Dulles) – Chicago (Midway) – Washington (Dulles) – Philadelphia – New York (La Guardia). The United flight was in W, here the minimum miles earned were 500 anyway, so no need for higher fares giving you full miles. This would have been 12 segments. Unfortunately, Lufthansa decided to change the earning scheme once again and drop the (re)qualification by segments as of 1
April 2006. I am sure, I have planned the trip a little bit in another way, as I had planned to try to (re)qualify for FTL / SEN by segments in 2006. But so is life….

As for hotels I looked about rates at my favourite chains, mostly at Hilton as I needed three additional nights in Hilton properties to earn 25000 bonus points. The Hilton Newark Gateway once again offered a good rate during the weekend for 98.00 USD; a bit far away but a good value for money as you can reach WTC side by Path in twenty minutes. The Millenium Hilton offered a rate for 170.00 USD. I have read some good reviews and therefore decided to give them a try. The Sheraton La Guardia was my hotel the night before I flew to Chicago. In Chicago I got the 79.00 USD Travelzoo rate for Courtyard Downtown and another rate of 99.00 USD in The Drake Hotel. First and last night was booked in the Holiday-Inn Midtown in New York.