Trip Report: Puerto Vallarta 2014! (part 1) American Airlines & American Eagle MKE-DFW-PVR

 

Index

Puerto Vallarta (part 1)  American Airlines & American Eagle MKE-DFW-PVR
Puerto Vallarta (part 2) The Centurion Lounge Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
Puerto Vallarta (part 3) Sheraton Bunganvillas Resort and Conference Center
Puerto Vallarta (part 4) St. Regis Punta Mita
Puerto Vallarta (part 5) Marine Safari
Puerto Vallarta (part 6) Street scenes of Puerto Vallarta and Punta Mita
Puerto Vallarta (part 7) The food scene
Puerto Vallarta (part 8) American Airlines economy PVR-DFW-ORD
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American Airlines flight AA3178  Milwaukee (MKE) to Dallas (DFW)

We arrived at our hometown airport, General Mitchell International, at around 11am for our 12:45pm flight to Dallas.  We brought along two bags and a backpack and my wife wanted to check both the bags and keep the backpack and so for this trip we checked two bags one of which could have been a carry on. Normally I will always take the carry on bag with us however I knew in advance we were flying a small regional jet and overhead space can be tight so I was ok with checking the bags.

For the first time, we finally received TSA Precheck on our boarding passes! It has been kind of a pain because for about a year we have had Global Entry and Precheck clearance however our boarding passes were always without the Precheck and it was getting annoying. I realized on our previous trip to Maui that our British Airways frequent flyer number was showing up on our boarding passes as we were redeeming and booking with British Airways. I finally realized I will need to call BA each time now after booking and have them manually remove their frequent flyer number and add our AA frequent flyer numbers (if anyone knows an easier way let me know)!

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Finally got TSA PRECHK on our boarding passes. PRIORITY AACESS is due to our AA Citi credit cards that give you priority boarding.

Anyhow checkin was a breeze and due to the Precheck getting through security was amazing. Just dropped the backpack on the conveyor belt and walked over to pick it up. We both felt kind of weird/shocked when we went through because we were used to stripping down to go thru the nude-o-scopes and with me often times needing to get my hands wiped for explosives due to metal buttons on some of my jeans!

We arrived at the gate with just a few people seated in the boarding area.

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Our gate C10 at MKE

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Our plane has arrived and they will be taking the bags off from the prior flight

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I snapped a quick picture of the cabin being one of the first to board.

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My wife seated in 5C wearing her coat and grabbing mine as well

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Seat 5A next to me

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View into the flight deck

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My legroom on the plane an Embraer (ERJ-140)

There were two pilots as normal and only one flight attendant on this flight. I had to duck my head when standing in the isle as this is a small jet! Even my wife looked tall when standing up. It was typical economy service, so a free beverage and no food. We both had a ginger ale on the flight.

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Birdseye view of  Dallas

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Lots of lakes in the Dallas area which I wasn’t aware was the case

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Good look at the main terminals at DFW airport from the sky

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My first glimpse of “The house that Jerry built”, where the Dallas Cowboys play (the big white dome in the middle of the pic)

We had just gotten a fresh snowfall in Milwaukee that morning so I was delighted to see Dallas with very few clouds and no snow which is contrast to Wisconsin winters. And with a very uneventful landing in Dallas we were half way to Puerto Vallarta! We stopped in the Centurion lounge but I will cover that in detail in part two of this trip report.

American Airlines Flight 2449  Dallas (DFW) to Puerto Vallarta (PVR)

We enjoyed the Centurion lounge a bit too much perhaps for our 1.5 hour layover and were some of the last few to board when we arrived at our gate-D21.

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Our gate to board to Mexico

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Yes!!! 78 degrees after leaving like 25 degrees in Milwaukee!!
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All aboard to sunshine and fun in Puerto Vallarta

I was happy to see we had one of  American’s new Boeing 737’s! I am used to flying Southwest’s 737 so it was nice to compare and I must say I liked AA’s quite a bit! The plane had the new logo/paint job on the exterior and every seat had and IFE (in-flight entertainment) in the headrest! The business class looked pretty nice and I won’t be seeing that on any Southwest planes ever.

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Bulkhead for economy seats
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A quick look back at the business class cabin which would have doubled the Avios points needed to fly

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Brand new looking seats

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Just enough leg room I suppose but the metal thing under the seat in front of me was annoying
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Sweet looking IFE for AA economy in my seat-19D

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Forward view of the cabin

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A look at the aisle seats next to me

I watched two 45 minute documentary type of shows on the IFE and the screen quality is good. My wife read her book on both flights and on this one she was seated in the middle for one of the few times ever I put my foot down and said you can have the middle seat 🙂
We were seated next to a height-challendged but nice senior citizen whom about half way through the flight asked the flight attendant for something to place under her feet as they were dangling off the chair and making her uncomfortable. The flight attendant was somewhat puzzled and mention in 24 years on the job has never heard that complaint. He was however able to find her a beverage tray in which she turned upside down and used as support for her feet/legs. Again in the few times I allow myself a soda I had a ginger ale on this flight as well. The lines to the bathroom on this particular flight were crazy in my opinion.  Its a 2 hour and 15 minute flight so if you use the restroom before you get on the plane you would think you can wait 2.5 hours to go again but about half the plane had to use it!

After another uneventful landing we had to wait on board before deplaning as they ran out of immigration forms and insisted we have to fill them out on the plane before exiting. So my wife filed out the form and we made it to the Immigration stand at Puerto Vallarta airport!

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Approaching the immigration line in Puerto Vallarta

All-in-all just two quick hops on the planes and an hour and a half layover and we were in warm sunny Mexico!

PointsPinnacle Breakdown

Here is how we paid for our flight to Puerto Vallarta.  I decided to use British Airways Avios points for two reasons: 1. We have the most Avios points of any other points currency and 2. It costs only 30,000 Avios round trip to Puerto Vallarta from Milwaukee per person.

In comparison using American Airlines miles would have cost 35,000 (17,500 one-way) miles per person roundtrip. Below is the American Airlines award chart for tickets to Mexico.

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AA’s award chart from US to Mexico

Another option could have been to use United miles however their award chart is the same as AA for this itinerary. See below.

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United’s Award chart from US to Mexico prior to Feb 1 2014 devaluation

So Avios was the cheaper option as well as the most abundant option for us. See our email itinerary details below.

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Our email itinerary

02
Our ticketed receipt (you can see I booked this segment on 9/28/13)

Perhaps the only downfall of using Avios points were that they charge a minor tax/surcharge for some redemptions. So in our case on the way to Mexico it was $27.54 + 15,000 Avios points per person for this leg of our trip grand total. Not bad!  If redeeming AA or UA miles the fee may have been as low as $2.50. Remember that American Airlines and British Airways are partners along with many other airlines as a part of the One-World Alliance!!! Redeeming BA Avios points on short to medium range distance flights can be a great redemption. British Airways rewards chart is distance based whereas many others are zone based.

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BA.com booking engine pricing

Below is the cash price for the same flight from AA.com. However this is showing outbound and inbound flights. I will detail our inbound flight in the last installment of this trip report because I booked them separately.  The grand total for one ticket roundtrip was $438 per person had we paid cash or $876.80.  So had we paid cash for our tickets to Mexico we would have been down almost $900 off the bat!

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Our exact itinerary on AA.com if we had paid cash

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Cash total

In the end my British Airways points were worth $0.0145 cents (so about a penny and a half) a piece. If you take $876.80 which is what we would have paid and divide it against 60,000 points for the roundtrip amount it equals the .0145.

Again, you can obtain British Airways Avios points via a few different cards such as: Chase British Airways card, or any Chase card that collects Ultimate Rewards points like the Sapphire Preferred card or any American Express card that collects Membership Rewards points like the PRG card.

Depending on where you live the points redemption can be even cheaper! For example departing from Dallas instead of Milwaukee its only 30,000 Avios points roundtrip because Dallas is much closer to Puerto Vallarta then Milwaukee! Avios points can help you take numerous cheap trips and see the world! Take your points to the pinnacle!

Thanks for reading!

-pointspinnacle


 

 

 

 

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