How I got the Southwest Companion Pass and Free Flights until the end of 2017!


Well after a one year hiatus my wife and I are flying high with our shiny new Southwest Airlines Companion Pass! YES!  We initially got our first companion pass in 2012 which expired 12/31/13. Then my wife got the Companion Pass in 2013 and it expired 12/31/14.

Our old Companion Passes

Last year (2015) we took off from achieving the Companion Pass since we had two big international trips and were expecting our baby so no need for many Southwest flights.

What’s the Companion Pass?

For those non-travelers or those who are still wet behind the ears, Southwest’s Companion Pass is the biggest Continue reading

Trip Report: Atlanta Anniversary 2014 (part 1) AirTran MKE-ATL


AirTran Milwaukee (MKE)-Atlanta (ATL)
W Atlanta Buckhead

AirTran Milwaukee (MKE)-Atlanta (ATL)

With our anniversary coming up and our Southwest Companion Pass expiring we decided to get out of town for the weekend.  We had to make this a quick weekend trip as we are out of vacation days for the remainder of the year.  We hadn’t taken our annual visit to Atlanta to see our friends this year (2014) so we decided-Lets do it!

A Friday after work outbound and a late Sunday night inbound on AirTran was our plans.  We packed our carryons Thursday night and brought them to work with us on Friday.  After work we stopped at one of the MKE airport park and rides ($7 a night).  We were then dropped of at the departures area and at the Southwest checkin counter quickly.  Our seats weren’t together which can often be the case when redeeming Southwest points on AirTran operated flights. So we went to the counter in hopes of getting two seats together. The checkin agent was great and asked if we wanted the exit row, YES!  With two exit row boarding passes we were on our way through security with little lines. We found our gate and waited. I grabbed some Aunt Annies pretzels for us while waiting.

We had zone one for boarding so we were one of the first on our plane, a Boeing 727 or 717 (I forget).  I love the exit rows on AirTran partly because Continue reading

Trip Report: The Villages/Orlando (part 1)


Report Index

Feb 2-Feb 4 Superbowl weekend

The Villages/Orlando (part 1) Southwest Airlines flight Milwaukee (MKE) to Orlando (MCO)
The Villages/Orlando (part 2) Hanging out in The Villages (Food and Drink)
The Villages/Orlando (part 3) Southwest Airlines flight Orlando (MCO) to Milwaukee (MKE)

Southwest Airlines flight 3249 Milwaukee (MKE) to Orlando (MCO)

My wife’s mother and husband are snowbirds and thus for a few months every winter live in Florida to get away from these brutal Wisconsin winters!  Last year (2013) we went down to visit them for the first time during the Super Bowl weekend.  This year we decided to visit them again during that same weekend.  This time my wife’s big sister decided to join us (however she went down two days earlier than us).

We took the early flight to arrive in Orlando as early as possible to maximize the three day weekend.  So Saturday morning we woke up about 4:40am-5am to another fresh snowfall (will this winter ever end)!!  We actually left the house late at around 6am for a 7:10am departure!  We arrived at the airport around 6:35am and luckily there was nobody in security line (not one person). The flight started boarding around 6:50am or so thus giving us a few minutes of waiting around before starting to line up for boarding.

On time for now

Snowy 737’s this morning

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Trip Report: Atlanta Dec 2013 (part 1) Visiting Friends in the ATL


Visiting friends in the ATL
LeMeridien Atlanta North (Dunwoody)

About a week after we got back from Maui we had a quick weekend trip planned to Atlanta to visit some friends. We usually get to Atlanta at least once a year to visit my old childhood buddy and his family.  In 2013 we got down there twice!  It worked out great because my wife had only a few thousand Southwest Rapid Reward points left and her companion pass was expiring at the end of the month. So we used the last of her points to book the way down there and then I used my points and companion pass to get back  home.

We actually flew Air Tran since Southwest doesn’t fly MKE-ATL directly. When you redeem points for AirTran operated flights they give you boarding position 8 or 9 which is the last call to board! Our seats were also not together as my wife had the window one row ahead of me and I had an aisle on the opposite side of the plan one row behind. That is ok for us for  a less than 2 hour flight. We arrived in ATL and grabbed two quick roundtrip Marta train passes for around $6 per person and took it north to Dunwoody where my buddy picked us up at our hotel.

We got to see him and the rest of his family and their daughter is our god daughter. So its nice to catch up and see whats happening down there. They had a get together as the Adrian Broner fight was on that night so we met several other people that night and shot the breeze and watched the fight and whatnot.

Our friends kids with the mini cheeseheads we brought them from the MKE airport.

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Trip Report: Maui – Back to Hawaii in 2013! Introduction



Index (subject to change)

Andaz Maui
Road to Hana
Mt. Haleakala & Snorkeling Molokini
Westin Ka’anapali
Food and Drink of Maui


In 2012 we had our first big trip using points and miles-Kauai!!!!  We absolutely loved Kauai and it may still be our favorite vacation.  So I suggested to my wife midway through 2013 we should try to to visit Maui for Thanksgiving!! While her initial reaction was “we just went to Hawaii we should go somewhere else”, it didn’t take her long to remember the great time we had last year. I also had heard that a new Andaz property was being built and would be ready in plenty of time for a November visit.

When you ask most people that have been to all the Hawaiian islands what their favorite is, most of them reply either Maui or Kauai.  So I wanted to be able to form an opinion for myself.  I also hope to visit all the Islands that we haven’t visited yet over the next 3-4 years.

So over the coming months I started earning (turbo charging) Ultimate rewards points so that I could transfer them to Hyatt for the new Andaz Maui.  Every month I had enough points to add another night!

This trip was only going to be over Thanksgiving.  The availability I found on AA was decent so we were set for 6 nights.  The flights were basic coach flights. First flying to LA on Southwest using our companion pass, overnighting at the FourPoints LAX, then flying AA LAX-OGG in economy. I did not take any pictures of the flight because frankly it was just a simple economy seat for both flights. So bottom line I won’t be reviewing the flights at all but will breakdown the costs of the flights.

PointsPinnacle Breakdown

The Southwest flights MKE-LAX were $2.50 per person per segment as all points paid direct flights are on Southwest.  The total rapid rewards points redeemed was 21,960. This amount was for my ticket only then my wife flies for free with me using the companion pass. We only had to pay for the security fee of $2.50 for her so adding it all up we paid $15 out of pocket.



swaOur points redemption for our mainland flight home.

Once in LA we took a completely separate American Airlines flight to Maui. We redeemed for a one way economy class flight from LAX to OGG. The cost in miles was only 12,500 British Airways Avios miles per person one way! The cost in dollars is even better=$2.50!!! So 25k miles and $5.00 for our way there!!

AAThe itinerary

Ticketed receipt

The way home from Maui was exactly the same.

The inbound itinerary

Ticketed receipt

So 50,000 avios and $10.00 total round trip from LA and back.

This a great redemption and a sweet spot in the British Airways award chart!!!

We also stayed over night in LA due to our early departure time to make sure we would make our flight. I couldn’t find a flight arriving in LAX with enough time to comfortably make the flight to Maui. We ended up staying at the Four Points LAX right at the airport. The rate was $105 plus tax so about $120 total and we chose to have dinner and a drink or two there.

Four Points receipt




Trip Report: Boston


We planned a big adventure to Ireland for Sept 2013 but on the way we had the chance to visit Boston! Neither of us had ever been to Boston so we were excited to explore for the day and a half we had before leaving to Dublin!

We used our Southwest companion pass and Rapid Rewards points to book a direct flight Milwaukee-Boston. Also, I had booked the Liberty Hotel in Boston using our Starwood points. So with logistics out of the way lets get to the trip!

Liberty Hotel

We enjoyed our stay here. We took a cab to the hotel and were greeted by the bell staff. I will say the front entrance area was very hectic and it was one of the rare times I didn’t let the bell staff take my bags up the room and handled them myself. You will take an escalator from the ground floor up to the lobby level.  The lobby area and common areas of the property make a statement!  Very high ceilings and lovely decor.  We were checked in promptly and as a nice touch in a city hotel, were offered a flute of champaign which we happily accepted. We stayed in room 1123 which was very nice but not specatcular-good for a standard room. We didn’t eat at the property but did hear positive things about the onsite restaurant.  There is a very popular bar/club scene at the ground floor bar on the weekends so be prepared for the potential of some noise on the weekends. I found it strange when leaving the property for the baseball game they couldn’t give us directions to the stadium only suggesting we take a cab. The concierge said it was walkable and how did the doorman that live in the city not know how to give directions?!  We simply mapped it on our phones and walked there fine.

IMG_0644Liberty signage

IMG_0663Liberty interior entrance Continue reading