Greece and Turkey 2014: Planning, Costs, and Intro

We love the Mediterranean in the Summer… it’s a very welcome, and crisp, change from DC’s muggy summers.  Last Summer we planned a trip around Croatia, and this Summer we wanted to go to Greece.

I spotted an SPG Property that looked good, and since we were staying 8 nights, being SPG Platinum saves us about 50 Euro/day in free breakfast.  We decided to stay at Blue Palace in Crete–which is known for beaches and sun.  [Side note, we’ve seen about 3 total clouds in the 7 days we’ve been here, so the sun part is 100% true].

Blue Palace Main Pool

Blue Palace Main Pool

8 nights at this hotel cost us 140,000 SPG points, which is steep, but given the best flexible rate was in excess of 500 Euros per night, it’s not bad at all.  It’s really nice to get a folio at the end of a week+ stay and only pay for meals on site.

So next came the flight planning.  HER airport is moderately large for a Greek island airport with connections to several cities in Greece, Munich, Berlin, Vienna, etc, and is very well served by Air Berlin (Oneworld).

So we ended up booking an itinerary as follow:

-Dulles to London in British Airways first class

-London to Munich in British Airways business class

-Munich to Crete in Air Berlin economy (one cabin flight).

BA First Class

BA First Class

The total cost was 62,500 American Airlines miles and roughly $500 per person in taxes and fuel surcharges.  However, I was able to offset one of our cash portions by redeeming Barclaycard Arrival miles.  This was a pretty sweet feeling, and the first time I’ve ever redeemed “fixed price” miles to “erase” a purchase from my statement.

Sometimes I think first class can be a bit of a waste on the trans-Atlantic sector as we’re east coast based.  If you really want to maximize your trip, then you just want to sleep on such a short (~6.5 hour) flight, and you can often do that just as well in business class as you can in first.  But Citi is giving away AA miles like candy right now, so we felt the time is right to burn them.

We decided to return from Istanbul after a short visit and used Lifemiles for a pretty simple one stop itinerary via Brussels:

-Istanbul to Brussels in Turkish Airlines business class

-Brussels to Dulles in Brussels Airlines business class.

I’m excited to fly a completely new style product as Brussels uses a staggered business class product.

Brussels Business Class

Brussels Business Class

We also redeemed 40,000 Hyatt points for 2 nights to stay at the Park Hyatt in Istanbul, which is known for it’s excellent spa suites (hoping for an upgrade!).

For this trip report, I’m also going to condense the entire outbound trip and return trip into a single post rather than a new post for each flight.  I’ll do a new post for each city/hotel, though.  I’m going to try it and see how it works.

Please follow along!

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  1. Wow you went to the Blue Palace … overrated, overpriced, bad service and so on. I would not recommend it to anyone. It’s not worth it …. just my two cents

    • We Fly Free says:

      I’ll have a full review, obviously, but like just about every hotel stay of 9 days, you’ll find some good and some bad. In general, I’ve got mostly positive things to say.


  1. […] I explained previously, we chose a routing through London and Munich to get to Heraklion Airport in Crete in order to fly […]

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